Mariners sign Corey Hart to incentive-laden deal

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Corey Hart had an offer on the table to return to the Brewers following an injury wrecked season, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he’s headed to the Mariners on a one-year deal.

Hart missed all of this year, so it’s hard to guess where he’s at physically, but during the previous three seasons he played 141 games per year while hitting .279 with an .857 OPS and an average of 29 homers. Even if he can return to 90 percent of that production in 2014 it’ll be a big pickup for Seattle, where he figures to bat behind $240 million man Robinson Cano in the revamped lineup.

And now the Brewers are definitely in the market for first base help.

UPDATE: Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times says Hart’s deal is worth $6 million in guaranteed money and up to $13 million total including incentives.

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

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For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.