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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sat Nov 5th, 2016 10:18 pm
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lobo316



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It's been three days since the Cleveland Indians lost Game 7 of the World Series, and although the offseason just began, they're already faced with decisions about keeping the band together for another year.
The Indians say they're interested in bringing back two important members of their World Series run - Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis.
The team has until Monday to decide on extending $17.2-million qualifying offers to each veteran, who are both eligible for free agency. If an offer is made and declined, the Indians would receive draft-pick compensation should the player sign elsewhere.
"Both for Raj and Mike, we expressed our desire to potentially have them back," Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian on Friday.
"And we recognize they both have alternatives, based on the years that they had, but we're certainly open to exploring different ways where both of them could be back here."
The 35-year-old Napoli led the Indians in both home runs (34) and RBIs (101), but also struck out (194) more than anyone else on the team. He signed a $7-million deal before the 2016 campaign.
"I think you have to look at the balance of the season," Antonetti said. "And Mike did a phenomenal job for us. I think he posted career highs in plate appearances, home runs, RBIs, all of those areas. He made a huge impact for us on the field and in the clubhouse, and I think that's the lens through which we'll view it."
Davis, 36, also signed a one-year deal before the 2016 season, and ended up leading the American League in stolen bases (43). He was also responsible for a clutch two-run homer in Game 7 of the World Series.
"This is the best season I've ever had in my major-league career," Davis explained. "That would be great if we could get us both back, especially with this group of guys. They're a good group, talented. I think they're ready to learn.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 5th, 2016 10:18 pm
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lobo316



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Yoenis Cespedes has opted out of his three-year, $75-million deal with the New York Mets, according to multiple reports Saturday. The slugger is leaving $47 million on the table as he enters free agency.

The slugger is expected to receive a qualifying offer before Monday's deadline, allowing the Mets to pick up a draft pick if Cespedes decides to sign with another team.

It's no surprise to see Cespedes opt out, since the two-time All-Star had already made his intention to do so clear.

The Mets would ideally like to have him back, though he's expected to be one of the top free-agent players on the market and will cash in big time.

Cespedes signed a deal with the Mets in January that included an opt-out after this season.

Since joining the Mets last August, Cespedes has slashed .282/.348/.554 with 48 home runs and 130 RBIs in 189 games.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:09 am
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lobo316



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The Colorado Rockies have found a new manager.

Bud Black will take over as the team's skipper, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, replacing Walt Weiss, who stepped down from the position on Oct. 3.

The 59-year-old Black comes to the Rockies after managing the San Diego Padres to a 649-713 record between 2007-15. He won the National League Manager of the Year award in 2010.

He was fired from his position in San Diego on June 15, 2015, and was nearly hired by the Washington Nationals following the 2015 World Series, before the team eventually hired Dusty Baker.

Black was most recently working as a special assistant to Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler.

Multiple Rockies players were happy with the decision to hire the experienced Black, as they didn't want another first-time manager, reports Troy Renck of The Denver Post.

The Rockies finished third in the NL West last season with a 75-87 record, despite outstanding offensive seasons from Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, Carlos Gonzalez, and DJ LeMahieu.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:09 am
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Barring an offseason trade, left-hander Scott Kazmir will open next season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 32-year-old southpaw decided against opting out of the final two years - and $32 million - of his current contract with L.A., despite a weak free-agent market for starting pitchers, reports the New York Post's Joel Sherman.

Kazmir struggled through thoracic spine inflammation near the end of the 2016 season, and was unable to pitch for the Dodgers in the postseason.

He did make 26 regular-season starts during the first year of his contract, posting a 10-6 record with a 4.56 ERA across 136 1/3 innings of work.

Over the course of an up-and-down, 12-year career in Major League Baseball, the former top prospect has recorded 108 victories and 1,608 strikeouts, including 239 in 2007 with Tampa Bay, which led the American League.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:10 am
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One veteran starter likely won't be part of the Chicago Cubs' future plans.

