Pirates sign Daniel Nava to minor league deal

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The Pirates finalized a minor league deal with free agent outfielder Daniel Nava on Friday, per a team announcement. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, where Nava will presumably be available off the bench or slot into a corner outfield spot alongside established regulars like Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.

The switch-hitting Nava is coming off of his best season since 2014. Before losing the last month of the 2017 season to a lower back injury, he slashed .301/.393/.421 with four home runs and 1.1 fWAR in 214 plate appearances for the Phillies. His extreme splits make him an intriguing pinch-hitter option: against righties last year, the 34-year-old mashed an impressive .341/.423/.474 in 156 PA.

Recent comments from Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggest that Nava could platoon with fellow outfielder Jordan Luplow to start the season, though they haven’t yet ruled out another free agent or trade acquisition this offseason. No. 1 prospect Austin Meadows is expected to help the team in the outfield at some point in the near future, but as MLB.com’s Adam Berry points out, he could use more seasoning in Triple-A Indianapolis before making a full-time transition to the majors. Assuming Meadows stays on track, Nava could find himself relegated to a pinch-hitter/fourth outfielder role before too long.

Aaron Judge out of Yankees starting lineup for finale after No. 62

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Yankees slugger Aaron Judge wasn’t in the starting lineup for New York’s regular-season finale, a day after his 62nd home run that broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League single-season record.

When Judge homered in the first inning Tuesday night, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers, it was his 55th consecutive game. He has played in 157 games overall for the AL East champions.

With the first-round bye in the playoffs, the Yankees won’t open postseason play until the AL Division Series starts next Tuesday.

Even though Judge had indicated that he hoped to play Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone said after Tuesday night’s game that they would have a conversation and see what made the most sense.

“Short conversation,” Boone said before Wednesday’s game, adding that he was “pretty set on probably giving him the day today.”

Asked if there was a scenario in which Judge would pinch hit, Boone responded, “I hope not.”

Judge went into the final day of the regular season batting .311, trailing American League batting average leader Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315. Judge was a wide leader in the other Triple Crown categories, with his 62 homers and 131 RBIs.

Boone said that “probably the one temptation” to play Judge had been the long shot chance the slugger had to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.