Report: Bullpen help is Nationals’ ‘top priority’ at trade deadline

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9 Comments’s Bill Ladson, quoting an unnamed source, reports that bullpen help is the Nationals’ “top priority” heading into the upcoming August 1 non-waiver trade deadline. In particular, the Nats have their eyes on the Yankees’ Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

As Craig noted earlier today, the Yankees’ front office is split as to whether to attempt to fight for a playoff spot or rebuild for future years. Owner Hal Steinbrenner and president Randy Levine still think the Yankees are contenders, while Brian Cashman and the club’s entire baseball operations department are convinced the club should sell.

The Nationals have the third-best bullpen ERA in baseball at 3.11. However, closer Jonathan Papelbon has been good but not dominant. Adding a lights out reliever like Miller or Chapman would certainly make an impact.

Miller, 31, will open the second half with a 1.37 ERA and a 69/6 K/BB ratio in 39 1/3 innings. He’s owed the remainder of his $9 million salary for this season as well as $9 million in each of the next two seasons.

Chapman, 28, served a 30-game suspension starting at the beginning of the season due to an offseason domestic violence incident. Thus far, he’s compiled 17 saves with a 2.49 ERA and a 38/6 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings. Chapman is owed the remainder of his $11.325 million salary for the 2016 season and can become a free agent after the season.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year deal with Astros

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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu is scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.