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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 01:37 am
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lobo316



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The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly agreed to a three-year, $33-million deal with free-agent designated hitter Kendrys Morales, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal is pending a physical, sources told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Morales was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Kansas City Royals, meaning the Blue Jays won't have to surrender a draft pick as a result of this signing.

Morales is primarily a designated hitter at this stage of his career, as the 33-year-old's played just 16 games at first base over his last two seasons. If the Blue Jays' roster remains the same as presently constructed, they would have Morales and Justin Smoak holding down first base and designated hitter.


The signing leaves free agent Edwin Encarnacion's future in Toronto unclear. Encarnacion, who's spent the last eight seasons in Toronto, can play both first base and DH, meaning he and Morales could share time in the same lineup. However, Heyman reported that the signing of Morales makes Encarnacion's return to Toronto "less likely."

Morales, a native of Cuba, hit .263/.327/.468 with 30 homers with the Royals in 2016. He was the team's DH for the last two years, and helped them win the 2015 World Series.

Across 10 big-league seasons with the Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins, and Seattle Mariners, Morales owns a .273/.331/.465 slash line with 162 home runs and 215 doubles.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 01:41 am
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The Los Angeles Dodgers parted ways with disgruntled veteran Howie Kendrick on Friday, trading the 33-year-old to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman Darin Ruf and utility man Darnell Sweeney, the teams announced.

Kendrick, who signed a two-year, $20-million deal with the Dodgers last offseason, reportedly grew frustrated with his role in 2016 as he bounced between second base, his longtime position, and left field, prompting the club to explore trade possibilities early this offseason. Along with his disillusionment over his role, Kendrick also regressed at the plate this year, posting a career-worst .691 OPS (91 wRC+) with eight home runs and 26 doubles in 146 games for the National League West division champions.

This coming summer, however, there won't be any confusion over his role, as Kendrick is poised to take over as the Phillies' everyday left fielder, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, and will likely hit at the top of the order for the rebuilding club that finished 71-91 in 2016. Despite his struggles last season, Kendrick, an All-Star in 2011, has hit .289/.332/.417 (106 wRC+) in his 11-year career, and averaged almost 3.5 WAR per year in his five seasons prior to 2016.

In Ruf, meanwhile, the Dodgers get a potential platoon partner for incumbent left fielder Andrew Toles, as well as a right-handed complement to Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Though the 30-year-old owns just a .747 OPS over parts of five seasons with the Phillies, Ruf has hit .299/.379/.542 (151 wRC+) with a 10.1 percent walk rate and .244 isolated power against left-handed pitching.

Sweeney, finally, appears likely to begin the 2017 campaign in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League after spending the entirety of 2016 with the Phillies' International League affiliate. In 118 games with Lehigh Valley, the 25-year-old hit just .233/.299/.345 with six home runs and 17 doubles while going 12-for-23 in stolen-base attempts.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 01:42 am
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The Los Angeles Angels beefed up their rotation depth Friday, signing veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez to a one-year contract.

The deal is worth $5.75 million, according to multiple reports, with another $3 million available in incentives.

Poised to join the seventh team of his meandering, nine-year career, Chavez will get the chance to start next season despite spending all of 2016 in the bullpen. Acquired by the Blue Jays last winter, Chavez struggled in Toronto and didn't fare much better after getting shipped to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, posting a cumulative 4.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP while serving up 12 homers in 67 innings. Since making his MLB debut in 2008, the 33-year-old owns a 4.54 ERA over 604 2/3 innings.

Chavez, however, was a serviceable starter in Oakland over the two seasons prior to 2016, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 2.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 47 starts with the A's. He will slot in behind Garrett Richards, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Shoemaker, and Tyler Skaggs in a rotation that finished in the bottom five in the American League in ERA (4.60), innings pitched (877 1/3), strikeout rate (18.4 percent), opponents' batting average (.272), and home runs per nine innings (1.43) in 2016.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 01:43 am
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Edwin Encarnacion has narrowed the field.

Paul Kinzer, the agent for the free-agent slugger, said his client has a shortlist of five teams he's comfortable playing for (three in American League), with three of those teams currently in play, reports Rick Westhead of TSN.

Kinzer said Thursday that Encarnacion received an offer from the Blue Jays already, though it wasn't what he was looking for. He confirmed, however, the Blue Jays remain Encarnacion's top destination.

