UPDATE: Nationals sign Daniel Murphy to three-year, $37.5M contract

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UPDATE: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the deal is worth $37.5 million.

6:13 p.m. ET: Significant news here on this Christmas Eve, as Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports that the Nationals and free agent Daniel Murphy have agreed to a three-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is pending a physical.

The Nationals recently came close to a trade with the Reds for Brandon Phillips, but the second baseman had 10-and-5 rights and reportedly wouldn’t sign off on a deal. The club moved on to Murphy soon after the deal fell through.

With Murphy, the Nationals will get a much-needed left-handed bat in their lineup. It’s unrealistic to think his historic postseason power surge will continue, but Murphy is a solid .288/.331/.424 hitter in the majors and slugged a career-high 14 homers this past season. Still, it was a foregone conclusion that the Mets were going to move forward without him this offseason. The team’s recent acquisition of Neil Walker from the Pirates made it all but official. The Nationals intend to move Anthony Rendon back to his natural position at third base next season, so Murphy will presumably play second base, even though he’s below-average defensively at the position.

Murphy turned down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Mets, so the Nationals will surrender their 2016 first-round pick (No. 17 overall) in order to sign him. Now that they’ve gone this far, it will be interesting to see if the club pursues another qualifying offer free agent such as outfielder Dexter Fowler or left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. The Nationals already secured a supplemental draft pick when Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers and will get another once Ian Desmond signs with a team.

The Mets and Nationals were already expected to battle it out for first-place in the National League East next season, so this move adds an interesting wrinkle to the mix.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).