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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Wed Mar 1st, 2017 12:38 am
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lobo316



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TEMPE, Ariz. - When the San Diego Padres pitched a unique plan to Christian Bethancourt, he caught their drift.

And if it all works out, he might become a most rare multi-purpose player: Ever seen a pitcher/catcher?

"They came to me and asked me if I would agree to it," Bethancourt said. "I kind of liked the idea and we'll see how everything goes this year."

The 25-year-old catcher is getting regular work with the Padres pitchers this spring. San Diego hopes Bethancourt will play some outfield as well as pitching and catching - perhaps some or all of the above in the same game during the season.

He'll pitch for the first time in the Cactus League on Wednesday in one of the Padres' split-squad games.

"Most of his work has been on the mound, getting some at-bats here and there," manager Andy Green said Monday after Bethancourt, as the Padres' DH, went 0 for 1 with a walk against the Angels.

"It's a steep learning curve. It's a lot to do for one man. He's taken to it very well," Green added.

After coming through the Atlanta Braves' system, Bethancourt was traded to San Diego. The native of Panama hit .228 with six homers in 73 games in 2016.

But it was a pair of relief appearances last season that gave the Padres the idea. Bethancourt pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, walked three and hit a batter, and struck out one.

"I had the opportunity to get on the mound twice and it just happened,'' he said. "It wasn't something I was looking for but I have the opportunity to help my team in two different ways."

After a 68-94 season last year, the Padres are looking for any edge they can find. They approached Bethancourt about the move in the offseason.

"We watched him last year on the mound and we were intrigued by the arm strength," Green said. "Anybody that's watched him throw, that's a top arm behind the plate, there's tons of strength.

"He's got a lot of work to do, but we've seen a lot of catcher converts turn into very good pitchers," he said.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 1st, 2017 12:39 am
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Not even a week after signing catcher Matt Wieters, the Washington Nationals reportedly decided to upgrade their bullpen as well, agreeing Tuesday to a one-year, $4-million deal with veteran right-hander Joe Blanton, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal includes some deferred monies and an additional $1 million in performance bonuses, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, is pending a physical.

Blanton, who turned 36 in December, has thrived since reinventing himself as a reliever two years ago, managing a 2.29 ERA and 1.8 WAR in 107 relief appearances over the past couple seasons. Last year, the burly Kentucky native served as the Los Angeles Dodgers' primary setup man, authoring a 2.48 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP and 25.4 percent strikeout rate over a career-high 75 outings.

The Nationals' bullpen enjoyed a strong 2016 season, incidentally, finishing sixth in the majors in WAR (5.2) and second in league- and park-adjusted ERA (80 ERA-), but the offseason losses of Mark Melancon and Matt Belisle loomed large as spring training began.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 1st, 2017 03:44 am
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Continuing their efforts to improve pace of play, Major League Baseball hopes to implement a pair of rule changes in 2017 designed to hasten instant replay review, two officials with direct knowledge told Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Pending approval from clubs, which are still reviewing the pitch-less intentional walk rule reportedly approved last week by the MLBPA, managers will be required to signal for a challenge within 30 seconds this season, while the umpire in the New York replay booth will have a two-minute time limit to make a ruling.

Additional rule changes could be looming, as commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday he plans to meet with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark and a handful of players to discuss potential changes for the 2018 campaign.

"I hope we have a nice robust dialogue with the players," Manfred said. "I hope they come forward with their ideas on what’s going to happen. My biggest single hope is that we make an agreement for what we’re going to do in 2018."

Manfred, who is also thought to be keen to introduce pitch clocks, limit visits to the mound, and raise the strike zone, can unilaterally implement rule changes for 2018 - he intimated last week he wouldn't hesitate to do so, either - but said he'd prefer to get the players on board.

"It's always important to have direct communication with players on issues that affect the play on the field," he said. "We want an agreement with the players That’s what works best when we're dealing with something between the white lines. We’re intent on pursuing the process through, and getting ourselves an agreement with them on a set of changes.

"My hope is to get an agreement. If we don't get an agreement, we'll figure out where we are at that point in time."

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 Posted: Wed Mar 1st, 2017 03:44 am
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"Doc" may be getting another job with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The club has recently been talking to Roy Halladay about finding a role in the organization for the former Cy Young winner, according to MLB.com's Todd Zalecki, who cites a source.