"(The Blue Jays) did make us an offer and it wasn't quite where we wanted (it) to be, and we've spoken to some other teams," Kinzer said. "But Edwin's made it pretty clear how much he loves Toronto, not only with his words but his actions. So ... that's his first choice."

The Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers are among the teams to reportedly have expressed interest in Encarnacion.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 10:58 pm
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Despite reportedly agreeing to a three-year deal with Kendrys Morales on Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays haven't given up on re-signing Edwin Encarnacion.

Amid speculation that Morales' contract signaled the end of the Blue Jays' relationship with their beloved slugger, Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer, said Saturday that talks with Toronto's front office haven't stopped just because the Blue Jays picked up a designated hitter.

"I talked to (Blue Jays GM) Ross (Atkins) this morning," Kinzer told TSN's Rick Westhead. "We're still talking."

Though Morales is expected to be Toronto's everyday DH in 2017, Kinzer suggested that wouldn't stop the Blue Jays from continuing to pursue a new deal with Encarnacion, the three-time All-Star who started 74 games at first base last season. Once chided for his sloppy work in the field, Encarnacion's defensive chops have improved over the last couple seasons, with both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating pegging him as, at worst, an average first baseman.

"We feel like Edwin's a first baseman now," he said. "He finished strong. I think in (the Blue Jays') minds he's a first baseman now also. They have confidence in him there."

According to Kinzer, the Blue Jays recently submitted an offer to Encarnacion that "wasn't quite where we wanted it," but noted that Toronto is still his client's top choice. As of Friday, three teams were still in play for Encarnacion, Kinzer said, later adding that he expects a deal to be finalized soon, likely before next month's winter meetings in Maryland.

"We both know where we're at. December 4 is the winter meetings," he said. "There's a chance we could get there (without a deal for Encarnacion) but I doubt it."

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 10:59 pm
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Less than a week after acquiring veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Seattle Mariners have added to their roster via trade yet again, acquiring Danny Valencia from the Oakland Athletics for minor-league right-hander Paul Blackburn.

The 32-year-old Valencia will join the seventh organization of his career after spending the past season-and-a-half with the Athletics.

"Danny's skill set is a good fit for our club. He's been a very productive offensive player, especially versus left-handed pitching," general manager Jerry Dipoto said, according to MLB.com's Greg Johns.

Valencia, who was told he'll play first base and some right field, according to Johns, had a productive year, slashing .287/.346/.446 with 17 home runs, 22 doubles, and 51 RBIs, while hitting left-handers to the tune of a .318/.389/.535 line.

With the trade for Valencia, it's unlikely the club will re-sign Dae-Ho Lee, Dipoto told Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune.

Valencia also got into a clubhouse altercation with Billy Butler last season, which ended with Butler being diagnosed with a concussion after Valencia punched him in the temple.

Over his seven-year career in the bigs, Valencia owns a .271 batting average to go along with 72 home runs and 303 RBIs.

Blackburn, 22, was drafted in the first round, 56th overall, by the Chicago Cubs in 2012. He was traded to the Mariners in last season's deal for Mike Montgomery.

In 2016, the hurler owned a 9-5 record with a 3.27 ERA across 26 appearances - 25 starts - split between Double-A Tennessee and Jackson.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 11:01 pm
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Two of the biggest names in recent New York Yankees history have slightly differing opinions regarding new president-elect Donald Trump.

Joe Torre, the former Yankees skipper and current chief baseball officer for MLB, has associated with Trump a number of times over the years, but at a gala in New York for his Safe at Home Foundation - which aims to raise awareness about domestic violence - he revealed he wasn't pleased with the controversial road taken by the next president of the United States.

"I know (Trump). I played golf with him," Torre said Thursday, according to the New York Daily News' Christian Red. "I'm not a fan of the process, I don't mind saying that. I thought there was a lot of disrespect. I wasn't a fan of it.

"Our children - it's tough when you don't want your children to watch a debate."

Torre wasn't the only name in baseball at the event to comment on Trump's victory.

Iconic Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter also attended the event, and though he understands the country is split regarding the result, he hopes cooler heads can prevail.

"There's been so much talk about the election, I think people are tired of hearing about the election," Jeter said, according to Red. "You move on and you hope that everyone can unite. Do I know (Trump)? Yeah. I've known him. ... He's always treated me good, best way to put it."

