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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2016 01:54 pm
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lobo316



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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Kung Fu Panda is a lot less roly poly.

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Pablo Sandoval has trimmed down after missing nearly the entire 2016 season.

The third baseman appeared to be well over his listed 255 pounds when he reported for spring training in February, and he was limited to three games and seven plate appearances before season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

''He did lose a lot of weight. I won't give you the exact weight. I just don't believe in doing that,'' Dombrowski said Monday as the annual general managers meetings started.

Sandoval helped San Francisco win World Series titles in 2010, `12 and `14 but hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs in his first season with the Red Sox after signing a $95 million, five-year contract in November 2014.

Boston said during spring training it was not concerned about Sandoval's weight, and principal owner John Henry said Sandoval's body-fat ratio was 17 percent, down from 21 percent last year.

Sandoval spent much of the season at Boston's spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida.

''He was down there working on rehab, then strengthening, took groundballs, throwing, swinging the bat. He's ready to play in games right now,'' Dombrowski said. ''I'm going to give him credit: He worked on dietary aspects of his life. ... He's really taken tremendous strides.''

Boston has not decided whether Sandoval will be allowed to play in games this winter.

''He's actually asked if he could play winter ball. We're not ready to do that yet with him,'' Dombrowski said. ''We still think there's a lot of benefit by him continuing to be in Fort Myers and be down there working with our people.''

Sandoval is a candidate to play third base next season, along with Brock Holt, Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada. Sandoval also could get time at designated hitter following the retirement of slugger David Ortiz. Sandoval lost his third base job to Shaw in spring training this year.

After winning the AL East, Boston was swept in the Division Series by Cleveland, which won the AL pennant and lost the World Series to the Chicago Cubs in seven games.

Dombrowski, who joined the Red Sox in August 2015 after he was fired by Detroit, said he spoke to executives from the Atlanta Braves, who won 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005 but just one World Series, and John Hart, whose moves helped Cleveland to six first-place finishes in seven years from 1995-2001 without any championships.

''I've actually been involved in winning the division five of the last six years. We haven't won a World Series,'' Dombrowski said. ''And I can't seem to see that there's a common thread when I start talking. If somebody has one, I'm kind of open to hear about it. You start talking about who plays well at a particular time period. It's just one of those things. You look right off the bat, we had a couple guys that didn't pitch as well as they're capable of pitching, starting-wise, but we also didn't swing the bats like we were capable of swinging.''

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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2016 01:56 pm
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Baltimore Orioles skipper Buck Showalter didn't seem all that thrilled about getting nominated for American League Manager of the Year award on Monday. He was more preoccupied with the fact that Zach Britton, his vaunted closer, wasn't among the three finalists for the Cy Young.

"It's shocking," Showalter told MASN's Roch Kubatko. "That's a real poor reflection on the people who are evaluating."

After all, Showalter said, Britton was flawless in 2016.

"You know how many times we walked into the clubhouse this year with that feeling that we lost a game in the ninth inning? Not once," Showalter said.

Indeed, Britton went 47-for-47 in save opportunities this year en route to one of the greatest seasons ever by a relief pitcher. In 69 appearances, Britton crafted a microscopic 0.54 ERA - the best in history among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched - while riding that devastating sinker of his to a 0.83 WHIP and 4.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and more win probability added (6.14) than every other pitcher in the majors, as well.

That includes Corey Kluber, Rick Porcello, and Justin Verlander, one of whom will take home the 2016 AL Cy Young later this month.

"He should have finished in the top three in MVP," Showalter said. "There's nobody in baseball who's more valuable to their team than Zach Britton was to the Orioles."

Britton, however, was diplomatic about it all. He knew he didn't have that good a chance of taking home the award.

"Whether I was a finalist or not, it wasn't going to change the way I feel about the season I had," Britton said. "I accomplished a lot of the goals I set for myself on a personal level. I figured I wasn't the safe choice and it was going to be an uphill battle."

Now, Britton just wants to see another reliever win the Cy Young, someday. Since the award was introduced in 1956, only nine relievers have won it, and none since Eric Gagne in 2003, when the Canadian expat converted all 55 of his save opportunities while posting a 1.20 ERA and 0.69 WHIP for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Obviously I hope a reliever in the future has a better seasons than I had and gets recognized for it," Britton said.

