Cubs may have to move Kosuke Fukudome before diving into free agency

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Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Cubs will be in the market for a power-hitting first baseman this offseason and may even be in the mix for Adam Dunn, but could be pretty limited financially unless they can unload Kosuke Fukudome’s contract:

The Cubs might need to trade Kosuke Fukudome before making an offer for any prominent free agent, though it will be difficult to find a trade partner without taking another overpaid player in return. Hendry did that with Milton Bradley last offseason, paving the way for the signing of center fielder Marlon Byrd.

Obviously swapping Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva worked out brilliantly for the Cubs last offseason, as Silva went 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts while Bradley hit .205 with a .641 OPS in 73 games for the Mariners, but the problem with making a similar swap involving Fukudome is that it won’t actually free up much money to pursue someone like Dunn.

By trading Fukudome the Cubs would clear a spot in the lineup for a good-hitting first baseman, but Sullivan questions “whether the Cubs can accommodate Dunn’s salary” and obviously no teams will be willing to swallow the $13.5 million Fukudome is owed in 2011.

In some respects Fukudome has gotten a bad rap because expectations were pretty high when he signed with the Cubs and his annual post-April fades have been frustrating, but he has hit .259/.368/.410 in three seasons. He’d be useful to a lot of teams as a platoon starter against right-handed pitching, but the question is how much of that $13.5 million the Cubs are willing to eat to move him.

The Cubs might need to trade Kosuke Fukudome before making an offer for any prominent free agent, though it will be difficult to find a trade partner without taking another overpaid player in return. Hendry did that with Milton Bradley last offseason, paving the way for the signing of center fielder Marlon Byrd.

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.