UPDATE: Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com was told by multiple Mets’ sources that a deal with Rodriguez is unlikely. In fact, one source told him: “We are not bringing Ivan here.” The club appears content to go with Mike Nickeas or Rob Johnson as Josh Thole‘s backup.
6:48 PM: 40-year-old Ivan Rodriguez is still out there looking for work and though a signing doesn’t sound imminent, he does have one potential lead.
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, a Mets official spoke with Ivan Rodriguez as recently as 10 days ago and the club “hasn’t ruled out the possibility” of signing him a backup to Josh Thole. As of now, Mike Nickeas is the favorite for the spot.
The Mets have roughly $2 million left in their budget, according to Puma, but they want to make sure that Johan Santana is healthy before making any more moves. If Santana has any setbacks with his surgically-repaired shoulder this spring, they will likely try to add a starting pitcher. In the meantime, the Mets have told Rodriguez to “stay in shape.”
Rodriguez batted .218/.281/.323 with two home runs, 19 RBI and a .604 OPS over 137 plate appearances last season with the Nationals while throwing out 52 percent (13-for-25) of attempted basestealers. He is 166 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.
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.