Marlins may look to trade right-hander Ricky Nolasco

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The Marlins aren’t having the best offseason.  They gave out a three-year, $18 million contract to 30-year-old catcher John Buck, a .243/.301/.421 career hitter, they got very little in return when they traded power-hitting second baseman Dan Uggla to the Braves, and now they’re having trouble locking up one of their top arbitration-eligible pitchers.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Marlins have “arrived at a stalemate” in their long-term contract negotiations with right-hander Ricky Nolasco.

Nolasco is under team control for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but his price is about to shoot up via arbitration and the Fish have been notoriously cheap in similar situations in the past.  Which is why Morosi suspects that Nolasco might be traded.

The 28-year-old posted a solid 4.51 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 26 starts for the Marlins in 2010, striking out 147 batters against just 33 walks.  If he is indeed going to be shopped, many teams will come calling.  Quality starting pitching is always in desire around the league, even more so in this week free agent market.

If the Marlins can’t find a good trade package for him, they’ll ink him to a one-year deal worth around $6 million.  He made $3.8 million in 2010 through arbitration.

UPDATE: Nolasco’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told MLB Trade Rumors that he is still “optimistic” about working out a long-term contract.  The Marlins would surely prefer that, if the price is right.

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.