Chris Herrmann
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Astros claim Chris Herrmann off waivers from Mariners

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The Astros started to replenish their options behind the plate on Friday after claiming Mariners catcher Chris Herrmann off waivers. Herrmann will join Max Stassi on the 40-man roster, as both Martín Maldonado and Brian McCann have officially entered free agency.

Herrmann, 30, picked up a minor league deal with the Mariners at the start of the 2018 season. He was called up from Triple-A Tacoma in late May and appeared in just 36 games with the team over the course of the year, during which he batted .237/.322/.421 with two home runs and a .743 OPS in 87 plate appearances. While he spent the majority of his 2018 campaign behind the dish, he’s proven fairly versatile in the past and logged time in the outfield as well as first base.

Per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, joining the Astros is a dream come true for the veteran backstop, who originally hails from Tomball, Texas. “I’ve always been an Astros fan since I was a little kid, watching Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman,” Herrmann told reporters on Friday. “Brad Ausmus was one of my favorite catchers; this is really cool.” McTaggart also notes that the Astros will continue to search for more catching depth this offseason, perhaps targeting the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto or the Royals’ Salvador Perez. Pending the qualifying offer he received from the Dodgers on Friday, Yasmani Grandal may be another option, too.

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.