Red Sox consider increasing offers to Bay, Holliday

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The Boston Red Sox loaded up on pitching and defense this offseason by bringing in John Lackey, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron, then said they were pretty much done with Jason Bay. But guess what? Even the great Theo Epstein can change his mind.

According to the Boston Herald (via our sharp-eyed friends at Rotoworld) the Red Sox are looking at their financial picture to see if they can find enough creativity to increase their offers to either Bay or Matt Holliday.

Previous reports had Boston offering Bay a 4-year deal worth $60 million, and Holliday a 5-year deal for $82.5 million, both rejected with hardly a thought.

Increasing their offer to either player would put the Red Sox at risk of crossing the $170-million luxury tax threshold, and it certainly doesn’t help that the team was unable to unload Mike Lowell to the Rangers.

The other issue is finding a place for Bay or Holliday to play, as the team already has J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron under contract for nearly $22 million. Something, it seems, would have to give.

Examining your financial picture is certainly not the same as preparing an offer, so we’ll see if this talk leads to anything at all. The prudent advice might be for the Red Sox to go into the season with what they have, not panic in response to the Yankees’ moves, and look at making mid-season deals if necessary.

Interestingly, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that he would not be looking to add a big contract to replace a green Brett Gardner in left field. One wonders if the Red Sox jumping into the fray – should they indeed jump — would change philosophies in the Bronx.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.