a.j. pierzynski getty

Report: Red Sox agree to one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski

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UPDATE: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that Pierzynski’s one-year deal is worth $8.25 million.

8:57 a.m. ET: Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reports that Pierzysnki will get a one-year deal. He’ll essentially function as a stopgap option with the Red Sox, as prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart aren’t too far away from the big leagues.

8:23 a.m. ET: According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Red Sox have agreed to a deal with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Terms aren’t yet known.

We heard last night that the Red Sox were “unlikely” to keep Jarrod Saltalamacchia, which was a strong hint that they were moving in another direction at the catcher position. Pierzynski was the best alternative available in the free agent market. And while we don’t know the specifics of the contract yet, the Red Sox probably won’t have to commit as many years to him as they would with the younger Saltalamacchia, who now appears likely to land with the Twins or Marlins.

Pierzynski, who turns 37 later this month, batted .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI over 134 games this past season with the Rangers. He’ll share catching duties with David Ross in Boston.

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.

Cubs are seeking a court order against unlicensed vendors

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If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”

[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.

While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.

Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.

This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.

The club’s full complaint can be found here.