Pirates sign OF Melky Cabrera to minor-league deal

Pirates sign OF Melky Cabrera to minor-league deal
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to big-league camp.
The Pirates announced the deal on Monday. The 34-year-old Cabrera will make $1.15 million with an additional $850,000 available in performance bonuses if he makes the 40-man roster.
Cabrera is a career .286 hitter in 14 seasons split among seven different teams. He made the All-Star team in 2012 while playing for the San Francisco Giants and was named the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player. He was suspended 50 games later in the 2012 season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
Cabrera hit .280 with six home runs and 39 RBIs in 78 games last season for Cleveland. He will get a chance to compete with Lonnie Chisenhall and others for a spot in Pittsburgh’s outfield while right fielder Gregory Polanco recovers from shoulder surgery.
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Former Bucs shortstop Jordy Mercer, Tigers agree to $5.25M, 1-year deal

AP source: Jordy Mercer, Tigers agree to $5.25M, 1-year deal
By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A person familiar with the negotiations says shortstop Jordy Mercer and the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a $5.25 million, one-year contract.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement was subject to a successful physical.
Mercer had spent his entire seven-season big league career with Pittsburgh. The 32-year-old hit .251 with six homers and 39 RBIs, down from 14 homers and 58 RBIs in 2017.
His agreement was first reported by Fancred.
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Former Pirate Charlie Morton and Tampa Bay agree on $30M, 2-yr deal

AP source: Charlie Morton, Rays agree on $30M, 2-yr deal
By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays are perfectly comfortable putting relief pitchers on the mound to begin games. But the chance to add an All-Star to their patchwork rotation, that was too good to pass up.
Coming off a career-high 30 starts, Charlie Morton reached a $30 million, two-year contract with the Rays, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been officially announced.
The 35-year-old Morton was a first-time All-Star last season when he went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA for Houston.
Morton helped the Astros win their first championship in 2017. He started and won Game 7 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees, then was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the World Series against the Dodgers with four innings of relief.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “You never like to have good pitching come into the division, prefer they go somewhere else.”
Morton’s success with the Astros came after a career that had been beset by injuries and inconsistency. He’d undergone Tommy John surgery and was just 46-71 with Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for going to Houston.
The right-hander joins a Rays staff led by AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell.
The Tampa Bay rotation was wrecked by injuries this year, and the team often used relief pitchers as starters in their “opener” strategy on the way to 90 wins.
The Rays’ approach became a trend in baseball, especially when teams saw how well it worked. Tampa Bay went 46-38 with traditional starters and was 44-34 when using relievers at the start.
Manager Kevin Cash said earlier this week at the winter meetings that the Rays will employ the strategy again this season.
“I think right now we’re discussing internally whether we do it two times through the rotation or three times through the rotation,” Cash said Monday. “But the nice thing is we’ve got all that information last year and we have a bunch of candidates that we can fill in as a traditional starter if need be.”
Two days later, the math became a little easier with Morton.
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Bucs Deal Ivan Nova to White Sox for minor league pitcher!!!

Pitcher Ivan Nova acquired by White Sox from Pirates
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Right-hander Ivan Nova has been acquired by the Chicago White Sox from the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league pitcher Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation.
A 31-year-old right-hander, Nova was 9-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 29 starts this season, striking out 114 in 161 innings. He is 78-64 with a 4.26 ERA in nine seasons with the New York Yankees (2010-16) and Pirates (2016-18).
Nova has a $8.5 million base salary next year in the final season of a $26 million, three-year contract, then can become a free agent.
A 19-year-old right-hander, Rosario was 1-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 11 starts and three relief appearances last year in the Dominican Summer League and Arizona Rookie League. He struck out 70 in 56 innings.
The trade was announced Tuesday at the winter meetings.
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AP source: McCutchen, Phillies agree to $50M, 3-year deal

AP source: McCutchen, Phillies agree to $50M, 3-year deal
By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen and the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a $50 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the agreement, which includes a club option for 2022, is subject to a successful physical.
The 32-year-old McCutchen was an All-Star each season from 2011-15, topping .300 in batting average from 2012-14. He was the NL MVP in 2013.
McCutchen nine years with Pittsburgh before he was traded to San Francisco last winter. He was dealt to the New York Yankees on Aug. 31 and hit .255 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs in 155 games overall this year.
McCutchen has 223 homers, a .287 average and 790 RBIs in 10 major league seasons.
Philadelphia remains interested in Bryce Harper, the top free agent on the market, but has a surplus of outfielders, including Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr and Roman Quinn.
Rhys Hoskins is moving from left field to first base after the team traded Carlos Santana to Seattle for infielder Jean Segura last week.
Herrera, a former All-Star, is a trade candidate. He struggled in the second half last season and finished with career lows in batting average (.255) and on-base percentage (.310).
Philadelphia pursued Patrick Corbin and is still seeking a left-handed starter.
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AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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Bucs Deal Moroff and Luplow to Cleveland for Erik Gonzalez and two pitchers!!

