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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Houston Astros are looking to make a major splash this winter, but they'd prefer to keep their financial commitments short term.

Free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion is one of general manager Jeff Luhnow's top targets, and he'd ideally like to land the slugger on a three-year deal with a larger annual salary, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

It was reported earlier this week that Encarnacion has generated interest from 10-11 teams, with his agent seeking a five-year, $125-million deal. He's already been in contact with his former team, the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox are believed to have varied levels of interest.

Signing him would cost the Astros a draft pick, as the Blue Jays extended him a qualifying offer. Rosenthal noted that Encarnacion would fit into the middle of Houston's lineup, but the only knock against the three-time All-Star is that they'd prefer to add a left-handed bat to an already righty-heavy lineup.

Luhnow acknowledged Tuesday that the Astros' front office feels a sense of urgency to compliment their young core with a big veteran bat this winter. They've also been tied to free-agent designated hitter Carlos Beltran, Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, and New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann.

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Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow attempted to poor some cold water on a rumor suggesting his club is interested in trading for Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

"I was asked, 'Would we consider a trade for a Hall of Fame-caliber first baseman,' and we're considering everything. I think the media kind of ran with that," Luhnow told Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday.

"Whoever started that rumor, it wasn't us. I can't comment specifically on any deals that we're talking to other clubs about. I will tell you though we're talking to teams about lots of different scenarios, and some of them are notable players that would really impact our club. Whether or not any of those conversations have a chance of getting over the finish line remains to be seen.

The rumor came from Jon Morosi of MLB Network, who reported Tuesday that the Astros plan to pursue either Cabrera or free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion.

Luhnow was adamant earlier this week that the club intends on being aggressive this winter in hopes of adding to its already strong young core. He said Wednesday that there are a number of options on his wish list, though actually finding a deal that works is a long process.

"Players that have a lot of service time and have a lot of hardware usually don't move that easily and it takes a while to get those deals done," Luhnow said.

"We have the resources financially and player-wise to put together something that's going to feel to our fans maybe bigger than the things we've done the last few years. And we're not ruling anything out if we think it can improve our club."

Cabrera is currently under contract through the next seven seasons and is owed $212 million. He also has a full no-trade clause.

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It may be the offseason, but Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein is still keeping close eye on his players.

So when right-hander Jake Arrieta tweeted a suggestion to Hillary Clinton supporters Wednesday morning, following Donald Trump's election win, Epstein noticed.

Time for Hollywood to pony up and head for the border #illhelpyoupack #beatit

— Jake Arrieta (@JArrieta34) November 9, 2016
"I'm still processing that, too (along with the election results)," Epstein told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "I believe in the first amendment. But I also believe we should be mindful of how other people feel."

The tweet is believed to be in response to numerous celebrities who claimed they'd leave the United States if Trump were ever elected president.

Epstein acknowledged that all players go through social media training, and that they're allowed to have opinions.

"We've had conversations with guys about being thoughtful, and being empathetic and understanding that other people might see things differently, and try to think about that before you (tweet)," Epstein said. "And they have training."

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - After speaking with doctors, agent Scott Boras concluded New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey pitched since spring training with decreased sensation in his fingertips.

Harvey had surgery July 18 to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of nerves in the area between the neck and armpit, after going 4-10 in 17 starts with a 4.86 ERA. That was more than two runs per game above his previous major league high.

While Harvey's fastball velocity dropped only slightly, by 1 mph to 95 mph, he repeatedly said he was working on changes to his mechanics. He adjusted his arm angle and the rotation of his lower half. Mets manager Terry Collins cited a lack of command with Harvey's breaking balls.

''As the season went on, he complained of the fact that command of his pitches was not nearly the same,'' Boras said Wednesday at the general managers' annual meeting.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson says the 27-year-old right-hander will be ready for spring training. Boras said Dr. Robert Thompson, who performed the operation, explained what Harvey went through.

''You don't really notice or think to notice that the sensation in your fingertips is dull. Only when you get that full-fledged tingling do you know something's wrong,'' Boras said. ''It will affect something about your release point, where you don't have the same sensation you do normally.''

Harvey, who missed the 2014 season following Tommy John surgery, is 29-28 with a 2.94 ERA in four big league seasons. Boras said he visited Harvey in New York recently and expects him to be at full strength next year.

''There's nothing about shoulders, elbows or anything,'' the agent said. ''It's just really getting that nerve free and clear so that it cannot be impacted by the muscle.''

At past MLB meetings, Boras used metaphors involving supermarket aisles to describe the Mets' spending - ''fruits and nuts'' in 2011 vs. ''freezer section'' in 2012 vs. ''ready foods'' in 2014. New York boosted payroll from about $110 million in 2015 to roughly $150 million this year, so Boras switched to different imagery as he spoke in the sun-lit courtyard of a hotel with Camelback Mountain as a backdrop.

''To finish the lap in the pool, you've always got to swim in the deep end to get back to the shallow end, and the deep end is a place now that the Mets are regularly visiting, and I think they've got a good chance of completing their lap,'' he said. ''I've kind of taken it to the resort dynamic.''

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - After speaking with doctors, agent Scott Boras concluded New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey pitched since spring training with decreased sensation in his fingertips.

Harvey had surgery July 18 to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of nerves in the area between the neck and armpit, after going 4-10 in 17 starts with a 4.86 ERA. That was more than two runs per game above his previous major league high.

While Harvey's fastball velocity dropped only slightly, by 1 mph to 95 mph, he repeatedly said he was working on changes to his mechanics. He adjusted his arm angle and the rotation of his lower half. Mets manager Terry Collins cited a lack of command with Harvey's breaking balls.

''As the season went on, he complained of the fact that command of his pitches was not nearly the same,'' Boras said Wednesday at the general managers' annual meeting.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson says the 27-year-old right-hander will be ready for spring training. Boras said Dr. Robert Thompson, who performed the operation, explained what Harvey went through.

''You don't really notice or think to notice that the sensation in your fingertips is dull. Only when you get that full-fledged tingling do you know something's wrong,'' Boras said. ''It will affect something about your release point, where you don't have the same sensation you do normally.''

Harvey, who missed the 2014 season following Tommy John surgery, is 29-28 with a 2.94 ERA in four big league seasons. Boras said he visited Harvey in New York recently and expects him to be at full strength next year.

''There's nothing about shoulders, elbows or anything,'' the agent said. ''It's just really getting that nerve free and clear so that it cannot be impacted by the muscle.''

At past MLB meetings, Boras used metaphors involving supermarket aisles to describe the Mets' spending - ''fruits and nuts'' in 2011 vs. ''freezer section'' in 2012 vs. ''ready foods'' in 2014. New York boosted payroll from about $110 million in 2015 to roughly $150 million this year, so Boras switched to different imagery as he spoke in the sun-lit courtyard of a hotel with Camelback Mountain as a backdrop.

''To finish the lap in the pool, you've always got to swim in the deep end to get back to the shallow end, and the deep end is a place now that the Mets are regularly visiting, and I think they've got a good chance of completing their lap,'' he said. ''I've kind of taken it to the resort dynamic.''

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The Cincinnati Reds expect Joey Votto to be wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform on Opening Day.

Though Votto's name popped up repeatedly in trade rumors last season, and will continue to this winter, the rebuilding Reds have no intention of moving the four-time All-Star, a team official told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, citing not only his on-field value but also his leadership in an increasingly inexperienced clubhouse.

Votto, one of few veterans to survive the roster purge that started last winter, enjoyed another sensational campaign in 2016 as the Reds, 68-94, stumbled to a second straight fifth-place finish in the National League Central.

In 158 games, the former MVP managed a .984 OPS with 29 homers and 34 homers while leading the NL in on-base percentage (.434) and park-adjusted offense (158 wRC+). Since his injury-shortened 2014 campaign, Votto, a career 313/.425/.536 hitter, has out-raked every player in baseball except the inimitable Mike Trout.

Still, while Votto is expected to draw interest from multiple teams this winter, he'd have to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal, something he didn't seem interested in doing last offseason.

"I absolutely love playing here," Votto told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon in December.

"When all this trade stuff gets going, it's natural for a player to have that thought process and what would you consider? I just absolutely love playing here. I really like where I live. I like my team and my job. I like the location of the ballpark and the fans and the clubhouse and the uniform and the number on my back - all the littlest things that people take for granted are very comfortable to me and something I look forward to.

He continued, "I don't think of myself as anything other than a Cincinnati Red. It's one of the really cool things about having a no-trade clause. I'm one of the rare players who has that. I get to stay a Cincinnati Red."

Last month, Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty downplayed the likelihood of trading Votto as well, noting that the 33-year-old - guaranteed another $179 million through 2023 - was encouraged by Cincinnati's performance in the second half of 2016.

"When we started getting guys back and we started playing better, it was enjoyable. It really was," Jocketty told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with this club. I talk to guys like Joey (Votto) - Joey sees it, he's excited about it. I've seen him more engaged with some of these young guys."

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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred believes a new collective bargaining agreement is on the horizon.

The current deal is set to expire Dec. 1, but Manfred is optimistic a deal will be struck before the deadline.

"Look, I think we're going to make a deal before the expiration of the agreement," Manfred said at the annual GM meetings, according to MLB.com's Richard Justice. "I remain optimistic that we'll be able to do that. Collective bargaining is one of those processes where it's difficult to predict with certainty when things are going to take place.

"I think what I've said is there are a couple of natural deadlines. One is the beginning of free agency, the other obviously is the expiration date. We missed deadline one, so we're looking at deadline two."

The commissioner instructed general managers and their staffs to operate under the current deal until a new one is formed.

"I think there's been a lot of public comment to the effect that the absence of an agreement creates a certain amount of uncertainty," Manfred said. "As we've learned the last couple of days, markets don't like uncertainty. It's just something we have to deal with.

"It's a natural product of the expiration date that we've always had in this agreement during the middle of the offseason. I think the union understands that as well."

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The Baltimore Orioles, apparently interested in improving their outfield, are reportedly chasing free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Reddick, the 2012 Gold Glove winner in right field, could bring consistency to a position that was a weak link defensively for Baltimore in 2016.

The Orioles started nine different right fielders that combined to record minus-19 defensive runs saved, the second-lowest total in the league behind only Detroit last season. Their outfield as a whole had a league-worst minus-51 DRS and minus-55 defensive WAR.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette acknowledged Thursday that this is a major area of need for his club.

"We need to improve overall defense in the outfield," Duquette told Joel Sherman of the New York Post at the GM meetings in Arizona. "We need to look at all the options to support better team defense in the outfield."

Another reason Reddick might fit in Baltimore is his apparent love of hitting in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Over 87 plate appearances at the ballpark, the 29-year-old has recorded a 1.167 OPS, his highest at any ballpark, to go along with five homers and seven doubles.

Despite a wrist injury limiting him to 115 games in 2016, Reddick hit .281/.345/.405 with 10 homers and 112 runs scored while splitting his year between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers, adding another eight hits in postseason play.

Reddick also tallied six defensive runs saved as a right fielder.

Because he was traded midseason, Reddick was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Outfielder Matt Holliday became the final free agent, formally leaving the St. Louis Cardinals when he and the team agreed to waive a provision in his contract that would have guaranteed his 2017 salary if he finishes among the top 10 in NL MVP voting.

The 36-year-old certainly will not finish among the top 10 when voting is announced Nov. 17, so the move makes him a free agent one week earlier. He hit .246 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs in 110 games, missing substantial time after his left thumb was broken when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 11.

He was brought into the Cardinals' season finale to play left field in the ninth inning. He was given a standing ovation and taken out before the next pitch. On the start of the season's last weekend, the Cardinals said they planned to decline his $17 million option for 2017.

Holliday, who still gets a $2 million buyout, became a free agent Thursday, three days after the other 157 eligible players went free. He was held up because of the vesting provision.

A seven-time All-Star, Holliday was drafted by Colorado in 1998, traded to Oakland after the 2008 season and then dealt to St. Louis the following July.

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The New York Mets' outfield could look much different next season if Yoenis Cespedes - who opted out of his contract - departs via free agency, but the club could potentially deal another piece of it, too.

Teams seem interested in three members of the Mets outfield, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Conforto, and recently approached the club about their availability, reports Marc Carig of Newsday.

General manager Sandy Alderson would not identify any of the clubs showing interest in the team's trio of left-handed outfielders, according to Carig.

"I think people are aware that we are left-handed," Alderson explained. "I wouldn’t be any more specific than that because we’ve had inquiries across the board. We have four or five guys in that category."

If the season were to begin today, the trio would be New York's starting outfield, although they've expressed a serious interest in trying to re-sign Cespedes, making it a top priority.

If they were to able to ink Cespedes to a new deal, the Mets could then flip an outfielder, from what would be an excess, to one of the interested clubs in exchange for help in an area of need, such as the bullpen or behind the plate.

Both Bruce and Granderson have one year left on their contracts, while the 23-year-old Conforto isn't eligible for free agency until 2022.

Bruce, 29, is set to earn $13 million next season after hitting .250/.309/.506 with 33 home runs and 99 RBIs split between the Cincinnati Reds and the Mets.

The 35-year-old Granderson will make $15 million next season. He hit .237/.335/.464 with 30 home runs and 59 RBIs in 2016.

After an impressive rookie campaign, Conforto's numbers dropped substantially as he played more. His batting average dropped 50 points, while his OPS fell from .841 to .725.

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lobo316 wrote: 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.

Does this mean that R.A . Dickweeds  favorite catcher Josh T Ahole will join him in Atlanta.

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Mysterious wrote: lobo316 wrote: 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.

Does this mean that R.A . Dickweeds  favorite catcher Josh T Ahole will join him in Atlanta.



As zack Ryder would say, "you know it".

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The Toronto Blue Jays have apparently dipped into the international free-agent waters, as they've reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $22-million deal with highly touted Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr., according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.

Gurriel, ranked the sixth-best international prospect by MLB Pipeline, held a showcase in Panama in September that attracted the interest of multiple teams. He has the ability to play both the infield and outfield, though he primarily played second base in Cuba.

Lourdes Gourriel Jr. se exhibirá a clubes de Grandes Ligas este miércoles @cuballama pic.twitter.com/4yLw8Xwlpe

— cuballama.com (@cuballama) September 13, 2016
Gurriel ran the 60-yard dash in 6.65 seconds and worked in both the infield and outfield while also taking batting practice. Several interested teams reportedly tried to arrange private workouts; the Blue Jays weren't listed among the reported teams.

During his six-year career in Cuba's Serie Nacional, Gurriel posted a .277/.362/.426 slash line with 27 homers and 23 stolen bases. His best season came in 2015 when he posted career highs across the board for Industriales while playing multiple defensive positions. He also played for the Cuban national team in several international tournaments.

Because Gurriel turned 23 on Oct. 19, his contract is exempt from international spending limits.

Gurriel and his older brother, Cuban baseball legend Yulieski Gurriel, defected from their homeland in February 2016. In July, Yulieski signed with the Houston Astros; he made his big-league debut in August.

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The Atlanta Braves have spent the past two days getting much, much older.

After agreeing to a one-year deal with 42-year-old R.A. Dickey on Thursday, the Braves agreed to a one-year, $12.5-million deal with 43-year-old Bartolo Colon on Friday, a source told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Atlanta now employs two of the three oldest players in the majors.

Colon spent the last three years with the New York Mets, becoming a fan favorite and an All-Star for the fourth time in 2016.

Despite his age, he has remained effective and durable. He went 15-8 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.21 WHIP across 191 2/3 innings last season, and has averaged 16 wins and 195 innings over the past four seasons.

The $12.5 million Colon will earn in 2017 will be his highest salary since 2007.

With Colon signing with a division rival, the Mets will now likely be in the market for another starter as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are both coming off injuries.

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Craig Counsell is staying put in the Milwaukee Brewers' dugout.

The club announced Friday the 46-year-old manager has been signed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Milwaukee through the 2020 season. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Counsell, who took over as manager in May of 2015, was initially signed to a three-year contract that would've expired following the 2017 season. Although the rebuilding Brewers finished under .500 for the third time in four years in 2016, he received rave reviews following his first full season as a big-league skipper.

"I think Craig has had a really solid year," general manager David Stearns said during the Brewers' final series of the season, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. "Coming into the year, one of our main objectives as an organization was to develop a positive culture and a chemistry from top to bottom, and he's been a big part of developing that."

The Brewers hired Counsell, then a member of their front office, to replace the fired Ron Roenicke after a slow start in 2015 despite his having zero coaching or managerial experience. He's posted a 134-165 record since taking over; under his watch in 2016, a young Milwaukee squad improved on its 2015 record by five wins despite trading star catcher Jonathan Lucroy at the deadline.

Counsell played 16 years in the major leagues as a utility infielder from 1995-2011, including six with the Brewers. A career .255/.342/.344 hitter, he was also a key member of World Series champions in Florida (1997) and Arizona (2001).

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly offered a three-year deal to left-handed reliever Brett Cecil, sources told Jamie Campbell of Sportsnet.

Selected in the first round of the 2007 draft by the Blue Jays, Cecil has spent his entire eight-year career in Toronto and said he's hopeful of re-signing.

An All-Star in 2013, Cecil was limited to 36 2/3 innings this season after suffering a torn lat muscle in mid-May that sidelined him for over a month. When he did pitch, Cecil fashioned a 3.93 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 45 strikeouts.

While Cecil's season ERA was the worst he's posted since 2012, his first half was mostly to blame and he did finish strong. Over 25 appearances in the final two months of the season, the 30-year-old pitched to a 2.08 ERA and .175 opponent batting average.

In addition to the Blue Jays, the Seattle Mariners are also reportedly interested in signing Cecil.

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Michael Fulmer took the baseball world by storm after getting his call to the big leagues at the end of last April, and even though he's primed to receive some attention as the favorite for American League Rookie of the Year, he still enjoys a simple blue-collar life in the offseason.

The 23-year-old hurler, who shattered a Detroit Tigers record for most consecutive innings pitched by a rookie without allowing a run, revealed in an exclusive interview with Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press he spends his offseason as a part-time plumber.

Fulmer works for Larry Wright, the uncle of a good friend, at Cyrus Wright Plumbing in Yukon, Okla. Fenech writes Fulmer initially got into plumbing after he helped out in a pinch, and he decided to come back after enjoying it.

"He called me, and I said, 'All right, we’ll see how it goes from here,'" Fulmer said of working for Wright. "And I’m still doing it, so it’s fun."

Wright described the work Fulmer does as no joke, having him dig six-foot ditches and change sewer lines.

"Generally, it’s hard," Wright explained. "When he’s working with me, he’s usually digging in or working on jackhammers. It’s pretty physical work, but he’s a great worker. He always wants to know more, he wants to know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and he never complains."

During his rookie campaign with Detroit, Fulmer - a former first-round draft choice - finished 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 26 starts.

He'll contend with Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees and Tyler Naquin of the Cleveland Indians for the Rookie of the Year award, which is set to be announced Monday.

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After a non-waiver trade deadline deal netted the Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Ivan Nova from the New York Yankees, the 29-year-old went on to pitch remarkably well for the club which could end up earning him a multi-year contract.

Nova's agent Greg Genske told MLB Network Radio on Sunday his client could receive a 3-year, $36-million deal similar to the one the Toronto Blue Jays gave J.A. Happ last offseason.

"We have offers in that area," Genske said.

Both Nova and Happ turned around their careers after brief stints with the Pirates and renowned pitching coach Ray Searage.

In a thin free-agent market for starting pitching featuring Andrew Cashner, Doug Fister, Edinson Volquez, and potentially Jeremy Hellickson - if he turns down a qualifying offer from the Philadelphia Phillies - Nova could do well for himself and eclipse his $4.1 million salary from last season.

Over the course of his seven-year career, Nova owns a 58-41 record with a 4.30 ERA and 1.37 WHIP across 142 appearances, 129 of which have been starts.

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If his general manager is to be believed, Gio Gonzalez can get comfortable in Washington.

Though the Nationals have a surplus of pitching and could potentially dangle Gonzalez to shore up other areas on their roster, general manager Mike Rizzo is adamant that the left-hander isn't going anywhere, and will be a key part of the team's rotation going forward.

"I would not describe him as expendable at all," Rizzo told Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. "To me, he's a reliable starter that takes the mound every five days, and those guys are worth their weight in gold."

