Nationals pursue Prince Fielder for first base

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While the Nationals have long maintained that Adam LaRoche would reclaim the first-base job in 2012, they’ve always been looked at as potential bidders for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder anyway. From Ken Rosenthal comes word that the Nationals have indeed engaged in talks with Fielder, but that those talks hit a roadblock today.

Fielder, coming off a third-place finish in the NL MVP balloting, is believed to be looking for something like $200 million over eight years on the open market. It’s a price the Nationals could conceivably pay for an established franchise player to go along with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper as the faces of the team’s future. Rosenthal, though, suggests that the Nationals may soon move on to Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes instead.

Cespedes, whose price tag figures to eclipse $50 million, would be an even bigger gamble for the Nationals than for other teams, because the Nats would need him to stay in center and play in between Harper and Jayson Werth in their 2013 outfield. Many suitors view Cespedes as a better option in right field.

Fielder appears to have only a limited number of suitors at the moment, so the Nationals may be better off lingering in the weeds and seeing if his price tag tumbles a bit. It’d be one thing to pay the portly slugger $25 million per year; it’s going to seven or eight years on such a deal that would make it terribly risky.

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.