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 11:02 pm
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The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the most active teams on the free-agent front during the offseason so far, signing Cuban youngster Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a seven-year deal, before reportedly agreeing to a three-year contract with Kendrys Morales.

It appears the Blue Jays may not be done just yet, either. Toronto is showing interest in right-handed hitting Steve Pearce as a potential platoon partner with the left-handed hitting Justin Smoak at first base, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Pearce, 33, had a chance to become a member of the Blue Jays after being designated for assignment by the Orioles in 2014, but instead turned down an offer from the club and went on to have a breakout campaign in Baltimore, hitting .293/.373/.556 with 21 home runs.

The 10-year MLB veteran hasn't had a season as productive since, but belted 13 home runs and added 35 RBIs with an .867 OPS for the Tampa Bay Rays and Orioles last season.

Pearce earned $4.75 million in 2016.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2016 11:05 pm
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Mabel Ball had it in her to wait one more week.
A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, the 108-year-old woman died Tuesday, six days after watching her beloved Cubbies win the World Series.
108-year-old Cubs fan Mabel Ball lived to see her team win it all, she died six days later, according to the@chicagotribune pic.twitter.com/1tTVcU2HB7
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 12, 2016
"The cruel irony, the almost unbelievable irony, is that the person who waits and waits and waits, after it happens, says, 'I've done what I've got to do, and I'm out of here,'" her son Rich, told the Chicago Tribune's Irv Leavitt. "It ain't funny, but it's funny."
Before Ball died, she was interviewed by the Tribune and a local TV station. When her son asked her what she thought about being something of a celebrity, her response was priceless.
"It's a lot of nonsense," she told him.








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 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2016 01:20 am
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After breaking the bank to break the curse, Theo Epstein is expecting a quiet offseason for the Chicago Cubs.

The team's president of baseball operations splashed out on 2015 free agents Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and John Lackey, spending a total $272 million on the trio in a bid to win the franchise's first Fall Classic since 1908. However, he doesn't want Cubs fans to assume that sort of free-wheeling offseason spending has become the norm.

"We made two offseasons worth of acquisitions last winter, two offseasons worth of spending," Epstein told the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan on Thursday. "We were very open about that at the time, knowing this winter there wouldn't quite be the same type of talent available to us."

Though the club entered the 2016 season with a resounding $188-million team payroll - the fifth-highest number in the league, according to Spotrac - Epstein admits plans could have been entirely different if the Cubs hadn't been able to come back from 3-1 down in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

"Sometimes when you do win it, it can allow you to take a little bit of a deep breath and survey the landscape more objectively," Epstein said.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2016 01:22 am
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Notwithstanding its reputation as one of baseball's most cash-strapped clubs, the Oakland Athletics "have money to spend" this winter, according to general manager David Forst, whose top offseason priority is improving the outfield.

After shipping Josh Reddick to Los Angeles in July, and with Danny Valencia now on his way to Seattle, the Athletics have two outfield spots to fill this winter, and Forst suggested his club will be uncharacteristically aggressive in free agency as it looks to replace those guys.

“We need major-league outfielders,” Forst told Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. “We have to be (open) to any means of acquiring, whether it’s free agents or trades. It’s certainly not our history to be aggressive at the top end of the free-agent market, but we have money to spend and we have some good options."

Though the Athletics spent the last year-plus swapping veterans for young talent, having traded away Reddick, Rich Hill, Chris Coghlan, Ben Zobrist, and Scott Kazmir in the last 15 months, if the club is, indeed, looking to improve its 25-man roster this winter, there are a number of intriguing possibilities in free agency.

A reunion with Yoenis Cespedes, the consensus top player available in free agency, seems unlikely, but the Athletics may be amenable to deal with one or more of Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo, or even Reddick (each of whom, with the exception of Reddick, received qualifying offers and are attached to draft-pick compensation).

As things currently stand, the Athletics are poised to start Brett Eibner and Matt Olson in their outfield along with Khris Davis in 2017, though Mark Canha, who's recovering from hip surgery, "will help fill (that) gap," as well, Forst said.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2016 04:40 am
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After missing two full seasons with shoulder problems, Jurickson Profar made his long-awaited return to the Texas Rangers roster this past summer, and even though his role for 2017 remains unclear, general manager Jon Daniels doesn't anticipate moving the resilient 23-year-old this offseason.

