UPDATE: Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star reports that the Jays and Janssen have agreed to a two-year, $5.9 million contract with a $4 million option for 2014. The new deal buys out his final year of arbitration and potentially his first two years of free agency.
3:29 PM: Casey Janssen and the Blue Jays are close to signing a two-year deal that would buy out his final season of arbitration eligibility and cover his first year of free agency, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
No word yet on the money, but Janssen asked for $2.2 million in arbitration while the Blue Jays countered at $1.8 million.
Janssen was briefly demoted to Triple-A in April because he had a minor-league option remaining and there was a bullpen logjam. He also spent a big chunk of the season on the disabled list with a forearm injury, but still logged 56 innings with a 2.26 ERA and 53/14 K/BB ratio. He’s quietly emerged as one of the league’s top setup men, posting a 2.91 ERA in 199 career relief outings.
Davidi notes that Toronto hasn’t gone through with an arbitration hearing since way back in 1997.
The Athletics are tied for first place in the AL West for the first time since Opening Day. They took the first of a three-game series against the Astros on Friday with a wild (and controversial) overturned replay call in the ninth and Matt Olson‘s decisive walk-off home run in the 10th — the first of his career to date — then returned on Saturday and bested the Astros 7-1 to take first place.
Saturday’s win was less of a nail-biter than Friday’s had been, but its rewards were just as sweet. Trevor Cahill led the A’s through the first seven innings of one-hit, seven-strikeout ball, backed by seven runs on five RBI doubles from Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty and Josh Phegley. All told, the four players struck eight doubles to tie the franchise single-game record.
The Astros, meanwhile, were stymied by both Cahill and the A’s bullpen through the first eight innings of the game. Following Cahill’s seven shutout innings, Jeurys Familia took the ball in the eighth and blanked the Astros to preserve the seven-run lead. Yusmeiro Petit wasn’t quite so lucky: with one out in the top of the ninth, he pitched to a full count against Tony Kemp, then saw his 90.1-MPH fastball returned to right field for a home run. That was the first and last time the Astros crossed home plate, however, as Kyle Tucker popped out to third base and Alex Bregman cemented the loss with a fly ball to right.
Entering Saturday’s game, the Astros had not been out of first place since June 13, when they played second fiddle to the now third-place Mariners. They’ll share first-place honors with the Athletics until Sunday’s finale; it’ll take a series sweep for Oakland to take the lead in the division, but they’ve already delivered incredible results over the last two weeks (and it’s worth noting, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart pointed out, that Houston has now lost seven of their last eight games). The A’s climbed out of the no. 3 spot at the start of August and have steadily progressed toward first place ever since, driven by two separate four-win streaks and their two decisive wins this weekend. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also notes that the club has not been in first place in a non-April month since August 25, 2014 — the last year they qualified for the playoffs.