Indeed, Gonzalez was a dependable arm for Dusty Baker in 2016, making 32 starts; among his teammates, only Max Scherzer (34) and Tanner Roark (33 starts, 34 appearances) took the mound more often last year. Despite his durability, however, the 31-year-old took a step back last year by posting a 4.57 ERA that was nearly a full run higher than his 2015 output, and his highest ERA in seven years. His ground ball rate also fell from 53.8 percent in 2015 to 47.6 percent.

Still, with a decent contract - Gonzalez's $12-million option for 2017 was exercised by the Nationals, and they own another one in 2018 - as well as a weak crop of free-agent pitchers, teams could have interest in the southpaw. For the Nationals, it's possible that a bevy of young starters including A.J. Cole, Joe Ross, and top prospect Lucas Giolito could eventually leave Gonzalez expendable.

Instead, Rizzo sees the crowded field of arms his team possesses - a field that includes Gonzalez - as a major area strength for his defending NL East champions heading into a pivotal 2017 season.

"We feel fortunate in the depth we have in pitching at the big league level and prospect wise," Rizzo said. "I know that every team we talk to would like to be in the same position we are as far as starting pitching goes."

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Jeremy Hellickson has reportedly decided not to test free agency this winter, as the 29-year-old right-hander accepted the Philadelphia Phillies' one-year, $17.2-million qualifying offer hours before Monday's deadline, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Hellickson, one of 10 players to receive a qualifying offer, rebounded with aplomb in 2016 following two rough seasons in a row, as the former AL Rookie of the Year crafted a 3.71 ERA (111 ERA+) with a 1.15 WHIP while matching his career high with 189 innings pitched. Only 20 starters compiled more WAR in 2016 than Hellickson (3.2), who also managed his best strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.42) since 2011, his first full season in the majors.

As such, despite his spotty track record and the draft-pick compensation attached to him, Hellickson was expected to test the market, with his agent, Scott Boras, telling reporters at last week's GM meetings that the pitching-thin free-agent class was "very advantageous" to him.

"He has a lot of components that tell you why he’s successful - his command, changeup, breaking ball - and that’s creating a lot of interest for a lot of teams," Boras said, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. "And in a free-agent marketplace short on starting pitching - it's very advantageous for him."

Boras continued: "Jeremy has worked his way back to really being a top-level pitcher for the last year and a half and the qualifying offer is evidence of that."

It appears, however, Hellickson wasn't comfortable with the degree to which the qualifying offer would've depressed his salary on the open market. So, for a second straight season, the soft-throwing veteran will anchor a rotation that isn't poised to feature another starter above the age of 27 in 2017. Had Hellickson rejected the qualifying offer and signed elsewhere, the Phillies would've received a compensatory pick in the 2017 MLB draft.

"We do have a nice volume of young pitching," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told Matt Gelb of Philly.com last week. "Some of them are experienced in the big leagues, and some of them are going to pitch at Triple-A this coming year. But we have young starters in volume to get us through the year."

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Neil Walker is headed back to the Big Apple in 2017, as the second baseman has accepted the New York Mets' $17.2-million qualifying offer, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Walker confirmed the move on his Twitter account shortly after the 5 p.m. ET deadline.

Walker, who had been a free agent for the first time in his career, will now return to the Mets after a solid 2016 campaign that was cut short because of injury. The 31-year-old hit .282/.347/.476 and tied a career high with 23 homers over 113 games before a herniated disc in his back ended his season in September.

Now, he'll remain the starter at the keystone for the Mets, and, if healthy, will provide some much-needed infield stability for a team with other positions in flux. Midseason signing Jose Reyes will likely become a utility man who can play shortstop and spell both Walker and David Wright as needed; T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores will also likely play big roles in the middle infield combination.

Walker owns a career .273/.339/.436 slash line with 113 homers across eight big-league seasons with the Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Of the 10 free agents to be tendered qualifying offers this winter, only Walker and Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson accepted. He's just the fifth player ever to accept the offer.

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Last year, Dexter Fowler's free-agent odyssey ended in a surprising, complicated manner. This time, he's hoping to settle down in one place for awhile.

The outfielder, who officially became a free agent when he rejected the Chicago Cubs' $17.2-million qualifying offer Monday afternoon, is reportedly looking for a four-year contract from his next club, according to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score.

Fowler may very well get that term on the open market, even with draft-pick compensation attached to his name. He's coming off a career season for the World Series champion Cubs in which he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers and 13 stolen bases despite missing time due to a hamstring issue, and he's one of the better outfielders available in a thin free-agent market.

The 30-year-old was a free agent last year, but it didn't go according to plan. He was forced to wait until the start of spring training before finding a team, then surprisingly returned to the Cubs on a one-year contract shortly after an apparent multi-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles fell through.

Fowler has been previously linked with the New York Mets, among other teams.

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Jose Abreu has decided to take his chances in arbitration.

The slugger has chosen to opt out of the final three years of his contract with the Chicago White Sox, instead entering arbitration for the next three seasons, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. He remains property of the White Sox through 2019.

By opting out, Abreu forfeited a guaranteed $34 million in salary from his original deal with the White Sox. That six-year, $68-million contract - which also included a $10-million signing bonus - would have paid him salaries of $10.5 million in 2017, $11.5 million in 2018, and $12 million in 2019, had he not gone the arbitration route.

Abreu signed his contract in October 2013 after defecting from Cuba several months prior. It was one of the largest free-agent deals ever handed out by the White Sox, and was also one of the biggest international free-agent contracts in baseball history.

Since arriving on the South Side, Abreu has turned into a feared right-handed slugger, and the linchpin of Chicago's lineup. The 29-year-old has hit at least 25 homers and 30 doubles, while driving in at least 100 runs in each of his first three big-league seasons. He's also been durable, playing over 150 games the past two years, including a career-high 159 in 2016.

The 2014 Rookie of the Year owns a career .299/.360/.515 line with 91 homers, 101 doubles, and 308 RBIs.

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Fifteen months after acquiring Matt Harrison from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels deal, the Philadelphia Phillies officially released the injury-plagued left-hander without him ever throwing a pitch for the organization.

Harrison has been limited to just 44 innings over the last four seasons due to back injuries, and hasn't appeared in a major-league game since July 27, 2015.

The 31-year-old is owed $13.2 million next season, and has a $13.25-million team option for 2018 that includes a $2-million buyout.

Harrison was part of a seven-player deal that also saw Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, and Jake Thompson go to the Phillies in exchange for Hamels and Jake Diekman.

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MIAMI - Free-agent slugger Yoenis Cespedes and Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu are among the Major League Baseball figures on a U.S. witness list for an upcoming Cuban ballplayer smuggling trial.

Documents filed Monday in Miami federal court also list former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and several MLB executives as possible witnesses in the trial of South Florida sport agents Bartolo Hernandez and associate Julio Estrada.

Trial is set Jan. 3 for Hernandez and Estrada on charges of conspiracy and bringing immigrants into the U.S. illegally. Both men have pleaded not guilty. The players are not accused of wrongdoing.

A grand jury indictment says Cuban baseball players paid the smuggling ring more than $15 million to leave the communist-run island in secretive ventures that included surreptitious boat voyages.

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lobo316 wrote: Fifteen months after acquiring Matt Harrison from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels deal, the Philadelphia Phillies officially released the injury-plagued left-hander without him ever throwing a pitch for the organization.

Harrison has been limited to just 44 innings over the last four seasons due to back injuries, and hasn't appeared in a major-league game since July 27, 2015.

The 31-year-old is owed $13.2 million next season, and has a $13.25-million team option for 2018 that includes a $2-million buyout.

Harrison was part of a seven-player deal that also saw Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, and Jake Thompson go to the Phillies in exchange for Hamels and Jake Diekman.

The Phillies ended up getting payout relief because the insurance company agreed to pay a nice chunk of the buyout.

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With trade speculation surrounding Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale continuing to intensify, at least some industry executives aren't convinced the 27-year-old left-hander will be dealt this winter.

One rival exec recently downplayed the likelihood of a trade, suggesting the White Sox would only move the five-time All-Star for an unrealistic, exorbitant return, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

"They're willing but only if they totally win the deal, which won't happen,” the executive said.

Still, they're going to get plenty of offers. Sale, who finished in the top-six in American League Cy Young voting in four of the past five seasons, will make a maximum of $38 million over the next three years (assuming his team options for 2018 and 2019 are exercised), and, according to various reports, has already drawn interest from the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and Texas Rangers.

For the White Sox, though, moving Sale would indicate a full-on rebuild, and it's not clear whether general manager Rick Hahn wants to do that. As he discussed his offseason strategy with reporters last week, Hahn didn't say he was rebuilding, but did emphasize the club won't be targeting short-term upgrades this winter as they have the previous couple seasons.

"A lot of what we did in the last few years had been trying to enhance the short-term potential of the club to put ourselves in a position to win immediately," Hahn said, according to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago. "I feel the approach at this point is focusing on longer-term benefits. It doesn't mean we won’t necessarily be in a good position in 2017. It means that our targets and whatever we're hoping to accomplish have a little more longer-term fits in nature."

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With the Houston Astros expected to be busy this offseason, general manager Jeff Luhnow confirmed Tuesday he could be on the cusp of making moves.

When asked about his slow start to free agency, Luhnow said, "We’re hoping to light a match to it at some point here in the next week or so," according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

"We are in our competitive window. We are going to be competing for the division title I hope every year for next five years."

The Astros' payroll has remained below the $100-million mark since 2009 as the team built from the bottom up. Now following back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2005-06, the organization wants to be buyers.

"The reality is, we need to add somebody to our lineup," Luhnow told Jon Morosi of FOX Sports last week. "We're losing a couple good players through free agency. We've got the wherewithal with the prospects and money to potentially add an impact piece. We're certainly going to be looking at it."

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have been in contact with the Detroit Tigers regarding a possible trade involving second baseman Ian Kinsler, sources told Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Kinsler is coming off another strong season, hitting .288/.348/.484 with 28 home runs, 29 doubles, and 83 RBIs in 153 games while also claiming the first Gold Glove of his 11-year career. He's owed $11 million in 2017, with a $12-million team option in 2018.

The prospect-rich Dodgers need a second baseman after Chase Utley departed via free agency, and the right-handed-hitting Kinsler certainly fits the bill. Morosi noted the Tigers have interest in Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger, who hit .263/.359/.484 with 23 home runs in Double-A last season.

Detroit appears to be in the beginning stages of a rebuild. General manager Al Avila has been blunt about his desire to cut payroll, and anticipates trading some of the club's veterans.

The Tigers have reportedly already had discussions with the San Francisco Giants about outfielder J.D. Martinez, while it's also believed Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera could be dangled in trade talks.

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The Chicago Cubs have a lot planned for the 2017 season.

Along with trying to defend their World Series title, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said the organization plans to reach out to Steve Bartman.

"I’m sure we’ll reach out to him at the right time," Ricketts told USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale, "and I’m sure we’ll figure something out that provides closure for everybody. Hopefully, we can make it work."

Bartman was infamously blamed for prolonging the club's curse after he extended his arm to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series.

Ricketts isn't worried about what used to be, and just wants to look forward.

"I never focused on ghosts or curses or Bartmans or any of that stuff," he said. "It’s always been about needing a better team on the field. We wanted to eventually get to that point where we can pick out rings, like we did (Tuesday), and here we are."

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President Barack Obama made sure to pay tribute to retired broadcaster Vin Scully for his 67 years of service on Wednesday by making him a recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He will receive the award on Nov. 22, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Scully was part of a pretty incredible list of recipients, including other sports figures such as Michael Jordan and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar.

JUST IN: Pres. Obama names 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including Robert De Niro, Michael Jordan and Tom Hanks. pic.twitter.com/rScD061Ihh

— ABC News (@ABC) November 16, 2016
Scully broadcasted his final home game for the Dodgers on Sept. 25, ending his tenure in the booth at Chavez Ravine with a heartfelt goodbye song.

His last game on the microphone came Oct. 3 on the road against the San Francisco Giants, as the Dodgers ended their season with a 7-1 loss to their division rivals.

Iconic baseball legends Yogi Berra and Willie Mays received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

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If the the Detroit Tigers are indeed interested in trading second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Dodgers, one of 10 teams on his limited no-trade list, the three-time All-Star would only approve a deal if Los Angeles gives him a contract extension, his agent, Jay Franklin, said Wednesday.

"If one of the 10 teams happens to call and wants to talk about it, we're open to talking about it,” Franklin told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "(But) they're going to have to extend him for us to waive the no-trade."

Kinsler, who ranks third in WAR among active second basemen, is owed $11 million in 2017, and has a $12-million team option for the following season that includes a $5-million buyout. This past summer, the 34-year-old hit .288/.348/.484 (123 wRC+) with 28 homers and 14 stolen bases in 153 games while also earning the first Gold Glove award of his 11-year career.

It's no surprise, then, that the Dodgers are reportedly talking to the Tigers, given that Chase Utley is expected to sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter and his potential replacement, Howie Kendrick, was traded to Philadelphia last week. In Los Angeles, Kinsler - who was on losing side of the World Series in 2010 and 2011 - would join National League Rookie of the Year (and MVP candidate) Corey Seager in one of the most formidable double-play combinations in baseball.

"His ultimate goal is no different than when he went from the Rangers to the Tigers," Franklin said. "He wants to win. If anyone knows Ian Kinsler, he has always been that type of guy.

"He would like the opportunity to stay at his position and hopefully get to the Hall of Fame. He works his tail off to keep himself in shape, trying to get to the point where the writers will one day say he was one of the best ever to play his position."

Though Tigers general manager Al Avila refused to characterize his offseason strategy as a rebuild, cutting costs appears to be a top priority in Detroit after finishing 86-75 - 2 1/2 games back of the second American League wild-card spot - in 2016 despite an Opening Day payroll of almost $199 million.

"We certainly want to stay competitive, we certainly want to try and get back into the playoffs. But at the same time, this organization has been working way above its means, as far as payroll, for many, many years, and it’s put us in a situation where, quite frankly, it’s very difficult to maneuver," Avila told Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press last month.

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The great super-bullpen experiment failed in the Bronx in 2016, but it appears Hal Steinbrenner wants to give it another go next season.

Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees' owner and chairman, has his eyes on making a splash in his team's bullpen for a second straight winter to help ease the load on a young starting rotation.

"For me, the bullpen is my priority," he told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post at the MLB owners' meetings in Chicago. "Because I think we're probably going to have a young pitching staff, and I think if we can shorten the game for them by really strengthening the bullpen, that's going to be to our advantage."

Though he didn't cite him by name, Steinbrenner alluded to a possible chase of free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman as part of his bullpen rebuild. Chapman provided New York with a half-season of lights-out relief work last season, posting a 2.01 ERA and saving 20 games while walking just eight hitters in pinstripes before a July trade sent him to the Chicago Cubs.

The fact that Chapman's already experienced the intense New York spotlight appeals to the owner as he considers whether to dip into the free-agent waters.

"Any time you can get a guy that's already proven he can play in New York - you guys know as well as I do it's a tough place to play," Steinbrenner said. "If you get a guy who's proven he can play there, then that's a plus in the column."

Spending some dollars on non-bullpen pieces, however, might not be in the cards for the Yankees this winter. The team didn't sign a single major-league free agent last offseason, and the emergence of young position players - Steinbrenner cited Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Rob Refsnyder here - has him leaning toward running with the youngsters and spurning some of the available positional talent to, in part, keep some of the team's payroll flexibility.

That doesn't mean the available money won't be spent - it's just more likely to be used to improve other areas, like the bullpen.

"We've got money coming off the payroll for the first time in a few years, and we're going to put a decent portion of it back into the club, as we always do. How much remains to be seen, depending on what our needs are and what's available," Steinbrenner told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. "There are areas we need work on like every team, so we're going to identify those areas. If we can't fill them from within, if we can't figure out a trade of some kind, then there's the free-agent market. And we've always been involved in the free-agent market and always will be. So we'll just have to see.

"That doesn't mean I still can't start to lower payroll, particularly when you think of the amount of money coming off the payroll. So that gives me some flexibility ... if I have the (younger players) to put in there, and if they perform."

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Your favorite team could have an extra player next season.

Major League Baseball and its players association are discussing expanding active rosters to 26 players as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. In exchange, according to Rosenthal, the PA would give up expanded rosters in September.

The 26-player roster would be in use from April through August. Teams currently use a 25-man active roster, but a 26th man is permitted for unscheduled doubleheaders.

Current roster rules allow for teams to call up as many players on their 40-man roster as they choose after Sept. 1. This longtime rule has come under scrutiny of late, as September contests can often feature matchups between teams with differently sized rosters. This past year, expanded rosters became a source of angst for many fans due to large amounts of pitching changes thanks to expanded bullpens.

Rosenthal reports that the potential change would see September rosters capped at 28 active players.

The current CBA expires on Dec. 1.

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With so few starters on the free-agent pitching market, there's been plenty of talk between teams on the trade front.

Multiple executives said that trade talks regarding starters have been intense over the last 24-48 hours, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox, Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, and Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics are the starters that have generated the most interest from other clubs early on, with the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros said to be the most aggressive.

Thirty-six-year-old Rich Hill heads the list of underwhelming free-agent arms, which also includes the likes of Jason Hammel, Andrew Cashner, Edinson Volquez, and Jered Weaver.

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Andrew McCutchen could be playing out his final days with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Coming off their first losing season in the last four years, the Pirates appear poised to potentially enter a rebuilding phase, with McCutchen among one of the club's top trade chips.

McCutchen is owed $14 million in 2017 with a $14.75-million team option for 2018. With a much smaller operating budget than most big-league clubs, signing a then 32-year-old McCutchen to an extension after his current contract seems unlikely, meaning now may be the time to consider trading him.

"I'll take it one day at a time," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune. "I think any general manager that's in a market similar to the one we're in has to explore the possibility of (trading) players who have one or two years left on their contracts. You have to see what value is there to keep or to move.

"That's the way we're going to need to continue to operate. It's the hard part of what we get to do."

Selected with the 11th pick of the 2005 draft by the Pirates, McCutchen has spent his entire eight-year career in Pittsburgh. He's been an All-Star five times, and has finished in the top five in NL MVP voting in four out of the last five years, winning in 2013.

"Andrew is a special man. He's been a special player," Hurdle said. "That's the one thing that you continue to honor as you continue to plan. He's here until he's not here, in my mind."

While McCutchen has seen his name populate trade rumors more frequently this offseason, Hurdle acknowledged that he's never asked to be dealt.

"Andrew has been very black and white in the conversations I've had with him," Hurdle said. "He's told me, 'I'm under contract here, so I plan on playing here. However, I don't call all the shots, either.'"

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Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has made his first major splash of the winter.

Eager to add another power bat, the Astros acquired catcher Brian McCann from the New York Yankees in exchange for right-handed pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman.

McCann is coming of a year in which he hit .242/.335/.413 to go with 20 home runs, 13 doubles and 58 RBIs in 130 games. He's reached the 20-homer plateau in each of the last nine seasons.

The Astros had been linked to McCann for the past several weeks as a replacement for Jason Castro, who became a free agent. McCann had served as the catcher for the Yankees but lost his starting job to rookie phenom Gary Sanchez.

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The Houston Astros and free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick have agreed on a four-year, $52 million contract, according to multiple reports.

The agreement, which is subject to a physical, was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

In 155 combined games between the Oakland A's and Los Angeles Dodgers, Reddick hit .281 with 17 doubles, 10 home runs and 37 RBIs, while also providing steady defense in right field.

Reddick got off to a slow start with the Dodgers following an Aug. 1 trade, but he finished batting .258 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 47 games with his new club. He ended up tied for the major league lead with a .400 batting average in September, going 26-for-65 in 20 games for the Dodgers.

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The Kansas City Royals have signed catcher Drew Butera to a two-year contract, the team announced Friday.

Butera's deal is worth $3.8 million over two seasons, paying him $1.5 million in 2017 and $2.3 million in 2018, according to Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star.

At 33 years old, Butera is expected to once again back up Salvador Perez, though he wasn't terrible at the plate in minimal appearances last season.

Over 123 at bats, he slashed .285/.328/.480 with four homers and 10 doubles, all of which are career highs.

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David Price is doing a good deed with some of the $217 million the Boston Red Sox are paying him over the next seven years.

The left-hander donated $2.5 million to his alma mater Vanderbilt University, the school announced Friday.

Price's donation will be used to support the baseball facilities project at the university. The contribution is the project's largest and completes a $12-million fundraising effort.

