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MLB off season thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Jan 16th, 2014 01:37 am
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wish I was a baseball player


The Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw have agreed on a seven-year, $215 million deal, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.

Kershaw has an out clause after five years.

It is the richest deal in Major League Baseball history for a pitcher, eclipsing the seven-year, $180 million deal Detroit gave Justin Verlander last winter.

But if ever a player deserved a contract such as this, it is the 25-year old Kershaw, who has won two of the last three National League Cy Young Awards and a Roberto Clemente award for his charitable work.

Kershaw went 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA and 232 strikeouts last season, his sixth with the Dodgers. The left-hander has a 2.60 career ERA and recorded at least 212 strikeouts in each of the past four seasons.

The Dodgers offered Kershaw a deal in the range of $300 million this past season, a source with knowledge of the talks told ESPN the Magazine's Buster Olney in October. Although Kershaw initially was uncertain about committing to a deal, the sides were confident that a long-term contract would be completed at some point in the offseason, according to the source.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 16th, 2014 05:28 pm
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Charlie Manuel will return to the Philadelphia Phillies in a front-office role, according to ESPN Radio 97.5, just five months after being fired as the team's manager.

Manuel will be a senior adviser to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., according to CSNPhilly.com.

It was Amaro who broke down in tears at the news conference announcing Manuel's firing in August.

Though he was fired, Manuel and Philadelphia's front office were in surprisingly good spirits during that news conference. The team even carefully worded its news release at the time to say "Phillies Announce Managerial Change," rather than stating it had fired Manuel.

At the news conference, Amaro said Manuel had been offered a role in the front office. Manuel, however, brushed that off at the time.

"What I need to do is get some time off to sit and think," Manuel said in August.

He will now move into the front office of a team that is dealing with an aging roster under first-time major-league manager Ryne Sandberg, who was originally named the interim manager after Manuel's firing.

Manuel, the franchise's winningest manager with a 780-636 mark, led the team to a 2008 World Series championship and five straight division titles.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 16th, 2014 05:30 pm
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NEW YORK -- New baseball union head Tony Clark says players won't agree to terminating contracts as part of discipline for drug violations.

Clark took over as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association following Michael Weiner's death in November and expects talks on possible changes to the drug agreement to start before spring training. Commissioner Bud Selig proposed last March that drug penalties be toughened, but Weiner had said any alterations would be discussed for the 2014 season.

"I'd venture to guess that even though there are concerns on a number of levels, that we will never end up in a world where player contracts are voided as a result," Clark said Wednesday during an interview with The Associated Press at the union's office.

Clark also anticipated players will agree before the upcoming season to ban home plate collisions and to allow expanded instant replay, which also requires a deal between Major League Baseball and the umpires' union.

Since the start of the 2006 season, MLB's drug agreement has called for 50-game suspensions for a first positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season based on a provision allowing discipline for "just cause."

Some players have agreed with Selig's call for harsher penalties, and some spoke out after shortstop Jhonny Peralta finished a 50-game suspension, left Detroit as a free agent and agreed to a $53 million, four-year contract with St. Louis.

"It pays to cheat... Thanks, owners, for encouraging PED use," Arizona pitcher Brad Ziegler tweeted in November.

"Apparently getting suspended for PED's means you get a raise. What's stopping anyone from doing it? (hashtag)weneedtomakeachange," free agent pitcher David Aardsma tweeted.

"I would argue that that concern has been there before. I think it was articulated in a fashion that was perhaps different this time than last," Clark said. "We have a lot of players that are very passionate about the topic, and when you add in the social media component, players are confident and willing to offer that perspective. I think that's fantastic."

Though players are not paid their salaries while serving drug suspensions, clubs don't have the right to alter guarantee provisions for the remainder of contracts. In a statement last weekend, Rodriguez claimed his suspension was "MLB's first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round (and) instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy."

Weiner said last March there had been talks among players over "whether there should be increases -- whether there should be a differential penalty for intentional or unintentional users." In his decision on Rodriguez's suspension, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz referred to how he upheld a 100-game penalty for Guillermo Mota in 2012 even though he found the pitcher's positive test was caused unintentionally by the use of a cough syrup to treat a cold.

"We are looking to have discussions at some point in time prior to spring training with MLB to see if there are considerations that we collectively can make to improve the program," Clark said.

Unlike the labor contract, the Joint Drug Agreement contains provisions for an annual review by the parties.

The 41-year-old Clark, a 2001 All-Star who hit 251 home runs during 15 years in the major leagues, joined the union in 2010 as director of player relations and took on more responsibility last year as Weiner's health deteriorated because of a brain tumor.

