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Astros claim Nori Aoki off waivers from the Mariners

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The Astros announced on Thursday that outfielder Nori Aoki has been claimed off waivers from the Mariners.

Aoki, 34, was thought to be a free agent, but because his 2017 option didn’t vest at 480 plate appearances, the Astros will control him through arbitration going into next season, as’s Greg Johns points out. Aoki was just shy, finishing with 467 PA.

Aoki finished this past season with a 2.83/.349/.388 triple-slash line with 32 extra-base hits, 28 RBI, and 63 runs scored. He’s an option in left field with the Astros. While he doesn’t hit for much of any power, nor does he provide value with defense or base running, he makes lots of contact and could slot in nicely at the front end of the Astros’ batting order.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”