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Target to temporarily pause sales of popular sports, Pokémon cards due to safety concerns

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Retail store Target released a statement this week stating it will temporarily pause sales of NFL, NBA, MLB and Pokémon cards out of caution for its employees and customers.

The increase in demand for trading cards has caused issues for the retailer in its stores that range from massive crowds gathering trying to obtain the cards to, in some cases, violence.

These issues are not limited to Target stores and have been occurring nationwide. Retail store Meijer has had to adjust its policies due to demand, limiting customers to only two items per transaction and the cards are sold behind the electronics desk instead of on the shelves.

Target implemented a policy in early 2021, limiting customers to just three sports card items per customer. That eventually was adjusted to only one item per household, and at most locations, the cards were moved from the shelves to the customer service desk where the sales could be controlled.

Part of the increase in issues has been through the increase in popularity in sports cards, but also the increase in prices on the secondary market.

A company spokesperson confirmed the removal of the cards was only temporary. The store will continue to sell cards online through Target.com.

The store has put restrictions in high demand products in the past and will evaluate its options for how to better sell the cards in the near future.

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Milwaukee Brewers acquire Eduardo Escobar from Arizona Diamondbacks for two prospects

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The Milwaukee Brewers added another infielder to their roster on Wednesday, trading with the Arizona Diamondbacks for veteran Eduardo Escobar.

Escobar, 32, has 22 home runs for the last-place Diamondbacks. He can play any infield position, and is likely to see time at third and first base. The Brewers have Willy Adames and Kolten Wong playing shortstop and second base, respectively.

The switch-hitting Escobar has a career .778 OPS in 11 seasons, the past four with Arizona. It’s the third in-season trade to net the Brewers an infielder, as they previously acquired Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays and first baseman Rowdy Tellez from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Milwaukee is sending back prospects Cooper Hummel and Alberto Ciprian to complete the deal.

Hummel, 26, was an 18th-round pick for Milwaukee in 2016 and is currently at Triple-A, where he’s slashing .254/.435/.508. He has played first base, catcher and the outfield for Nashville.

Ciprian, 18, signed as an undrafted free agent with Milwaukee in 2019 and is playing in the Dominican Summer League, averaging .378 while adding eight RBIs in his first 12 professional games.

Escobar was highly sought-after, with the Chicago White Sox also interested in his services, but Milwaukee has just as big a need for him. The Brewers rank last in batting in the National League, hitting 21 points lower as a team than Escobar’s .246 batting average.

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New York Yankees set to acquire Joey Gallo from Texas Rangers, sources say

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The New York Yankees are finalizing a deal to acquire outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Wednesday night.

The deal is pending a medical review.

It wasn’t immediately known who New York was sending to Texas to complete the deal.

Gallo was a late scratch from the Rangers’ lineup ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks, with speculation that a trade was in the works.

That proved to be the case, with the Yankees swooping in and acquiring arguably the fiercest bat on the trade market to go with fellow sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

Gallo has spent all seven of his major league seasons in Texas, but the Rangers — an AL West-worst 36-65 entering Wednesday — have been in sell mode, with Gallo their prized piece.

A two-time All-Star, the 27-year-old slugger ranks sixth in the AL this season with 25 home runs, to go with 55 RBIs and a .223 average. He had struggled mightily at the plate since the All-Star break, with zero home runs and a .067 average in the 10 games following, before breaking out Tuesday with a three-run shot against the Diamondbacks.

Gallo is among just eight rostered major leaguers with multiple career 40-HR seasons (2017, ’18).

But he’s also excelled in the outfield, winning a Gold Glove in right in 2020. He’s tied for second in the majors with 12 defensive runs saved this season (tied for most among outfielders) and joins Toronto’s Marcus Semien as the only players with 20 home runs and 10 defensive runs saved.

Gallo is also under team control through 2022.

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Houston Astros bolster pen, deal for Miami Marlins closer Yimi Garcia

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The Houston Astros continued to fortify their bullpen before the trade deadline, acquiring right-hander Yimi Garcia from the Miami Marlins on Wednesday for two players.

In exchange for Garcia, the Astros sent outfielder Bryan De La Cruz and right-hander Austin Pruitt to the Marlins.

It’s the second straight day the AL West-leading Astros have swung a trade to add bullpen help. On Tuesday, Houston acquired Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero from the Mariners.

Garcia, 30, has 15 saves for the Marlins this season and is 3-7 with a 3.47 ERA. He has struck out 35 and walked just five batters in 36⅓ innings pitched. He has a 3.41 ERA over seven major league seasons.

De La Cruz, 24, is hitting .324 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs for Triple-A Sugar Land this season.

Pruitt, 31, is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two major league appearances for the Astros this season.

This is the second trade made Wednesday by the last-place Marlins, who earlier dealt center fielder Starling Marte to the Oakland Athletics.

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