Associated Press

The Indians are going for it. The Yankees are, at long last, truly rebuilding

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This morning’s trade between the Indians and the Yankees represents a definitive statement for both the team acquiring the superstar and the team giving him up. For the first time in recent memory the Cleveland Indians are truly pulling out all the stops and are truly going for it. For the first time in the Brian Cashman era the Yankees are truly sellers who are entering rebuild mode.

Andrew Miller is arguably baseball’s best relief pitcher and, once you account for the fact that he’s under team control through 2018 he’s undoubtedly the most valuable relief pitcher in the game. There is not a single contender who would not have loved to have him. The fact that the Indians were the ones who pulled the trigger represents a sea change in organizational philosophy. Cleveland has, in the past, tried to make do with what it had, even when the playoffs were in reach. They have eschewed taking on any big contracts, even if they were sensible ones like Miller’s is. They have a 4.5 game lead in the AL Central and none of its divisional competition appears to have a higher gear with which to run them down, but they are taking no chances. This is how a major league team with its talent should operate. It’s a way the Indians have rarely if ever operated in recent years.

The Yankees too are doing something new: rebuilding. Not simply shuffling a few deck chairs while paying lip service to championships still being their only goal, but truly selling like they have never sold in the Brian Cashman era. The deal of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs might’ve signaled that for most teams, but even after it, the Yankees could’ve said “hey, we still have a lights-out closer in Miller” and pretended that they were truly shooting for the playoffs. But giving up Miller any words they offer in that direction — and just this morning Joe Girardi denied that this is a “white flag” trade — are really just words. Make no mistake: this is a selloff.

But it’s a damn good selloff. J.P. Feyereisen, Clint Frazier, Ben Heller and Justus Sheffield — the players New York got for Miller — is an outstanding package that, along with the haul they got for Chapman, instantly catapults the Yankees’ farm system to the upper echelon. Frazier, who has excelled at levels where he was far younger than the competition, is probably the most projectable young position player the Yankees have had since Robinson Cano. Sheffield, a 20-year-old pitcher who is also facing older competition, is a top-100 prospect who most scouts think will be a mid-rotation starter. Heller can throw 100 miles per hour. Feyereisen has averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in three minor league seasons and projects to be a solid major league reliever.

It wasn’t long ago that baseball’s critics lamented that teams like the Yankees will always have a competitive advantage and teams like the Indians will never be able to compete. Maybe that’s still true when it comes to the financial ledger, but it’s certainly not true on the field. At the trade deadline, in 2016, the Cleveland Indians have landed one of the biggest fish in the lake. The Yankees have cut bait.

Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, West title with win over A’s

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to still savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth straight division title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They are third team to win at least eight straight division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991-2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998-2006).

“To fast forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said. “Truth be told a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates. Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

The clubhouse celebration was also muted. Champagne was still involved, but it was players toasting each other with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May (2-1) went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.

Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which clinched its first AL West crown in seven years on Monday during a day off. The Athletics, in the postseason for the third straight year, currently are the AL’s No. 3 seed.

Mark Canha had two of Oakland’s five hits.

Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas (3-5).

Grossman quickly gave Oakland a 1-0 lead when he homered off the left-field pole in the first inning. Sean Murphy briefly gave the Athletics a 2-1 advantage when he led off the third with a walk and scored on a wild pitch by May with two outs.

Montas, who allowed only four home runs in his first seven starts, has given up six in his past three. The right-hander went four innings and yielded five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

“They’re a pretty good team that when you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They’re pretty good laying off and making you throw it over the plate. They made Montas pay, unfortunately.”

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

ATHLETICS ADVANCE

The A’s have a team text thread they used to celebrate clinching their first AL West title since 2013 during their off day Monday, when the Mariners beat Houston.

“We didn’t really celebrate too much yet. It’s exciting,” Chad Pinder said. “We wanted to do it on our own terms. We still won the division and that was our goal. It’s nice to know we’ll be playing home for the series.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: INF/OF Pinder (strained right hamstring) planned to run at Dodger Stadium and test his leg with hopes of still playing before the conclusion of the regular season. …. RHP Daniel Mengden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was designated for assignment after being medically cleared and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list following a positive test from Aug. 28.

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28. … Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50) is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts dating to Aug. 20.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 3.49) will make his team-leading 11th start.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this story.

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