Cubs acquire Castellanos from Tigers at deadline


The Chicago Cubs have acquired outfielder Nicholas Castellanos and cash considerations from the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers received right-handed pitching prospects Alex Lange and Paul Richan in the deal.

Castellanos is hitting .273 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs this season. His best year came in 2017, when he hit 26 home runs and drove in 101 runs with a .272 average.

The 27-year-old should provide a big boost offensively to a Chicago team that entered Wednesday’s action a game behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central and atop the wild-card standings. His 119 doubles over the last three seasons trail only Red Sox star Mookie Betts in that span. And Castellanos’ 37 doubles this season are tied with Boston’s Rafael Devers for the most in the majors.

He also will greatly improve their chances against left-handed pitching. The Cubs have the third-worst batting average against lefties this season at .235, while Castellanos has mashed lefties throughout his career, especially this season in which he is hitting .347 against southpaws.

Castellanos has a .790 OPS in 2019, and his OBP while batting second is .357.

The move was completed just ahead of Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.

Richan, 22, is 10-5 with a 3.97 ERA in 17 starts and Lange, 23, is 1-9 with a 7.36 ERA in 11 starts at the Class A level this season.

The Cubs also agreed to two other trades on Wednesday. Chicago sent catcher Martin Maldonado to the Houston Astros for utility man Tony Kemp and traded right-handed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to the San Diego Padres for left-hander Brad Wieck.

It’s also the Tigers’ second major trade as Detroit agreed to trade closer Shane Greene to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.



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Winners and losers of an unexpectedly wild MLB trade deadline


Just remember: Sometimes the biggest deals don’t end up being the most important. See: Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce for the 2018 Red Sox. Anyway, let’s review some of the winners and losers from a 2019 MLB trade deadline that finished with a flurry of activity. (Note: This is not a comprehensive review of every trade, but I did like the A’s picking Tanner Roark in the most A’s trade the A’s could make.)

Winner: Houston Astros

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Mark Teixeira and Tim Kurkjian are confident that with the Astros trading for Zack Greinke, they strongly increased their chances of winning a second World Series in three years.

In a move that broke in the minutes immediately after the 4 p.m. ET deadline, the Astros acquired Zack Greinke, the blockbuster deal that made all the weeks of rumors and speculation worth the wait. With a rotation now of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Greinke and Wade Miley for the postseason, plus one of the best bullpens (they also acquired Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez from the Blue Jays), the Astros will probably now rate as the consensus World Series favorites.

When so many front offices are afraid of making a mistake and dealing a prospect who then becomes a star, Jeff Luhnow continues to outmaneuver his peers. In 2017, he acquired Justin Verlander at the Aug. 31 deadline and won a World Series. That offseason, he acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pirates for four young players and Cole has gone 27-10 with a 2.90 ERA in Houston. Now he gets Greinke, who is 10-4 with a 2.87 ERA. Verlander, Greinke and Cole rank first, fourth and eighth in the majors in wOBA allowed. In the year of the home run, starting pitching is a precious commodity and the Astros now have three of the 10 best starters in the majors. Heck, even Miley is top-15 in ERA.

Yes, Luhnow gives up three of Houston’s top 10 prospects in J.B. Bukauskas, Seth Beer and Corbin Martin, but all three have notable flaws: Bukauskas struggled with his control and has a 5.25 ERA in Double-A; Beer can hit, but has no position; Martin reached the majors this year, but underwent Tommy John surgery. The Diamondbacks also get Triple-A utility player Josh Rojas, who has hit .315/.403/.575 and could be a nice sleeper.

Arizona also gets salary relief, as Greinke was set to make $35 million each of the next two seasons (the Diamondbacks will send the Astros $24 million, according to Ken Rosenthal). Luhnow also kept his top two prospects in outfielder Kyle Tucker and pitcher Forrest Whitley. The Astros also have a replacement now for Cole, in case he leaves as a free agent. And don’t undersell the addition of Sanchez, who hasn’t been able to replicate his 2016 season, when he led the AL in ERA. As Buster Olney said, he looks like the perfect science project for Houston’s analytics department, maybe as a power reliever (he’s under team control through 2020). Man, I would hate to be one of the four other AL West teams.

