Cubs and Nationals no longer pursuing Brandon Webb

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The market for free agent right-hander Brandon Webb is finally starting to take shape.  Teams are moving in and teams are moving out as negotiations begin to turn serious.

We told you earlier today that the Yankees are “monitoring” the 31-year-old starter.  According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, the Cubs and Nationals are not.  At least, not anymore.

Stark’s source says that Webb is down to two teams: the Rangers and a “mystery” club from the National League Central — either the Pirates, Cardinals, Astros, Brewers or Reds.

Webb is expected to decide on a landing spot either next week or during the first week of January.  He hasn’t pitched in a major league game since the opening of the 2009 season, but he won a Cy Young Award just four years ago and posted a 3.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 34 starts in 2008.  On a contract with a low-base salary and a few million dollars in performance-based incentives, he’d make a fine risk for any starter-needy club.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.