Cubs place catcher Geovany Soto on DL with groin injury

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Geovany Soto left last night’s game with a strained groin and the Cubs have placed him on the disabled list, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.

Soto was off to a slow start before the injury, hitting just .226 with three homers and a .709 OPS through 31 games, but that’s still above-average production for a catcher and his .821 career OPS ranks sixth among all active players with at least 1,000 plate appearances at the position behind only Joe Mauer, Jorge Posada, Brian McCann, Victor Martinez, and Mike Napoli.

And losing Soto is doubly bad for the Cubs because his primary replacement, Koyie Hill, is a career .213 hitter with a .578 OPS in 262 games. Welington Castillo will be called up from Triple-A to take Soto’s roster spot and serve as Hill’s backup, although the 23-year-old has more power potential.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.