Losers: New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers

As the Greinke deal was announced, Yankees and Dodgers fans had a collective Twitter meltdown. Hey, it’s not easy being a fan of a big-market team. The Yankees didn’t do anything on Wednesday; they didn’t do anything all month after acquiring Edwin Encarnacion in June. The Dodgers made a couple minor deals in getting veteran infielder Jedd Gyorko from the Cardinals and lefty reliever Adam Kolarek from the Rays. Kolarek is a lefty killer (.187 average, .531 OPS allowed) and will help, but the Dodgers missed out on getting a premium setup guy for Kenley Jansen.

And for the Yankees, for the second time in two seasons, Luhnow outdueled Brian Cashman. It’s not quite that simple: Greinke had a no-trade clause to 15 teams, including the Yankees, and reports say he never would have approved a trade to New York. So it’s not fair to bash the Yankees for not getting Greinke. But it’s perhaps fair to bash the front office — and by extension, ownership — for not adding a starter like Robbie Ray or even a reliever. The rotation has been in a freefall since April. The Yankees are good, but the Astros won the day. And just like Verlander beat them twice in the 2017 ALCS, you wonder if Greinke will haunt the Yankees this October.

Winner: National League East bullpens

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Mark Teixeira and Tim Kurkjian both like the Braves addition of Shane Greene to solidify their bullpen.

Look, the Nationals could have acquired Charlie Sheen and that kid from “Rookie of the Year” and that would have improved a bullpen that ranks last in the majors with a 5.93 ERA. Adding Daniel Hudson, Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland will certainly help. Are they big difference-makers? No, not really. Hudson has a 3.00 ERA, although his peripheral numbers aren’t as impressive (4.21 FIP). Elias is a journeyman lefty who has closed for the Mariners, but has a 4.40 ERA and a significant reverse platoon split (righties have hit .182 off him, lefties .353). Strickland just returned from a strained lat muscle that had kept him out since the fourth game of the season. Nothing flashy here, but this trio should improve the seventh and eighth innings in front of closer Sean Doolittle.

So the Nationals did OK … but the Braves probably did better, adding Chris Martin on Tuesday and then Shane Greene and Mark Melancon on Wednesday to a bullpen that has struggled in July:

Greene comes with the magical labels of “closer” and “All-Star” and also owns a 1.18 ERA. All three items probably overstate his value — he’s allowed five home runs and just five earned runs, as he’s also allowed six unearned runs, and his runs allowed per nine is actually 2.61. It seems almost impossible, but here’s how that has happened:

Greene has also thrown just 38 innings, including just 14 innings over the past two months. Let’s see what happens when he has to pitch five times in a week.

Still, as Ryan Milowicki of ESPN Stats points out there, the Braves’ acquisitions have been better in the clutch than the guys the Nationals picked up. How’s how these guys rank in Win Probability Added out of 697 MLB pitchers this season:

Chris Martin: +1.26 (33rd)

Shane Greene: +1.14 (41st)

Mark Melancon: +0.52 (106th)

Daniel Hudson: +1.08 (46th)

Hunter Strickland: -0.40 (442nd)

Roenis Elias: -0.79 (559th)

Winner: San Francisco Giants fans

Madison Bumgarner stays put, which should make Giants fans happy. I think it’s the right decision by Farhan Zaidi. With their tremendous July, the Giants have earned the right to give the wild-card race a run (and give Bruce Bochy one more shot at a playoff run in his final season). They did trade away three relievers (Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Drew Pomeranz) and acquired Scooter Gennett, so it seems Zaidi tried to play it both ways, realizing that odds of reaching the playoffs are slim (6.2%, according to FanGraphs) and making a deep run even slimmer. Still, trading away a franchise icon isn’t easy if you’re only 2.5 games out of a wild card.

Loser: Boston Red Sox

They needed a reliever. They didn’t get one. But maybe Dave Dombrowski is right: Really, they just need the current guys to pitch better. (Hey, the bullpen does have the second-highest strikeout rate in the majors and if Nathan Eovaldi can get going, maybe the pen will be fine.)

Winner: New York media

The Yankees don’t do anything, the Mets don’t trade Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard. Plenty of fodder to discuss.

Was it the right move by the Mets to keep Wheeler, who is a pending free agent? Riding a five-game winning streak, the Mets’ playoff odds have increased to 16.4% — and odds of winning the division are just 1.1%. But why not? Plus, they can always extend Wheeler a qualifying offer and get a pick for him — or even re-sign him. How about a 2020 rotation of Jacob deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, Wheeler and Steven Matz?

Winners … or maybe Losers … or maybe something in between: Indians, Padres and Reds

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Jeff Passan analyzes the Indians’ trade that sent Trevor Bauer to the Reds and says Cleveland has enough arms on the shelf to make up for Bauer’s departure.

