Yesterday the Rangers made their one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski official, adding the veteran catcher to the lineup following his career-year for the White Sox, but general manager Jon Daniels also said that he’s still searching for another hitter after losing Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli to free agency.
“We’re looking at that now,” Daniels said, via Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. “There’s a decent chance we’ll look to add somebody.”
Daniels went on to say that “somebody” could come via free agency or trade, so it’s tough to narrow down likely targets. However, just in terms of available free agent hitters the pickings are getting very slim.
Our own Matthew Pouliot has been updating his “Free Agency Tracker” and the top remaining position players are center fielder Michael Bourn, first baseman Adam LaRoche, left fielder Delmon Young, first baseman Lance Berkman, second baseman Kelly Johnson, left fielder Scott Hairston, and first baseman Luke Scott.
Bourn and LaRoche would both cost the Rangers a draft pick and none of those other names are particularly appealing. Napoli is also technically unsigned, but even if his three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox falls through a return to Texas seems awfully unlikely.
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.