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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2016 01:59 pm
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Curt Schilling, the relentlessly political former All-Star who announced last month his plans to run for the senate in 2018, praised in a since-deleted tweet a man who attended a Donald Trump rally wearing a shirt that promoted the lynching of journalists.
When one Twitter user called out Schilling, a fervent Republican, for his "poisonous rhetoric," the former Boston Red Sox star encouraged them to get off the Internet "if a shirt makes you need a safe space."
"My goodness shut up," Schilling wrote. "It's a T-shirt, and in today's world if that makes you need a safe space get off the Internet."
Dan Haren, the recently retired three-time All-Star, was able to find some levity in the situation.
Ketchup. Sock. World Series. Some assembly required https://t.co/cEKpdHst1x
— dan haren (@ithrow88) November 8, 2016
Schilling's politics have gotten him into trouble before. Last year, Schilling was suspended by ESPN for a racist tweet in which he compared Muslims to Nazis, and the 49-year-old was fired by the network in April after he shared an anti-transgender meme on Facebook.






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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2016 02:00 pm
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The New York Yankees are interested in reuniting with free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, whom they shipped to Chicago ahead of the trade deadline, and general manager Brian Cashman said he has already reached out to the 29-year-old's representative.

"Yeah," Cashman told Brendan Kuty of NJ.com when asked if he's contacted Chapman. "Yup. I've started making my phone calls to free agents. I've reached out to a number of them."

Acquired by the Yankees last winter in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, Chapman was suspended for the first month of 2016 for violating the league's domestic violence policy, but dominated upon returning, crafting a 2.01 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and 36.7 percent strikeout rate in 31 appearances before getting traded to the eventual World Series champions. Together with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (who was also traded in July), Chapman helped the Yankees' bullpen compile a 4.7 WAR with a 3.78 ERA (3.53 FIP) prior to the All-Star break.

Since making his MLB debut in 2010, Chapman has logged more WAR than every reliever except Craig Kimbrel, fashioning a 2.08 ERA and limiting opponents to a .154 batting average in 383 appearances while converting 90 percent of his save opportunities (182-for-203).

Though Betances could close for the Yankees next year - he took over the ninth-inning job down the stretch, and owns 2.16 ERA and 39.8 percent strikeout rate for his career - Cashman said he isn't prepared to anoint the 28-year-old right-hander the closer for 2017 just yet.

"I just want to bring in more talent," Cashman said. "It's too early to say who's going to do what. It depends how the winter goes. He finished the season as our closer. So until or unless I find something better, which is pretty hard to do, but so right now he'd be the closer if the season was starting today but it's not."

Chapman, who was not eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the Cubs, is expected to draw plenty of interest this winter, and will likely land a deal that eclipses the four-year, $50-million contract Jonathan Papelbon received from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, the largest ever for a relief pitcher.

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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2016 02:01 pm
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Carlos Beltran could find himself back in the AL East in 2017.

The 40-year-old slugger is expected to attract plenty of interest in free agency, and the Boston Red Sox apparently have the veteran on their radar, reports Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball.

Beltran, who's able to play the outfield when not filling in at designated hitter, slashed a combined .295/.337/.513 in 2016 with the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.

Since he was acquired midseason, the Rangers would not be able to extend him a qualifying offer, meaning the Red Sox would not have to surrender a first-round pick to sign the veteran.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 02:38 am
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Among the Los Angeles Dodgers' to-do list this winter, it appears as though Howie Kendrick could be one of the players on his way out.

The Dodgers are exploring a trade of Kendrick, who grew frustrated with his role with the team last season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Despite getting more at-bats than anyone on the team except for Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, and Chase Utley, Kendrick is a second baseman by trade who was stuck in left field for 94 games in 2016.

While Kendrick arrived to the Dodgers understanding that he was expected to be used in a utility role, it doesn't look like he adapted too well.

Not only that, but his playing time decreased with the arrival of left-handed hitting Andrew Toles, who saw action against right-handers in the postseason.

The 33-year-old signed a two-year, $20-million deal in February, and Rosenthal reports tabs the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels as potential suitors.

Last season, Kendrick slashed .255/.326/.366 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs in 146 games.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 02:04 pm
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Just because Chris Sale cut up some jerseys, that won't be the reason the Chicago White Sox cut him loose.

Despite past rifts the ace has had with front office, most notably netting a five-game suspension for insubordination and destroying team equipment, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said that won't play a role in trade considerations.

"It's a nonfactor,'' Hahn said Tuesday, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. "It's zero factor from our standpoint in terms of his fit with us or our belief that he can help be the anchor of a championship-caliber rotation."

Sale is without a doubt the hottest pitching commodity on the trading block due to his electric arm, impressive track record, and team-friendly contract.

The 27-year-old is on the tail end of a five-year, $32.5-million deal that runs through 2017, with a club option for 2018-19.

Ever since cracking the bigs full time in 2011, he's owned a 3.02 ERA over 1,086 2/3 innings of work, notching 1,212 strikeouts, and has been named to five straight All-Star games.

Whether or not the White Sox trade him or keep him, Hahn doesn't consider Sale a clubhouse issue. He also thinks other clubs should overlook the pitcher's past run-ins.