The fascinating three-way trade that sent Trevor Bauer to the Reds, Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen and Yasiel Puig (and two minor leaguers) to the Indians and prospect Taylor Trammell to the Padres could end up being a win-win-win or a lose-lose-lose. We don’t know!

The Indians probably have the most on the line because they’re the team trying to make the playoffs and they just traded a very good starting pitcher who leads the majors in innings pitched. Reyes and Puig will help an offense that ranks 10th in the AL in runs per game, and Reyes and Allen, who projects as a back-end starter, should help the Indians win the long-term WAR comparison because they’ll have years of team control of those players in comparison to Bauer.

But does it improve their chances of catching the Twins and winning a World Series? I’m not so sure. I’d take my chances in the playoffs with a rotation of Bauer, Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber, even with a mediocre offense. Of course, if the Indians had addressed their outfield in the offseason, maybe they wouldn’t have been in position of making this trade. It could also work in their favor: They start scoring more runs, Kluber returns and pitches well and they also have Reyes mashing for the next five years.

The Padres’ side is easy to understand: They’re swinging for the fences with Trammell, who is loaded with tools but has struggled in Double-A with a .236/.349/.336 line. In contrast to Reyes, who is a one-dimensional slugger with limited defensive value, Trammell is a more well-rounded player who projects as the team’s center fielder of the future if the bat comes around.

The Reds, with playoff odds of 4.9%, essentially acquired Bauer for next season. Trammell seems like a high price to pay for one year of Bauer’s services, but maybe the Reds aren’t as high on Trammell and now they have a rotation of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Bauer to build around. Plus, they can give Bauer a qualifying offer at the end of 2020 and receive draft-pick compensation or trade him if they’re not in the playoff race, so their side of the deal really includes a prospect to be named later.

Winner: Challenge trade!

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Keith Law contends that the Marlins are betting on Jazz Chisholm’s upside after acquiring him from the Diamondbacks.

The Marlins traded pitcher Zac Gallen to the Diamondbacks for minor league shortstop Jazz Chisholm, an odd trade to make on July 31. The Marlins better hope Gallen isn’t their next Chris Paddack or Luis Castillo. His raw stuff isn’t on their level, but he has a 2.72 ERA through his first seven major league starts with 43 K’s in 36.1 innings, suggesting he can pitch off a fastball that has averaged 92.2 mph.

Chisholm began 2019 as Arizona’s top prospect, but he has struggled mightily in Double-A, hitting .204/.305/.427 with 123 strikeouts in 364 plate appearances. He does have 18 home runs, but just 11 other extra-base hits, so it’s been an all-or-nothing approach. He’s just 21, hits left-handed and can run, so he fits the Marlins profile as a tools-laden position player with a questionable hit tool, but how many players who strike out 34% of the time in Double-A turn into good major league hitters? There’s a chance the Marlins gave up a solid rotation anchor for Lewis Brinson II. Or maybe they hit a home run with a kid who develops into a power-hitting shortstop.

Winner: Jerry Dipoto

Sit quietly? No way! Trader Jerry didn’t disappoint, trading Mike Leake to the Diamondbacks and the two relievers to the Nationals. Were they good trades? Who cares. Trader Jerry rose up to the occasion — unlike some other general managers — and that’s all that matters.





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Astros land Greinke, emerge as WS co-favorites


The Houston Astros made the biggest move of Wednesday’s trade deadline, acquiring right-hander Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks for four prospects.

Greinke joins a fearsome rotation that includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Houston sent right-hander Corbin Martin, right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, first baseman Seth Beer and infielder Josh Rojas to Arizona to complete the deal.

“Zack Greinke’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. We had him high on our list,” Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow said. “We didn’t know if this was even remotely possible, and it really wasn’t until the last 48 hours, really the last 24 hours that we started to get traction on something. [Astros owner Jim Crane] supported us and agreed that we could make the appropriate investment dollar-wise, and it became a matter of finding the right prospects, the right mix of players, to go back.

“We really don’t have any holes right now. If we stay healthy this team is as good as any team I’ve ever seen.”

Cole said when the players learned of the deal there was “a lot of hooting and hollering at 4:07. We are ecstatic. We’re getting a Hall of Fame pitcher, a craftsman.”

After news of the deal, Houston moved to +275 to win the World Series (tied with the Dodgers for the shortest odds) and +135 to win the American League, moving ahead of the Yankees, per Caesars Sportsbook. Before the trade, they were +450 to win the World Series and +200 to win the AL (New York was +140).

