Report: Reds to sign Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez

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According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the Reds have agreed to a $6 million deal with Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez. Because of his age and experience level, he is subject to MLB’s international spending limit. Signing Rodriguez puts the Reds over, so they’ll have to pay a $6 million penalty in addition to the contract.

Rodriguez, 21, left Cuba after being named the 2014-15 Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year. He batted only .265/.301/.284 over 304 plate appearances last year, so he doesn’t do much with the bat, but Ben Badler of Baseball America notes that he was “arguably the best defensive shortstop in Cuba” and has plus-speed.

The Reds already have Zack Cozart, Eugenio Suarez, and Jose Peraza as potential shortstop options, so it’s unclear where Rodriguez fits on the roster in the short-term. At the very least, they can afford to give him some time in the minors.

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.