UPDATE: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick hears that the Cardinals and Furcal have agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth around $14 million, pending a physical. Take that, Angels.
2:27 PM: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the two sides are “finishing up” a two-year contract which is likely worth around $14 million. That’s a little steep for someone who has struggled to stay on the field in recent years.
1:01 PM: Jimmy Rollins is close to losing another potential suitor.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears that the Cardinals are “making progress” on a deal with free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal. The 34-year-old is currently seeking a multi-year contract, but Alex Gonzalez’s deal with the Brewers this week may create a domino effect among the remaining free agent shortstops.
Furcal batted .231/.298/.348 with eight home runs, 28 RBI, nine stolen bases and a .646 OPS over 368 plate appearances this past season between the Dodgers and Cardinals. Though he struggled with the bat during the Cards’ postseason run, he managed to stay healthy and was a steady presence defensively.
Rollins was probably never a realistic option with St. Louis in the first place, but one wonders whether they’ll make a push for Carlos Beltran with some of their excess cash.
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.