The Astros also acquired right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini and minor league outfielder Cal Stevenson from the Blue Jays, sending outfielder Derek Fisher to Toronto.

The Diamondbacks moved to replace Greinke in the rotation by acquiring right-handed starter Mike Leake from the Seattle Mariners.

Leake is 9-8 with a 4.40 ERA this season for Seattle. He is in the fourth year of a five-year, $80 million contract.

Greinke is 10-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 23 starts this season. Entering Wednesday, the right-hander, who won an American League Cy Young Award with the Kansas City Royals in 2009, was 197-122 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 major league seasons.

He pitched against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, striking out seven batters in five innings. Greinke left the ballpark without commenting to reporters.

Before the team confirmed the deal, Astros manager AJ Hinch didn’t want to show too much excitement while knowing he was getting one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers.

“I know he’s an Astro,” Hinch said. “I know he’s really good. I don’t know him personally, but I’m going to get to know him. We acquired him because of how good he is. Certainly we expect him to be a big part of our push to win the division and keep winning into October. He’s an incredible pitcher.”

For Houston’s rotation, it’s a case of the rich getting richer.

Before the Greinke trade, Astros starters ranked first in the majors in both strikeouts per nine innings (10.5) and opponents’ batting average (.213). Their ERA ranked fourth (3.68). Verlander leads the AL in wins (14) and ERA (2.73), and Cole tops with the majors with 212 strikeouts.

With Verlander and Greinke, Houston now is one of two teams with two active Cy Young winners on its roster (the other pair being Rick Porcello and David Price of the Boston Red Sox).

Verlander, who won the AL Cy Young in 2011 while with Detroit, expressed excitement about the Greinke deal.

Cole credited owner Jim Crane, Luhnow and the front office staff for their hard work in making the trade happen.

“What a pickup,” Cole said. “They nailed it. They did a magnificent job.”

Lunhow said he believes Greinke’s low-key personality will thrive in Houston.

“I don’t know him personally, but I think he’s not a guy that seeks the limelight, and that actually works well for us here in Houston,” the GM said. “And slotting in with Verlander and Cole, he’s gonna not have to be the guy that’s in front of the camera the whole time.”

Greinke gives the Astros insurance for after this season in case Cole leaves in free agency. Greinke is in the fourth year of a six-year, $206.5 million deal that he signed with Arizona prior to the 2016 season.

As part of the deal, the D-backs are sending $24 million to the Astros, who then will be responsible for the remaining $53 million on the deal, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.





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Astros bring on another ace, acquire Greinke


The Houston Astros made the biggest move of Wednesday’s trade deadline, acquiring right-hander Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks for four prospects.

Greinke joins a fearsome rotation that includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Houston sent right-hander Corbin Martin, right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, first baseman Seth Beer and infielder Josh Rojas to Arizona to complete the deal.

The Astros also acquired right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini and minor league outfielder Cal Stevenson from the Blue Jays, sending outfielder Derek Fisher to Toronto.

The Diamondbacks moved to replace Greinke in the rotation by acquiring right-handed starter Mike Leake from the Seattle Mariners.

Leake is 9-8 with a 4.40 ERA this season for Seattle. He is in the fourth year of a five-year, $80 million contract.

Greinke is 10-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 23 starts this season. Entering Wednesday, the right-hander, who won a Cy Young Award with the Kansas City Royals in 2009, was 197-122 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 major league seasons.

He pitched against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, striking out seven batters in five innings.

For Houston’s rotation, it’s a case of the rich getting richer.

Before the Greinke agreement, Astros starters ranked first in the majors in both strikeouts per nine innings (10.5) and opponents’ batting average (.213). Their ERA ranked fourth (3.68).

With Verlander and Greinke, Houston now is one of two teams with two active Cy Young winners on its roster (the other pair being Rick Porcello and David Price of the Boston Red Sox).

Verlander, who won the Cy in 2011 while with the Tigers, expressed excitement about the Greinke deal.

Greinke gives the Astros insurance for after this season in case Cole leaves in free agency. He is in the fourth year of a six-year, $206.5 million deal that he signed with Arizona prior to the 2016 season.

As part of the deal, the D-backs are sending $24 million to the Astros, who then will be responsible for the remaining $53 million on the deal, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.