"Student-athletes who go on to achieve success and represent the university in the exemplary manner as David Price has are a testament to the truly special program Vanderbilt has developed under Coach Tim Corbin’s leadership," school Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos explained. "It’s not just that some of baseball’s greatest players have emerged from Vanderbilt. These amazing young men also continue to value and honor our university community in many important ways. I am deeply grateful to David and his fellow donors for their generosity and for, yet again, making our Commodore Nation so proud."

Price attended the school from 2005-07, winning the SEC Male Athlete of the Year and Pitcher of the Year awards, before being drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 2007 amateur draft.

"David Price has always been about helping make others better," athletics director David Williams said. "And he has never forgotten Vanderbilt. He has a passion for his extended Commodore family and his leadership with this project is not only important to the future of our baseball program but says everything about his generosity and values. He personifies the excellence we strive to attain at Vanderbilt University."

The 31-year-old Price earned $30 million during his first season with the Red Sox, where he finished 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA across 230 innings.

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The next chapter in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry could be playing out in the payroll offices.

With New York having gained some salary relief by trading catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros on Thursday afternoon, there's now an opening at DH in the Bronx. Boston, of course, has a rather large hole at designated hitter as well, thanks to the retirement of David Ortiz. As such, both clubs have already been linked to free-agent DH Carlos Beltran in the early part of this offseason.

Now, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, it's possible the longtime adversaries could get into a bidding war for Beltran's services in 2017.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman hinted Thursday that the McCann trade could open up some new avenues for his club in terms of spending money, potentially on a bat like Beltran, or even Edwin Encarnacion. Both free agents were linked to the Yankees in a report Thursday afternoon that described their interest in the players as "serious."

"Now that we have more flexibility, it gives us more choices," Cashman said, according to Drellich.


Both teams would appear to be suitable for the 39-year-old given their apparent mutual desires to fill the DH slot with a shorter-term bat. For the Yankees, the chance to use some of their younger players to fill needs at right field (Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks) as well as first base (Tyler Austin and a healthy Greg Bird), plus Gary Sanchez as a full-time catcher, would leave the DH spot available for Beltran to return to New York, where he spent the last two-plus seasons before being dealt to Texas at the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

Boston, meanwhile, has been connected to Beltran at various points in this offseason. Club president Dave Dombrowski has already expressed a desire to replace Ortiz with a bat that wouldn't be confined to the DH spot. While he doesn't have the range of his youth, Beltran can still play some outfield when needed, having appeared in 69 games in right field last season.

The Red Sox and Yankees aren't alone in competing for the switch-hitter's services, though, as both Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports report that the Astros are still interested in Beltran. Although they picked up McCann and then reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with Josh Reddick on Thursday, they still apparently believe there'd be enough at-bats available for everyone - including returning players such as catcher/DH Evan Gattis - if Beltran was added to the mix.

Beltran, who hit .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers in 2016, has also drawn reported interest from the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Trevor Plouffe's time in the Twin Cities appears to have come to an end.

The Minnesota Twins have placed the third baseman on outright waivers, sources told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He's expected to clear waivers later today, according to Berardino, at which point he'll become a free agent.

Plouffe struggled through an injury-plagued 2016 season that saw his numbers fall well off career norms. The 30-year-old hit just .260/.303/.420 with just 12 homers and 35 runs scored over 84 games. Rib and oblique injuries in the second half limited him to just 26 contests after July 1. He was shut down for the season in early September.

Cutting ties with Plouffe could potentially open the hot corner for Miguel Sano on a full-time basis. Sano, who hit 25 homers in 116 games with the Twins in 2016, is a natural third baseman but played 38 games in right field this year, and had a rough time adjusting to the position.

Plouffe, a first-round pick of the Twins in 2004, spent the past seven seasons with the AL Central club - primarily as a third baseman, though he also played a bit of shortstop, right field, and first base - and hit .247/.308/.420 with 96 home runs, 148 doubles, and 357 RBIs over that span.

According to Berardino, Plouffe was projected to make $8.2 million in 2017 - his final year of arbitration eligibility. He made $7.25 million last year.

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The Texas Rangers, in need of at least one more arm at the back end of their rotation, have agreed to a one-year, $10-million deal with free-agent right-hander Andrew Cashner, according to TR Sullivan of MLB.com.

Because he was traded prior to last year's deadline, Texas will not have to surrender a draft pick to sign him.

The 30-year-old had a rocky 2016 season, posting a career-high 5.25 ERA and 1.53 WHIP, while averaging 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings - a drop-off from 2015 - in 27 starts split between the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins. Cashner's numbers also took something of a spike during his two months in Miami.

A native of Conroe, Texas who went to college at TCU, Cashner's best season came with the Padres in 2014, when he posted a 2.55 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 19 starts in an injury-shortened campaign. Across seven major-league seasons with the Padres, Marlins, and Chicago Cubs, he owns a 3.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 608 strikeouts in 202 appearances.

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MLB has severed ties with leadership search firm Korn Ferry because not a single minority person filled a manager or general manager vacancy from outside an organization this winter.

The league previously had qualms with the agency, suspecting its searches resulted in nothing more than friends hiring friends.

“The Korn Ferry relationship on minority hiring, we’ve really shifted,’’ Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the owners’ meetings, according to USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale. “Their involvement at the industry level is going to be curtailed on these types of projects because, as we went along in the process, we came to realize there’s a potential for conflicts when they’re doing searches and doing work for us centrally.’’

The "conflicts" Manfred spoke of were that most hires had pre-existing relationships, including several involving the Cleveland Indians, or now-Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro, a former Indians executive.

Minnesota hired Derek Falvey as president despite never leading a department. His highest-ranking job was one year as the Indians' assistant general manager. Former Arizona Diamondbacks senior vice president of baseball operations Dejon Watson was the only minority interviewed for the job.

In Arizona, the Diamondbacks interviewed two minority candidates, Kim Ng and Peter Woodfork, but eventually turned to former Boston Red Sox GM Mike Hazen for the job.

The only minority hired this offseason was Rick Renteria, who the Chicago White Sox promoted internally from bench coach to manager.

The only two minority GMs in baseball are the Miami Marlins' Mike Hill and the Detroit Tigers' Al Avila. Kenny Williams of the White Sox is the only minority president, while Dusty Baker, Dave Roberts, and Renteria are the only minority managers in baseball.

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The Pirates just came out of a 20 year rebuilding period and were decent for maybe 3 years.  Now, they want to rebuild again?  If I lived there I would never attend a game.

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The Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners made a five-player trade Friday that will send former first-round pick Richie Shaffer and utility player Taylor Motter to the Mariners for three minor leaguers.

Tampa receives minor-league infielder Dalton Kelly, as well as right-handers Andrew Kittredge and Dylan Thompson, in the deal.

Shaffer, 25, was drafted 25th overall in 2012 and has appeared in 51 big-league games, slashing .213/.310/.410 with five home runs and 10 RBIs.

The 27-year-old Motter made his major-league debut for the Rays in 2016, hitting .188/.290/.300 with two home runs, three doubles, and nine RBIs in 34 games.

Thompson, the 22nd-best prospect in the Mariners' system prior to the trade (according to MLB Pipeline), is the biggest piece going to Tampa.

The 20-year-old was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, and owns a 2.87 ERA across 12 appearances in rookie ball during his short professional career.

Kittredge, 26, made it as high as Triple-A in 2016. He appeared in 23 games - starting one - and posted a 3.55 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in Tacoma.

The 22-year-old Kelly was a 38th-round draft choice in 2015. He hit .293/.384/.416 at Single-A Clinton last season, which included 141 hits and 30 doubles in 564 plate appearances.

In other moves, the Rays designated right-hander Steve Geltz for assignment and released left-hander John Lamb.

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When the New York Yankees acquired Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners in 2015, they surely expected to receive more than 51 games from the former second overall pick, but it appears his time in pinstripes has come to an end.

Ackley was placed on release waivers Friday, according to a source of Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

If the 28-year-old isn't claimed by one of the 29 other MLB clubs, he'll be eligible to become a free agent Tuesday.

Ackley hit just .212/.283/.381 with four home runs and 15 RBIs during his two seasons with the Yankees, missing a big chunk of time in 2016 while recovering from right labrum surgery.

Over the course of his six years in the bigs, Ackley owns a .241/.304/.367 slash line with 46 home runs, 94 doubles, and 216 RBIs.

He made $3.2 million last season and is arbitration eligible in 2017.

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Teams interested in trading for a member of the Chicago White Sox now have an eligible list to work with.

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the White Sox have reportedly told teams they are open to trading away anyone on the roster with fewer than four years of team control remaining on their contracts.

The list of targets who fit general manager Rick Hahn's criteria does include Chris Sale, who may be garnering the most interest in the trade market for starting pitchers. It does seemingly eliminate fellow starter Jose Quintana, however, who's under contract with the club through the 2020 season but attracted his own significant trade interest this past year.

Of the eligible list, Frazier may be commanding the second-most trade interest after Sale, with reports surfacing earlier in November the White Sox were listening to offers for the two-time All-Star third baseman.

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The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly agreed to a four-year contract with left-handed reliever Brett Cecil, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

The deal, which is pending a physical, will reportedly pay Cecil $30.5 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Cecil will also receive a full no-trade clause, per Rosenthal.

Cecil gives the Cardinals a much-needed primary left-handed option in their bullpen for the coming season. Southpaw Zach Duke, who was acquired at this year's trade deadline, was supposed to fill that role but will instead miss the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery; another left-hander, Tyler Lyons, had offseason knee surgery and may not be ready for the start of the year.

A former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, Cecil has spent his entire eight-year career north of the border and became a very important relief weapon for the team over the last several years, appearing in at least 60 contests each season from 2013-15.

The 30-year-old posted a 3.93 ERA in only 36 2/3 innings during an injury-plagued 2016, but was nearly unhittable after returning to full health for the stretch drive. Opponents hit just .175/.224/.317 off Cecil over the final two months of 2016, and he struck out 26 batters to just three walks in that span. He didn't allow a run in 3 2/3 postseason innings.

Named an American League All-Star in 2013, Cecil's best season came in 2015 when he emerged as Toronto's main set-up man with a career-low 2.48 ERA and 0.957 WHIP in 54 1/3 innings. His career year was cut short, however, after he sustained a torn calf muscle in the postseason.

Toronto had been hoping to keep its longtime bullpen stalwart, and reportedly made Cecil a three-year contract offer earlier this week. That apparently wasn't enough to keep him, though, as Passan reported the Cardinals were the only interested team willing to give him a fourth year.

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The New York Yankees have designated right-hander Nathan Eovaldi for assignment, the team announced Friday.

Beyond his struggles in 2016, Eovaldi is expected to miss the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August, and also underwent surgery to repair a right flexor tendon.

This past season, Eovaldi owned a 4.76 ERA and 97 strikeouts over 124 2/3 innings of work. This comes a year after he went 14-3, punching out 121 hitters over 154 1/3 innings pitched.

Eovaldi will take the year to recover, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him latch on with a team thereafter.

The Yankees also designated left-hander Joe Mantiply and right-hander Nick Rumbelow for assignment.

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The New York Yankees might be willing to part with more of their veterans this winter.

General manager Brian Cashman revealed Friday that teams have inquired about the availability of outfielder Brett Gardner and third baseman Chase Headley. Though no trades appear imminent, Cashman implied he's at least willing to listen on both names.

"I've had my fair share of hits on (Gardner and Headley)," Cashman told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. "They're still here and they're here for a reason, but we'll see. We have our interest in getting younger and stronger and more flexible, and improve our present and our future. If all that provides that opportunity, then I think I'll be talking to our owner and see if he'll consider it."

With New York already trending toward fielding a younger team of controllable talent, finding new homes for Gardner and Headley could make sense. Both players gave the Yankees solid production in 2016, but are suddenly quite expensive: Headley's got another two years and $26 million left on his deal, while Gardner - now the team's longest-tenured player - is owed $35.5 million through 2019, including a club option. The weak free-agent class could also drive up the market for both players.

Already this winter, Cashman opened up $11.5 million of payroll in each of the next two years by trading Brian McCann - a deal that followed in the footsteps of New York's trade-deadline sell-off. That newfound money has left Cashman with several avenues to choose from as his rebuild continues; shedding one or both of Gardner's and Headley's contracts - on top of the earlier trades - might even put some big-name free agents back in play.

"It gives us more choices," Cashman said of the payroll-purging moves. "Whether any of those current high-end free agents are legitimate choices or not remains to be seen. But 'tis the season to engage and find out."

In spite of the Yankees' moves to get younger and cheaper, they've been connected - at some level - to free agents Edwin Encarnacion, Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Beltran, and Aroldis Chapman. Cashman has gone on record with his desire to bring Chapman back to the Bronx, and noted Friday that he's recently been in touch with Cespedes' agent.

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The Miami Marlins, in search of rotation help, are reportedly showing interest in free agent left-hander Travis Wood, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Miami's apparent interest in Wood as a starter comes despite him making just nine starts across the last two years. A rough beginning to Wood's 2015 season in the rotation convinced the Chicago Cubs to move him to the bullpen, where he emerged as a valuable weapon for manager Joe Maddon.

This past season, Wood became a force in middle relief for the world champion Cubs, posting a 1.13 WHIP and a career-low 2.95 ERA, while averaging 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings over 61 frames of work. In the postseason, the 29-year-old recorded three holds and even made history, becoming just the second reliever to ever homer in a playoff game.

Although Wood compiled better numbers during his short stint as a reliever than he did in the rotation, his prior experience as a starter with both the Cubs and Cincinnati Reds could appeal to the Marlins, who are seeking additional depth to boost a depleted staff.
Over 259 career appearances, Wood owns a 4.00 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and has recorded 736 strikeouts to 325 walks.
In addition to Wood, the Marlins have been connected to another, more high-profile free-agent pitcher in All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, who's apparently being eyed as part of a massive bullpen upgrade. Jackson also reported that Miami has expressed interest in right-handed starter Edinson Volquez.

Last edited on Sun Nov 20th, 2016 06:09 am by lobo316

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If the Toronto Blue Jays really want to hang onto Edwin Encarnacion, they're going to have to up their offer.

Encarnacion, a three-time All-Star who ranks among the greatest hitters in Blue Jays history, rejected a four-year deal worth about $80 million from Toronto before the club agreed to a three-year contract with Kendrys Morales, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Still, despite adding a full-time designated hitter in Morales, the Blue Jays remain interested in re-signing Encarnacion.

On Friday, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins suggested talks with Encarnacion weren't done, telling reporters that Morales' deal "by no means" eliminates the possibility of re-signing the 33-year-old, while conceding it's "slightly less likely." That said, there appears to be a considerable gulf between the Blue Jays and Encarnacion, who's said to be looking for a five-year, $125-million deal in free agency.

It remains to be seen if any club will pay that price, though. Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer, said last week that things were still "pretty quiet," and two supposed suitors may be less interested than initially thought. Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski recently said he's not looking for a full-time DH, while the Houston Astros may be less inclined to pursue Encarnacion, too, after acquiring Brian McCann from New York last week.


Encarnacion, who's attached to draft-pick compensation and turns 34 in January, is coming off another superb season in which he smashed 42 homers - tying his previous career high - while managing an .886 OPS (133 OPS+) over 160 games for the Blue Jays. Since 2012, only five qualified hitters boast a higher OPS than Encarnacion, who also ranks third in isolated power (.273) over that span.

Last edited on Tue Nov 22nd, 2016 01:18 am by lobo316

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NEW YORK - Steroids-tainted stars Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez are on baseball's Hall of Fame ballot for the first time along with Vladimir Guerrero.

Jeff Bagwell is the top holdover on the 2017 Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot, after falling 15 votes short of the required 75 percent in 2016 voting.

Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers for using a banned female fertility drug. He retired in 2011 rather than face a 100-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. He applied for reinstatement that December. His suspension for the second failed test was cut from 100 games to 50 because he sat out nearly all of the 2011 season.

Ramirez did not play in the majors again, although he did appear at Triple-A from 2012-14.

Rodriguez was never disciplined for PEDs. In a 2005 book, former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged he injected the catcher with steroids.

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Chase Utley's time in Dodger Blue may not be up just yet.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly telling teams they are still "very open" to bringing the veteran free agent back next season despite also looking for other upgrades at second base, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.

Los Angeles has also been reported to have interest in acquiring Tampa Bay Rays infielder Logan Forsythe, and they've also been in contact with the Detroit Tigers about Ian Kinsler, though it's unclear if acquiring another second baseman would rule out an Utley return.


The 37-year-old Utley has been with the Dodgers since August 2015, when he arrived in a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies.

He's slashed .242/.313/.390 in 172 games with Los Angeles.

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The Minnesota Twins have hired former big-leaguer LaTroy Hawkins into the role of special assistant.

Hawkins has made his rounds all over in the majors, pitching for 11 separate teams over his 21-year career. Most recently, he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, coming over as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal.

He finished his career with a 4.31 ERA in 1,467 1/3 innings, converting strictly to a relief pitcher after the 1999 season.

Of the teams he played for, he spent nine of those seasons with the Twins from the start of his career in 1995 to 2003. He threw 818 innings and appeared in 366 games as a member of the Twins.

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The lack of a new collective bargaining agreement appears to have thrown a wrench into the offseason plans of the Boston Red Sox and other teams hovering around the luxury tax threshold.

While there's optimism that a new deal will be signed before the CBA expires on Dec. 1, the price at which the new luxury tax will be set at has reportedly caused teams to delay their offseason shopping.

Due to the unknown surrounding the new CBA, the Red Sox won't truly become players in free agency until the new rules are set, sources told Rob Bradford of WEEI.

The Red Sox payroll currently sits at $160.6 million for next season, according to Cots Baseball Contracts, and is set to rise with nine players being arbitration eligible. The current luxury tax threshold is set at $189 million.

Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski has said that his offseason wishlist includes adding a reliever that can work the eighth inning and a designated hitter.

The team was believed to be a possible destination for free agent Edwin Encarnacion, though earlier this month the Red Sox were said to not be serious players for the former Toronto Blue Jays slugger.

The financial commitment needed to sign Encarnacion - which is believed to exceed four years and $80 million - along with the draft-pick compensation, and his defensive limitations may prevent Dombrowski from waiting until the new CBA to have talks with Encarnacion's agent, or from making an offer all together.

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The top available catcher on the free-agent market ran into some trouble during a household accident recently.

Matt Wieters suffered a cut on his left forearm that needed stitches and will require him to wear a protective shield on his non-throwing arm, according to Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com.

The injury will keep Wieters from participating in any baseball activity until at least January, but should not affect his ability to be ready for spring training, according to an industry source of Connolly's.

Wieters, 30, headlines the open market for backstops - along with Wilson Ramos and Jason Castro - after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Baltimore Orioles.

The four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner hit .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs for the Orioles last season, his eighth in the big leagues.

Over the course of his career, the fifth overall selection of the 2007 draft owns a .256/.318/.421 slash line with 117 home runs, 157 doubles, and 437 RBIs.

Wieters earned $15.8 million in 2016.

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After Dave Wallace announced his retirement in October, the Baltimore Orioles were in need of a new pitching coach - and they've found their man.

The Orioles announced they've hired Roger McDowell as the club's new pitching coach, along with Alan Mills as their new bullpen coach.

"We felt real lucky to have someone like Roger available," Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. "We talked to a lot of people and it came back to Roger."

McDowell, a former big-league pitcher, played 12 seasons split between five different clubs, and was a member of the 1986 World Series champion New York Mets.

The 55-year-old was the Atlanta Braves' pitching coach for 11 years, but his contract option wasn't exercised in October.

Mills, who was teammates with McDowell on the 1996 Orioles club that surged to the ALCS before losing to the New York Yankees, pitched in the bigs for 12 seasons, spending nine of them with Baltimore.

"Both have walked the walk and understand the ups and downs of a major league season," Showalter said of McDowell and Mills.

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The New York Mets are eager to retain free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and it appears they're open to spending some significant money to do so.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is believed to be open to offering Cespedes a four-year deal in the $100- to $110-million range, sources told Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Puma notes however, that there is a growing sense that Cespedes will command five years, and one source indicated that there will be teams who will offer a fifth year. The extra year could price the Mets out of the market.

It was reported last week that four teams - the Mets and three unknown - were in competition for Cespedes and the hope is that he signs during the winter meetings beginning early next month. The Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants are believed to also be interested in adding Cespedes.

The 31-year-old is the premier free-agent slugger on the market. He hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 25 doubles in 132 games last season and has averaged 27 homers and a .819 OPS in five seasons in the majors.

