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Bell dealt to D-backs, who trade Young to Oakland

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Bell dealt to D-backs, who trade Young to Oakland

PHOENIX (AP) Heath Bell became the latest player jettisoned by the Miami Marlins when he was dealt Saturday to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who also acquired infielder Cliff Pennington from the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Chris Young.

Arizona obtained Pennington and minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera from Oakland for Young and cash, then sent Cabrera to Miami for Bell. The Marlins will pay $8 million of the remaining $21 million Bell is owed.

Earlier in the day, Arizona exercised a $6.5 million option on closer J.J. Putz.

The 35-year-old Bell has 151 saves the past four seasons. He signed a $27 million, three-year contract with Miami last offseason but lost his closer's job in July. He finished with 19 saves in 27 chances and a 5.09 ERA in 73 games.

After failing to contend in the first season of their new ballpark, the Marlins traded former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July and sent pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers.

Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said Bell provides a right-handed power arm to help set up Putz, and Pennington adds experience at shortstop and second base.

Towers, who was the general manager in San Diego when Bell was the setup man for Trevor Hoffman, believes the pitcher will benefit from a return to the NL West.

``I think he's excited to kind of be able to clean the slate,'' Towers said.

Bell's contract calls for a $9 million salary in each of the next two seasons and includes a $9 million club option for 2015. Miami will pay $1.5 million next year, $3.5 million in 2014 and the $3 million deferred signing bonus he is owed.

Young, Arizona's center fielder for six seasons, was the odd man out in a crowded outfield with the team expecting young Adam Eaton, called up from Triple-A Reno late this season, to play center and be the Diamondbacks' leadoff hitter. But Towers said the job isn't automatically Eaton's. Gerardo Parra and A.J. Pollock also will compete for the spot.

Young will be reunited with Bob Melvin, who was his manager in Arizona.

``It caught me off guard a little bit, I'm not going to lie,'' Young said. ``It's all settled in a couple hours now. I got an opportunity to talk to Billy (Beane) and got to talk to (Melvin). I'm excited to help. It's a new opportunity, a fresh start for me personally.''

The 28-year-old Pennington played in 125 games for the AL West champion A's this season. He had 93 appearances at shortstop but was shifted to second base in August. A switch-hitter, Pennington hit .215 this year - including .168 against left-handers - and had 28 RBIs.

``He had a down year. That happens. Guys have down years,'' Towers said. ``Heath had a down year. That's why we were able to make these deals.''

Towers said he believes Pennington can be an everyday shortstop, plus fill in behind Aaron Hill at second base. The team also has Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald at shortstop.

Towers said Bell might have been uncomfortable with his high-profile signing during the Miami makeover last winter.

``Maybe a lot of it had to do with the pressure, his first big contract,'' Towers said, adding that Bell ``was really the first big signing'' the Marlins had in the offseason.

The Arizona general manager thinks his bullpen - led by Putz, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler and now Bell - ``is as good a bullpen as there is if not in the National League but in baseball.''

With considerable money invested in the bullpen, Towers said it's particularly important to have a strong group of relievers while Arizona's young starting rotation develops. He said Arizona still needs a late-inning left-handed reliever and perhaps a veteran starter.

This could be a sign Beane, the A's general manager, might try to move center fielder Coco Crisp, who signed a $14 million, two-year contract in January that includes a $7.5 million club option for 2014 with a $1 million buyout. Beane, however, said he plans to keep Crisp, though he realized there would be speculation otherwise.

``I really like our outfield,'' Beane said. ``Everybody knows how important this guy is to this team and also has the benefit of being a personal favorite of mine.''

Oakland already acquired shortstop Stephen Drew from the Diamondbacks this season and he helped the Athletics down the stretch. The A's overtook Texas on the final day of the regular season to win the division and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They lost in five games to the World Series-bound Detroit Tigers.

Beane said the day after the season ended he planned to keep his young team intact as much as possible. Last offseason, Oakland traded three top pitchers: Trevor Cahill to Arizona, Gio Gonzalez to Washington and closer Andrew Bailey to Boston.

The 29-year-old Young, a popular player in the Arizona clubhouse, has had three 20-homer, 20-steal seasons. He injured his right shoulder crashing into a wall while making a catch early this season and struggled at the plate afterward. A quadriceps injury in early September sent Young to the bench in favor of Eaton.

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AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley and AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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3 stars of the game: Caps save their season in physical win over Lightning

3 stars of the game: Caps save their season in physical win over Lightning

This one is going to go the distance.

The Washington Capitals staved off elimination on Monday with a 3-0 Game 6 win to force a Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Andrei Vasilevskiy looked unbeatable for much of the game, but T.J. Oshie finally got one past the Lightning netminder on the Caps' first power play since the second period of Game 4. Devante Smith-Pelly finished them off with a third-period tally.

Game 7 will be on Wednesday with a spot in the Stanley Cup Final on the line.

Here are the three stars of Game 6.

1.  T.J. Oshie: Oshie scored the goal that saved Washington's season.

The Caps were doing everything right, but they just could not get one past Vasilevskiy. Finally, Oshie struck with a one-timer from the high-slot that just managed to beat Vasilevskiy.

Oshie also added an empty-netter to ice the game away.

We will never know how close frustration came to really wearing down Washington, but it probably came closer than you think. Just seconds before Oshie's goal, John Carlson rang a blistering slap shot off the inside of the post. It was so close, the horn went off briefly, but play continued. Had Washington not been able to finish off the power play, would they have recovered or would Vasilevskiy officially have Halaked them?

2. Andrei Vasilevskiy: Don't let the score fool you, Vasilevskiy was absolutely brilliant. He really stood out in the first period when he denied great chances again and again to keep the score locked at 0-0. You knew he was on his game when he denied a great chance from Alex Ovechkin from the slot with the blocker. His best save, however, was saved for Evgeny Kuznetsov when he was on the ice and desperately extended the arm just in time to deny Kuznetsov.

Vasilevskity made a total of 32 saves in the losing effort.

3. Braden Holtby: Though he was not tested as much as his counterpart, Holtby was equally as brilliant in his 24 save performance for his fifth career playoff shutout.

The Lightning made a real push in the second and third period and some key saves by Holtby ensured the Caps did not give up the first goal or the game-tying one. The most critical save came on Anthony Cirelli in the second period with the game still tied at 0-0. A Lightning 2-on-1 resulted with Cirelli coming in all alone on Holtby, but the Caps' netminder just managed to extend the toe for the save.

Smith-Pelly had seven goals in the regular season. he has four in the playoffs. Smith-Pelly put the exclamation point on the game with his third period goal to extend the Caps' lead to 2-0.  He was set up by a phenomenal pass by Chandler Stephenson.

It was clear from the outset that the Caps wanted to be very physical in this game and Smith-Pelly really took that message to heart with 

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.