The Cubs declined a team option on pitcher Jason Hammel for next season, allowing him to become a free agent, the team announced Sunday. Hammel was set to earn $12 million in 2017, and will instead receive a $2-million buyout from Chicago.

Team president Theo Epstein said the following in a statement:

"First, I want to thank Jason for all of his contributions in his almost three seasons as a Cub. He was an effective, reliable starter the entire time he was a Cub, and this year he was an integral part of one of the best rotations in club history. We would not have been in a position to win the World Series without Jason's terrific performance during the regular season. Jason and his family have been outstanding members of our organization and our community, and we are proud of their time with and impact on the Cubs."

The 34-year-old starter had a productive 2016 season as part of the Cubs' 103-win campaign - its most since 1935. Hammel won 15 games - a new career high - posting a 3.83 ERA and 144 strikeouts. He did not make a postseason appearance, however, as the Cubs went with a starting rotation featuring Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, and John Lackey.

Mike Montgomery, who was acquired by the Cubs from the Seattle Mariners this past season, is expected to compete for a starting job in place of Hammel, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:11 am
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Though the New York Yankees expect Brian McCann to figure into their 2017 plans, general manager Brian Cashman has confirmed that Gary Sanchez, the 23-year-old rookie who captivated the Bronx down the stretch, will be their everyday catcher next season.

"Based on his success the past season, Sanchez is the everyday catcher,’’ Cashman told George A. King of the New York Post. "(McCann) can DH and catch a minimum of two games a week. We have two power-hitting catchers, one right and one left, who hit 20 homers."

Sanchez, who signed with the Yankees as a 16-year-old in 2009, was highly regarded throughout his minor-league days, and made a sensational first impression in New York this past summer, dazzling with his power and throwing ability from behind the plate. Recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in early August, Sanchez managed a 1.032 OPS and smacked 20 homers in 53 games, compiling more wins above replacement (3.2) than every other American League rookie.

Amid Sanchez's breakout, though, McCann's playing time behind the plate dried up, as the seven-time All-Star started only 12 games at catcher over the final two months of the season. McCann, used primarily as the designated hitter down the stretch, hit .242/.335/.413 with 20 homers in 130 games in 2016, the third season of a five-year, $85-million deal.

While McCann's name has surfaced in trade speculation early this offseason, Cashman refused to say if he's had dialogue about him with other teams, and noted that the 32-year-old has a no-trade clause.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:12 am
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The Cleveland Indians have declined a $13-million vesting option on outfielder Coco Crisp and will buy him out for $750,000, the team announced Sunday.

The 37-year-old veteran had a clause in his contract where he needed to appear in 550 plate appearances this past season in order for his option to kick in for 2017, coming up short with 498 total.

Crisp spent the first four seasons of his career with the Indians before reuniting with the team in 2016. He struggled to make an impact, however, hitting just .208/.323/.377 in 20 regular-season games with the Tribe, though he did come up with some clutch hits in the postseason, including a two-hit performance in Game 7 of the World Series.

With the Indians expressing interest in retaining Rajai Davis and verbally committing to Michael Brantley as their everyday left fielder for next season, Crisp's future in Cleveland was in doubt for 2017, as the veteran will now search for a new home this winter.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:12 am
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The Toronto Blue Jays have yet to make significant progress in their efforts to re-sign free agent Edwin Encarnacion, as his agent, Paul Kinzer, said he hasn't advanced beyond preliminary discussions with the club regarding his taciturn client.

"We haven't gotten into anything serious yet," Kinzer told Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun.

The Blue Jays have exclusive rights to negotiate with Encarnacion until 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, at which point the soon-to-be 34-year-old will be free to sign with any team he chooses. Though the Blue Jays were reportedly planning earlier this month to make Encarnacion a long-term offer, for now, Kinzer said, there isn't much to report.

"We're talking. There's nothing imminent," he said. "That's all I can tell you right now. We're continuing to talk."