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Braves add closer Greene, Melancon to fortify pen


The Atlanta Braves added two more relievers before the trade deadline, acquiring All-Star closer Shane Greene from the Detroit Tigers, and San Francisco Giants right-hander Mark Melancon on Wednesday.

The Braves gave up two minor-leaguers — left-hander Joey Wentz and infielder Travis Demeritte — for Greene. They sent right-handed pitchers Dan Winkler and Tristan Beck to the Giants.

The Braves also acquired catcher John Ryan Murphy from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday for cash considerations.

Greene, 30, has a 1.18 ERA and 22 saves this season. The right-hander recorded 32 saves last season in his first full year as a closer.

Melancon, 34, is a three-time All-Star who has a 3.50 ERA in 43 games with the Giants this season.

Greene and Melancon are both under contract through the 2020 season. Greene is eligible for arbitration, and Melancon has a base salary of $14 million.

The Braves already bolstered their bullpen Tuesday night with their acquisition of right-hander Chris Martin from the Texas Rangers.

Luke Jackson has served as Atlanta’s closer this season, recording 17 saves. However, he has struggled lately, posting a 13.50 ERA with two blown saves in seven appearances since the All-Star break. He blew a save chance on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals, but the Braves won 5-4 in 10 innings.

For the Tigers, the trade of Greene likely clears the closer role for Joe Jimenez, who has been the team’s closer of the future for some time. Buck Farmer, who has nine consecutive scoreless appearances to begin the second half, could force himself into the mix if Jimenez initially struggles.



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Cubs land OF Castellanos from Tigers at deadline


The Chicago Cubs have acquired outfielder Nicholas Castellanos from the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers received right-handed pitching prospects Alex Lange and Paul Richan in the deal.

Castellanos is hitting .273 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs this season. His best year came in 2017, when he hit 26 home runs and drove in 101 runs with a .272 average.

The 27-year-old should provide a big boost offensively to a Chicago team that entered Wednesday’s action a game behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central and atop the wild-card standings. His 119 doubles over the last three seasons trail only Red Sox star Mookie Betts in that span. And Castellanos’ 37 doubles this season are tied with Boston’s Rafael Devers for the most in the majors.

He also will greatly improve their chances against left-handed pitching. The Cubs have the third-worst batting average against lefties this season at .235, while Castellanos has mashed lefties throughout his career, especially this season in which he is hitting .347 against southpaws.

Castellanos has a .790 OPS in 2019, and his OBP while batting second is .357.

The move was completed just ahead of Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.

The Athletic first reported the agreement.

Richan, 22, is 10-5 with a 3.97 ERA in 17 starts and Lange, 23, is 1-9 with a 7.36 ERA in 11 starts at the Class A level this season.

The Cubs also agreed to two other trades on Wednesday. Chicago sent catcher Martin Maldonado to the Houston Astros for utility man Tony Kemp and traded right-handed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to the San Diego Padres for left-hander Brad Wieck.

It’s also the Tigers’ second major trade as Detroit agreed to trade closer Shane Greene to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.



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Nats get ‘new toys,’ add three to taxed bullpen


The Washington Nationals bolstered their bullpen before the trade deadline Wednesday, acquiring veteran right-hander Daniel Hudson from the Toronto Blue Jays and Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland from the Seattle Mariners.

Through Wednesday’s game, the Nationals bullpen ranked last in the majors with a 5.90 ERA and had blown 20 saves, tied for third most.

Although Washington relievers have fared better recently, posting a 4.76 ERA in July, general manager Mike Rizzo was looking to bolster the bullpen in preparation for the stretch run.

“These guys are all qualified to pitch the seventh, eighth, and the ninth inning,” Rizzo said. “They all have saves on their resume, and they’re all stuff guys that can get big outs at big times. The role system, I think that’ll kind of work itself out. We’re just kind of getting our arms around the new acquisitions and see where it falls amongst the way we’ll rotate them in the bullpen.”

Added closer Sean Doolittle: “It will be good to have some new toys.”

After Wednesday’s loss, the Nationals are 6½ games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They began the day a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies for the top wild-card spot.

“These aren’t the sexiest names in the trade market, but we think we got good quality, reliable guys with some moxie and some experience,” Rizzo said. “… We got a couple controllable relievers for not only this year but the foreseeable future and the player return was something that was acceptable to us.

“We feel good about what we did today. And we are excited to take this road trip and really step on the gas and get things rolling.”

