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Report: Orioles interested in Collin McHugh

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The Orioles have reportedly reached out to the Astros about right-hander Collin McHugh, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. While a trade doesn’t appear to be imminent, McHugh could help bolster the Orioles’ woefully thin rotation, an opportunity he’s unlikely to get in Houston as the Astros already have Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton pegged for starting roles.

The 30-year-old right-hander is looking to rebound after missing the first half of the 2017 season with an elbow injury. He performed well after working his way back from the disabled list, and finished the season with a 5-2 record in 12 starts and a 3.55 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 in 63 1/3 innings. While McHugh appears more than capable of shouldering a full workload again in 2018, the Astros’ offseason acquisitions have effectively removed him from the rotation, and it seems far more likely that he’ll end up in a long relief role this year — provided they don’t trade him first, that is.

In the meantime, McHugh is still waiting on an arbitration ruling this offseason after filing for $5 million back in January, which was met with a counteroffer of $4.55 million from the Astros. He’s set to remain under team control through 2020.

An earlier report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic suggests that the Twins may also be in on McHugh, though they don’t appear to have made a serious offer yet. Rosenthal points out that teams might be reluctant to pursue trade candidates like McHugh and Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi until more free agents (Jake Arrieta and Andrew Cashner among them) have been taken off the board.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.