Cespedes agreed to a three-year, $75-million deal with the Mets last January that paid him $27.5 million in 2016 before opting out of the final two years.

Should the Mets fail to retain Cespedes, they will be awarded a draft pick as compensation after he rejected a qualifying offer. Puma believes the Mets could turn their attention to fellow free-agent outfielders Jose Bautista or Dexter Fowler should Cespedes sign elsewhere, though their priority is retaining him.

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Despite an abundance of optimism from commissioner Rob Manfred in recent weeks that a new collective bargaining agreement would be signed before the current one expires next month, the possibility of a work stoppage is now becoming more of a reality.

Major League Baseball owners will reportedly consider voting to lock out players if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached by the time the current CBA expires on Dec. 1, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

"We don't negotiate in the press," Manfred told Rosenthal. "We remain committed to the idea that we're going to make an agreement before expiration."

The owners are frustrated with the player's union due to the slow pace of discussions, and a number of significant issues remain unresolved, sources told Rosenthal.

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The Washington Nationals exercised Gio Gonzalez's option for the 2017 season, however that doesn't mean he'll be on the roster come opening day.

With aspirations of making a major splash this offseason, the Nationals are reportedly aggressively trying to trade Gonzalez, MLB executives told Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Once considered one of MLB's top left-handers, Gonzalez is coming off a year in which he went 11-11 with a 4.57 ERA and 1.34 WHIP across 177 1/3 innings.

Aside from his struggles last season, Gonzalez could prove to be a valuable trade chip, especially given the lack of quality arms on the free-agent market. He's averaged 187 innings over the last seven seasons, posting 95 wins and a 3.48 ERA over that time. He's owed $12 million in 2017 and has a $12 million vesting option for 2018 should he throw 180 innings next season.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo stated earlier this month that he didn't plan to trade Gonzalez despite the club having a number of starting options, though one executive labelled Rizzo as "bold" to Sherman, and wants to capitalize on what could be a narrowing window.

The Nationals have been linked to having interest in Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, and acquiring the left-hander would certainly make Gonzalez expendable.

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To say that Pablo Sandoval's 2016 season - all three games of it - was miserable would be an understatement. After a rough first year with the Boston Red Sox in 2015, injuries ended Sandoval's 2016 campaign after he went just 0-for-6 with a walk in April; this came after he'd already lost his job at third base in spring training.

But the 2012 World Series MVP has apparently been working hard on his rehab since then, and the man known as "Panda" was even spotted in October sporting a new svelte look. That change may lead to another chance in Beantown, as Red Sox manager John Farrell and president Dave Dombrowski are reportedly committed to giving Sandoval every opportunity to win the third-base job in 2017, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

Though there are plenty of potential internal candidates who could steal the job from Sandoval yet again - including Travis Shaw, whose monster spring gave him the third-base job in 2016, and super-prospect Yoan Moncada - it might be within the team's interest to give Sandoval another shot given they owe him another $62-million over the next three years. That contract makes him a very unlikely trade candidate going forward.

Even if Sandoval doesn't win back his natural position, he could play a significant role for the Red Sox if healthy. The retirement of David Ortiz could open the designated hitter spot for the 30-year-old, who could split time between there, third base, and spelling Hanley Ramirez at first.

While Dombrowski hinted in an interview earlier this month that Sandoval's not likely to become a full-time DH, the possibility of rotating the Venezuelan through the slot while also giving him work in the field seems to appeal to his manager.

"Personally, I think Pablo Sandoval, the work he's put in, I think he has a chance to impact our club in a strong way next year, and we need him to," Farrell told Christopher Smith of MassLive.com last week. "This is a guy that's got three years remaining with us. And we need to make Pablo a productive player again. So the flexibility with the DH role to keep guys rotating through, that would be an advantage to us."

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Ryan Braun understands that his time with the Milwaukee Brewers could be coming to an end.

Almost traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August, Braun adjusted his no-trade list at the end of the season in preparation for a possible move. The previous list contained the Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, and Miami Marlins, though it's not known which team, or teams, he swapped out.

It was expected that talks with the Dodgers would be revisited, though as of now, Braun acknowledged there hasn't been any news on the trade front from general manager David Stearns.

"I think if anything gets more serious, we'll have more contact," Braun told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We've stayed in general contact but nothing along those lines has come up where we'd need to have a conversation about it."

Braun is coming off another strong season, hitting .305/.365/.538 with 30 home runs, 23 doubles, and 91 RBIs in 135 games. He's still owed $76 million over the next four years with a $15-million mutual option for 2021.

Despite almost shipping Braun to Chavez Ravine - the teams reportedly ran out of time before the deadline - Stearns said he sees the outfielder as a part of the Brewers future.

"I'm very happy that Ryan is a member of the Milwaukee Brewers," Stearns said. "I expect him to be a member of the Milwaukee Brewers going forward."

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After officially agreeing to terms with the Houston Astros on a four-year contract Wednesday, outfielder Josh Reddick is looking forward to making a return to the South and enjoying a simpler life away from California.

The 29-year-old native of Savannah, Ga., explained to reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, why he was so excited about playing in a Southern state.

"Texas is something that brings me closer to home, and it's more my Southern roots and I can hang out with rednecks a little more," Reddick said.

New #Astros OF Josh Reddick is from Georgia: "Texas is a little bit more my area. I feel like I can get along with people here a lot better" pic.twitter.com/xrmrXDyfnj

— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 23, 2016
Before inking his deal with the Astros, the 29-year-old spent his entire big-league career on either the East or West Coast, playing three seasons with the Boston Red Sox and four-and-a-half with the Oakland Athletics before a deadline trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August.

Reddick, a Gold Glove winner in 2012, owns a career slash line of .255/.316/.430 with 96 home runs and 346 RBIs.

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The Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks completed the winter's first blockbuster deal Wednesday, getting together on a five-player trade.

Arizona acquired right-hander Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte in exchange for infielder Jean Segura, outfield prospect Mitch Haniger, and young left-hander Zac Curtis.

Walker, perhaps the most notable name, is a former Mariners first-round pick who just completed his second full major-league season. The 24-year-old posted a 4.22 ERA and struck out just over eight batters per nine innings across 25 starts, but missed time in July due to issues with his foot. In October, Walker underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle; he's been rehabbing since, and is expected to be ready for spring training.

Walker, who'd been the subject of trade rumors at the 2016 deadline, will be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2017, and is not set to become a free agent until 2021.

Segura experienced a renaissance in his lone season with the Diamondbacks after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason. Shifting to second base - a position he never played in the majors before 2016 - from his natural shortstop position, the 26-year-old posted career highs across the board, slashing .319/.368/.499 and adding 20 homers, 33 stolen bases, 41 doubles, 39 walks, and an NL-leading 203 hits over 153 games as Arizona's leadoff hitter.

"We really wanted to upgrade the way things worked at the top of our lineup and Jean Segura does this," Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.

It's likely that Segura, who generally rates as a below-average defender, will return to shortstop in Seattle given the presence of Robinson Cano at the keystone position. Segura is under control through 2019.

Curtis, 24, jumped from Single-A to the majors in April after averaging over 19 strikeouts per nine innings in just eight California League contests. The former sixth-round pick of the Diamondbacks posted a 6.75 ERA and struck out 10 while issuing 13 walks in 21 major-league appearances split over two stints. Left-handed hitters were particularly effective against him at the big-league level, posting a 1.046 OPS in 37 plate appearances, compared to righties recording a .627 OPS in 30 PAs.

Haniger was ranked as Arizona's No. 21 prospect by MLB Pipeline. A first-round pick of Milwaukee, he posted a .999 OPS, hit 25 homers, and stole 12 bases across 129 games split between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. The 25-year-old got the call to the majors on Aug. 16, and hit .229/.309/.404 with five homers and a pair of doubles in 123 big-league plate appearances.

Dipoto said that the Mariners see Haniger as a "high-ceiling prospect who projects to join our outfield as soon as next season."

Marte hit .259/.287/.323 with just one homer in 119 games as the Mariners' starting shortstop in 2016. The 2017 season will be the 23-year-old's second full big-league campaign.

To make room on its 40-man roster, Seattle designated switch-pitcher Pat Venditte for assignment.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking their bobblehead game to the next level in 2017.

On April 8 when they host the Atlanta Braves, the Pirates will be giving away a Francisco Cervelli bobblehead which sings "That's Amore."

The 2017 Promo Schedule is here & includes a Francisco Cervelli singing bobblehead!❤️https://t.co/B67oPDa2MT

Info: https://t.co/g3fhmM2s8F pic.twitter.com/LqO0TqGRda

— Pirates (@Pirates) November 23, 2016
Cervelli, who was born in Venezuela, has Italian lineage from his father's side, and will play for Italy in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The popular Pirates catcher, who 's known for the defensive side of his game and his high on-base percentage, owns a .373 OBP during his two seasons in the Steel City.

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The Atlanta Braves' busy front office didn't take a break for Thanksgiving, as the club reportedly agreed Thursday to a two-year deal with veteran utility man Sean Rodriguez, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, citing multiple sources.

The deal, pending a physical, is worth a total of $11.5 million, with Rodriguez getting a $1.5-million signing bonus and $5 million in each of the next two seasons, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Rodriguez, who turns 32 in April, enjoyed the finest season of his nine-year career in 2016, managing 1.9 WAR while smashing 18 homers with an .859 OPS (126 OPS+) over 140 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He spent time at every defensive position except catcher, and logged at least 100 innings at shortstop, second base, first base, and right field.

Though the Braves may be inclined to play Rodriguez every day following his impressive 2016 campaign, he will likely be a role player once again, potentially serving as a right-handed hitting platoon partner to second baseman Jace Peterson and right fielder Nick Markakis, as well.

Rodriguez, who owns a .693 OPS (91 OPS+) since making his MLB debut in 2008, is the third notable offseason addition for the rebuilding Braves, who also signed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon earlier this month.

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The Chicago Cubs' historic World Series victory parade has apparently left the franchise a little lighter in the wallet.

The Cubs will foot the city of Chicago's bill for more than $388,000 worth of repairs to Grant Park that were needed after the rally to celebrate the end of their 108-year championship drought, according to Leonor Vivanco of the Chicago Tribune.

More than 5 million people attended the rally, according to Chicago police, making it one of the largest mass gatherings in recorded human history. The crowd did some damage to Grant Park, though, as pockets of grass on the park's premises are now missing or destroyed.

Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Parks District, told the Tribune that repairs are also needed for some fencing in the park itself and Lower Hutchinson Field. They'll also have to re-lay topsoil and sand, in addition to the grass itself.


Besides hosting victory parades for Chicago's sports teams, including the Cubs, Blackhawks, and Bulls, Grant Park has played host to a multitude of popular events that have seen giant crowds descend on the downtown site, including the 2015 NFL Draft, President Barack Obama's victory speech after the 2008 U.S. election, and the annual Lollapalooza music festival.

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Less than a month after watching his Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years, team co-owner Todd Ricketts is reportedly on the verge of joining the United States Department of Commerce.

Ricketts is expected to be picked by President-elect Donald Trump to be the new deputy secretary of the commerce department, two sources told CNN.

The Ricketts and Trump have a well-documented history. In February, Trump told the family to be careful, and that they have a lot to hide, after it was revealed Marlene Ricketts - Todd's mother - contributed $3 million to a group publishing ads and videos opposing Trump's political campaign.

"It's a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom," Todd's brother, Tom Ricketts, told reporters in February. "The fact is, whether it's my mom or my dad on his spending stuff or my sister on marriage equality or my brothers and what they do or what we do with the team, we're pretty much an open book."

Trump said in March that he'd launch attack ads about the Cubs on how they aren't properly run and how the Ricketts "haven't done a good job in the brokerage business lately."

Things changed in September, however, when Joe Ricketts - Todd's father - endorsed Trump, with the family even donating $1 million to his campaign.

"The Ricketts decided they could not sit back and watch Hillary Clinton become the next president of the United States," the Ricketts' political adviser, Brian Baker, said at the time. "Even though the Ricketts supported other candidates during the primary, they believe it is time to unite behind the nominees. ... This is all about helping Republicans win in the fall."

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The scream you just heard was from benlen.



The San Francisco Giants could be considering reuniting with the Panda.

The team's front office has reportedly discussed trading for Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval, a baseball source told the Boston Herald, according to Evan Drellich.

The move, while still considered a long shot, would reunite Sandoval with the Giants where he played for seven seasons, helping guide the team to three World Series championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

Sandoval left the Giants in 2014 for greener pastures, signing a five-year, $90-million contract with the Red Sox. The move hasn't worked out for both Sandoval and the team, with the big man appearing in only 129 games to date - posting a WAR of -1.9 - with increasing concerns over his weight gain and shoulder surgery, which limited him to only three games in 2016.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski has been tight lipped about any potential moves this offseason, but Drellich notes that the team would consider eating a significant portion of Sandoval's remaining $82.6-million contract in order to move him.

The Red Sox currently have Travis Shaw and top prospect Yoan Moncada as internal options at third base, and could be in the mix to sign free agents Justin Turner and Luis Valbuena.

The Giants, meanwhile, could deploy Sandoval at his regular position moving Eduardo Nunez to the outfield or a super utility role, something the team reportedly prefers. In Sandoval's seven-year stint with the Giants, he hit an impressive .294/.346/.465 with a WAR of 20.8.

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lobo316 wrote: The scream you just heard was from benlen.



The San Francisco Giants could be considering reuniting with the Panda.

The team's front office has reportedly discussed trading for Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval, a baseball source told the Boston Herald, according to Evan Drellich.

The move, while still considered a long shot, would reunite Sandoval with the Giants where he played for seven seasons, helping guide the team to three World Series championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

Sandoval left the Giants in 2014 for greener pastures, signing a five-year, $90-million contract with the Red Sox. The move hasn't worked out for both Sandoval and the team, with the big man appearing in only 129 games to date - posting a WAR of -1.9 - with increasing concerns over his weight gain and shoulder surgery, which limited him to only three games in 2016.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski has been tight lipped about any potential moves this offseason, but Drellich notes that the team would consider eating a significant portion of Sandoval's remaining $82.6-million contract in order to move him.

The Red Sox currently have Travis Shaw and top prospect Yoan Moncada as internal options at third base, and could be in the mix to sign free agents Justin Turner and Luis Valbuena.

The Giants, meanwhile, could deploy Sandoval at his regular position moving Eduardo Nunez to the outfield or a super utility role, something the team reportedly prefers. In Sandoval's seven-year stint with the Giants, he hit an impressive .294/.346/.465 with a WAR of 20.8.
LOLOL
I heard rumors he lost weight. If that is so and Boston pays 80% of his remaining salary it won't be so bad. Don't know how his teammates will like him coming back. Except for Hunter Pence and Bruce Bochy he didn't say nice things about them when he left.

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With reports of a potential lockout surfacing, and the deadline for the current collective bargaining agreement set for Dec. 1, Major League Baseball may be willing to negotiate some changes to avoid shutting things down.

MLB has offered to remove draft-pick compensation to teams who lose top players to free agency in exchange for an international draft, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reports.

Heyman writes union leaders and MLB negotiators will be back at the bargaining table on Sunday, and the two sides have high hopes of reaching an agreement on a new CBA.

The removal of draft-pick compensation would make baseball "the freest free agency in sports," according to a person familiar with the situation, and would "take the legs out" of the qualifying offer system that has cost players as much as $1 billion-to-1.5 billion in compensation, according to a players' source of Heyman's.

Although both sides, including baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, believe in getting things done as far as a new CBA, Heyman writes "MLB people" are not ruling out the threat of a lockout if things are unresolved before Thursday's deadline.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the possibility of a lockout on Nov. 22 if a new CBA was not reached.

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The New York Yankees, widely recognized as one of the biggest-spending teams in all of sports, have been eerily quiet on the free-agent front in the past few years, and MLB's collective bargaining agreement could be the driving force behind the team's hesitation to sign big names on the open market.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has been patient in his attempt to reshape the team by adding a bevy of quality prospects since 2015. But with the CBA set to expire, and labor talks expected to resume Sunday, Cashman admitted the Yankees have been hampered on the open market over the years.

"The CBA is going to affect us in the long term,” Cashman told George A King of the New York Post on Tuesday. "It’s already crippled us in the short term. Exhibit A is our free agency last year and a lot of the international markets I’ve been taken out of."

The Yankees last flexed their financial muscle in the 2013-14 offseason, signing big name free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka to combined salaries of $438 million. In fact, over 15 years, the Yankees have possessed the league's highest average payroll at $196.5 million, but with only one playoff appearance since 2013, it's forced Cashman to take on a new approach.

"The previous CBAs have really hindered us, so I think the next one is something we’re clearly going to be interested in on how it will impact us over the entire course of the term of the contract. The previous ones have impacted us in a bad way."

Cashman has done an admirable job drafting, developing, and trading for young talent, particularly Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, and Clint Frazier.

Those talented youngsters could go a long way in turning the Yankees into bona fide contenders by 2018, when the free-agent class is expected to be headlined by Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and Manny Machado, to name a few.

In the meantime, the Yankees have been linked to a handful of free agents this offseason ranging from Edwin Encarnacion to potentially reuniting with closer Aroldis Chapman, though it's expected most teams will wait to make free-agent decisions until a new CBA is signed.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will need to balance their books in order to avoid breaking Major League Baseball rules regarding their outstanding debt.

Under current MLB guidelines, teams are given five years following an ownership change to comply with the debt service rule, though the club is now believed to be in hundreds of millions of debt, according to the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. Since being purchased in 2012 by Guggenheim Baseball Management for $2.15 billion, the Dodgers spent wildly and never turned a profit in the following three seasons, including their record-breaking $300 million in payroll in 2015.

Thanks in part to their improved farm system, the club expects to bring that number down to the $200-million mark in 2018, but commissioner Rob Manfred doesn't expect that compliance to hinder their on-field product.

"I think the Dodgers will be in a position that they can comply with our expectations in terms of the debt service rule, without any dramatic alteration in the kind of product they have been putting on the field," Manfred said, according to Shaikin.

Though they will need to reduce spending, the Dodgers have been consistently competitive under the new ownership, having won the NL West division title four times since 2012.

"They're doing what they can to set the team up for the future," Ron Fowler, executive chairman of the San Diego Padres, told Shaikin. "Do I like it as a competitor? No. Do they have the right to do it? Absolutely, yes."

Los Angeles had the majors' most expensive total payroll in 2016, spending approximately $52 million more than the New York Yankees, according to Spotrac.

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With the Dec. 1 deadline for an agreement looming, MLB's owners reportedly offered a new proposal to the players' association Sunday on the contentious issues of an international draft and the luxury tax, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

What these proposals consist of isn't known.

Establishing an international draft has apparently become a source of contention between MLB and its union during this month's negotiations. On Saturday, a report suggested the league offered to remove any form of free-agent draft-pick compensation in exchange for an international draft.


While those on both sides of the bargaining table, including commissioner Rob Manfred, have expressed optimism that a deal will be struck by the Dec. 1 deadline - thereby averting a potential lockout - Rosenthal reported Sunday that progress towards a new agreement is slow. The sides will apparently resume negotiations Monday morning at the players' association meeting in Dallas, where negotiators will take part in the sessions, per Rosenthal.

Earlier this month, Rosenthal reported MLB was considering locking out players in the event the CBA expired on Dec. 1 without a new agreement in place.

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One of the National League's most potent home run bats in 2016 is about to be added to the free-agent market.

The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly chosen to non-tender first baseman Chris Carter, who finished tied for the NL's home run crown this past season, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Carter will officially become a free agent once the non-tender deadline passes on Dec. 1.

Had he been tendered a deal by the Brewers, MLB Trade Rumors projected Carter to make $8.1 million in arbitration next season. Carter made just $2.5 million in 2016.

When the transaction is official, Carter will have been non-tendered for a second consecutive offseason; the Houston Astros didn't tender him a deal last December.

Carter's first and only season in Milwaukee saw him surpass the 40-home run mark for the first time in his career, finishing with 41; that left him tied with Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the most in the Senior Circuit. It was the second time in three years he hit more than 30 homers, and continued his streak of four consecutive seasons with at least 24 long balls. He also was durable, appearing in 160 of the Brewers' 162 games at first base, though his defense is considered a weak part of his game.

Overall, Carter posted a .222/.321/.499 slash line and showed a slight improvement in his eye by walking a career-high 76 times. He also struck out an NL-high 206 times, the second time in his career he's led in that category; Carter struck out a career-high 212 times in 2013.