The Mariners received a trio of minor league pitchers from the Nationals — left-handers Taylor Guilbeau and Aaron Fletcher and right-hander Elvis Alvarado. Washington sent minor league right-hander Kyle Johnston to Toronto for Hudson, who can become a free agent at the end of the season.

Johnston, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft, is 9-9 with a 4.03 ERA in 20 starts for Class A Potomac this season.

On June 23, Washington released failed free-agent signing Trevor Rosenthal, who posted a 22.74 ERA with the team. Two days later, the Nats called up Fernando Rodney, 42. who’d been released by Oakland earlier in the season.

Rodney has since emerged as the primary setup man for Doolittle.

“It feels good that the front office and the organization is trying to make additions to help us down the stretch here,” Doolittle said. “… I think the biggest thing is the message that it sends from the front office to the guys here in this clubhouse, that they got our backs and they’re going to try to give us a little bit of extra pieces to keep this momentum going and help us down the stretch run.”

Hudson, 32, was seen leaving the Blue Jays’ bullpen and hugging teammates before heading to the clubhouse during Wednesday’s game in Kansas City. He is 6-3 this season with 2 saves, 48 strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA, which is his lowest mark since posting a 2.45 ERA across 95⅓ innings in 2010.

He has a career record of 46-35 with 11 saves and a 3.92 ERA in 355 appearances with the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Pirates, Diamondbacks and White Sox over 10 seasons.

To make room for Hudson on the 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred Jonny Venters to the 60-day IL.

The Blue Jays are currently without closer Ken Giles, who got a cortisone shot to treat mild inflammation in his right elbow. Joe Biagini could be the next to move up in the bullpen order, though Tim Mayza and Justin Shafer have pitched well in late-and-close situations and could factor into any possible committee.

Elias has been Seattle’s primary closer for the majority of the season after Strickland suffered a lat strain in the opening week and missed several months. Strickland has appeared in just four major league games this season.

Elias has appeared in 44 games and was 4-2 with a 4.40 ERA and 14 saves for Seattle. Strickland has a career 2.98 ERA with 214 strikeouts in 229⅓ innings.

In 2017 with the Giants, Strickland made headlines when he hit then-Nationals slugger Bryce Harper on the hip with a 98 mph fastball, which sparked a benches-clearing incident. It was the first time Strickland had faced Harper since Harper hit two home runs off him in the 2014 National League Division Series.

Strickland was suspended six games by Major League Baseball for his role in the brawl, which ended with him being dragged to the Giants’ dugout by several of his teammates.

“Love the attitude, the chip on his shoulder,” Rizzo said of Strickland on Wednesday. “He’s a tough guy that’ll bring it. You love him or you hate him, and he’s a National now, so I think he’s going to fit in beautifully with the clubhouse.”

ESPN’s Eddie Matz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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MLB deadline tracker — Astros land Zack Greinke as last-minute deals rock MLB


Marcus Stroman became the first big name to move, followed by Trevor Bauer — and then the Astros landed Zack Greinke in a last-minute blockbuster. Here are the moves that went down before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on July 31, along with analysis of what these transactions mean for the teams that made them.

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July 31 deals

Astros get Zack Greinke in late blockbuster deal! Just when it looked like this deadline would go quietly, Houston sent shockwaves through baseball by acquiring Zack Greinke from Arizona. The Diamondbacks are getting four prospects for Greinke, a source tells ESPN.


The deal: Giants acquire Scooter Gennett from Reds.

Our one-sentence take: The Giants get a modest improvement to their offense as they try to make a wild-card run in Bruce Bochy’s final year as manager.


The deal: Cubs land Nicholas Castellanos in deal with Tigers.

Our one-sentence take: The 27-year-old can be slotted in at multiple spots on the diamond and should provide a big boost offensively to a Chicago team that entered Wednesday’s action a game behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central and atop the wild-card standings.


Braves get a big bullpen boost: The Atlanta Braves improved their relief corps before the trade deadline by acquiring All-Star closer Shane Greene from the Detroit Tigers. Atlanta followed the Greene addition with a deal with San Francisco for reliever Mark Melancon.


Dodgers add to offensive depth: The Dodgers acquired infielder Jedd Gyorko in a trade with the Cardinals. The 30-year-old has power, can play multiple positions and provides insurance given the injuries to Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and David Freese.


Phillies add veteran bat: Outfielder Corey Dickerson has been traded to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Dickerson is hitting .300 with four homers and 25 RBIs this season. He hit a career-high 27 dingers for the Rays in 2017.