Clark said talks had been ongoing over MLB's proposal to ban home plate collisions, which was announced last month by New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, chairman of the rules committee. Alderson said details must be worked out.

Management could not make the change for 2014 without the union's agreement but could impose a unilateral plan for 2015.

"I think we are closer rather than further to finding common ground," Clark said. "And my expectation here is, in a relatively short period of time is, that we can move this thing along -- for `14."

Owners voted last month to approve funding for expanded video review of umpires' calls, which would include most decisions other than balls and strikes, and foul tips. Those rules also are being formulated.

"The idea hopefully is that it's in everyone's best interest to do what we're doing in replay," Clark said. "It's been a challenge to try to navigate how best we do this without disrupting the game itself. Our guys are very concerned with making sure that the game stays the game."

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 Posted: Thu Jan 16th, 2014 05:31 pm
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The Arizona Diamondbacks and right-handed reliever Josh Collmenter have avoided arbitration by agreeing on a two-year contract worth $2,425,000.

Collmenter was 5-5 with a 3.13 ERA in 49 games last season. He led all NL relievers with 92 innings pitched and a club-record nine relief appearances of at least three innings. His 29 extra innings pitched were the most by a major leaguer since Tug McGraw had 29 in 1972.

The deal Wednesday gives Collmenter a $925,000 salary this year and $1.4 million in 2015. He also gets a $100,000 signing bonus.

There is a club option for 2016 at $1,825,000, and the contract includes a $2 million mutual option for 2017. If Collmenter exercises the 2017 option and the team declines, he gets a $150,000 buyout. If the pitcher turns down that option, the team can pick it up for $2.25 million.

If all the options are exercised, Collmenter's deal could be worth up to $6.5 million over four years.

In other arbitration deals reached Thursday, Ruben Tejada and the New York Mets agreed to a $1.1 million, one-year contract.

Tejada lost his job as the team's starting shortstop last year, when he was demoted to the minors for months during an injury-plagued season. He missed time with a strained right quadriceps and broke his right leg on Sept. 18, eight days after he was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Tejada batted .202 with no homers, 10 RBIs and a dreadful .519 OPS in 57 games. But assuming he's healthy by the start of the season, he's in line to start at shortstop again because the Mets have been unable to find a suitable upgrade this winter.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 16th, 2014 05:35 pm
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DENVER (AP) Franklin Morales and the Colorado Rockies have agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

The team announced the deal Wednesday night.

The Rockies acquired the 27-year-old Morales and right-hander Chris Martin from the Boston Red Sox in December for infielder Jonathan Herrera.

Morales first signed with the Rockies in 2002 and pitched for Colorado from 2007-11. He spent the last 2 1/2 seasons with Boston.

The left-hander was 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 20 appearances last year for the Red Sox, who won the World Series. He is 13-18 with 11 saves and a 4.38 ERA in 195 major league games, including 25 starts.

Morales has limited left-handed hitters to a .194 batting average during his career.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 16th, 2014 05:38 pm
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CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians have avoided salary arbitration with reliever Josh Outman by signing him to a $1.25 million, one-year contract.

Outman has yet to pitch for Cleveland, which acquired him in a trade last month from Colorado for outfielder Drew Stubbs. The 29-year-old Outman went 3-0 with a 4.22 ERA in 61 games for the Rockies last season.

The Indians had trouble with left-handed hitters a year ago, and Outman should help with that after limiting lefties to a .198 batting average.

With Outman signed, the Indians still have five players eligible for arbitration. No. 1 starter Justin Masterson, left fielder Michael Brantley and pitchers Marc Rzepczynski, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin filed paperwork on Tuesday.

The Indians have spoken to Masterson's agent about a long-term deal.

Cleveland has not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player in 23 years.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:28 pm
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Royals agreed to terms with left-hander Tim Collins on a one-year contract Thursday to avoid arbitration, and signed veteran pitchers Brad Penny and Guillermo Mota to minor league deals that include invitations to spring training.

Collins will make $1,362,500 this season, a substantial increase from the $534,500 he earned last season, when he was 3-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 66 appearances.

The 35-year-old Penny is trying to resurrect his career after missing last season to rest his right shoulder. Penny was 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA with the Giants in 2012.

Mota, who is 39-45 with a 3.94 ERA over 14 seasons, is coming off a 100-game suspension for a second positive drug test. His agent says it was for clenbuterol found in children's cough syrup.

Pitchers and catchers report to Royals camp Feb. 14 in Surprise, Ariz.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:28 pm
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) New closer Jim Johnson agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

Catcher John Jaso also reached agreement on a $2.3 million, one-year deal.