In seven big-league seasons with the Brewers, Astros, and Oakland Athletics, Carter owns a .218/.314/.463 slash line with 150 homers, 374 RBIs, and 875 strikeouts.

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The Atlanta Braves have acquired outfield prospect Alex Jackson and a player to be named later from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for right-hander Rob Whalen and minor-league pitcher Max Povse.

Jackson was Seattle's sixth-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. The outfielder slashed .243/.332/.408 with 11 home runs in 92 games this past season in Single-A, and Braves general manager John Coppolella is optimistic about the 20-year-old's future.

"We value upside, and we believe Alex has a lot of it," Coppolella told The Associated Press. "We believe in the potential and the person, and we are excited for his future with our organization."

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, who said Sunday his team was looking to add just one more starting pitcher, was content about the depth Whalen and Povse will give Seattle.

"This move gives us two young, polished pitchers who immediately bolster our starting pitching depth, while adding to our roster flexibility," Dipoto said Monday in a press release by the Mariners.

Whalen made his MLB debut in 2016, pitching to a 6.57 ERA in five starts with the Braves. Povse, meanwhile, went a combined 9-6 in 26 starts between Single-A and Double-A this season, crafting a 3.36 ERA.

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Following a remarkable three-year campaign in Korea, Eric Thames is on his way back to the big leagues after signing a three-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, the club announced.

The deal, which also includes incentives and contains a club option for 2020, is worth $16 million, according to FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal.

Thames will earn $4 million in 2016, $5 million in '17, $6 million in '18 and has a $1-million buyout attached to the option in '20. He can also earn an additional $500,000 per season based on plate appearances, and can't be sent to the minors without his consent, Rosenthal notes.

"Eric brings to the organization a left-handed power bat that is a good fit for our lineup," Brewers general manager David Stearns said in a statement, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "His ability to play first base along with both corner outfield positions adds versatility to the roster.

"Eric has been extremely impressive over his last three seasons in Korea, and we look forward to his return to the major leagues in 2017."

The 30-year-old hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2012 with the Seattle Mariners, but hit an incredible .348/.450/.720 with 124 home runs and 379 RBIs over the past three seasons with the NC Dinos of the KBO League, also stealing 64 bases.

Prior to heading to Korea, Thames hit .250/.296/.431 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs over two seasons in MLB.

He came up in the big leagues as an outfielder, but is expected to play first base for the Brewers. In a corresponding move, the Brewers designated 29-year-old first baseman Chris Carter - who tied for the National League lead in home runs with 41 - for assignment.

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As the New York Yankees begin their transition toward more of a youth movement, catcher Gary Sanchez isn't the only one earning trust from the team's front office heading into 2017.

Yankees managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner expects outfielder Aaron Judge to be the team's starting right fielder next season.

"He’s got some work to do; he knows that," Steinbrenner said of Judge on the YES Network, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. "We’re going to figure out exactly what we think is wrong. My expectations are he’s going to be my starting right fielder this year. That’s a big deal and a big opportunity. I know he’s going to make the most of it."

The 24-year-old Judge made his major-league debut last season. He struggled to a .179/.263/.345 slash line, which included 42 strikeouts in 95 plate appearances, but his power potential is obviously enticing for New York. Judge belted four big-league home runs after hammering 19 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Right fielders for the Yankees hit just .244/.307/.396 last season, with most of the production from the position coming from Carlos Beltran, who was traded to the Texas Rangers at the deadline.

Judge, who stands a towering 6-foot-7 and weighs 275 pounds, is listed as the No. 4 prospect in the Yankees system, according to MLB Pipeline.

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Yoenis Cespedes' gamble on himself certainly paid off.

The Cuban outfielder agreed to a four-year, $110-million deal with the New York Mets on Tuesday, sources told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The deal includes a full no-trade clause.

The signing is the largest in Mets history in terms of average annual value. The $27.5 million AAV is also the largest by an outfielder in MLB history, and ties Alex Rodriguez for the top AAV ever for a free-agent position player, according to ESPN.

Cespedes agreed to a three-year, $75-million deal with the Mets in January, but opted out after the first year in order to seek a larger pay day.

Both sides went into the offseason optimistic that a reunion would take place, with the Mets front office and Cespedes' representatives eager to get a deal done before next week's winter meetings.

Cespedes bounced around between four organizations from 2014-2015 before finding his footing in Queens. He's become a fan favorite and an integral part of the offense in New York, and is coming off a season in which he hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs, 25 doubles, and 86 RBIs in 132 games.

Often criticized for a lack of spending, the Mets have now committed $127.2 million this winter to Cespedes and second baseman Neil Walker, who accepted a $17.2-million qualifying offer earlier this month.

With Cespedes rejoining the fold, the Mets could now look at dealing from a surplus of outfielders. It was reported earlier this month that the Toronto Blue Jays and Mets have discussed a trade for Jay Bruce, and those talks could gain steam after signing Cespedes.

The Houston Astros were also believed to be a major suitor for Cespedes.

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The reported return of Yoenis Cespedes to the New York Mets could spell the end of another outfielder's tenure in Queens.

With the Mets' outfield now overcrowded, the team is reportedly looking to deal from that surplus, with Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson apparently being the most likely trade candidates, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.

Dangling one of those bats in a trade could help the Mets fill one of their other needs, including a bullpen arm, an upgrade at catcher, or another right-handed bat. Bruce and Granderson both swing from the left side.

Bruce, who was acquired from Cincinnati at the trade deadline, had his $13-million option for 2017 picked up by New York earlier this winter, largely as insurance in case Cespedes walked.

Still, the 29-year-old's name has been surfacing in rumors throughout the offseason after struggling during his brief tenure at Citi Field. The Toronto Blue Jays, who nearly acquired Bruce last February, reportedly discussed a trade for the three-time All-Star earlier this month.

Granderson saw his rate statistics and stolen-base numbers drop slightly in 2016, but he did reach the 30-homer mark for the fourth time in his career. He was also a constant presence in a Mets lineup that suffered through a myriad of injuries in 2016, as he played in 150 of the team's 162 games. It was the fifth time in his last six seasons that he played at least 150 games.

The 35-year-old is entering the final season of a four-year, $60-million deal he signed with the Mets in 2014; he'll be paid $15-million next year.

Earlier in November it was reported that teams had approached the Mets about their glut of outfielders, including Bruce, Granderson, and young outfielder Michael Conforto.

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Teams looking to inject some elite speed and defense into their lineup should pick up the phone and give Cincinnati Reds general manager Dick Williams a call this winter.

The Reds are reportedly listening to offers on outfielder Billy Hamilton, along with other veteran members of their roster, sources told Buster Olney of ESPN.

Hamilton has averaged 57 stolen bases in each of his first three full seasons in the majors. He was caught stealing 23 times in 2014, but has become much more efficient on the basepaths since, swiping 115 of 131 attempts.

The issue for Hamilton early on in his career has been getting on base. He's a career .248/.297/.334 hitter with 12 home runs, but he did show signs of turning a corner in 2016. He slashed .260/.321/.343 with three home runs and 19 doubles in 119 games before suffering a season-ending oblique injury in September.

While he's yet to add a Gold Glove to his resume, the 25-year-old was a finalist in each of the past three seasons, and ranked seventh among outfielders with 14 defensive runs saved in 2016.

Hamilton is under team control through the 2019 season, and is projected to earn $2.3 million in salary arbitration in 2017, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

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After agreeing to a long-term deal with Yoenis Cespedes on Tuesday, the New York Mets continued their busy offseason Wednesday, trading right-hander Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for cash considerations.

Verrett, a Rule 5 draft choice of the Orioles in 2014, was lost to waivers before he ever appeared in a game for the club, and general manager Dan Duquette was glad to get him back.

"Should've held on to him but we are glad he's back ... (He) can do a number of different jobs for a pitching staff." Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.

Duquette envisions the 26-year-old, former third-round draft choice, being used as a possible swingman, pitching in numerous roles.

Verrett appeared in 35 games - 12 starts - for the Mets last season, posting a 5.20 ERA over 91 2/3 innings of work.

Over the course of his short two-year career, Verrett owns a 4-10 record with a 4.65 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.

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The Oakland Athletics added Matt Joyce to their outfield mix Wednesday by agreeing on a two-year, $11-million deal with the 32-year-old, the club announced.

Joyce will make $5 million in 2017 and $6 million in 2018, according to Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

He gives the Athletics' lineup a left-handed hitting option, and can play the outfield alongside Khris Davis and Brett Eibner.

The nine-year veteran spent last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting 13 home runs with 42 RBI across 293 plate appearances, posting an .866 OPS with an on-base percentage north of .400.

Joyce hasn't produced against left-handed pitching during his career, posting a .185 average, but owns an .803 OPS against righties.

He's previously suited up for the Pirates, Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bays Rays, and Los Angeles Angels, slashing a combined .242/.341/.429 with 106 home runs, 149 doubles, and 376 RBIs.

In a corresponding move, the Athletics designated utility player Rangel Ravelo for assignment.

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The Atlanta Braves had every intention of flipping some good money toward Edinson Volquez.

Prior to the Miami Marlins swooping in and signing Volquez to a two-year, $22-million deal, the Braves were "serious bidders" for the hurler, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

Despite the Braves missing out on the right-hander, it further exemplifies just how serious the club is this offseason.

So far, Atlanta has made significant signings after finishing with a 68-93 record last season.


PLAYER               POSITION      CONTRACT


R.A. Dickey             RHP         1-year - $7.5M


Bartolo Colon          RHP         1-year - $$12.5M


Sean Rodriguez      UTIL         2-year - $11.5M


Josh Collmenter      RHP         1-year - $1.2M



The Braves are clearly taking steps forward with their club, but holes remain.

While Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson, and Adonis Garcia are staples in the infield, Tyler Flowers and Jace Peterson aren't ideal at catcher and second base, respectively.

Flowers belted eight homers in 83 games last season, while Peterson slashed .254/.350/.366 with seven home runs in 115 games.

Last edited on Thu Dec 1st, 2016 12:02 am by lobo316

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The Chicago White Sox are heading in the direction of a full-on rebuild, and could be ready to deal ace left-hander Chris Sale this winter. A few miles north, the Chicago Cubs are itching to add another starting pitcher and can trade from a deep farm system to land an All-Star arm like Sale.

Ordinarily, this is the recipe that results in a blockbuster trade - except in the Windy City. The politics of the crosstown rivalry has often prevented the clubs from doing business together, and the Cubs' World Series win has rendered the struggling White Sox to near invisibility in their own city.

All of that would suggest a trade between the two sides is highly unlikely, to the point that ESPN's Buster Olney reported Monday that the White Sox already told the Cubs they won't trade with them. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn took issue with that report, however, and released a statement on Wednesday to say he's open to trading with the Cubs.

"As I have said many times over the years, we are always open to discussing trades with all 29 other clubs," Hahn said, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. "We even have completed trades within our division, despite facing these teams 19 times a year, and while trades between the Cubs and White Sox will always draw heightened scrutiny and attention, it makes no sense for us to eliminate any potential trade partners.

"We will consider any trade, with any team, that improves the Chicago White Sox."

It's incredibly rare for the Cubs and White Sox to get together on a trade. They've only done so 11 times in the last 40 years, and none since 2006. Only once - when the Cubs sent Hall of Famer Ron Santo to the South Side in 1973 - was an established star involved in a Cubs-White Sox transaction.
While Cubs GM Jed Hoyer acknowledged to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicagothat the two front offices speak to one another "on a fairly regular basis," he doesn't foresee even a minor transaction coming out of those conversations.
"You don't see a lot of deals done between the Mets and the Yankees or Oakland and San Francisco," Hoyer said. "Deals within your own city are difficult to make, because you got a lot of writers covering the same things, and there's a lot of scrutiny.
"I think they would always listen to the merits of a deal. They're in the business of getting better. But I don't think anything that's been written is the least bit surprising. I don't expect a lot of deals done between the White Sox and Cubs. And I don't think I'm really saying anything surprising when I say that."

Last edited on Thu Dec 1st, 2016 04:07 am by lobo316

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Andrew McCutchen has been the face of the Pirates for close to a decade, owns a National League MVP award, and was once considered among the best players in baseball - but it appears he isn't part of Pittsburgh's future.

The Pirates continue exploring deals for the 30-year-old outfielder, according to major-league sources of FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

The team has also reportedly been aggressive in pursuing trades for the former NL MVP by apparently offering him to teams around the league, rather than fielding exploratory calls from interested parties, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, citing sources.

One team showing serious interest is the Washington Nationals, who discussed acquiring McCutchen before last season's non-waiver trade deadline, according to Rosenthal's sources, while the Texas Rangers remain a potential trade partner, too.

Rosenthal cited sources who said the Pirates are seeking significant young talent in any trade for McCutchen, who experienced a down year in 2016, posting a career-low .766 OPS across 153 games.

If the Pirates do trade the superstar, they could then allocate funds toward other areas of need, while shifting Starling Marte to center field.

McCutchen, who's played all but five games of his career in center field, isn't interested in moving to a corner outfield spot, according to Rosenthal's sources.

The five-time All-Star is owed $14 million in 2017, and has a 2018 team option attached to his contract valued at $14.75 million, with a $1 million buyout.

During eight big-league seasons, McCutchen owns a career slash line of .292/.381/.487, with 175 home runs, 262 doubles, 637 RBIs, and 160 stolen bases.

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NEW YORK - The league that wins baseball's All-Star Game no longer will get home-field advantage in the World Series, which instead will go to the pennant winner with the better regular-season record.

The change was included in Major League Baseball's tentative new collective bargaining agreement and disclosed early Thursday to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the deal, reached Wednesday evening in Irving, Texas, had not been announced.

In addition, players and management agreed the minimum stay on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

Home-field advantage in the World Series generally rotated between the leagues through 2002. Baseball, led by then-Commissioner Bud Selig, and Fox television promoted the ''This Time It Counts'' innovation after the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie when both teams ran out of pitchers. Selig was booed in his own Milwaukee backyard.

''This energizes it. This gives them something to really play for,'' Selig said after owners approved the change by a 30-0 vote in January 2003. ''People pay a lot of money to see that game. They deserve to see the same intensity they see all year long. Television people pay a lot of money for the game. It was not and should not be a meaningless exhibition game.''

What began as a two-year experiment was extended. The American League won 11 of 14 All-Star Games played under the rule, and the AL representative won eight World Series in those years.

''It will put back a little of the sizzle,'' San Francisco Giants executive Larry Baer said in 2003.

As part of the changes for next year, players in the All-Star Game will have the incentive to play for a pool of money.

The DL change will allow teams to make quicker decisions on whether to bring up a roster replacement rather than wait to see whether the injured player would be ready to return to action in less than two weeks.

An international play plan is part of the new agreement that includes a payment schedule for potential games in Asia, Mexico, Latin America and Britain, plus U.S.-based special events such as this year's July 3 game between Atlanta and Miami in a specially built ballpark on a military base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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NEW YORK - The league that wins baseball's All-Star Game no longer will get home-field advantage in the World Series, which instead will go to the pennant winner with the better regular-season record.

The change was included in Major League Baseball's tentative new collective bargaining agreement and disclosed early Thursday to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the deal, reached Wednesday evening in Irving, Texas, had not been announced.

In addition, players and management agreed the minimum stay on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

Home-field advantage in the World Series generally rotated between the leagues through 2002. Baseball, led by then-Commissioner Bud Selig, and Fox television promoted the ''This Time It Counts'' innovation after the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie when both teams ran out of pitchers. Selig was booed in his own Milwaukee backyard.

''This energizes it. This gives them something to really play for,'' Selig said after owners approved the change by a 30-0 vote in January 2003. ''People pay a lot of money to see that game. They deserve to see the same intensity they see all year long. Television people pay a lot of money for the game. It was not and should not be a meaningless exhibition game.''

What began as a two-year experiment was extended. The American League won 11 of 14 All-Star Games played under the rule, and the AL representative won eight World Series in those years.

''It will put back a little of the sizzle,'' San Francisco Giants executive Larry Baer said in 2003.

As part of the changes for next year, players in the All-Star Game will have the incentive to play for a pool of money.

The DL change will allow teams to make quicker decisions on whether to bring up a roster replacement rather than wait to see whether the injured player would be ready to return to action in less than two weeks.

An international play plan is part of the new agreement that includes a payment schedule for potential games in Asia, Mexico, Latin America and Britain, plus U.S.-based special events such as this year's July 3 game between Atlanta and Miami in a specially built ballpark on a military base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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The Oakland Athletics' penny-pinching ways may have ultimately cost them.

With MLB and the Players' Association agreeing to terms Wednesday on a new five-year CBA, the Athletics will reportedly be phased out as a revenue-sharing recipient over the next four years, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.

The revenue sharing provision was introduced by the league in 1996 as a means of balancing revenue between all MLB teams, giving small-market clubs a financial boost at the expense of franchises in larger markets. The Athletics reportedly drew the ire of some in the union, however, who felt that the front office was not using the added income to improve the team.


Oakland was awarded $34 million as part of the revenue sharing plan in 2015.

Without the bonus income, the team may be forced to increase their efforts to find a new stadium, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

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The Houston Astros have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nori Aoki, as the club announced Wednesday it has re-signed the outfielder to a one-year contract.

Aoki will earn $5.5 million in the deal, a source told Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle.

Houston claimed Aoki off waivers on Nov. 3 after having spent the entire 2016 season with the Seattle Mariners. The 34-year-old had a respectable output in Seattle, however, slashing .283/.349/.388 in 118 this season for the Mariners.

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Free agents will no longer have the burden of a high draft pick attached to their name.

As part of the reported five-year collective bargaining agreement reached between Major League Baseball and its Players' Association Wednesday, compensation for losing free agents has been altered. Teams signing free agents will no longer have to give up their first-round draft pick as part of the transaction, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Instead, compensation for signing free agents will be paid out based on where teams sit on the luxury tax scale, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN. If a team signing a free agent is above the tax threshold, they will forfeit second and fifth-round picks, as well as $1-million in international bonus money - a penalty that could be significant given the apparent changes to the international signing rules - reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Teams below the threshold will only forfeit a third-round pick to sign a player who declined a qualifying offer.

Additionally, teams losing a qualified free agent will reportedly only receive draft-pick compensation if the player signs a contract exceeding $50 million in value, according to Rosenthal. Players also can no longer be offered a qualifying offer more than once, meaning a player who accepts the one-year offer would be ineligible to receive it again the following offseason.

The new CBA's tax will reportedly start at $195 million, according to multiple reports.

These changes will not affect the current class of free agents, according to Morosi, meaning that the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Dexter Fowler - all of them currently free agents who declined qualifying offers under the old system - will still have first-round draft-pick compensation tied to them this winter.

The new five-year CBA was reportedly agreed to Wednesday evening in Dallas.

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After outfielder Yoenis Cespedes officially re-signed with the New York Mets on Wednesday, free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion may have taken over as the most attractive player on the open market.

While rumors continue to swirl about where the 33-year-old will end up, his former club, the Toronto Blue Jays, aren't out of the picture just yet, despite a report that Encarnacion rejected their four-year, $80-million offer.

One roadblock the Blue Jays may need to solve is what position Encarnacion would play, after Toronto signed Kendrys Morales to a three-year deal earlier this offseason.

While Encarnacion could play first base, he spent more of the 2016 campaign as the Blue Jays' designated hitter, a role Morales would likely fill considering he hasn't been a defensive regular since 2009.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins touched on the issue in conversations with reporters on Thursday.

"It doesn't make it impossible, but it certainly made it less likely," Atkins said of Morales' impact on the pursuit of Encarnacion, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.

Atkins also said the Blue Jays are keeping in touch with Encarnacion, but added, "Two guys that do similar things is less than ideal for a team."

Encarnacion, who hammered 42 home runs and recorded 127 RBIs in 2016, has received plenty of interest during the offseason, with the Houston Astros reportedly making a hard push, while the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers remain candidates, as well.

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The 2017 version of the Tampa Bay Rays could look a whole lot different.

When asked about the potential availability of Chris Archer and Evan Longoria, Rays team president Matt Silverman said "We will not turn away from a big deal" and "no player is off the table in trade talks," according to Justin Granit of CBS Tampa.

There have been conflicting reports regarding Longoria this offseason. The team initially denied shopping the 31-year-old before eventually retracting the notion, admitting the team would be open to moving him.