A rare prospect trade at the deadline: July 31 trades are usually about an immediate fix for at least one side involved in the deal, but the Marlins and D-backs made a trade of prospects that is all about the future for both. Zac Gallen is headed to Arizona for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm, a source tells ESPN. Gallen has been very good, with a 2.72 ERA in seven major league starts.

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Keith Law contends that the Marlins are betting on Jazz Chisholm’s upside after acquiring him from the Diamondbacks.


The deal: A’s acquire Tanner Roark from the Reds.

Our one-sentence take: The A’s get some quality depth for their wild-card push while Cincinnati moves a free-agent-to-be who became even more expendable when the Reds added Trevor Bauer to the top of their rotation.


The deal: The Nationals acquire Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland from the Mariners.

Our one-sentence take: Look, the Nats really needed to address their bullpen and adding two of Seattle’s best relievers along with Daniel Hudson (see below) is a positive step there.


The deal: The Nationals acquire Daniel Hudson from the Blue Jays.

Our one-sentence take: Washington adds a veteran arm to a bullpen lacking in quality late-game options.


The deal: Cubs trade Martin Maldonado to Astros for Tony Kemp.

Our one-sentence take: The move creates flexibility as the Cubs continue to look to improve either their starting lineup or their bench while Houston reunites with a catcher who finished last season as an Astro.


The deal: Rays acquire Jesus Aguilar from Rays for Jake Faria.

Our one-sentence take: Tampa Bay is betting that a 2018 All-Star can return to last year’s form as a power bat while Milwaukee adds a versatile arm.


July 30 deals

The deal: The Reds acquired Trevor Bauer, The Indians acquired Yasiel Puig, Franmil Reyes and more, and the Reds acquired prospect Taylor Trammell.

Our one-sentence take: This is the blockbuster we’ve all been waiting for with the Reds making a surprising play for an ace, the Indians adding two powerful outfielders and the Padres jumping in at the chance to grab an elite outfield prospect.

InsiderLaw: What to make of Cleveland-Cincinnati-San Diego blockbuster

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Jeff Passan analyzes the Indians’ trade that sent Trevor Bauer to the Reds and says Cleveland has enough arms on the shelf to make up for Bauer’s departure.


The deal: The Rangers send right-handed reliever Chris Martin to the Braves for LHP Kolby Allard.

Our one-sentence take: Using the organization’s prospect depth to get bullpen help might sound good in principle, but trading away Allard, — the No. 14 prospect in the organization in Keith Law’s pre-season ranking — for a 33-year-old journeyman enjoying his first significant big-league success, feels like a steep price to pay.


The deal: The Blue Jays sent RHP David Phelps to the Cubs for pitching prospect Thomas Hatch.

Our one-sentence take: The Cubs add a veteran arm to a bullpen in desperate need of quality depth.


Earlier trades

The deal: The Mets sent LHP Jason Vargas to the Phillies. (July 29)

Our one-sentence take: With Jake Arrieta ailing, the Phillies needed an arm and got a decent one in Vargas, whose departure lets the Mets shed about $2 million in salary they can spend elsewhere this year or next.


The deal: The Brewers acquire right-hander Jordan Lyles from the Pirates for pitching prospect Cody Ponce. (July 29)

Our one-sentence take: The Brewers definitely needed some rotation help, but it’s hard to see Lyles (9.58 ERA in eight starts since the end of May) as the answer.


The deal: The Mets acquire veteran right-hander Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson. (July 28)

Our one-sentence take: Stroman is a solid starter having one of his best seasons, but the Mets aren’t close enough to contending to trade two of their top 10 prospects for short-term help.


The deal: The Rays acquire veteran infielder Eric Sogard from the Blue Jays for two players to be named later. (July 28)

Our one-sentence take: Hitting .300/.363/.477 with Toronto, Sogard is a nice pickup, giving Rays manager Kevin Cash some versatility and another option at second base and could be one of those under-the-radar deals that proves to be a key acquisition.


The deal: The Indians acquired infielder Christian Arroyo and pitcher Hunter Wood from the Rays for minor league outfielder Ruben Cardenas and international slot money. (July 28)

Our one-sentence take: A small trade, but a nice depth move for the Indians as Arroyo, who was hitting .314/.381/.603 in 33 games at Triple-A, provides a backup infield option, and Wood (2.48 ERA in 29 innings) provides more depth for a bullpen that has the best ERA in the majors, while the Rays solve their 40-man roster jam.