Halladay last appeared at Philadelphia's camp in 2014 as a guest instructor. It's likely he'll again be at the club's complex with the rest of the team by the end of spring training, Zalecki reports.

Following 12 dominant seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay was shipped to the Phillies in December 2009 in a blockbuster trade for then-prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor.

Halladay played his final four seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, and despite having to pitch in the National League for the first time in his career, he picked up where he'd left off with the Blue Jays. He posted a 2.44 ERA in 250 2/3 innings in his first season with Philadelphia and continued that performance into the playoffs, recording a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in his first-ever postseason start.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 1st, 2017 03:46 am
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David Wright is dealing with yet another injury.

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday that the oft-injured third baseman was diagnosed with a shoulder impingement and has been sent back to New York for further testing, according to Mike Puma from the New York Post.

Wright has no structural damage in his shoulder and is capable of hitting, but has been shut down from throwing. Alderson said the seven-time All-Star's status for Opening Day is now "questionable," reports Marc Carig from Newsday.

"He's not going to be throwing for a couple of weeks, probably not throwing with any real zip for a period after that," Alderson said, according to Matt Ehalt of The Record.

Wright began taking part in limited workouts earlier this month as he rehabbed from June's season-ending neck surgery. He received a planned PRP injection Feb. 18 and was cleared to begin throwing the following day.

"This discomfort that he's had has persisted throughout spring training," Alderson said.

Injuries have significantly impacted Wright's career, especially in recent years. He's appeared in just 75 games over the past two seasons and has missed almost 400 games since 2011.

At 34, Wright's inability to stay on the field remains a concern, but not to the point where Alderson is worried about Wright not being able to continue his career.

"I don't think we're at that point - the point where concern is at a more heightened level," Alderson said. "This is all part of the process from rehabilitating from the neck surgery and it's taking longer than David would have hoped - and we would have hoped - but its part of the process."

With Wright's injury, the door now opens for Jose Reyes to take over at third base. The utility infielder was expected to get some reps in the outfield this spring in order to increase his playing time.

Wright, who will earn $20 million this season, has four years, and $67 million remaining on his deal.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 1st, 2017 09:59 pm
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The man writing the checks for the Texas Rangers believes Yu Darvish is set for a career year in 2017.

"He is in a good frame of mind, and strong physically," Rangers owner Ray Davis told reporters, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. "I expect him to win the Cy Young."

Darvish finished second for the American League Cy Young in 2013, but hasn't received a vote for the award since. Health has been one of the key contributors holding the 30-year-old back, as he's thrown just 244 2/3 innings over the last three years due to Tommy John surgery and shoulder issues.

A Cy Young-caliber season could potentially be costly for the Rangers, with the right-hander entering the final year of his deal and set to headline the free-agent class this winter. Davis said there's yet to be any solid negotiations done in terms of an extension, but the club is hopeful it can re-sign Darvish.

"It depends on what our other options are," Davis said. "He has expressed an interest in staying here, and we'd love to have him."

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 Posted: Wed Mar 1st, 2017 10:04 pm
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For the second time in three years, the Minnesota Twins will see one of their top position player prospects undergo Tommy John surgery.

The Twins announced Wednesday that 2016 first-round pick Alex Kirilloff will undergo the procedure March 8 and will miss the entire season.

Kirilloff hurt his elbow on a throw on Aug. 28, but the Twins hoped offseason rehab would allow him to avoid surgery. The symptoms returned this spring, however, forcing the club to decide on surgery, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

The 19-year-old is expected to be able to resume baseball activities in five months, but it isn't believed he'll be able to play this year.

Kirilloff was selected with the 15th pick in last summer's draft and hit .306/.341/.454 with seven home runs, nine doubles, and 33 RBIs in 55 games in rookie ball. He's ranked as the Twins' third-best prospect and 98th-best prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

Exactly three years ago Wednesday, the Twins announced that third baseman Miguel Sano would undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the UCL in his right elbow.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 2nd, 2017 09:41 pm
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The Boston Red Sox received some potentially season-altering news Thursday, as left-hander David Price underwent an MRI after experiencing soreness in his left elbow and forearm.