Archer, meanwhile, has generated interest from at least one team this offseason, as the Atlanta Braves were in touch with the Rays regarding the 28-year-old's availability.

Both players are under contract past 2019, with Longoria set to earn $94 million - not including a $13-million team option in 2023 - while Archer will earn $38.9 million until 2019, with two friendly team options of $9 million in 2020 and $11 million in 2021.

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MLB teams will reportedly have another chip at their disposal, as details of the new collective bargaining agreement continue to trickle out.

Under the new deal, the 15-day disabled list will be reduced to 10 days, according to multiple reports.


With the reduction in time, players will be able to return from minor injuries much quicker.

Another reason this may affect teams is the ability to find a way around using an option. When National League teams play American League teams in interleague play, it's customary to drop a pitcher to the minors for the length of the trip and call up a hitter to fill the designated hitter spot. But with a 10-day disabled list on the table, teams could technically place a pitcher on the DL without using an option to send them to the minors, while calling up a hitter.

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The Atlanta Braves have found yet another arm for their rotation, as they've acquired veteran left-hander Jaime Garcia from the St. Louis Cardinals for three prospects, the Cardinals announced Thursday.

In exchange for Garcia, St. Louis receives second baseman Luke Dykstra, and right-handers John Gant and Chris Ellis.

Garcia's ERA (4.67) and WHIP (1.375) spiked this past year after a career-best showing in 2015, though his strikeout numbers did jump a tick, as he averaged 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings. The 30-year-old also reached the 30-start mark for the first time in four years. Despite the spiked numbers, St. Louis chose to pick up his $12-million option earlier in the offseason.

Garcia is the third veteran starter acquired by the rebuilding Braves this winter, joining the 40-something tandem of R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. The trio of newcomers will join incumbent ace Julio Teheran in a new-look rotation this coming April.

In 2016, Atlanta's starters combined to put up the league's third-worst rotation ERA at 4.87, while averaging 6.99 strikeouts per nine innings for the majors' fourth-lowest total.

Over eight seasons, all of them in St. Louis, Garcia owns a 3.57 ERA, 1.283 WHIP, and 723 strikeouts in 896 innings. He made two starts for St. Louis in the 2011 World Series, and helped the team win its 11th championship.

Gant, the Braves' No. 21 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, made his major-league debut earlier this year. The 24-year-old posted a 4.86 ERA and struck out 49 batters while allowing 21 walks in 20 appearances and seven starts with the Braves. He owned a WHIP above 1.4 in 12 starts at the Triple-A level. Gant is known for his unique wind-up that features a double-leg kick.

Dykstra, the son of former All-Star outfielder Lenny Dykstra, was the Braves' seventh-round pick in 2014. He spent this season at Single-A Rome, where he hit .304/.332/.363 with no homers and seven stolen bases over 81 games, while striking out 31 times and taking just six walks.

Ellis, a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2014, split this past year between Double-A and Triple-A. In 13 starts at Double-A Mississippi the 24-year-old struck out 61 batters and posted a 2.75 ERA. Those numbers swelled at Triple-A Gwinnett, where he struggled to a 6.52 ERA, 1.773 WHIP, and 65 strikeouts in 15 starts.

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Teams that try to cheat the international bonus pool limits under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement will be in for some harsh punishments if caught in the act.

Under terms of the new CBA between MLB and its Players' Association, MLB can impose what amounts to a "death penalty" on teams caught exceeding the now iron-clad bonus limits, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. MLB will be allowed to take away up to 50 percent of a team's international bonus pool money through 2021 - when the CBA expires - should the limit be exceeded.

One aspect of the old international rules that will remain in place, albeit with a slight variation given the new cap, is the trading of international bonus money. Teams will still be allowed to include sums of money in trades, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, meaning a team could go over the hard $5-million limit by acquiring more money in a deal.

Baseball's penalties for overspending on the international market came into play this past July when, under the old rules, the Boston Red Sox were caught exceeding the limit to sign multiple players a year prior. As punishment, the team was barred from participating in the 2016 signing period, and the contracts of five prospects were voided. The Red Sox will not have their penalties changed as a result of the new CBA.

These new penalties would effectively eliminate a team that's caught overspending from signing any future international free agents for the length of the CBA. It also likely ends the days of highly touted international prospects like Yoan Moncada - who inked a $31.5-million deal with Boston in 2015 - signing multi-million dollar contracts as amateurs.

The CBA, which has yet to be ratified by either side, also raised the age cap of international signings from 23 to 25. Players over the age of 25 will not be subject to the cap rules, and will be free to sign for any amount.

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NEW YORK - The Los Angeles Dodgers, Latin American teenagers, and Cubans approaching their mid-20s were losers in baseball's new labor contract, which includes stiffer penalties for high-spending teams and a hard cap on signing bonuses for international amateurs.

The Oakland Athletics also came up short, with the team's ability to receive revenue-sharing money to be trimmed in stages and eliminated in 2020.

Mid-tier free agents were winners, with management agreeing teams will no longer forfeit first-round draft picks for signing players who turn down qualifying offers. But top-tier free agents could wind up as losers if potential bidders back off because of the steeper tax for exceeding the payroll threshold.

Players and owners agreed to the five-year deal Wednesday, subject to ratification, and details were provided by several people familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the sides had not yet released specifics.

The luxury tax threshold, which was $178 million in 2011 and $189 million this year, will rise to $210 million by 2021. That represents an 18 percent rise over a decade, well below the rate of increase in baseball's revenue.

And the highest tax bracket will rise, with two levels of new surtaxes.

The Dodgers' luxury-tax payroll this year was about $256 million, down from a record $297 million last year, leaving them on track to owe a tax of approximately $34 million - a 50 percent rate assesses on the amount over the threshold.

If the new rules were fully implemented this year, they would pay $41,825,000: A base tax of $30.5 million (50 percent of the amount above $195 million), a surtax of $2.4 million (12 percent of the $20 million-$40 million amount over the threshold), and a second surtax of $8,925,000 (42.5 percent of the amount above $40 million).

However, the new rules transition in next year and don't have a full impact until 2018.

While management failed to gain the international draft it wanted, players did agree to a hard cap on international signings, which eliminates deals such as Yoan Moncada's $31.5-million signing bonus with Boston in 2015. The signing pool limit will be $4.75 million for the signing period that begins July 2. The pool rises to $5.25 million for teams with competitive balance round A draft picks and $5.75 million for clubs with round B selections.

Eight teams have spent more than $4.75 million in the current signing season, led by San Diego at $34.6 million (plus a $31.3 million tax) and Atlanta at $15.6 million (plus an $11.1 million tax). Because of the new limits, teams that had tentative deals in place with 15-year-old Latin players that were set to be finalized next summer could be forced to back out.

Players who left Cuba also are impacted by the changes. Under the old rules, Cubans didn't count against a team's signing bonus pool if they were at least 23 and played in a professional league for at least five seasons. Because of that, Lourdes Gourriel waited until after his 23rd birthday last month to finalize a $22-million, seven-year contract with Toronto.

Under the new deal, the age is raised to 25 - which would reduce the amount spent on Cubans who are younger.

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The San Diego Padres traded catcher Derek Norris to the Washington Nationals on Friday in exchange for right-hander pitcher Pedro Avila.
Norris has been rumored to be on the block for some time, as the rebuilding Padres looked to clear space for catching prospect Austin Hedges and shed some salary.
Originally drafted by the Nationals in 2007 and traded to the Oakland Athleticsfour years later, Norris returns to Washington and will compete with Jose Lobaton for the starting job.
An All-Star in 2014, Norris is coming off a disappointing season in San Diego in which he hit .186/.255/.328, but did manage to tie his career-high 14 home runs while also adding 17 doubles. He slashed .259/.330/.403 with 24 home runs, 52 doubles and 117 RBIs in 274 games from 2014-15 and could be a strong bounce-back candidate with a change of scenery.
Norris, 27, is under team control through the next two seasons and is projected to earn $4 million in salary arbitration this winter.
The Nationals were in need of a catcher after Wilson Ramos hit free agency.
Meanwhile, Avila is coming off his first season with Single-A Hagerstown. The 19-year-old went 7-7 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.33 WHIP across 93 innings, striking out 92. He was the Nationals 23rd ranked prospect according to MLB pipeline.

Last edited on Sat Dec 3rd, 2016 02:36 am by lobo316

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The Edwin Encarnacion sweepstake's appear set for a conclusion.

Encarnacion's agent Paul Kinzer told Joel Sherman of the New York Post on Sunday that talks between prospective teams and his client have intensified since the new collective bargaining agreement was reached and it's likely a deal gets done during the winter meetings.

Major League Baseball's annual winter meetings run from Monday through Thursday in Maryland.

The market for Encarnacion remains somewhat unknown. The Houston Astros had been heavily linked to the free-agent slugger but agreed to a one-year deal with Carlos Beltran earlier this week, likely ruling them out of another high-priced free agent.

The Boston Red Sox were initially perceived to be a major player for Encarnacion, though all signs seem to indicate that their attention is elsewhere.

Kinzer has remained in contact with Encarnacion's former team, the Toronto Blue Jays, who reportedly made an offer in the range of $80 million over four years, that was rejected. General manager Ross Atkins has stated the club would welcome Encarnacion back with open arms, though also acknowledged with so many other needs that his fit on the roster isn't an easy one to maneuvre - especially when considering his reported $100-million asking price.

The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers remain interesting and viable options. Both teams have a need at first base/designated hitter, and have the necessary resources to sign him.

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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made his second major move of the winter on Sunday, reportedly agreeing to a one-year, $13-million deal with free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Holliday spent the last eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals playing almost exclusively in left field. He'll likely serve as the Yankees designated hitter or see time at first base - where he appeared 10 times last season.

The 36-year-old has battled injuries the past two years, limiting him to 183 games. He missed significant time last season after undergoing thumb surgery, but showed plenty of power when he was healthy, hitting .246/.322/.461 with 20 homers and 20 doubles in 110 games.

The Yankees were reportedly interested in signing free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, though the signing of Holliday could mean the end of their pursuit.

Cashman will likely now focus his attention to the rotation and bullpen, while also shopping both outfielder Brett Gardner and third baseman Chase Headley.

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NEW YORK - Major League Baseball is increasing penalties for using banned stimulants and is adding more random drug tests.

The suspension for a second stimulant violation goes up from 25 to 50 games under a change to the sport's drug agreement announced Friday by the commissioner's office and players' association. A third violation would result in a 100-game penalty, up from 80.

The penalty for a first stimulant violation remains follow-up testing and the discipline for a fourth stays at up to a permanent suspension..

Baseball conducted 8,281 drug tests - 6,634 urine and 1,647 blood - in the year ending with this season's World Series, an increase from 8,158 in the year ending with the 2015 Series and 7,929 during the year ending with the 2014 Series.

Random urine tests will increase from 3,200 to 4,800 in season and from 350 to 1,550 during the offseason, ensuring at least one offseason test for all 40-man roster players. Random blood tests rise from 260 to 500 in season and from 140 to 400 in the offseason.

As part of the mitigation provision, an arbitrator may reduce the penalty for a first-time violation to 30 games if a player shows the presence of a banned substance in his urine was not his fault. Previously, the limit for reduction was to 40 games.

For a second violation, the mitigation limit was dropped from 80 to 60.

The annual report of Dr. Jeffrey M. Anderson, the program's independent program administrator, was issued Friday and said there were 105 therapeutic use exemptions for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, down from 111 last year. There was one exemption each for hypertension and hypercalciuria (calcium in urine).

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The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a two-year, $12.5-million deal with utility player Steve Pearce, according to sources of ESPN's Buster Olney.

Toronto had been linked to the 33-year-old for close to a month, after he belted 13 home runs and added 35 RBIs with an .867 OPS for the Tampa Bay Rays andBaltimore Orioles last season.
The right-handed-hitting Pearce - who mashed lefties to the tune of a 1.028 OPS last season - could serve as a potential platoon partner for left-handed hitterJustin Smoak at first base, and could also play in the outfield.
Despite having a powerhouse offense last season, the Blue Jays owned just a .747 OPS against left-handers - good for ninth in the AL.
Pearce had a chance to become a member of the Blue Jays after being designated for assignment by the Orioles in 2014, but 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.
He earned $4.75 million in 2016.

Last edited on Mon Dec 5th, 2016 07:31 pm by lobo316

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Giants sign a closer. 4 yrs 60 mil for Mark Melancon

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One of the top starters on the open market is no longer available after the Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed left-hander Rich Hill to a three-year deal Monday, the club announced.

Financial figures of the contract were not officially disclosed, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the pact is valued at $48 million.

Hill, 36, came to the Dodgers at the non-waiver trade deadline from the Oakland Athletics and went on to post a 1.83 ERA in six starts for the club during the regular season, also tossing six shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

The southpaw joins fellow left-hander Clayton Kershaw atop a Dodgers rotation that finished fifth in the NL in ERA, despite a slew of injuries.

Over a 12-year career in the big leagues, Hill owns a 38-28 record with a 4.10 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 221 appearances, 94 of them starts.

Last edited on Tue Dec 6th, 2016 12:15 am by lobo316

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OXON HILL, Md. - A person familiar with the negotiations says reliever Joaquin Benoit and the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a $7.5-million, one-year contract.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press on Monday because the agreement had not yet been announced.

Benoit, a 39-year-old right-hander, has had an ERA under 3.00 for six of the past seven years. He was 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA last season, including a 0.38 ERA after the Toronto Blue Jays acquired him from Seattle on July 26 for reliever Drew Storen.

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The Toronto Blue Jays appear to be moving on from Edwin Encarnacion.

After ongoing negotiations - which reportedly included a four-year, $80-million offer - between the Blue Jays and Encarnacion failed to reach a positive conclusion, a source close to the negotiations tells TSN baseball insider Steve Phillips the Blue Jays are "out" on the 33-year-old Dominican.

Toronto inked Steve Pearce to a two-year contract on Monday, which Phillips said was done in order to form a platoon with Justin Smoak at first base, while Kendrys Morales - who signed a three-year deal with the Blue Jays last month - will slot in as the team's designated hitter.

Upon learning of the Pearce signing, Encarnacion told his agent Paul Kinzer "he's disappointed," Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports.

Kinzer told Morosi the $80-million offer made to his client by the Blue Jays came during a "quiet period," and Encarnacion wasn't ready to decide before hearing from other clubs. Once Encarnacion rejected Toronto's offer, the Blue Jays moved on to Morales and Pearce quicker than they anticipated.

Encarnacion is reportedly seeking money in a similar range to the $110-million deal the New York Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes to this offseason.

Encarnacion has drawn plenty of interest from clubs such as the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Cleveland Indians throughout the offseason thus far, although the Astros and Yankees signed Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday this past weekend, respectively.

Encarnacion remains one of the top free agents on the open market after an impressive campaign, which included 42 home runs, 127 RBIs, and an .886 OPS.

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Aroldis Chapman is setting the record straight.

The most coveted reliever in baseball, Chapman spoke to ESPN's Marly Rivera, telling her that as the winter meetings kick off, he knows what type of contract he's seeking.

"The only thing I have expressed is that I would like a six-year contract," he said. "I know that doesn't mean that I will get it, but that's what I would like to sign."

Chapman also made it clear that reports of him asking for $100 million are false, but he stopped short of saying that he didn't think he was worth the money.

"There are rumors out there that I requested $100 million and that's not true at all," Chapman added. "I believe he who deserves something, does not need to demand it."

After spending his first six years with the Cincinnati Reds, Chapman played for two contenders last year in the New York Yankees, and the eventual World Series-champion Chicago Cubs.

In 2016, he had a sparkling 1.55 ERA, striking out 90 batters over 58 innings.

While there seems to be mutual interest between the Yankees and Chapman, the left-hander said he hasn't gotten the feeling Chicago wants him back, even though they need a closer.

"The Cubs have never expressed any interest in re-signing me, as far as I know," he said.

Chicago, instead, appears to be hunting for Kansas City Royals closer Wade Davis, who played for current Cubs manager Joe Maddon back in his Tampa Bay Rays days.

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Benlen wrote: Giants sign a closer. 4 yrs 60 mil for Mark Melancon
If Lobo didn't post it then it didn't happen.

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Boston Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski announced Monday that the team exercised the 2018 contract option on manager John Farrell.

"He's done a real fine job for us," Dombrowski said, according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.

Farrell has spent the last four seasons in Boston, compiling a 339-309 record. He helped lead the team to a World Series title in 2013 and an AL East crown in 2016.

Dombrowski announced after the Red Sox were swept in the ALDS by the Indians that Farrell would remain with the club next season, but wouldn't commit to picking up his option, saying that he needed to talk to ownership before making a decision.

"He's our leader going forward. He's very well-respected and it gives him the clear mind he needs going forward," Dombrowski said in October.

While Farrell will be back for at least the next two seasons, he will be without close friend and bench coach Torey Lovullo, who left this winter to take over as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Gary DiSarcina was hired in place of Lovullo in November.

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OXON HILL, Md. - The big-spending Boston Red Sox could be far more conservative this offseason because of baseball's new luxury tax rules.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday that the new collective bargaining agreement's stricter penalties for spending above a certain payroll threshold could factor in to the team's plans. His top priority is to find an eighth-inning reliever and also add another bat, but don't expect him to throw money around to make it happen.

The Red Sox had $209 million committed to player salaries last season, fourth in the majors. Dombrowski didn't guarantee Boston would be under the $195 million mark for 2017 but would like to try to avoid the extra penalties in place moving forward for going over.

''There are definitely reasons why you don't want to go above,'' Dombrowski said. ''Some of them involve now for the first time differences in draft choices and sacrifices of money to sign players and that type of the thing. ... I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

Dombrowski, who announced that the club picked up the 2018 option on manager John Farrell's contract, was known for making big deals during his time running the Detroit Tigers. At the winter meetings he has heard a lot of names but less interest in young players like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. now after winning the AL East than a year ago when Boston finished in last place.

If the right trade came along, Dombrowski would listen, but he said he's not going to make a deal just for the sake of it. He hasn't ''closed the door'' on bringing back Brad Ziegler or Koji Uehara but would like to get a setup man ''any way we could find one'' - either through trade or free agency.

Mark Melancon agreeing to a $62-million, four-year deal with the San Francisco Giants set the market for closers like Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman. Dombrowski would like for his eighth-inning acquisition to have closing experienced but said it's not a necessity.

While Dombrowski implied that he'd be surprised if the Red Sox didn't bring in another hitter this winter, Farrell pointed to the return of third baseman Pablo Sandoval as a major factor.

Dombrowski described Sandoval's conditioning as ''very good'' and said the 30-year-old's shoulder was good to go. Boston wants Sandoval at third base because the club would like to rotate the designated hitter spot around after the retirement of David Ortiz.

''We're in a new era,'' Farrell said. ''I love the fact that we've got the flexibility that we do with so much roster versatility. ... The more we can rotate guys through, get them off their feet on occasion would lend you to believe that we would keep guys a little bit more fresh deeper into the month of October.''

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Derek Jeter is headed to Monument Park.

The New York Yankees announced Tuesday they will retire the iconic shortstop's No. 2 at a ceremony on May 14, 2017.

It goes without saying that Jeter is one of the best players to don the pinstripes.

Aside from the fact he spent his entire 20-year career with the Yankees, Jeter's resume is unmatched in recent memory. He was named rookie of the year in 1996, and followed that up with 14 All-Star appearances, five Gold Gloves, and five Silver Sluggers.

Jeter is also the Yankees' all-time leader in hits (3,465), games played (2,747), at bats (11,195), and ranks second in runs scored (1,923), fourth in walks (1,082), and eighth in batting average (.310).

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The Boston Red Sox broke the ice on Day 2 of the winter meetings, acquiring an off-the-board reliever in an already-slim closer market.

The Milwaukee Brewers announced the trade of closer Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox.

In return, the Brewers get corner infielder Travis Shaw, minor-league shortstop Mauricio Dubon, a minor-league right-hander Josh Pennington, and a player to be named later, or cash.

With the move, it would appear the Red Sox are putting their faith in Pablo Sandoval to take over third-base duties. That being said, he's probably on a short leash, with Brock Holt and Yoan Moncada waiting in the wings.

The acquisition of Thornburg, the Brewers' best reliever, is a very subtle, but likely effective move by Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

In his fifth major-league season, Thornburg figured it out, owning a 2.15 ERA over 67 innings, striking out 90 in the process. If Boston was to go into the season today, it would have a bullpen back end comprised of Thornburg and Craig Kimbrel.