The A's acquired Johnson, the 2013 AL saves leader, last month in a trade with Baltimore. He converted 50 of 59 save opportunities in 2013, going 3-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He was tied with Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the major leagues saves lead.

Jaso gets a $500,000 raise under the deal announced Thursday. In addition, Jaso can earn $25,000 bonuses for 90 games started at catcher 450 plate appearances.

His first season with the two-time defending AL West champion A's was cut short after he sustained a concussion when he took a foul tip off his mask July 24 at Houston and complained of a headache. Initially, Jaso was placed on the seven-day concussion list the following day, then transferred to the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 8.

Jaso batted .271 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games.

He was among seven Oakland players who filed for arbitration.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:30 pm
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NEW YORK (AP) Tampa Bay left-hander David Price got a big deal Thursday, a $14 million, one-year contract. That will be just a small fraction of the mega-contract Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are likely to finalize Friday on one of the busiest days of baseball's offseason calendar.

Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, agreed to the biggest single-season salary in Rays history. The three-time All-Star, eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, hopes he remains with the budget-minded franchise.

''I still have the mindset moving forward that I want to be with the Rays,'' said Price, who at the end of last season seemed resigned to an offseason trade.

If he's traded, Price believes it wouldn't be before Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka decides where to sign. Teams have until Jan. 24 to reach an agreement with Tanaka, a 25-year-old right-hander who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles.

''I want to be part of it. I think we're going to have a really good season,'' Price said.

New Oakland closer Jim Johnson, acquired from Baltimore last month, agreed to a $10 million, one-year deal with the Athletics, who also struck a $2.3 million deal with catcher John Jaso. Johnson's 50 saves tied for the big league lead last year, when he was 3-8 with a 2.94 ERA.

Others who agreed Thursday included Philadelphia right-hander Kyle Kendrick ($7,675,000), Mets first baseman Ike Davis ($3.5 million), Colorado right-hander Wilton Lopez ($2.2 million), Cincinnati outfielder Chris Heisey ($1.76 million), Kansas City left-hander Tim Collins ($1,362,500) and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli ($700,000).

By Thursday night 16 players had agreed to contracts among the 146 who filed for arbitration Tuesday. That doesn't include Kershaw, who had a pending $215 million, seven-year deal set to be announced by the Dodgers. Los Angeles scheduled a Friday news conference.

Kershaw's deal is the largest for a pitcher and has the highest average salary of any player at $30.7 million.

Players in arbitration who haven't reached agreements will exchange proposed salaries Friday. Among those scheduled to swap are Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer, Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Cincinnati pitcher Aroldis Chapman, Arizona outfielder Mark Trumbo, Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters and Washington pitcher Jordan Zimmermann.

Of the 133 players who filed last year, none went to hearings - the first time since the process began in 1974 that every case settled.

Among free agents, catcher John Buck finalized a $1 million contract with Seattle on Thursday. Cleveland gave a minor league deal to outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who played in Japan last year. Brad Penny and Guillermo Mota agreed to minor league contracts with Kansas City.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:30 pm
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NEW YORK (AP) Jay-Z's sports agency says it has signed New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia to join former teammate Robinson Cano in its emerging client base.

Roc Nation Sports says the 33-year-old left-hander agreed to a representation deal Thursday. The ace had been represented by Legacy Agency's group, which includes Brian Peters, Greg Genske and Scott Parker.

Sabathia is signed through 2016 at salaries of $23 million in each of the next two seasons and $25 million in 2016. The Yankees hold a $25 million option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout.

He was 14-13 last year with a career-worst 4.78 ERA.

Cano left Scott Boras last year for the new agency and agreed to a $240 million, 10-year deal with Seattle.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:31 pm
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ST. LOUIS (AP) That was one short break for Tim McCarver.

The former major league catcher tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday night that he is near a deal to broadcast about 30 Cardinals games this season for Fox Sports Midwest. McCarver retired from his position on Fox's national baseball broadcast after the World Series.

McCarver made his major league debut with St. Louis in 1959 and helped the Cardinals win two World Series titles in the 1960s.

The 72-year-old McCarver tells the Post-Dispatch that coming back to St. Louis is ''fabulous, a complete merry-go-round, it's wonderful.''

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:32 pm
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NEW YORK (AP) Bobby Parnell is ready to resume his role as the closer for the New York Mets.

Parnell didn't pitch after July 30 and had surgery Sept. 10 to repair a herniated disk in his neck. He has been working out in Florida.