The deal: The Twins get right-handed reliever Sergio Romo (plus prospect Chris Vallimont and a PTBNL) from the Marlins for Double-A first baseman Lewin Diaz. (July 27)

Our one-sentence take: Romo’s a veteran reliever with three rings (with the Giants) and experience closing, setting up and doing whatever’s needed, so he’ll give the Twins pen everything it could ask for down the stretch.


The deal: In a second deal between these two teams, A’s get left-handed reliever Jake Diekman for two prospects — outfielder Dairon Blanco and right-handed pitcher Ismael Aquino. (July 27)

Our one-sentence take: A’s add a power southpaw to shore up their pen and their wild-card bid, apparently without touching their 40-man roster.


The deal: Cubs get catching help, getting journeyman backstop Martin Maldonado for left-handed swingman Mike Montgomery. (July 15)

Our one-sentence take: The deal gives the Cubs an insurance policy behind the plate for the stretch, as it comes on the heels of their having to put starting catcher Willson Contreras on the IL briefly with a strained foot.

Cubs acquire catcher Maldonado from Royals


The deal: Athletics get Homer Bailey from Royals (July 14)

Our one-sentence take: As they make their midseason surge up the standings, the Athletics added an under-the-radar starter having his best season in five years.

A’s acquire Bailey from Royals for prospect


The deal: Red Sox get Andrew Cashner from Orioles (July 13)

Our one-sentence take: With Nathan Eovaldi ticketed for a bullpen role upon his return from the injured list, the Red Sox turned their attention to the rotation and added a veteran with American League East experience, in Cashner.

Red Sox land Cashner in deal with O’s

Fantasy impact of deadline deals

The worst deadline trade ever for all 30 teams

Curt Schilling (twice!), Corey Kluber and “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?!?” We relive the summer blockbusters gone wrong that GMs everywhere would love to forget. David Schoenfield

What front offices are saying

“Marcus is a dynamic talent who will bring tremendous passion to our team and energy our fans will truly appreciate. As a Long Island native, we believe that Marcus will thrive playing in New York.”

Brodie Van Wagenen on Mets’ addition of Marcus Stroman

Mike Rizzo on Nats’ deadline moves: “These guys are all qualified to pitch the seventh, eighth, and the ninth inning. They all have saves on their resume, and they’re all stuff guys that can get big outs at big times. The role system, I think that’ll kind of work itself out. We’re just kind of getting our arms around the new acquisitions and see where it falls amongst the way we’ll rotate them in the bullpen.”

Your turn: MLB trade deadline poll center



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Brady says he bulked up to better absorb hits


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady bulked up entering training camp, adding strength with a specific goal in mind.

“I wanted to get a little bigger this year and put on a few more pounds and try to absorb the hits a little bit more,” he said Wednesday, addressing local reporters for the first time. “I worked pretty hard at that.”

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Brady, who often stresses the importance of pliability, said the results have shown up on the practice field early in training camp. He also has worked to maintain his fluidity.

Brady, who turns 42 on Saturday, is looking to become the first quarterback to ever start all 16 games of a regular season at that age.

“Football, I love the sport. I’ve loved playing it since I was a kid. It’s hard for me to imagine doing anything else in life,” he said. “I love playing ball, so to still be out here at 41 — soon to be 42 — it’s a pretty great thing for me.”

Brady has not attended voluntary workouts each of the past two years, focusing on time with his family, which he said has him in a good place early in training camp.

“It’s been great for me to spend the offseasons with them and really fill up that bucket and give them the time, support and love that they need,” he said. “When I’m here doing my thing, my wife’s got to hold down the fort, and she has put a lot on hold over the years to support my dreams. I feel like it’s my responsibility as a husband to do the same for her. She’s happy when I get back to football because she knows how happy I am. It was a great offseason, but now it’s time for football, and I think everyone in our family is prepared for that.”

One of Brady’s toughest challenges early in training camp has been adjusting to life without retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.

“He’s a great player. To replace great players, it’s not like you just pick another one off the tight-end tree. You can’t just go out back,” he said “You’ve got to find guys that come in and want to put the work in and want to try and contribute. … They’re all new players, so we’ve got to figure out how to get them up to speed to what our expectations are, the level of competition on a daily basis.”

Brady also finds himself in a rare situation entering the last year of his contract. He was asked if he would be comfortable going year to year at this point.

“We’re all day-to-day if you think about it. None of us are really promised anything,” he said. “I’m trying to do the best I can do today and just let those things sort themselves out.”



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