On the flip side, the Brewers are getting a major-league ready third baseman in Shaw, whom the Red Sox gave up on after just one full season. Last year, he slashed .242/.306/.421 with 16 homers in 145 games.

He's expected to be the everyday guy at third base, meaning Jonathan Villar will move exclusively to second base. That leaves Scooter Gennett as the odd man out, so it wouldn't come as a shock to see the Brewers deal him this offseason.

Dubon, a former 26th-round pick in the 2013 draft, slashed .323/.379/.461 with 30 stolen bases in time split between High-A and Double-A last year.

Pennington has only made it to Low-A in his second professional season, but he lit it up in 2016, owning a 2.86 ERA over 56 2/3 innings.

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Buck Showalter's "Seinfeld" cameo was one of the most memorable baseball-related moments on the '90s sitcom, but it's also been a drain on his bank account.

The Baltimore Orioles manager had to join the Screen Actors Guild to appear on the show and told MLB Network's "Hot Stove" on Tuesday that he still gets taxed every time a rerun of his episode, "The Chaperone," airs.

"By the time it's over, every time they show an episode it costs me $19 in taxes," he said.

Showalter added that he had no idea how popular the show was at the time, nor that it was making fun of his then-boss, George Steinbrenner.

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Chris Sale traded to Redsox

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The Boston Red Sox continued their busy Day 2 of the winter meetings Tuesday by reportedly agreeing to a one-year contract with first baseman Mitch Moreland, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The contract, which is pending a physical, will reportedly pay him $5.5 million, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.

Moreland could split time at first base with Hanley Ramirez, while also allowing the Red Sox to use Ramirez at DH more often. This transaction also likely clears the way for a healthy Pablo Sandoval to return to third base in 2017 instead of becoming a full-time DH.

Moreland, who's spent his entire seven-year career with the Texas Rangers, had a career season in 2015 but saw his numbers dip back towards his norms this past year. As the Rangers' everyday first baseman, he posted a .233/.298/.422 line with 22 homers, 21 doubles, 60 RBIs, and 118 strikeouts. A left-handed slugger at the plate, Moreland posted some surprising reverse splits this year, owning a .799 OPS in 100 plate appearances against southpaws compared to .700 in 403 PAs versus righties.

The 30-year-old more than made up for his shortcomings at the plate with his work in the field, taking home the American League Gold Glove at first base in 2016 after making just two errors and leading all AL first baseman with a 6.4 ultimate zone rating. His award-winning glove is an instant improvement over Ramirez, a notoriously poor defender who moved to first last year and struggled.

Before signing Moreland, the Red Sox spent Tuesday making the offseason's biggest splash by acquiring Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox. They also snagged reliever Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee earlier in the day.

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The Boston Red Sox would like to add another bat to their lineup on a short-term deal, but there's at least one free-agent slugger they won't be doing business with.

Jose Bautista's representatives have reportedly been informed by the Red Sox that they're out on signing him, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Cafardo adds that the Red Sox were Bautista's No. 1 preference, with the six-time All-Star seeking a two-year deal.

With an abundance of bats available through free agency, the market for Bautista has been slow to develop. The 36-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued year in which he hit .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 24 doubles across 116 games.

A two-year deal is the type of contract the Red Sox are looking for, but they've been conscious of the $195-million luxury-tax threshold, and signing a player of Bautista's caliber would likely put them over. Also, with a number of sluggers still available, the Red Sox would most likely want to avoid giving up a draft pick to the Blue Jays (as compensation for signing Bautista) especially after trading top prospects Yoan Moncada, and Michael Kopech in their Chris Sale deal earlier Tuesday.

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The New York Mets already have an abundance of outfielders on their major-league roster, two of which - Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce - they're reportedly trying to trade during the offseason. Manager Terry Collins, though, would be OK with one more making an appearance during spring training.

Collins told reporters Tuesday he'd like to have former NFL quarterback and current Mets minor-league outfielder Tim Tebow play in spring training, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.

He went on to explain that even if Tebow isn't invited to big-league camp, he'd go out of his way to make sure he could bring him over for some games.

New York signed the former Heisman Trophy winner to a $100,000 contract in September after he worked out for several MLB teams.

During 19 games in the Arizona Fall League - which featured many of baseball's top prospects - Tebow went 12-for-62 with 20 strikeouts, including three doubles. He did improve throughout the AFL season, however, securing eight hits in his final 30 at-bats after working with hitting coach Kevin Long.

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Jose Bautista might not be on his way out of Toronto after all.

With the market for the free-agent slugger not as robust as initially anticipated, Bautista's representatives reportedly met with the Blue Jays on Tuesday and are back in talks, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Steve Phillips of TSN also reported that Bautista's agent Jay Alou was spotted leaving a meeting with the Blue Jays' front office earlier in the afternoon.

The Blue Jays are in need of outfield help and are said to be canvassing a number of options. They reportedly issued a four-year, $60-million deal to free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler earlier this week, though it's believed that it's been matched by the St. Louis Cardinals, with Fowler seeking more money annually.

Once believed to be seeking a five-year deal earlier in the season, Bautista's market has struggled to develop following an injury-plagued campaign. He is tied to draft-pick compensation after rejecting a qualifying offer, and is reportedly currently seeking a two-year deal.

The Blue Jays currently have Steve Pearce, Ezequiel Carrera, and Melvin Upton Jr. as corner outfielders on their roster.

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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman might be a little jealous of the Red Sox after Boston's blockbuster acquisition of Chris Sale.

"That's a wow. Boston's like the Golden State Warriors now of baseball," Cashman said, after Sale joined David Price, AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, and AL MVP finalist Mookie Betts on the Red Sox roster, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN.

The comparison is a bit lofty regardless of how good Sale is, and how much better he makes the Red Sox, especially considering the Warriors added Kevin Durant to a team coming off a 73-9 season. Either way, expect the Red Sox to be one of - if not the best - AL team in 2017.

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Benlen wrote: Chris Sale traded to Redsox
*SIGH* If Lobo didn't post it, then it didn't happen.

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Another outfielder has been taken off the market.

The Texas Rangers and free-agent outfielder Carlos Gomez have agreed on a new one-year, $11.5-million deal to bring the 31-year-old back to Arlington, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The deal is pending a physical.

Gomez joined the Rangers in August on a minor-league contract after being released from the Houston Astros and performed well in limited action, hitting .284/.362/.543 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in the team's final 33 games.

The 31-year-old now provides the Rangers with additional depth and versatility in the outfield, having played all three positions throughout his career. As it stands, the team will head into 2017 with an outfield consisting of Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields, and Gomez.

The Rangers have expressed interest in bringing back center fielder Ian Desmond, as the two sides have held "intense" contract talks in hopes of securing a new deal. The team has also been linked to free-agent Dexter Fowler and Andrew McCutchen through trade.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly added a big bat to their lineup.

The team agreed to a two-year, $12.5-million contract with catcher/designated hitter Wilson Ramos, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post. The deal is pending a physical.

The Rays will pay Ramos $4 million in 2017 and $8.5 million in 2018. The deal includes playing time incentives of $5.75 million if the terms are met, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Ramos is coming off a career year with the Washington Nationals, recording 22 home runs and 80 RBIs, while slashing .307/.354/.496. However, he missed the last 31 games of the regular season and all of the postseason after tearing his ACL.

Ramos will miss the start of the 2017 season rehabbing his knee and isn't expected back until June at the earliest. When he makes his return, he's expected to serve as the team's DH but is still anticipated to eventually return to full-time catching duties once his knee is fully healthy, Topkin notes.

The Rays were active in their search for a catcher this offseason, having been linked to free agent Welington Castillo after he was non-tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Honesty is the best policy.

The Baltimore Orioles honored their die-hard supporters during free agency, telling Jose Bautista the reason the team can't pursue a deal with the 36-year-old is because their fans simply don't like him, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Other than fans loathing him, Heyman notes the Orioles told Bautista's camp that money and the 36-year-old being tied to draft pick compensation were also reasons for the lack of interest.

There was a time when Bautista donned the black and orange, however brief as it was, playing 16 games with the club in 2004. It wasn't until he emerged as a star with the Blue Jays in 2010 did the hatred begin, going back to several memorable run ins with Orioles' players including, but not limited to, Darren O'Day and Adam Jones.

The market for Bautista has heated up in the past 24 hours. The Blue Jays were one of the few teams to schedule a meeting with the fan favorite, as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians.

Blue Jays fans can only hope a deal materializes so Bautista can return to Toronto and get back at the fans that despise him so much.

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Chris Sale stole all of Edwin Encarnacion's thunder.

Going into the offseason, the slugger was supposed to be the hot topic of the winter. Now, it seems like Encarnacion is struggling to find a suitor willing to pay him what he believes he's worth.

Encarnacion's camp is now sitting back and waiting due to how his market has severely shrunk, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports.

The report indicates that, at this point, he can't even get a team to bite at a three-year, $60-million deal.

While his agent is sweating bullets trying to get his client a healthy contract, one general manager thinks teams should be weary of trying to drive down Encarnacion's price more than it's already gone down.

"Teams shouldn't overplay their hands with him, either," one GM told Passan. He's too good for the price to go much lower."

So far, it would appear the Cleveland Indians are hot on Encarnacion's trail, as it's reported the two sides were discussing a multi-year deal.

The Colorado Rockies also appear to be a potential destination, as the idea of Encarnacion launching baseballs into the Coors Field night is exciting. Not only that, but a lineup comprised of Encarnacion, Carlos Gonzalez, and Nolan Arenado would be daunting.

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The Colorado Rockies have agreed to a deal with outfielder Ian Desmond, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The deal is reportedly for five years and $70 million, according to Joel Sherman from the New York Post. It also reportedly includes a sixth-year option that, if exercised, would make the deal worth six years and $83 million.
Due the Texas Rangers offering Desmond a qualifying offer, they will receive a first-round sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2017 MLB Draft, and the Rockies lose their first-round pick, 11th overall.
What's notable is the Rockies already have David DahlGerardo ParraCharlie Blackmon, and Carlos Gonzalez in the outfield. So it comes as no surprise that Desmond is likely to play first base while seeing time in the outfield, Rosenthal reports.
Assuming the Rockies don't trade any of their outfielders, and Desmond does indeed play first base, that shrinks the market even more for Edwin Encarnacion, who would have one less suitor.
The move also does a similar job in delivering a hit to the Mark Trumbo camp.
In his lone season with the Rangers last season, Desmond made it count. After moving exclusively to the outfield for the first time in his career, he became an All-Star, slashing .285/.335/.446 with 22 home runs and 29 doubles in 156 regular-season games.

Last edited on Thu Dec 8th, 2016 12:39 am by lobo316

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A reported deal between the World Series champion Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals that picked up some steam Tuesday was made official by both clubs Wednesday.

The Royals have traded right-hander Wade Davis to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Jorge Soler.

Acquiring the 31-year-old closer Davis almost certainly puts the Cubs out of the running for free agent Aroldis Chapman, who ended the year as the team's finisher.

"That's the thought. We did this deal with the idea of putting Wade in the ninth inning," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said a press conference, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "That doesn't say we don't have confidence in the others, but one thing we learned this year is that when you play that extra month, it's hard on your bullpen. The more good relievers we can have and add multiple weapons, the better. We like all the guys we have, and hopefully that can take the burden off the seventh month."

Davis posted an ERA under 2.00 for the third consecutive season in 2016, saving 27 games in 30 opportunities for the Royals. His 45 appearances, however, were his lowest mark since 2013 when he was still a starter thanks to forearm issues.

Over his career, Davis, a two-time All-Star, owns a 55-37 record with 47 saves in 334 games.

Soler, a 24-year-old Cuban signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 2012, was blocked in a deep Chicago outfield, only appearing in 211 games over three years of major-league ball.

During his time in the bigs, Soler has shown flashes of power, hitting 27 home runs while driving in 98 in 765 plate appearances.

He'll join a Royals outfield mix that consists of Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson, and Paulo Orlando, and could also give them an option at designated hitter, with Kendrys Morales departing via free agency.

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Edwin Encarnacion doesn't appear to be getting the attention he thought he was going to get at the winter meetings.

The free-agent slugger apparently lost a suitor Wednesday, with the Texas Rangers claiming they're unable to afford the 33-year-old, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

It also appears Encarnacion won't sign a contract before the end of the winter meetings, according to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, who reports multiple teams remain interested in the power hitter.

After signing Carlos Gomez on Tuesday and right-hander Andrew Cashner in mid-November, Texas' payroll for 2017 sits at $141,400,000, according to spotrac. They've already let Carlos Beltran, Mitch Moreland, and Ian Desmond leave via free agency.

After rejecting a four-year, $80-million offer from the Toronto Blue Jays, things have been quiet for Encarnacion, who belted 42 home runs and drove in 127 runs last season.

Encarnacion and his agent Paul Kinzer are apparently in wait-and-see mode because of how the market has played out, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, who reports no team is even willing to offer three years and $60 million to acquire him at this point.

The Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees have all been linked to Encarnacion at points throughout the offseason, but with the exception of the Indians, all of those teams have already added pieces to fill potential roles where Encarnacion may fit.

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The Miami Marlins have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent left-hander Jeff Locke, pending a physical, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Terms of the deal haven't been revealed yet, though Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports it's worth about $3 million.

Over the course of his career, Locke spent all six of his major-league seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, garnering an All-Star nod in 2013.

Last year, Locke struggled, going 9-8 with a 5.44 ERA, striking out 73 batters over 127 1/3 innings of work.

The 29-year-old is expected to join Edinson Volquez, Adam Conley, Wei-Yin Chen, and Tom Koehler in the rotation.

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The Chicago White Sox are reportedly set to trade outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals in exchange for prospects Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning, and Reynaldo Lopez pending review of medicals, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN.

The haul is a big one for Chicago. Giolito is the Nationals' top prospect and the No. 3 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, while Lopez comes in at No 38. Dunning was the 29th overall pick in the 2016 draft, and is the No. 6 prospect in the Nationals' system.
Eaton, meanwhile, is coming off back-to-back strong seasons with the White Sox. He hit .284/.362/.428 with 14 home runs, 29 doubles, nine triples, and 14 stolen bases in 157 games. Eaton will likely slide into center field, allowing Washington to move Trea Turner to shortstop.
The move for the Nationals lands them the center fielder they highly coveted this winter, but likely ends any potential trade to land Andrew McCutchen.
Over the last two days, the White Sox have landed the majors' top position player prospect in Yoan Moncada and the top pitching prospect in Lucas Giolito.

Last edited on Thu Dec 8th, 2016 02:34 am by lobo316

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The Miami Marlins are reuniting A.J. Ellis with his former skipper Don Mattingly, after agreeing to a one-year, $2.5-million contract with the catcher on Wednesday, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.

Ellis, 35, spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Dodgers - and had Mattingly on the bench from 2011-15 - before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies this past August.

The veteran backstop was a big clubhouse influence in L.A. and the personal catcher - and close friend - of three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw before he was traded.

Ellis will presumably fill the backup catcher's role - behind J.T. Realmuto - left vacant when Jeff Mathis signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Over the course of nine seasons in the big leagues, Ellis owns a .239/.340/.351 with 37 home runs, 69 doubles, and 200 RBIs.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have come to a contract agreement with 39-year-old relief pitcher Fernando Rodney, Today’s Knuckleball’s Jon Heyman reports.

Rodney and the D-backs reached an agreement late Tuesday night on a deal that will pay him $2.75 million plus incentives. The D-backs expect Rodney to close, Heyman added.

Heyman first reported that Arizona and the San Diego Padres were in the running to add the right-handed reliever, who posted a 3.44 ERA with 25 saves and a 1.39 WHIP for the Padres and then the Miami Marlins last season. He pitched in 67 combined games for the two teams.

Rodney, however, was lights-out in San Diego with a 0.31 ERA through 28 appearances but struggled in Miami with a 5.89 ERA in 39 appearances.

The Diamondbacks entered winter meetings focused on building their bullpen, which could lose veteran free agent Daniel Hudson and needed a closer after trading Brad Ziegler to the Boston Red Sox. First-year general manager Mike Hazen has said the team remained “open-minded” when it came to how exactly the team would address the relief staff. He added that Arizona could be viewed as a prime landing spot considering the flexibility the team has in finding roles for veterans or young players.

Rodney is a three-time All-Star (2012, 2014, 2016) and was the saves leader in the American League in the 2014 season.

The pitcher out of the Dominican Republic is most well-known for his routine of shooting a bow and arrow after recording a save.

If Rodney indeed finalizes a deal with Arizona, he would join former Marlins teammate Jeff Mathis, who was signed by the D-backs on Monday.

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Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette really wants to clarify just how much his team doesn't want to sign Jose Bautista.

After telling Bautista's representatives that Baltimore wouldn't offer him a contract in free agency - because fans don't like him - Duquette was still at it Wednesday, reiterating how Bautista is viewed by the team's supporters.

"Well, Bautista's agent has been knocking on the Orioles' door for a while and I told him, 'Look, our fans don’t really like Jose Bautista.' And they don’t," Duquette told Dan Connolly of Baltimore Baseball.com.

"Not to mention he has a qualifying offer attached to him. I just made a comment in that we weren’t going to be pursuing their client. It’s true. The guy's a villain in Baltimore."

Taking it a step further (if that was possible), when asked if the Orioles would consider Bautista if the veteran's asking price drops, Duquette replied: "I'll have to check with the fans."

Bautista versus the Orioles has been a hot topic since he emerged as one of baseball's premier sluggers in 2010 with Toronto, thanks to countless run-ins with Orioles players and a growing rivalry between the clubs.

In terms of where Bautista will land, he's reportedly received growing interest from teams in the past few days, including the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Blue Jays. A reunion with his former team would be the cherry on top for the Baltimore-Toronto rivalry.

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Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has already moved on to the next item on his shopping list.

After acquiring outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox for three top pitching prospects on Wednesday afternoon, the Nationals are reportedly preparing to jump back into the sweepstakes for Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing All-Star closer, to shore up their ninth-inning needs, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Chapman is reportedly asking for a large contract - perhaps as much as $100 million over six years - and acquiring Eaton could ultimately help the Nationals find that money to sign the Cuban. Eaton is under contract through 2021 at a very team-friendly cost; he'll make just $4 million in 2017 and $6 million in 2018, with only the final season of the deal, on a club option, surpassing the $10-million mark.

That money saved by trading for Eaton instead of a higher-priced outfielder like Andrew McCutchen could now be put toward trying to lure Chapman to the nation's capital, where he'd potentially be the missing piece for the reigning NL East champions.

Washington has shelled out for a few free-agent mega-deals in the past, including seven-year pacts with Jayson Werth and Max Scherzer. The team is still under significant financial restraints, however, due in part to an ongoing television rights dispute.

Other suitors for Chapman, who posted a 1.55 ERA last season, include the New York Yankees, Miami Marlins, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto landed some much needed pitching depth on Wednesday, acquiring right-hander Chris Heston from the San Francisco Giants for a player to be named later.

"Adding Chris is another move in our continuing effort to build a deep and flexible pitching staff," Dipoto said, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com.

Heston emerged as a viable starter in 2015 for the Giants, posting a 3.95 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 141 strikeouts in 177 2/3 innings. He tossed the 17th no-hitter in franchise history that June, while also becoming the first rookie to achieve the feat since Clay Buchholz in 2007.

Things didn't go so well for Heston in 2016, however. The 28-year-old only threw five innings in the majors, allowing six runs off nine hits and six walks. He spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Sacramento, going 2-9 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 81 1/3 innings, missing nearly two months with an oblique injury.

The Mariners have been in the market for a starter since trading Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks late last month.

To make room for Heston on the 40-man roster, Seattle designated first baseman Richie Shaffer for assignment.

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Aroldis Chapman is returning to the Bronx.

The New York Yankees and the All-Star closer reportedly reunited on Wednesday night by agreeing to a reported five-year, $86-million contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It would be the largest contract ever handed out to a reliever, breaking the previous record of four years and $62 million, set just two days ago by Mark Melancon and the Giants.

Chapman's contract will also include a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the deal, a limited no-trade list during the last two years, and an opt-out clause after Year 3 in 2019, reports Rosenthal. In addition, Chapman cannot be dealt to any team in the state of California at any time, according to ESPN's Marly Rivera.

Chapman revealed late Wednesday night that his decision came down to New York and the Miami Marlins, who reportedly made a big push for the flame-throwing Cuban. In the end, the pull of returning to Yankee Stadium - where he spent part of last season before a deadline deal to the Chicago Cubs - won out.

