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Phillies sign Andrew McCutchen to three-year $50 million deal

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The Philadelphia Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million deal with a club option for a fourth year. Matt Gelb of the The Athletic was the first to report the news.

McCutchen, 32, batted .255/.368/.424 with 20 homers, 65 RBI, and 14 steals over 155 games between the Giants and Yankees in 2018. He’ll man a corner outfield spot flanking Odubel Herrera. The Phillies are said to still be looking for another corner outfielder, with Gleb and Ken Rosenthal each reporting that signing McCutchen would not rule out the Phillies’ pursuit of Bryce Harper. The Phillies have also been rumored to be interested in Michael Brantley.

Given how tough the market has been for players over 30 for the past couple of years, this is a pretty significant contract for McCutchen. Of course before, say, 2016, signing a former MVP with a career 134 OPS+ to this sort of contract would not have been seen as all that big a deal.

Times have changed, though, and this deal is a bit surprising. The Phillies have said they are going to spend “stupid money” this winter. This, however reasonable it seems to you or me, probably qualifies as the first salvo on that campaign.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.