During spring training, as Encarnacion repeatedly expressed his desire to stay with Toronto beyond 2016, the Blue Jays reportedly offered him a two-year deal that included a vesting option for a third season, according to MLB's Jon Heyman. That proposal was rejected, though, as the three-time All-Star - who took home an average annual salary of $9.25 million over the course of the four-year extension he signed in 2012 - was looking for a deal of four or five years in length.

Last month, after his club was ousted from the American League Championship Series for a second year in a row, Encarnacion admitted feeling "really sad" as the uncertainty of the offseason loomed. Encarnacion, who arrived in Toronto in 2009, boasts one of the most impressive offensive resumes in Blue Jays history, managing a .912 OPS while averaging 39 homers and 29 doubles per season from 2012 through 2016.

"To be honest, I’m really sad because I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Encarnacion said with help of an interpreter. “Overall, I feel really proud about what the fans and the organization have done for me … I’m really proud to be the face of this franchise with Jose (Bautista)."

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:13 am
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Though Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins recently suggested both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were virtual locks to receive qualifying offers, that doesn't appear to be the case with Michael Saunders, as the veteran outfielder isn't expected to get one, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Saunders, a British Columbia native, would net the Blue Jays draft-pick compensation were he to turn down the one-year, $17.2-million qualifying offer and sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter, but it appears the club isn't comfortable potentially retaining him at that cost. (The Blue Jays can still work out another deal with Saunders, however, and have exclusive negotiating rights with the 29-year-old until 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.)

Acquired by the Blue Jays two winters ago, Saunders missed almost all of 2015 after tearing his meniscus in spring training, but rebounded with aplomb this summer, posting a career-best .815 OPS (115 OPS+) with 24 homers and 32 doubles in 140 games en route to his first career All-Star berth. Saunders' production tailed off dramatically in the second half though, as he hit just .178/.282/.357 in 58 games after the All-Star break.

Over parts of eight seasons in the majors, split between Toronto and the Seattle Mariners, Saunders owns a .711 OPS (98 OPS+) in 702 games, averaging 13 homers, 19 doubles, and 100 games per year since 2012.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 02:22 am
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After the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians to capture the franchise's first World Series title since 1908, the "Curse of the Billy Goat" came to an end. With that, Theo Epstein decided to celebrate with an interesting lunch.

The Cubs' president of baseball operations ordered roasted goat from friends in the restaurant industry, according to Shia Kapos of the Chicago Sun-Times.

"We were on the phone with Jed. He was recapping the game, and in the background, Theo says he wanted roasted goat for lunch," restaurateur Kevin Boehm told Kapos. "I said we’d make it happen."

Epstein was delivered a 9 1/2 pound goat, which he chowed down with friends in Wrigley Field's bleachers.

"They were all sitting in the left-field bleachers in an empty Wrigley Field. They ate it right there," Boehm said. "They’ve said there are no curses, that it was just a matter of putting together a great baseball team, but they were happy to eat that goat."

The "Curse of the Billy Goat" is a familiar tale among Cubs faithful, going back to 1945 when tavern owner William Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley because of his goat's odor.

Siania allegedly screamed, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," after being escorted from the stadium.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 01:24 pm
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For the second time in less than four months, Carlos Ruiz will have to adjust to new surroundings.

After the veteran catcher waived his no-trade clause, the Los Angeles Dodgers dealt the backstop to the Seattle Mariners, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports, citing sources.

Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports left-hander Vidal Nuno will head to Los Angeles in the deal.

Ruiz will likely replace Chris Iannetta, who had his $4.25-million option declined by the Mariners on Thursday, as the team's starting catcher.

Heyman reports the Mariners will pick up Ruiz's 2017 team option, valued at $4.5 million.

Seattle used four different players behind the dish last season, with limited success.

The 37-year-old Ruiz was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Dodgers on Aug. 25, and went on to hit .278/.350/.33 with two doubles and three RBIs with L.A.

