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Jean Segura to Philly is official

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The Mariners and Phillies made it official late yesterday afternoon: Seattle has acquired first baseman Carlos Santana and shortstop J.P. Crawford from the Phillies in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura, righty Juan Nicasio and lefty James Pazos.

Segura, 28, hit .304/.341/.415 with 10 home runs, 63 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances in 2018. An above-average defender, he’ll constitute a major upgrade for the Phillies at short over a corps of shortstops, led by Scott Kingery, who put up a meager .651 OPS in 2018. Segura is under contract through 2022 at $14.25 million per year with a team option for 2022 at $17 million.

Nicasio, 32, posted a 6.00 ERA in 46 appearances, but he had a much lower FIP, suggesting that his defenders and bad luck did him no favors. As it was, he struck out 53 and walked just five in 42 innings. He’ll  make $9.25 million next season. Pazos, 27, had a 2.88 ERA in 60 appearances. He struck out 45 and walked 15 in 50 innings.

In return, Seattle gets a once-promising shortstop prospect in Crawford who will still only turn 24 in January and who could probably benefit from a change of scenery. They also get Santana, who was the Phillies’ big free agent signing last offseason but who hit only .229/.352/.414 with 24 home runs and 86 RBI. Yes, he walked a lot — 110 times — but it was a subpar season for Santana, who will turn 33 in April. He’s entering the second year of a three-year, $60 million deal. Seattle will be picking up all of that deal.

This deal is clearly a win for the Phillies, who upgrade massively at shortstop, get a nice arm in Nicasio and who, thanks to unloading Santana, are not really taking a financial hit. They are also now able to move Rhys Hoskins back to his natural position at first base rather than play him out in left field where he was a massive defensive liability. Even with this move, the Phillies are still reportedly motivated to make a big free agent splash, perhaps with Manny Machado, if he can be persuaded to play third base, possibly Bryce Harper or possibly Patrick Corbin.

For the Mariners: just the latest move in what is turning into a massive offseason fire sale in which they’ve taken on a couple of over-the-hill veterans along with some young lottery tickets, shed multiple key players and have moved, primarily, to shed long term obligations. Which ain’t the most inspiring thing in the world for M’s fans, I reckon.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.