Royals sign Willy Taveras to minor league deal

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Willy Taveras, who hasn’t played in the majors since 2010 and was out of baseball this year, has signed a minor-league deal with the Royals.

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that Taveras will likely get an invitation to spring training, where he’ll compete for a bench job.

Taveras’ value was always totally dependent on his speed–he had plus range in center field and once stole 68 bases in a season–but now at age 30 it’s unclear what he’d bring to the table. In his final three MLB seasons he hit a combined .243 with a .291 on-base percentage and .290 slugging percentage, and at Triple-A in 2011 he only swiped 13 bases in 97 games.

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.