''In my head I feel like I'm still the closer. I'm going to go along with that until told otherwise,'' Parnell said during a conference call Thursday. ''I feel healthy. I feel like there's plenty of time to get into baseball shape, and so I came down early to make sure that I didn't have to jump into anything too hard.''

Parnell was 5-5 with a career-best 2.16 ERA last year and 22 saves in 26 chances. LaTroy Hawkins, who took over the closer's role when Parnell went on the disabled list, became a free agent and signed a $2.5 million, one-year contract with Colorado.

Parnell said he lost about 10-13 pounds after the surgery but is now back at 207 or 208.

''At this time, I don't feel like there is any question that I will be ready,'' he said.

''I feel good. I've been throwing. I've not been sore after throwing. The only thing that I'm going to take my time with is lifting weights and getting my strength back up. Right now I feel like my arm is strong. I feel like my body's put together,'' he said.

Eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, Parnell was among seven Mets who filed for arbitration this week.

Shortstop Ruben Tejada settled, agreeing Wednesday night to a $1.1 million, one-year deal. First baseman Ike Davis agreed Thursday to a $3.5 million, one-year contract, and left fielder Eric Young Jr. has a $1.85 million, one-year deal set to be announced Friday.

The speedy Young was a pleasant surprise in the leadoff spot last season after he was acquired from Colorado in June for pitcher Collin McHugh. Young led the NL with 46 stolen bases and made $492,000.

Tejada and Davis, however, both slumped badly last season and got demoted to the minors. After getting recalled, each sustained a season-ending injury in September.

Tejada's salary was $514,701 last year, when he batted .202 with no homers, 10 RBIs and a paltry .519 OPS in 57 games.

Davis made $3,125,000 and hit .205 with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 103 games. He struck out 101 times in 317 at-bats.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:34 pm
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PHILADELPHIA -- Right-hander Kyle Kendrick has agreed to a $7,675,000, one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, avoiding arbitration.

Kendrick's deal was announced Thursday night and includes award bonuses. He was 10-13 with a 4.70 ERA last season and is 64-55 with a 4.38 ERA in seven seasons.

The Phillies have three remaining arbitration-eligible players: outfielders Ben Revere and John Mayberry Jr., and left-hander Antonio Bastardo.

Kendrick has won double-digit games four times and made 30 starts three times. He's slated as the No. 3 or 4 starter behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:34 pm
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- New closer Jim Johnson agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

Catcher John Jaso also reached agreement on a $2.3 million, one-year deal.

The A's acquired Johnson, the 2013 American League saves leader, last month in a trade with Baltimore. He converted 50 of 59 save opportunities in 2013, going 3-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He was tied with Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the major league saves lead.

Jaso gets a $500,000 raise under the deal announced Thursday. In addition, Jaso can earn $25,000 bonuses for 90 games started at catcher and 450 plate appearances.

His first season with the two-time defending AL West champion A's was cut short after he sustained a concussion when he took a foul tip off his mask July 24 at Houston and complained of a headache. Initially, Jaso was placed on the seven-day concussion list the following day, then transferred to the 15-day disabled list Aug. 8.

Jaso batted .271 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games.

He was among seven Oakland players who filed for arbitration.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 17th, 2014 05:36 pm
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New manager Rick Renteria, part of a contingent of Cubs personnel that met with Masahiro Tanaka last week in Los Angeles, said Thursday he hopes the team's youth movement pitch will help sell the prized Japanese pitcher to sign Chicago.

"[Our pitch] to him is that we're a club on the [upswing]," Renteria said. "We're a club that has a lot of talent [in the minor leagues] besides the guys that we have here [at the major league level]. The organization has quality players coming up that's going to significantly impact the organization."

The right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the Japanese League last season and is considered by many a top-of-the-rotation starter. The team that signs Tanaka, 25, will owe a $20 million posting fee to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, whom he played for in Japan.

Renteria, Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer met with Tanaka and his camp, who face a deadline of 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 24 to have a contract and physical completed with a team.

Fox Sports reported Thursday that the Cubs are "pushing hard" for Tanaka, according to a source.

"Obviously we've had conversations with Tanaka," Renteria said. "I'm not sure exactly where we are in that process. We were there, we had conversations, very good conversations, obviously through translators.

"I actually ordered Rosetta Stone [a computer-assisted language learning program], the Japanese version. I'm going to be prepared [if Tanaka does come here]. I'm going to try to learn a little Japanese, and if [he signs], good for us."

The Cubs have plenty of competition for Tanaka. One official estimated that more than one-third of major league teams are interested in the pitcher, who likely will garner a contract in the six-year, $100 million range. Among the interested teams are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros.

Tanaka met with White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams, general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura in the Los Angeles area on Jan. 9.

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