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Yan Gomes gives Nationals an upgrade at catcher

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The New York Mets may be trying to win the winter with a splashy back-page headline deal, but the Washington Nationals made a much smaller trade Friday that improved their major league roster at a fairly minimal cost.

The Nationals get an above-average regular behind the plate in Yan Gomes, who makes up for chronic low OBPs with some power, above-average framing and good results against the running game. Washington’s catchers hit an aggregate .214/.304/.320 last year, and that’s with the benefit of eight intentional walks, while their primary catcher, Matt Wieters, has consistently graded out as one of the game’s worst pitch framers. So much went wrong for Washington last year en route to an 82-80 record when they were preseason favorites to win the division; the vortex of death behind the plate may not have been the only reason, but it was a big one. Gomes could easily be a four-win upgrade, depending on how much he plays this year, and he should get the bulk of the playing time over Kurt Suzuki.

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MLB

Matt Adams returning to Washington Nationals on one-year deal

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First baseman Matt Adams is returning to the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $4 million deal, according to multiple reports.

The left-handed slugger finished last season with the St. Louis Cardinals after being waived by the Nationals in a salary dump in August.

Adams, 30, hit .239 with 21 home runs for the season, averaging .257 with 18 home runs in 94 games with the Nationals.

He gives the Nationals some left-handed power off the bench and relief for Ryan Zimmerman at first.

In seven seasons with the Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and Nationals, he has 96 home runs, 332 RBIs and a .266 average.

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Top spenders Red Sox owe nearly $12 million in luxury tax

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NEW YORK — The World Series champion Boston Red Sox owe $11.95 million in luxury tax for having baseball’s top payroll.

That’s according to final calculations by the commissioner’s office obtained by The Associated Press. The only other team that owes is the Washington Nationals, who must pay $2.39 million.

Because Boston was more than $40 million over the tax threshold, it also became the first team to incur a new penalty put in place for the 2018 season: the top Red Sox selection in next June’s amateur draft will be dropped 10 places.

Boston’s top pick had been projected to be No. 33 overall before the penalty.

The New York Yankees dropped under the threshold for the first time, and the Los Angeles Dodgers fell below for the first time since 2012.

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White Sox have limits on Manny Machado, Bryce Harper

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The White Sox slashed their payroll in recent seasons as they traded away players such as Chris Sale and Adam Eaton and went about the business of stockpiling prospects. This leaves them in perfect position to grow their payroll now, to make moves like the transaction they executed Friday, when they agreed to take on first baseman Yonder Alonso, a $9 million salary dump of the Cleveland Indians.

Alonso happens to be the brother-in-law of superstar free agent Manny Machado, and both players are represented by agent Dan Lozano. This move will feed industry theory that the White Sox are laying the groundwork for a significant, aggressive strike on either Machado or Bryce Harper, the two most prominent players available.

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