"Whether it influences some other club's view of him, I don't know. I don't think it should," Hahn said. "I think a lot of what we've seen from Chris is part of what makes him great. It's that competitiveness, that fight, that sometimes spills over a little bit into areas outside the white lines.

"It's part of what makes him so good during the game."

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 11:10 pm
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Aroldis Chapman has begun making the rounds.

The San Francisco Giants are reportedly meeting with the free-agent closer and his representatives, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

San Francisco is searching for a front-end closer, per Nightengale, to shore up a bullpen that was the team's weak spot in 2016. Giants relievers played a big role in the team's second-half collapse, and closer Santiago Casilla led the way with a 5.87 ERA in September that saw him removed from the ninth-inning spot.

Chapman is regarded as perhaps the best reliever available after a sparkling season split between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs, the latter of whom he helped lead to a World Series title. The 28-year-old did run into some bumps during the postseason with the Cubs, including a collapse against the Giants at AT&T Park in Game 3 of the NLDS.

San Francisco may have competition for Chapman's services within its own division, as a report earlier in the week suggested the Los Angeles Dodgers are interested in signing the flame-throwing closer. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman also said he's reached out to Chapman about possibly returning to the Bronx.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 11:11 pm
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The Houston Astros are looking to make a big offseason splash, as the club has its eyes on two of baseball's perennial power hitters.

With payroll expected to increase and only two players signed beyond 2017, the Astros plan on having an aggressive offseason, which could include the acquisition of Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera or free agent Edwin Encarnacion.

Houston is set to pursue one of the sluggers to beef up their roster, according to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said he's feeling urgency to make a big move, and that adding Cabrera or Encarnacion would provide an explosive bat for the middle of their already talented lineup.

"We're going to be more aggressive this offseason than we have been the last few years," Luhnow told MLB Network on Wednesday.

The Tigers may be in a position to trade Cabrera, as GM Al Avila looks to shed payroll before next season. Cabrera is owed $212 million through 2023 with vesting options in 2024 and 2025 valued at $30 million each.

"The goal is to shed payroll and get better. Now, how do you do that? It may not all be accomplished in one shot," Avila told Morosi. "Are there going to be good, viable trades out there? We will find out. If there are not, we will wait ... I think there's going to be interest in several of our players. I do. It's just a matter of where we go with those talks."

Cabrera would need to waive his no-trade clause in order for Houston to acquire him, while Encarnacion is reportedly seeking a five-year deal.

The 33-year-old Cabrera slashed .316/.393/.563 with 38 home runs and 108 RBIs last season, while the 33-year-old Encarnacion hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and 127 RBIs.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 11:13 pm
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Free agency is officially open, and one of the biggest names available is Edwin Encarnacion, who's reportedly seeking a five-year, $125-million deal.

After another strong season with Toronto, Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzler, expects the slugger to generate interest from "10 or 11" teams, one of which could be the Boston Red Sox.

In April, David Ortiz - who retired last month after 14 years in Boston - called the 33-year-old Encarnacion a "perfect replacement" for next season - a scenario that's apparently quite alluring.

"It definitely intrigued him," Kinzer said at the general managers' meeting, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. "He and David are close, and that meant a lot to him when David did that."

According to Kinzler, Encarnacion also adores the city and enjoys hitting at Fenway Park.

"He loves Boston," the agent said. "You look at his highlights from last year, I think five of his home runs were hit there. He loves to hit there. The atmosphere … That's always one of his favorite road games."

Encarnacion has indeed enjoyed great success at Fenway during his career.

Although multiple signs point to a potential relationship, it may not be that simple - at least according to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who isn't interested in breaking the bank to replace Ortiz.

"I'm not sure if we're going to do it internally with a lot of the people we have or go outside the organization," Dombrowski told reporters, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. "We know we can never replace (Ortiz's) presence. But we have a lot of guys who can play different positions. We have young guys coming that we like a great deal, so we'll just kind of have to wait to see what happens there.

"There are a lot of different factors. One is affordability, but not only that. How long do you want to tie somebody up for that position when we have a lot of young players coming? That's a very important part of it."

Encarnacion finished 2016 with 42 home runs, and tied Ortiz for the American League lead in RBIs with 127.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 11:14 pm
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Speaking at the annual general manager meetings in Arizona on Monday, Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski let reporters in on where his priorities are this winter.

Whether it was the honest truth, or he was throwing up a smoke screen, Dombrowski said starting pitching is not something he plans on pursuing full throttle.

“I feel pretty good about our starting pitching,” Dombrowski told reporters, according to CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes. “Right now we have six starters."

With Rick Porcello and David Price headlining the rotation, with Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright, and Eduardo Rodriguez hanging in the wings, there's room for improvement.