Indians send INF Gonzalez to Pirates in 5-player swap
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians traded versatile infielder Erik Gonzalez to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a five-player swap.
Cleveland sent Gonzalez, who appeared in 81 games for the AL Central champions last season, and right-handers Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza to the Pirates for outfielder Jordan Luplow and infielder Max Moroff.
Gonzalez batted .265 with one homer and 16 RBIs last season for Cleveland, which signed the Dominican native in 2009. Gonzalez filled a utility role for the Indians, but was not going to be able to get into the starting lineup behind All-Stars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.
The 25-year-old Luplow brings needed depth to Cleveland’s outfield, which was decimated by injuries last season. He appeared in 64 games over the past two seasons with the Pirates, who named him their top minor league player in 2017.
Moroff has split the last three seasons between Triple-A Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, appearing in 26 games for the Pirates in 2018.
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Brewers take Game 1

Reliever Woodruff’s homer stuns Kershaw, Brewers take Game 1
By GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The high-five at the plate from Brandon Woodruff nearly took out Lorenzo Cain.
It’s not often that reliever hits a home run.
Batting left-handed. Off lefty Clayton Kershaw. In the playoffs.
Woodruff stunned the ace with an early home run and Milwaukee’s normally shutdown bullpen held on — barely — as the Brewers beat the sloppy Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 Friday night in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.
Hard-throwing Josh Hader and the Brewers earned their 12th straight win, one shy of the franchise record set to open the 1987 season.
Woodruff, of all people, had the momentum-swinging hit.
“It’s something obviously coming into the day, you don’t know in your wildest dreams that’s going to happen,” he said.
It was the first time in postseason history that a pitcher homered in a lefty vs. lefty matchup. Woodruff was understandably was pumped as he rounded the bases.
“He was fired up when he came home. He nearly broke my arm,” Cain said.
The Dodgers scored three times in the eighth to make it 6-4, then nearly tied it in the ninth. Chris Taylor hit an RBI triple off Cain’s glove in deep center field with two outs before Corey Knebel fanned Justin Turner to end it.
Game 2 is Saturday at Miller Park, with Wade Miley pitching for the Brewers against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The Dodgers did some damage against the Brewers’ bullpen. Milwaukee used seven pitchers, including three scoreless innings from Hader. Woodruff threw two perfect innings and got the win.
“But for us to get a look at these guys out of the ‘pen in a seven-game series, I think that’s a good thing,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Manny Machado homered and drove in three runs for Los Angeles. The Dodgers committed four errors, including two by catcher Yasmani Grandal, who also had two passed balls.
NERVOUS MOMENTS
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell’s pitching-by-committee strategy continued to be a hit, at least until the late innings.
Finally, the hard-throwing Knebel restored order by striking out Turner. Knebel walked Joc Pederson with two outs before Taylor’s long drive.
“It’s the postseason and anything can happen, you saw right there. It was a good feeling for it to go our way right there at the end,” Knebel said.
STUNNING HOMER
After starter Gio Gonzalez went two innings, nicked by Machado’s home run, Woodruff entered in the top of the third. In the bottom half, Woodruff made a sudden impact — with his bat.
Woodruff became just the third relief pitcher to homer in the postseason, tagging a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner for a tying solo drive. Woodruff pumped both arms as he rounded first base, while Kershaw turned away and looked down at the ground.
“I knew he could swing the bat a little bit, for sure,” Kershaw said. “I didn’t know he could do that, but I knew he could hit a little bit.”
Woodruff was a career 4 for 22 (.222) hitter before connecting. He had one previous homer, in July against Pittsburgh’s Nick Kingham.
DODGER BLUES
Kershaw was chased before he could retire a batter in the fourth inning.
It was another miserable October night for the lefty, whose regular-season brilliance has often disappeared in the postseason.
And it wasn’t even Christian Yelich and the Brewers’ stars who got to him. Hernan Perez hit a sacrifice fly later in the third, and pinch-hitter Domingo Santana had a two-run single in the fourth for a 4-1 lead that chased Kershaw from the mound with nobody out.
It was the shortest postseason start of Kershaw’s career. He had a 4.65 ERA in 10 career appearances, including seven starts, going into Friday.
That ERA went up after allowing six hits and five runs — four earned — in three-plus innings.
“The errors affected the game. But as far as Clayton, I just think it was poor execution,” Roberts said.
Jesus Aguilar added a solo home run in the seventh for the Brewers, his second of the postseason. Cain went 3 for 5 and scored a run.
BURGER TIME
Eat up, Milwaukee.
This late-season run earned Brewers fans a free burger at an area restaurant chain.
George Webb Restaurants has a long-standing promotion to give away a free burger whenever the Brewers win 12 straight.
It’s time to dine after a dozen.
Save the date: October 18, George Webb announced after the game . Save one for reliever Jeremy Jeffress, too.
“Honestly, as long as you put some mayo on it I’m good with it,” he said.
George Webb also paid up in 1987.
UP NEXT
It’s another all left-handed pitching matchup in Game 2. Ryu pitched seven shutout innings, striking out seven and allowing for hits, in the Dodgers’ Game 1 victory over the Braves in the Division Series. Ryu is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in four career postseason starts. Miley is making his second start of the postseason, going 4 2/3 innings in the Brewers’ Division Series-clinching victory over Colorado on Sunday. He is 4-5 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 career games against the Dodgers.
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PIRATES-MARLINS MAKEUP GAME FOR OCTOBER 1 CANCELLED