The results of the MRI have yet to be announced, though Red Sox manager John Farrell said Price is going to receive a second opinion from renowned Tommy John surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

"We're still in the process of evaluating the MRI and gathering more information," Farrell told reporters, according to Christopher Smith of Mass Live.

Farrell said Price came out of his simulated game fine Tuesday, but began feeling pain Wednesday that was of a greater intensity than normal soreness. Price has since been scratched from his first spring start that was to come later this week.

"He came out of the two-inning sim game the other day with some increased soreness. So we're holding him out," Farrell said, according to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.

Farrell added: "We're taking every precaution. Yes, we are concerned, as we would be with any player. There's a couple things. We've got a little bit of history with David and what his progression through spring training has been. He's battled this seemingly in every spring training. We will acknowledge that this one has got a little bit more intensity to it. That's why we're taking every step and scratching him for Sunday."

Price has been remarkably durable throughout his career, averaging 218 innings per season over the last seven years. He threw a league-leading 230 innings in 2016.

Potentially losing Price for a significant amount of time would be a huge blow for the Red Sox. Despite coming off a down season by his standards, Price still won 17 games, posted a 3.99 ERA, struck out 228 batters, and remains among the game's elite starters.

The Red Sox rotation had questions surrounding its depth and health entering spring training. Outside of Chris Sale and Rick Porcello; Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Drew Pomeranz all entered camp nursing injuries, and outside of those five, the organization has few arms capable of giving the club quality starting pitching.

Price is in Year 2 of a seven-year, $217-million deal, and will earn $30 million in 2017.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 2nd, 2017 09:43 pm
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Jerry Dipoto is at it again.

The Seattle Mariners made a minor trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, acquiring right-hander Chase De Jong in exchange for minor-league shortstop Drew Jackson and minor-league pitcher Aneurys Zabala.

De Jong, 23, was a former second-round draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012. He spent 2016 split between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, posting a 15-5 record with a 2.82 ERA during 26 starts.

The 23-year-old Jackson was ranked as the No. 12 prospect in the Mariners' system before the trade after hitting .258/.332/.345 with six home runs, 47 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases at Single-A Bakersfield last season. He was drafted out of Stanford by the Mariners in the fifth round of the 2015 entry draft.

Zabala, 20, was the No. 22-ranked prospect with the Mariners, posting a 1-5 record with a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings during rookie ball in 2016.

The trade is the 14th made by Dipoto since November.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 2nd, 2017 09:44 pm
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The Arizona Diamondbacks will send Zack Greinke to the mound for their April 2 season opener against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field, manager Torey Lovullo confirmed Wednesday, handing the former Cy Young award winner his second straight Opening Day start.

Greinke, 33, floundered in his first season with Arizona after signing a six-year, $206.5-million deal with the club last December, putting up a 4.37 ERA - his worst since 2005 - while making only 26 starts to due an oblique injury that sidelined him for more than five weeks.

His first start of 2016 was particularly disastrous, as Greinke allowed seven runs on nine hits - including three home runs - over four innings against the Colorado Rockies, taking the loss in a 10-5 defeat that made for an inauspicious Diamondbacks debut.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 02:25 am
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Having played only 75 combined games since 2015, New York Mets third baseman David Wright's absence from the lineup will carry on past Opening Day as the veteran will be shut down from his throwing program, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

The 34-year-old arrived at Mets camp after a second doctor's opinion confirmed that Wright is dealing with shoulder impingement and instability of the tendons. With no firm timetable set for his possible return, Wright admitted he's prepared to embark on an "aggressive, time-consuming rehab."

"I just knew something wasn't right," he said. "And it doesn’t do anybody any good trying to go out there and play a position that requires throwing when you can't throw.

"But as far as I'm concerned, it's a little bump in the road and give everything I have to rehab and hopefully be out there helping my teammates as soon as possible."

Wright dealt with a herniated disk in his neck for most of 2016 and underwent surgery for the ailment in June which resulted in his shoulder shutting down. This comes two years after he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.

Earlier in his career before the barrage of injuries, Wright was consistently one of the best third basemen in baseball. The seven-time All-Star has combined to hit .296/.376/.491 throughout his 13-year career ranking second in team history with 49 WAR.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 02:26 am
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Jon Lester will take the mound on Opening Day when the Chicago Cubs begin their World Series title defense in St. Louis.

