Mariners acquire RHP Diego Castillo from Rays for two players

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners quickly found a replacement for the back end of their bullpen, acquiring right-hander Diego Castillo from the Tampa Bay Rays for reliever JT Chargois and a minor league infielder on Thursday.

Castillo will likely jump into the closer role that was vacated when the Mariners traded Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros earlier in the week. But unlike Graveman, who will be a free agent after the season, the Mariners gain a significant amount of control for the future with the acquisition of Castillo.

“I’ve said all along that we were focused on doing what we could to improve our team now and to continue to improve our team for 2022 and beyond. We feel like we’ve accomplished that,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “I can’t tell you that we will make another deal between now and the deadline but we’re not intentionally done. If we’re done it’s just because we weren’t able to get anything across, but we do have other things going.”

Castillo, 27, has 14 saves in 37 appearances and a 2.72 ERA this season for the Rays. He had a 1.66 ERA in 21 appearances during the shortened 2020 season for Tampa Bay. Castillo also appeared in 10 postseason games last year for Tampa Bay and allowed two earned runs in 11 innings.

More important for Seattle, Castillo will be under club control through 2024. It’s not a flashy move in the short term that will help Seattle compete with Oakland and the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card race. But it’s one that should make Seattle better in the future.

“We’re not going to empty the coffer to try to keep up with what others are doing on trade deadline day,” Dipoto said. “We’re one of the youngest teams in the league. The fact that we’re here has surprised many. We don’t want to forsake the fact that our players did a wonderful job in getting us here and deserve our help. Hopefully they view this as that.”

Chargois, 30, has been a solid addition to Seattle’s bullpen this season, making 31 appearances with a 3.00 ERA after not pitching in 2020. He’s primarily been a bridge option, pitching mostly in the sixth and seventh innings. Chargois had gone eight straight appearances without giving up an earned run before getting tagged for three runs by the Astros on Wednesday.

Also going to Tampa Bay is 23-year-old minor league infielder Austin Shenton. Shenton was a fifth-round pick by Seattle in 2019. He appeared in 67 games between High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas this season, hitting .300 with 29 doubles, 12 homers and 61 RBIs.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.