Rays leave Dioner Navarro, Jeremy Hellickson, and Willy Aybar off playoff roster

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Opening Day catcher Dioner Navarro, part-time designated Willy Aybar, and rookie phenom Jeremy Hellickson are all absent from the Rays’ playoff roster, with struggling starter Jeff Niemann and outfielders Rocco Baldelli and Desmond Jennings making the cut in their place.
In fact, Baldelli will actually start at designated hitter against Cliff Lee in Game 1, which is pretty remarkable for a guy who was literally coaching in the minors a couple months ago. Baldelli totaled just 24 at-bats with the Rays, hitting .208, but he’s a career .295/.346/.485 hitter versus lefties.
Niemann lost out to Wade Davis for fourth-starter gig by posting a 7.69 ERA in 11 starts after the All-Star break, but he’ll be used as a long reliever in the ALDS. Not exactly a crucial role, but it does seem odd that the Rays would choose Niemann over Hellickson, who went 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA and 33/8 K/BB ratio in 36.1 innings after being called up in August.
Navarro was the Rays’ starting catcher in the first and last game of the regular season, but is third on the depth chart behind rookie John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach. Aybar was the Rays’ starting designated hitter for much of the season, but never actually produced at the plate. Joe Maddon indicated that he liked Jennings’ value as a pinch-runner more than Aybar’s value as a pinch-hitter.

Report: Astros, Alex Bregman agree to five-year, $100 million extension

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Fox 26’s Mark Berman reports that the Astros and third baseman Alex Bregman have agreed to $100 million contract extension. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart confirms a deal has been reached and adds that the deal is actually for five years, beginning after the 2019 season. The contract will cover all three of Bregman’s arbitration years and two years of would-be free agency.

Bregman, who turns 25 years old later this month, has quickly become one of the best third basemen in baseball. Across parts of three seasons, he has hit .282/.366/.500 with 58 home runs, 208 RBI, 224 runs scored, and 29 stolen bases. FanGraphs credited him with 7.6 Wins Above Replacement, tied with Francisco Lindor and Christian Yelich for the fourth-best mark among position players in baseball, trailing only Mookie Betts (10.4), Mike Trout (9.8), and José Ramírez (8.0).

This is obviously a smart move for the Astros, as this contract extension will secure Bregman’s age 25-30 seasons. With second baseman José Altuve also locked up through 2024, and presumed extensions to come for Carlos Correa and possibly Gerrit Cole and George Springer, the Astros have a core that they can build around for years to come.