SEATTLE — The Houston Astros have landed one of the top relievers in baseball, acquiring right-hander Kendall Graveman from the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday in an odd intra-division trade while the teams were preparing to play each other.

Graveman and Rafael Montero are going to the AL West-leading Astros with infielder Abraham Toro and reliever Joe Smith going back to Seattle.

“We are always looking to improve all aspects of the roster,” Astros general manager James Click said. “This one happens to be focused on the bullpen. But we’re not going to take any options off the table when it comes to trying to put ourselves in a position to compete for a World Series.”

The move bolsters a Houston bullpen that has struggled at times and has an ERA above 4.00 this season.

Graveman is 4-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 10 saves in 30 appearances this year. He missed nearly a month due to COVID-19 protocols in May and June but has been dominant on the mound. Graveman has not allowed an earned run in his past 12 appearances.

Montero was designated for assignment by the Mariners last week after being acquired in the offseason from Texas.

Houston Manager Dusty Baker said for now he views Ryan Pressly as his closer, but wouldn’t hesitate turning to Graveman.

“In modern times it seems like most teams are trading to try to win the deal, but this is a trade that is going to benefit both,” Baker said.

Whether it benefits the Mariners remains to be sense. On the surface it appears a baffling decision by Seattle to give up its most dominant reliever while failing to fill a position of need with the Mariners just one game behind Oakland in the AL wild-card race – the Astros led the A’s by five games.

But GM Jerry Dipoto said it’s likely the first of several moves the Mariners will make in the coming days with the hope of improving the big league club.

Toro is in his third season and has played primarily third base, where the Mariners have veteran Kyle Seager entrenched. Toro has also played first base and has one game at second base this season, a position where the Mariners could be looking to upgrade before the trade deadline.

Toro is hitting .211 with six homers and 20 RBI in 35 games this season.

Smith has a career-worst 7.48 ERA in 27 games for the Astros after not pitching during the 2020 season.

NATIONALS: Shortstop Trea Turner left Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning after testing positive for COVID-19.

Turner, who entered batting .320 with 18 home runs and 49 RBI, singled and scored in the first inning. The All-Star headed directly up the Nationals’ tunnel toward the clubhouse after scoring and was replaced by Gerardo Parra in the lineup to start the bottom of the first.

It was later announced in the press box that Turner had tested positive, ending speculation that he was lifted for a possible pending trade or due to injury.

• Stephen Strasburg will have season-ending neck surgery, Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said, ending another frustrating year for Washington’s 2019 World Series hero.

The three-time All-Star right-hander felt discomfort after a 27-pitch bullpen session last week and saw a specialist on Monday.

Strasburg, who is 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA in five starts this season, was diagnosed with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome and will be operated on by Dr. Greg Pearl in Dallas on Wednesday, Martinez said.

Injuries have limited Strasburg to seven starts since he was named MVP of Washington’s World Series win over Houston two years ago. He last pitched on June 1.

Martinez said he expects Strasburg to be ready for the start of spring training next year.

DODGERS: Trevor Bauer’s leave has been extended through Aug. 6 under an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players union, the third time the pitcher’s original paid administrative leave from July 2 has been extended, according to multiple reports.

Bauer last pitched for the Dodgers on June 28, one day before a woman accused him of sexual assault and obtained a temporary restraining order against him in Los Angeles Superior Court. The woman who sought the order alleged that Bauer had choked her to the point of losing consciousness during two sexual encounters – one in April and one in May – and injured her face during the second one.

The woman provided the court with a report from a hospital exam showing she had suffered “assault by manual strangulation” and “acute head injury.”

Representatives of Bauer have said that the pitcher “vehemently denies her account of the two meetings” and that the encounters were “wholly consensual.”

The Pasadena Police Department continues to investigate Bauer for felony assault, and the Los Angeles County district attorney has made no decision on whether to file criminal charges against him. Bauer has not been arrested. MLB is conducting a separate investigation to determine if the right-hander has violated its joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

A hearing for Bauer to contest the restraining order began on Friday and is scheduled to resume Aug. 2. Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman let the existing restraining order remain in place through the hearing.

Under the agreement between the league and the union, Bauer, who is in the first year of a three-year, $102 million contract that pays him $38 million this season, will continue to receive his salary while on leave, about $5.6 million for the 36 days to which both sides have agreed so far. Bauer, 30, is 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts, striking out 137 and walking 37 in 107 2/3 innings. The former Santa Clarita Hart High and UCLA star won the 2020 National League Cy Young Award after going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts for the Cincinnati Reds, with 100 strikeouts and 17 walks in 73 innings.

BREWERS: Milwaukee outfielder Christian Yelich has tested positive for the coronavirus and is showing mild symptoms. Yelich and utilityman Jace Peterson were placed on the COVID-19 injured list, said David Stearns. the Brewers president of baseball operations, adding that Peterson was sidelined due to contact tracing and hasn’t tested positive.

Yelich – who has been vaccinated against the virus – will miss at least 10 days from the date of his positive test and Peterson will miss at least seven days, Stearns said.  The team delayed its scheduled Monday night flight to Pittsburgh and didn’t leave until Tuesday morning in order to go through contact tracing and await test results.

Stearns noted that Yelich had gotten vaccinated at the start of the season along with many of his teammates.

The Brewers activated outfielder Lorenzo Cain from the injured list and called up infielder Pablo Reyes from Triple-A Nashville to fill the open roster spots as they prepared to open a three-game series at Pittsburgh. Cain hasn’t played since May 31 because of a strained right hamstring.

TRADE: The Oakland Athletics acquired left-hander Andrew Chafin from the Chicago Cubs for two minor leaguers.

Chafin was 0-2 with a 2.06 ERA in 43 relief appearances covering 39 1/3 innings for the Cubs this season. The deal was announced following their 6-5 win over Cincinnati and could signal more moves to come from Chicago.

The Cubs received outfielder Greg Deichmann and right-hander Daniel Palencia. Also, Chicago is to send Oakland $500,000 to cover the cost of Chafin’s contract buyout, conditioned to the pitcher’s 2022 option not being declined.

Oakland is in second place in the AL West and holds the league’s second wild-card spot by one game over Seattle. The A’s are five games behind first-place Houston.

The disappointing Cubs are fourth in the NL Central at 50-51 and could be very busy before Friday’s trade deadline, with star players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez and Craig Kimbrel all attractive pieces potentially available to other teams.

The 31-year-old Chafin has given up one home run this year. He has 37 strikeouts, 12 walks and a sparkling 0.84 WHIP.


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