"Looking back at where we were a year ago at this time, two years ago, we are thrilled with the year that he had," Daniels told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan earlier this week. "Huge contribution after not playing for two years because of his shoulder issues and surgery. As we sit here today, I expect him to be a part of the club in a winning role. Is there an everyday job the way we are set up now? I don't know.

Profar, the consensus top prospect in baseball as recently as 2013, was once considered an integral part of the Rangers' future, but a torn right shoulder muscle suffered in spring training of 2014 derailed his ascent to stardom, and the club found other linchpins in the two years he spent recovering.

Now, as 2017 looms, Profar's path to playing time is murky, with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor entrenched in the middle infield. Upon rejoining the Rangers in May, Profar was used in a utility role, spending time at every infield position as well as left field, but he made it clear to Daniels that he wants to be an everyday shortstop.

That probably won't happen, though, Daniels hinted, and with Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland both liable to sign elsewhere as free agents this winter, Profar will probably reprise his role as a utility player in 2017.

"I think he could play every day at a variety of spots," Daniels said. "I think he can play regularly or semi-regularly and move around. It's really going to depend on the makeup of the club."

It will also depend on Profar's bat. Last year, after two years away from seeing major-league pitching, Profar hit just .239/.321/.338 with five home runs, six doubles, and three triples in 90 games before riding the bench for the entirety of their fruitless American League Division Series showdown with the Toronto Blue Jays. Since making his debut with Texas in 2012, at age 19, Profar owns just a .652 OPS (75 OPS+) with 12 homers in 184 games.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2016 04:41 am
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Boone Logan is popular in the Big Apple.

Logan, the veteran left-hander fresh off a three-year, $16.5-million deal with the Colorado Rockies, has drawn interest from both the Mets and Yankees early this offseason, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Logan, a 20th-round pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2002, managed a 3.69 ERA (133 ERA+) and 1.01 WHIP in 66 appearances for the Rockies this season, limiting opponents to a .166 average while allowing only four homers and notching 57 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. He was especially tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .142/.222/.255 line and serving up just one home run in 119 plate appearances.

The Yankees are well acquainted with Logan, who enjoyed the finest stretch of his career in the Bronx, fashioning a 3.38 ERA with a 26.9 percent strikeout rate while averaging 64 appearances per season from 2010 through 2013. Right now, however, the club has two lefties, Tommy Layne and Richard Bleier, poised to start the season in their bullpen, so their level of interest in Logan is unclear.

Meanwhile, even with Jerry Blevins liable to sign elsewhere as a free agent, the Mets also have a pair of left-handers primed to land bullpen jobs in Josh Smoker and Josh Edgin. Smoker recorded 25 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2016 and Edgin crafted a 1.32 ERA in 47 outings two years ago before undergoing Tommy John surgery.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2016 05:54 pm
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With the offseason underway, teams have been hesitant to open their pockets and pursue big free agents due to a delay in baseball's new collective-bargaining agreement.

The current CBA - which expires on Dec. 1 - includes a payroll threshold of $189 million for each team. Until the new agreement is announced, teams that want to splurge on free agents will have to be patient, as organizations don't know what the luxury-tax threshold will represent, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Speculation from around the league is that the threshold will increase to anywhere from $200 million to $210 million, Cafardo notes. Until the exact figure is revealed, teams will be at risk if they want to sign a big free agent, as penalties could be handed out if the threshold ends up being lower than expected.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said recently he anticipates a deal will be reached before the deadline, which comes right in the thick of the winter meetings, where signings usually begin to take place. The Toronto Blue Jays were the first team to dive into the free-agent pool, reportedly signing Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33-million contract and bringing in Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a seven-year contract worth $22 million.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2016 05:56 pm
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With a year left on his current deal, veteran Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is open to waiving his no-trade clause.

Phillips, who's been with the Reds for 11 seasons, is more willing to consider a trade this offseason compared to last, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Last year, Phillips tried to push for an extension from the Reds, but that fell through.

There was even talk of Cincinnati dealing Phillips to the Washington Nationals, but the club balked at picking him up with so much money owed on his contract.

Another factor for Phillips might be that the club intends to give Jose Peraza significant playing time next season, reports Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball.

The 35-year-old is set to make $14 million next season before hitting free agency in 2018, though he's still an attractive piece for teams seeking a veteran infield presence.

Last year, he slashed .291/.320/.416 with 11 home runs, 64 RBIs and only 68 strikeouts over 141 games.

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