That being said, Boston's rotation led them to an ultra-successful regular season. So when it comes to acquiring a starter, Dombrowski didn't rule it out, but he wasn't at the edge of his seat talking about it, either.

"Could we? Sure," he said. "Is it one our top priorities? I would say no.”

While the Red Sox were initially rumored to be in talks with the Chicago White Sox in a deal involving left-hander Chris Sale, Dombrowski later said that such a conversation never took place.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 11:15 pm
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While much of the early offseason attention from the Toronto Blue Jays front office appears to have been spent on trying to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion, another of the team's All-Star free agents hasn't ruled out a return.

Jose Bautista is among the top available sluggers on the open market, and while his agent, Jay Alou, is canvasing potential suitors, he made it clear his client would like to remain north of the border.

"He loves the city, loves the fans," Alou told Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball. "I didn't realize how much he loves it there. And he really feels he has unfinished business."

After years of bouncing around from club to club, Bautista finally took off in Toronto after arriving in 2008. The 36-year-old has spent the last nine seasons with the Blue Jays, become one of the best players in franchise history.

There are a number of options on the table for Bautista, including accepting the Blue Jays one-year, $17.2-million qualifying offer in hopes he can boost his value with a strong 2017 season, but Heyman deems it a long shot.

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 11:16 pm
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The winter objective for Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila is simple. How he accomplishes it, however, remains the big question.

"The goal is to shed payroll and get better. Now, how do you do that? It may not all be accomplished in one shot," Avila told Jon Paul Morosi from MLB.com. "It's a process. I'm going to keep on saying that. It's not a process you do in three months. It's one you do by changing the philosophy and way you go about it moving forward - as opposed to every year going out and signing big-time free agents and trading away your prospects.

"Are there going to be good, viable trades out there? We will find out. If there are not, we will wait ... I think there's going to be interest in several of our players. I do. It's just a matter of where we go with those talks."

The Tigers are coming off back-to-back seasons without playoff appearances despite payrolls that ranked in the top five in the majors. A number of veterans - including Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton, and Jordan Zimmermann - are locked in long term, and Avila will likely look to move at least one of them in order to help get under the luxury tax.

On Tuesday, it was reported the Tigers have already received calls on Verlander and Cabrera, while it's expected J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler will be the most coveted members on the roster.

While there's potential the Tigers could be major players this winter, Avila cautioned it's unlikely there will be a firesale coming from Michigan in the months ahead.

"At the very beginning, I said this may be a process that takes three winters, not just one winter," Avila said. "Now people are like, 'Oh, they are going to trade everyone.' No. I don't know who we are going to trade yet. We want to trade the right guys and certain things might take until next winter."

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 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2016 11:18 pm
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Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred opened his press conference Wednesday fielding a question about United States president-elect Donald Trump.

"Interesting couple of weeks. Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, Donald Trump was elected President," Manfred said, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton early Wednesday to become the 45th President of the United States. He'll begin his tenure in late January.

The Republican representative had been critical about immigration during his campaign, and promised he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico, making Mexico pay for it.

Despite his comments, Manfred believes there won't be any issues between Trump and MLB's operations in the foreseeable future.

"We all know what he said about Mexico. We'll have to see if it happens," Manfred said, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.

He added: "I'm not concerned it's going to affect anything (for MLB) in the next few years."

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 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2016 05:37 pm
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R.A. Dickey is bringing his knuckleball back to the National League East.

The Atlanta Braves announced Thursday they've signed the former Cy Young Award winner to a one-year contract with a club option for 2018. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atlanta, the NL's worst team in 2016, has been active in searching for starting pitching to boost a staff that posted the third-worst ERA in baseball at 4.87. Dickey's reputation as an innings-eater - he threw at least 210 innings in three of his four years with the Blue Jays, and surpassed the 200-inning mark each year from 2011-15 - could help ease the load on the Atlanta's crop of young starters.

Dickey, one of the last knuckleball pitchers remaining in the majors, spent the last four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, who acquired him from the New York Mets following his 2012 Cy Young campaign. He posted a 4.46 ERA and struck out 126 batters across 169 2/3 innings with Toronto in 2016, but wasn't part of the postseason roster. He was a finalist for the AL Gold Glove, which he won in 2013.

Over four years with the Blue Jays, the 42-year-old posted a 4.05 ERA and averaged 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings, helping Toronto to consecutive playoff berths while boosting his reputation as a valued innings-eater.

Dickey's greatest success came as a member of the Mets, where he became the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young Award as a 37-year-old in 2012, and became famous for his late-career redemption story.

Over 14 major-league seasons with the Blue Jays, Mets, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, and Minnesota Twins, Dickey owns a 4.01 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 1,341 strikeouts across 1,883 2/3 innings.

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