The left-hander was officially named the starter Thursday by manager Joe Maddon, marking the second time in three years he's received the honor with the Cubs.

"He's definitely earned it and deserves it," Maddon said, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times.

Lester was the Cubs' top starter last season, going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 197 strikeouts across 202 2/3 innings. He finished second in NL Cy Young voting behind Max Scherzer.

The 33-year-old Lester made four consecutive Opening Day starts from 2011-14 while a member of the Boston Red Sox.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 02:28 am
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A bout of biceps tendinitis forced the Texas Rangers to shut down newly acquired right-hander Andrew Cashner on Thursday, though manager Jeff Banister isn't convinced the 30-year-old is destined to start the season on the disabled list.

"It's kind of a normal thing for a lot of pitchers," Banister told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. "It's happened early enough that we will still have time to get him ready if everything checks out okay."

Cashner, who hasn't thrown since experiencing soreness during a bullpen session earlier this week, will be examined by team medical director Dr. Keith Meister on Friday, at which point the club will reassess.

"We didn't feel the need to rush it or anything," said assistant general manager Mike Daly. "We were able to back it off for a couple of days, let it calm down. I think with Dr. Meister coming in (Thursday) that we just felt it was best to have him take a look before we put together a plan looking forward. I think that there's a little concern, but with it being so early in a camp, it's too early to tell.

Cashner, a first-round pick by the Chicago Cubs in 2008, landed a one-year, $10-million deal with Texas this winter despite struggling mightily last season, managing a career-worst 5.25 ERA (77 ERA+) with a 1.53 WHIP over 132 innings between the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins while missing time with hamstring and back injuries.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 02:29 am
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The long-running television dispute between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals is headed to an appeals court.

The Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court in Manhattan will hear arguments from each side for 15 minutes on March 14.

New York Supreme Court Justice Lawrence K. Marks in November 2015 threw out an arbitration decision that said the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which is controlled by the Orioles, owes the Nationals about $298 million for the team's 2012-16 television rights. All sides appealed.

MASN was established in March 2005 after the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington and became the Nationals, moving into what had been Baltimore's exclusive broadcast territory since 1972. The Orioles were given a supermajority partnership interest in MASN, and when the parties could not agree on a rights fee for 2012-16, they appeared in April 2012 before baseball's three-man Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee, as required in the MASN agreement.

The RSDC issued its decision in 2014, and MASN and the Orioles sued, claiming the arbitration was improper because the law firm Proskauer Rose, which represented the Nationals, at times worked for MLB and the teams of all three arbitrators.

Marks issued a stay last July preventing the RSDC from holding a rehearing, pending determination of the appeal.

Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin is to argue for MASN and the Orioles, and Paul Clement for Major League Baseball. Clement represented the NFL before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year reinstated the league's four-game suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 02:30 am
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yeah right






This one is for you, Montreal.

During an interview in which Bryce Harper touched on potentially highlighting the much-anticipated free-agent group of 2019, the 24-year-old former National League MVP also expressed his burning desire to win a World Series in Washington, and in the process give Montreal Expos supporters the chance to celebrate as well.

"I want to win it so bad, not just for the fans of D.C., but for the fans of Montreal as well," Harper said, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. "That’s what people forget sometimes. It’s not just D.C., but the Expos organization.

"People forget how good those teams were in Montreal. Look at all of the studs they drafted that came through the organization. Randy Johnson. Cliff Lee. Delino DeShields. Marquis Grissom. It’s crazy to look back to see how good those teams were and what could have been," he said.

"We’d love to win it for all of those people."

Montreal relocated to Washington after the 2004 season following 35 years in the City of Saints. Despite the Expos' loyal following, the franchise made the postseason only once in 1981.

The Nationals, meanwhile, have qualified for the postseason three times since 2012 but have failed to advance past the League Division Series, posting a combined 5-9 record over that stretch. If Washington hopes to make some noise in October, Harper will need to improve on 2016 after the young outfielder struggled to recapture his MVP form of two years ago.

"I feel like everybody goes through aches and pains during the season," Harper says. "You can’t make excuses. What’s the point? You’re still playing. That’s just part of the game. Part of sports. You just play through those. I feel I should be out there every day, playing hard for my team."

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