PIRATES-MARLINS MAKEUP GAME FOR OCTOBER 1 CANCELLED
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced today that its September 9, 2018 game against the Marlins at PNC Park that was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for October 1, 2018 has now been cancelled.

With the Pirates’ elimination from the Wild Card race, the game no longer has Postseason implications. Fans still holding tickets from the September 9 game can exchange them for any April or May home game in 2019, excluding the Home Opener on April 1 vs. St. Louis. For more information, visit pirates.com/raincheck.

Frazier hits walk off homer in the 11th. Bucs and Cubs split series

Frazier homers as Pirates top Cubs 2-1 in 11 innings
By WES CROSBY, Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh’s pitchers delivered once again, and Adam Frazier rewarded them with one big swing.
Frazier hit a game-ending homer in the 11th inning, and the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Sunday for a split of their four-game series.
Josh Harrison grounded out and Adeiny Hechavarria struck out before Frazier drove a 3-0 pitch from Brandon Kintzler (1-3) deep to right. It was Frazier’s fifth homer of the season.
“It’s probably the most excited I’ve ever been going around the bases,” Frazier said. “It was pretty cool.”
The Cubs had a prime scoring chance against Richard Rodriguez (3-2) in the top half of the inning, but came up empty. Addison Russell was picked off third by catcher Elias Diaz, and Albert Almora Jr. struck out looking with the bases loaded with two out.
“We tried that play because the situation dictated it,” Diaz said about the pickoff. “(Wilson Contreras) showed bunt and (Russell) was waiting for the bunt and was halfway (down the third-base line). So, that’s why we called the play, and we executed. It felt great. It saved a run. It was beautiful.”
NL Central-leading Chicago managed just one run in each game of the series, but took the first two behind strong pitching performances by Jon Lester and Cole Hamels. It was the fewest runs allowed by Pittsburgh in a four-game series since it also allowed four against St. Louis from July 30-Aug. 2, 1992.
“We have to get our offense straightened out,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I can’t make any excuses for it. There are none. We just have to get better. But we did pitch. We played great defense. We did a lot of really good things. We just didn’t hit the baseball.”
The Cubs lost two straight for the first time since July 27-28.
Chicago jumped in front on Kyle Schwarber’s 22nd homer off Jameson Taillon in the second. Schwarber belted a ball just foul past the pole in left field before driving the next pitch into the last row beyond right field.
Schwarber also connected during Friday night’s 1-0 victory.
“That was a different series, that’s for sure,” Schwarber said. “The pitching was on all four games. You tip your hat to their side, to what they were able to do the last two days. All four days. What did we score? Four runs in four days, and won two games. Tip the hat to their team, and you obviously tip the hat to our pitchers too.”
Gregory Polanco hit a tying RBI double for Pittsburgh in the sixth. Carl Edwards Jr. then replaced Jose Quintana with runners on second and third and no outs, and wiggled out of the jam.
Quintana allowed four hits, struck out four and walked two. The veteran left-hander was just 1-3 with a 7.52 ERA in his previous four starts.
Pittsburgh had a chance to win it in the ninth after Pedro Strop walked Hechavarria and hit Frazier to load the bases. But Maddon employed a five-man infield and Corey Dickerson grounded into a 4-9-3 double play, ending the inning.
Taillon struck out eight in six innings. He allowed five hits and walked three.
“Jameson had to roll up his sleeves,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The numbers are good. The results are really good, but there was work to be done today by him.”
DARVISH’S DAY
Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish lasted just one inning in his rehab start with Class A South Bend, casting doubt on his availability for the rest of the year. Darvish, who has been sidelined by triceps and elbow injuries, said he would ask for an MRI when he got back to Chicago.
He wasn’t sure if would miss the rest of the year.
“I can’t really tell right now,” Darvish said. “It depends how I feel tomorrow. I really want to come back this season. I am going to work hard and do my best to try and come back.”
Maddon didn’t provide any additional information following the loss.
UP NEXT
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (9-9, 4.11 ERA) gets the ball at Detroit on Tuesday. He is 3-0 with a 4.38 ERA in his last four starts.
Pirates: RHP Chris Archer (4-5, 4.49 ERA) faces visiting Atlanta on Monday. Archer is 1-0 with a 5.65 ERA in three starts since he was acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay.
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