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Yankees close to acquiring Alfonso Soriano from Cubs

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Alfonso Soriano’s return to the Bronx has been rumored for the past couple of days, but a deal is almost official.

According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said that Soriano has been scratched from tonight’s lineup against the Diamondbacks because a trade with the Yankees is close. In fact, Sveum told Sullivan that a deal is “99 percent done.”

The specifics of the deal aren’t yet known, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today says a pitching prospect with go to Chicago. Soriano still has around $25 million left on his contract through next season, so the Cubs figure to pay a big chunk of it. Similar to the Vernon Wells trade, the Yankees will likely try to arrange it so that whatever portion they cover will not count toward their payroll for next season. Soriano’s contract includes a full no-trade clause, but it was never expected to be an obstacle here.

Soriano, who played his first five seasons in the majors as a member of the Yankees, is batting .254/.287/.467 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI through 93 games this season. The Yankees have been desperate for any sort of production from the right side of the plate, so Soriano should help on that end. The 37-year-old has an .806 OPS against southpaws this season. He’ll likely play left field for now and figures to shift to DH when Curtis Granderson comes off the DL.

UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes that the deal isn’t likely to be finalized tonight, as it still needs approval from the commissioner’s office. He adds that the Cubs are expected to pay more than half of the $25 million left on Soriano’s contract.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.