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Reds interested in Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo

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Cincinnati is going to be without second baseman Brandon Phillips (thumb) and first baseman Joey Votto (quad) for another month at least, so to stay in contention in a crowded National League Central race upgrades will probably have to be made at the July 31 deadline. And the hunt has already begun.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Reds have expressed interest in acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd and left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies, who are expected to be one of the most active sellers later this month.

Byrd, 36, is batting .264/.317/.476 with 18 home runs and 54 RBI in 96 games this season for Philadelphia. He signed a two-year, $16 million contract over the winter that includes an $8 million vesting option for 2016.

Bastardo, 28, has a 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 51/24 K/BB ratio in 42 2/3 innings this season out of the Phillies’ bullpen. He’d fill the Reds’ need in lefty relief with Sean Marshall (shoulder) done for the year.

Bastardo is making $2 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible for the final time in 2015.

Magic Johnson to take over the Lakers, but will still be part of Dodgers ownership

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Earvin 'Magic' Johnson attends game one of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on October 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.

For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.

Matt Wieters is close to signing with the Washington Nationals

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02: Matt Wieters #32 of the Baltimore Orioles connects on a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on October 2, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.

Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.

Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.