He also swatted .273/.333/.636 with one home run and four RBIs during the postseason.

Nuno, 29, appeared in 55 games for the Mariners last season, posting a 3.53 ERA across 58 2/3 innings of work.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 01:25 pm
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Hiroki Kuroda, who spent seven seasons in Major League Baseball as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, officially announced his intent to retire from baseball in October, and he recently made sure to end his storied career right where it started: Japan.

The 41-year-old Hiroshima Carp hurler, who returned to pitch in Japan in 2015, thanked his fans on Nov. 5 during a touching ceremony at Mazda Stadium, which was the end of a pennant parade for the Central League champions.

"This is the best way to leave as I am able to take off my uniform in front of fans who are the best in the world,” said Kuroda.

After his speech, Kuroda shed tears as he knelt on the pitcher's mound in front of 30,810 fans.

The Carp plan to retire Kuroda's No. 15.

Kuroda only played for the Carp during his 13 seasons in Japan, winning 124 games to go along with a 3.55 ERA.

The right-hander was also successful during his time in the big leagues, posting a 3.45 ERA along with 79 wins.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 09:56 pm
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Two faces of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise have received qualifying offers ahead of Monday's deadline.

The Blue Jays have offered impending free agents Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion qualifying offers of one-year, $17.2-million, according to Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball. It was all but a guarantee the team would go this route, and it is still expected that both players will reject the offer, leading to them testing the free-agent market.

Each player to receive a qualifying offer have until Nov. 14 to either accept or decline it. If Bautista or Encarnacion sign with another team, the Blue Jays will receive draft pick compensation for both players.

It's being reported that Encarnacion is seeking a five-year, $125-million deal, with around 10 or 11 teams expressing significant interest in pursuing him.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays decided not to offer Michael Saunders a qualifying offer, and he will immediately become a free agent. The team can still work out a contract with Saunders if they so choose.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 7th, 2016 09:57 pm
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Teams interested in free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion will have to pay up for his services, as the designated hitter is reportedly expecting a five-year, $125-million deal in free agency, according to TSN's Rick Westhead, who spoke with Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer.

Westhead adds Kinzer expects "10 or 11 teams" to have significant interest in Encarnacion, based on preliminary phone calls the agent's received so far.

Encarnacion is coming off another monster season with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he led the American League in RBIs with 127. The Dominican slashed .263/.357/.529 in 160 games with Toronto while mashing 42 home runs, tying his career high output from 2012.


According to Westhead, Kinzer compares Encarnacion's value to that of Chris Davis, who earned a seven-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles last offseason worth $161 million.

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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2016 01:52 pm
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Though the New York Mets are interested in re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, the club is reportedly considering other big-name options to fill their corner outfield, too, in the event they're unable to bring back the 31-year-old Cuban.

Despite not being able to sign him until 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the Mets have already inquired about veteran right fielder Jose Bautista, the longtime Toronto Blue Jays star set to hit free agency for the first time in his 13-year career, reports James Wagner of the New York Times.

Bautista, who's widely expected to turn down the one-year, $17.2-million qualifying offer he received from Toronto on Monday, is coming off a frustrating season in which he suffered two stints on the disabled list and posted his lowest OPS (.817) since 2009. Still, the six-time All-Star finished eighth in American League MVP voting as recently as 2015, and averaged 38 homers per year while hitting .268/.390/.555 (156 OPS+) in the six seasons leading up to 2016.

At this point, however, the Mets' level of interest in Bautista is unclear, as is their potential lineup configuration should they work out a deal with the 36-year-old; the Mets already have three outfielders seemingly poised to play everyday in 2017 between Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto, and Bautista has played three innings at first base since the start of 2015.

Back in May, Bautista expressed his desire to stay in Toronto, saying it'd "be stupid to leave," but noted that he would consider all the opportunities presented to him.

"I will explore every single option, whether it happens or not with the new regime, to continue to try to stay here," Bautista said.

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