How close was Carlos Beltran to signing with the Red Sox?

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Carlos Beltran was linked to the Red Sox prior to signing with the Cardinals, but today the veteran outfielder explained to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal why he didn’t end up in Boston:

I did feel that it was going to be a good fit for me. We talked a little bit, and they had interest. They were trying to get something done first with David [Ortiz]. At the end of the day, I wasn’t going to wait until they got that done.

In terms of timelines, Beltran signed his two-year, $26 million deal with the Cardinals on December 23. Ortiz accepted the Red Sox’s arbitration tender on December 7, but didn’t sign his one-year, $14.575 million deal to avoid arbitration until February 13.

And as MacPherson writes, odds are the Red Sox wouldn’t have had room in their budget for Beltran at the money (and years) he ended up getting anyway. Instead they ended up trading for Ryan Sweeney as part of the Andrew Bailey swap and then signed Cody Ross to a one-year, $3 million contract.

All of which is why Beltran will be replacing Albert Pujols instead of J.D. Drew.

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.