"Every player dreams of being a Yankee, and if they don't it's because they never got the chance," Chapman told Rivera. "I love the (Yankees) organization. They welcomed me with open arms and that's why I decided to go back, I was hoping I had a chance to go back and it happened."

The Yankees first acquired Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds last winter for four minor leaguers. After opening the season with a 30-game suspension for a domestic violence incident, the 28-year-old posted a 2.01 ERA, recorded 20 saves, and struck out 44 batters to just eight walks as part of a three-headed bullpen monster with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.

The trade that sent him to the Cubs at the deadline brought four prospects back to New York, including second baseman Gleyber Torres, who's now the team's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Both sides benefited from that transaction: While New York got a head start on its rebuild and acquired several promising young players, Chapman solidified the Cubs' bullpen down the stretch and played a major role in the franchise's first World Series championship in 108 years.

In seven big-league seasons, Chapman owns a 2.08 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 636 strikeouts, and 182 saves. The Cuban has made four All-Star appearances, all of them coming with Cincinnati.

In addition to the Marlins, the Los Angeles Dodgers were also chasing Chapman's services, while the Washington Nationals reportedly made a late entry into the derby on Wednesday.

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OXON HILL, Md. - A hundred dollars can still go a long way in baseball.

This week, the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers made a trade involving two big leaguers, two minor leaguers and a player to be named later or cash.

The amount? Yep, $100.

Less than daily meal money for guys in the bigs last season. Far less than the price of a box seat at many ballparks.

In a multibillion-dollar sport where $100 million contracts are becoming common, it looked like a misprint. Instead, it was right on the money.

Major League Baseball rules require an alternate cash consideration to be listed for deals that involve a player to be named, just in case something goes awry. Could be $50,000, maybe more.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in this case, he and Milwaukee general manager David Stearns were sure there would be no problems. So they just wrote down any old amount.

Well, almost.

''They usually don't like when you make it $1,'' Dombrowski said Wednesday, smiling, ''so we made it $100.''

That made things official - Boston got reliever Tyler Thornburg, and Milwaukee received infielder Travis Shaw, a pair of minor leaguers, and a player to be named or that $100.

The winter meetings this week featured far more pricey transactions, with closer Aroldis Chapman agreeing to an $86 million deal with the Yankees and reliever Mark Melancon getting $62 million from the Giants. Recently, slugger Yoenis Cespedes got $110 million from the Mets.

But last year, there actually were at least two deals for just $1. Often, such moves are done as a courtesy.

The Mets paid San Diego a dollar on May 28 for first baseman James Loney, who was stuck in Triple-A for the Padres but had a chance to play regularly in New York.

On Sept. 22, Pittsburgh needed a reliever for a week-plus and gave $1 to the Yankees for Phil Coke. It was a worthy move - for those four quarters, the Pirates got four scoreless innings.

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After watching John Lackey and Jason Heyward sign with the division rival Chicago Cubs last winter, the St. Louis Cardinals have returned the favor.

The Cardinals reportedly agreed to a deal with free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler on Thursday, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Heyman adds the deal could fall in the five-year range, valued between $80-$90 million. The Cardinals are believed to have gone over-the-top with an offer in order to outbid the Toronto Blue Jays. Both teams reportedly submitted four-year, $60-million offers earlier this month.

Fowler, who arrived in St. Louis late Thursday to undergo his physical, is coming off one of the best seasons of his nine-year career, highlighted by his first All-Star appearance and capped off with a World Series win. He slashed .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 25 doubles, and 13 stolen bases in 125 games with the Cubs.

Once the deal is complete, the Cardinals will be forced to surrender their first-round pick as compensation after Fowler rejected a $17.2-million qualifying offer from the Cubs.

Fowler adds a blend of speed and strong defense to the Cardinals roster, and will likely slide into the leadoff spot, while also being deployed in center field.

The Cardinals finished 86-76 last season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

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The Chicago Cubs have transformed the back end of their bullpen in the span of two days.

After landing All-Star closer Wade Davis from the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, the Cubs reportedly agreed to a deal with right-hander Koji Uehara on Thursday, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Terms have yet to be announced, though it's believed to be a one-year contract between $4 million and $6 million.

Despite his age - Uehara turns 42 in April - the veteran reliever remains one of the top bullpen arms in the majors. He posted a 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 291 strikeouts over four seasons in Boston, while also anchoring the bullpen during its 2013 World Series win.

After serving as the Red Sox closer for parts of three seasons, Uehara transitioned into a setup role in 2016 following Boston's acquisition of Craig Kimbrel. Uehara's numbers took a bit of a dip, but he still managed to craft a 3.45 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 63 strikeouts over 47 innings. Though he missed seven weeks with a pectoral strain in July and August, he returned to throw 11 scoreless innings to finish the season.

Uehara will likely slide into a setup role again with the Cubs, alongside either Hector Rondon or Carl Edwards Jr.

The Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Red Sox all reportedly expressed interest in Uehara this winter.

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The Atlanta Braves traded right-hander Tyrell Jenkins and left-handed relief prospect Brady Feigl to the Texas Rangers in exchange for right-hander Luke Jackson on Thursday.

Jackson was the No. 16 prospect in the Rangers' system. The 2010 first-rounder made eight appearances with Texas last season out of the bullpen, allowing 14 runs (four home runs) in 11 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old has battled control issues throughout his career, but does own a fastball that sits in the mid-to-high 90s.

Jenkins posted a 5.88 ERA and 1.69 WHIP across 14 appearances (eight starts) for the Braves last season. The 24-year-old former first-round pick fared much better with Triple-A Gwinnett, going 3-4 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 45 1/3 innings.

Feigl underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2015 and tossed just six innings in rookie ball last season. The 24-year-old went undrafted out of college and owns a 2.74 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings over three minor-league seasons in the minors.

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After listening to a number of offers he's received for Chase Headley, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman conceded he'll hang onto the third baseman.

"I've turned down what was presented to me," Cashman told reporters, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. "I don't think there are going to be any other opportunities that way (for) the time being."

Cashman has been listening to offers for the last several weeks on both Headley and veteran outfielder Brett Gardner, who is still a candidate to be traded.

"I'm still getting hits on (Gardner)," Cashman said. "But the Headley stuff, I've decided to pass on and keep Chase."

Headley is coming off a year in which he hit .253/.331/.385 with 14 home runs and 18 doubles in 140 games. The 32-year-old is owed $26 million over the next two seasons.

Gardner, meanwhile, hit .261/.351/.362 with seven home runs, 22 doubles, and 16 stolen bases in 148 games, while also earning his first career Gold Glove. He's owed $24 million over the next two seasons, with a $12.5-million team option for 2019.

With Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Judge, Matt Holliday, Aaron Hicks, and Tyler Austin all capable of playing the outfield, the Yankees could move Gardner to shed payroll.

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Some would classify the Chicago White Sox as winners at the winter meetings.

By giving up Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, the team reeled in six prospects, all of whom are now top 10 prospects within the White Sox organization.

One of them is pitcher Lucas Giolito, who was shipped over in the Eaton deal from the Washington Nationals.

"It's amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said during a conference call Friday, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "It's a great opportunity for us all to develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago."

Washington also traded away right-handers Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, now the No. 4 and No. 10 prospects, respectively, in Chicago.

In the Sale deal, the Boston Red Sox sent over baseball's No. 1 prospect, Yoan Moncada, along with Michael Kopech and Luis Basabe, who are now No. 3 and No. 9 in the White Sox system.

Last season, Giolito got four starts in the majors, and struggled to the tune of a 6.75 ERA over 21 1/3 innings of work. The 22-year-old said his mechanics were out of sorts, even when he was doing well.

"So this year, with my training program, I've been lifting in the offseason and Pilates and everything," he said. "I'm trying to make sure I can stay as athletic as possible so I'm able to keep the right delivery more often.

"Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks and right before spring training, make sure I put that all together so I can keep my delivery as best as possible."

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Dexter Fowler is officially a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and was introduced at a press conference on Friday morning after signing a five-year, $82.5-million contract.

When Fowler steps to the plate as the presumed leadoff hitter atop the Cardinals' lineup on April 2 against his former team, the Chicago Cubs, the 30-year-old will be wearing a new number.

Fowler, who wore No. 24 for five seasons as a member of the Colorado Rockies as well as last season for the Cubs, will instead wear No. 25 for the Cardinals as a way to honor his mentor, Barry Bonds, who has helped him with his hitting approach since 2013.

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Minnesota Twins minor leaguer Yorman Landa died Friday in Venezuela. He was 22 years old.

Landa was killed in a car accident, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.

Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey issued the following statement:

The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss of Yorman Landa early this morning in Venezuela. On behalf of the entire baseball community, we send out sincerest condolences to the Landa family as well as Yorman's many friends, coaches and teammates.

Landa, a pitcher, has been with the organization since signing in 2010 as a 16-year-old.

He was ranked the Twins' 20th overall prospect by MLB.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Yorman Landa, #MNTwins @MiLB pitcher who tragically passed away last night in Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/kEbwu57ksC

— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) December 10, 2016

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A former New York Yankees executive is selling his World Series rings.

Felix Lopez is the estranged husband of Yankees co-owner Jessica Steinbrenner, a daughter of late owner George Steinbrenner.

The auction house Hess Fine Art said Friday the six Series rings and league championship rings will go on sale online Wednesday at invaluable.com.

Lopez was a Yankees senior vice president from 2005-09. He then was an executive vice president until this year. He was in charge of daily operations at the team's spring training home and minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.

Jessica Steinbrenner and Lopez married in 2004. She filed a divorce petition in July in Florida and the matter is pending. She was granted a protective order Tuesday.

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The Minnesota Twins selected right-hander Miguel Diaz with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, later trading him to the San Diego Padres for a player yet to be named or cash considerations.

Diaz, 22, was taken from the Milwaukee Brewers organization, and spent the 2016 campaign in Single-A, posting a 1-8 record with a 3.71 ERA across 26 appearances, including 15 starts.

Diaz must be kept on the 25-man major-league roster for the entirety of the 2017 season, or he'll be offered back to the Brewers.

Any player picked in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft now costs the selecting team $100,000, which is a bump up from the previous amount of $50,000.

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Daniel Nava is hoping to continue his major-league career in the City of Brotherly Love.

The veteran outfielder reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, a source told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava has bounced around the majors following a successful five-year stint with the Boston Red Sox in which he hit .267/.357/.387 with 23 home runs and 87 doubles over 424 games.

The 33-year-old split last season between the Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals, appearing in just 54 games, hitting .223/.297/.292 with one home run and six doubles. Nava is capable of playing both corner outfield positions, in addition to first base, and could find a role on the Phillies' bench to open the season.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have been the target of intense criticism from fans this winter amid rumors that franchise face Andrew McCutchen is on the trading block, but team president Frank Coonelly doesn't want to hear that kind of talk anymore.
While speaking to fans at the team's annual "PirateFest" event on Saturday, Coonelly was asked if the team cares more about making money than they do winning, eliciting a rather harsh rebuke from the executive.
"I'm so tired of that narrative," he responded, according to Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "The narrative that we don't care about winning is just flat wrong. It's offensive, too."
The so-called narrative of the Pirates' thin-spending ways began to rear its head again earlier this summer. Though the 2016 club had the highest payroll in team history (a little over $99 million) coming off a third straight playoff appearance, eyebrows were raised at the trade deadline when Francisco Liriano - the team's highest-paid player - and his entire salary were sent to Toronto along with two highly regarded prospects for arbitration-eligible pitcher Drew Hutchison. The Pirates then slumped down the stretch to their first losing season in four years.
Once the offseason rolled around and the McCutchen trade rumors heated up - the Pirates reportedly believed they had a deal to send him to Washington - the team's front office took even more heat from the fans. McCutchen is still a Pirate for at least two more years, though, and he appeared at PirateFest on Saturday, where he said he's glad to still be in Pittsburgh.
Related: McCutchen not optimistic he'll end career with Pirates
While Coonelly didn't mention the McCutchen rumors specifically, he scoffed at the notion that moving toward a rebuild and possibly dealing the face of the franchise means the team is only focused on the bank books.
"As (manager Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington) can explain to you, as my wife sitting out there can explain to you, there's nobody more competitive than the three men up on stage," Coonelly said. "And there is nothing more that anyone can do for you - not for us - than to win a World Series championship here in Pittsburgh.
"That's why I get up every single morning - to do that. It's not about profiting. It's about putting together a winning team, allocating resources to the major-league team to win a championship here in Pittsburgh."

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ELIZABETH, N.J. - A former Major League Baseball pitcher has hung up his jersey and become a police officer.
Anthony Varvaro graduated from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police academy on Friday.
He was a relief pitcher for the Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves, and Seattle Mariners from 2010 to 2015. He went 7-9 in six seasons before an arm injury sidelined him for most of 2015.
The 32-year-old from New York graduated in a ceremony in Elizabeth along with 79 others.
The Port Authority Police Department patrols the New York region's airports, tunnels, bridges and a transit system.
Friday's graduating class includes 46 New Yorkers, 33 new officers from New Jersey and one moving from Florida. Nine of the recruits have served in the military.

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Following two full years of irrelevance, Pablo Sandoval is ready to get his career back on track with the Boston Red Sox.

After winning three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants and becoming a fan favorite in the Bay Area, Sandoval left for greener pastures in 2014, signing a five-year, $95-million deal with the Red Sox to become the team's starting third baseman.

The 30-year-old has appeared in only 129 games since due to rapid weight gain and a shoulder injury that led to surgery. He admits complacency and feeling too self-satisfied plagued him after the big contract.

"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval told ESPN Deportes, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."

Sandoval's value as a baseball player - when healthy and committed - is clear. From 2009-14 with the Giants, he posted a 19.8 WAR and hit 292/.345/.464. This stretch also included a remarkable 2012 postseason, where he slashed .364/.386/.712 to earn World Series MVP honors.

Sandoval missed all but three games this past season rehabbing from shoulder surgery. After embarking on a strict diet and training program, he's reportedly down to 17 percent body fat, entering 2017 healthy and ready to play. With Travis Shaw now in Milwaukee, third base is Panda's job to lose, and he hopes to get the Red Sox faithful on his side once again.

Pablo Sandoval preparado para su 'renacimiento' en 2017 https://t.co/3sIHD4tyav pic.twitter.com/EyI4KyaM4l

— Hugo (@hcrespn) December 8, 2016
"I certainly get (the criticism). I understand all the frustration (fans) must have felt, and I can't hold any grudges," Sandoval said.

"I have no ill will about anything. Actually the opposite. It was another lesson for me. It fueled me. It gave me the courage to work harder every day so one day I can be a part of another Boston Red Sox championship."

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The Los Angeles Angels have found their second baseman.

Los Angeles acquired infielder Danny Espinosa from the Washington Nationals in exchange for right-handers Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin, the teams confirmed Saturday night.

The trade ends a brief stand-off between the Nationals and Espinosa, who was reportedly angered by the team's trade for outfielder Adam Eaton earlier in the week. Eaton will likely be slotted in as the team's center fielder, while Trea Turner will move to his natural position of shortstop full-time. That combination would have forced Espinosa, the team's starting shortstop in 2016, into a utility role next year.

So upset was Espinosa that he skipped Saturday's Nationals WinterFest - held just hours before the trade was announced - in disgust, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post.

Now, Espinosa - a native of Orange County who grew up an Angels fan - will get a starting job again in Anaheim, likely at second base thanks to the presence of Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. The 29-year-old has experience at the keystone, having played 522 games there over his career; he was the Nationals' starting second baseman from 2011-13 before shifting into a utility role, and then moving to short permanently last year.

In 2016, Espinosa hit .209/.306/.378 with a career-high 24 home runs and 72 RBIs while striking out 174 times and walking 54 over 157 games for the NL East champion Nationals. He owns a .690 OPS, 92 homers, 60 stolen bases, and 285 RBIs over his seven-year career, spent entirely in Washington.

Espinosa is projected to make $5.3 million in his final year of arbitration next season, according to MLB Trade Rumors. He was paid $2.875 million last year.

Adams, 25, complied a 3.05 ERA and averaged over 13 strikeouts per nine innings over 32 relief appearances with Double-A Arkansas this past year. The former eighth-round pick had been added to the Angels' 40-man roster earlier this winter.

McGowin, the Angels' No. 20 prospect per MLB Pipeline, spent the majority of 2016 with Triple-A Salt Lake, where he struggled in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The 25-year-old posted a 5.83 ERA, 1.556 WHIP, and 130 strikeouts to 55 walks in 27 starts split between Double-A and Triple-A.

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WASHINGTON - Stephen Strasburg thinks relying too much on his new slider put stress on his pitching arm and contributed to the injury problems that sidelined him during the second half of last season and the playoffs.

''I fell in love with it,'' the Washington Nationals right-hander said Sunday at the team's annual fan festival, ''because it was working, especially the first half. I mean, it was a quick out.''

Strasburg threw sliders on 17.1 percent of his pitches last season, according to Fangraphs, more than changeups (13.1 percent) or curveballs (12.6). He said that because the slider was not a pitch he was used to throwing, he had trouble delivering it exactly the same way each time.

That altered his motion, and the fact that he went with the slider more often than he should have, he believes, led to a tendon issue in his right elbow - although one that is now resolved, he said.

''I had a new pitch, and I probably abused it. So I need to go back to what I've thrown much longer,'' said Strasburg, sporting a thick beard.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, now 28, had Tommy John surgery in 2011, then was shut down by the Nationals late in 2012 to protect his repaired elbow. This season, he started 13-0 with a 2.51 ERA, and in the midst of that stretch signed a $175 million, seven-year contract.

He went on the DL with elbow soreness in August, then made one more start before being out again.

Strasburg's final 2016 numbers: 15-4 with a 3.60 ERA and 183 strikeouts in only 147 2/3 innings.

His biggest takeaway? He said he plans to ''do everything I can to make the adjustments to stay healthy for the whole season next year.''

To that end, pitching coach Mike Maddux mentioned that he thinks Strasburg might opt for a tweaked between-starts throwing program in 2017.

''We're going to sit down with him and discuss it,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said, noting that Strasburg had been in town to meet with the team's medical staff and strength and conditioning staff.

''Through spring training,'' Rizzo added, ''we'll devise a workout program to handle the forearm soreness.''

Strasburg will start his offseason throwing, as usual, in late December or early January. Until then, strengthening his forearm is key.

''I did stuff like that in the past, but it wasn't as much as I'm doing right now,'' he said. ''When you get older and you've had Tommy John, you've got to kind of tweak it a little bit, because the muscles in your arm are just going to maybe change a little bit. I've just got to make more of an emphasis on slowing everything down and just making the most of the exercises.''

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Mike Rizzo is an honest man.

The Washington Nationals general manager discussed the trade that sent shortstop Danny Espinosa to the Los Angeles Angels - who skipped Nationals Winterfest due to his displeasure over the team shifting Trea Turner to shortstop following the acquisition of center fielder Adam Eaton.

"He is what he is," Rizzo said of Espinosa, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN. "He’s a good major league player that’s got power, speed. Good defensive player. Plays every day. Played hard. Gave it 100 percent every time out there. I have no beef or problem with Danny Espinosa. Never had, and still consider him a good player that gave everything he had every time he played."

The Nationals' search for an upgrade in the outfield was extensive, having been consistently linked to Andrew McCutchen before working out a blockbuster deal to acquire Eaton, who posted a 6.2 WAR and above average defense in center field (20 defensive runs saved). Turner, meanwhile, came into the majors as a shortstop but ended up transitioning to center field last season, starting 44 games at the position.

Espinosa, it seems, was the odd man out as Eaton is expected to be the team's everyday center fielder in 2017 while Turner, a finalist for NL Rookie of the Year who hit .342/.370/.567, returns to his original position.

"I’ve been with Espi for a long time. I knew he’d be frustrated with the bench role," Rizzo said. "But to upgrade ourselves in center field with that type of player, we felt it was important to get Trea back to his natural position of shortstop."

Espinosa started 152 games at short for the Nationals this season and provided the team with some power, hitting 24 home runs and 72 RBIs - both career highs. However, he is expected to be the Angels' everyday second baseman with Gold Glove winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons at shortstop.

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The Seattle Mariners have cleared a logjam in their bullpen with a little help from some friends overseas.

Seattle will reportedly sell flame-throwing reliever Arquimedes Caminero to the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Caminero has already agreed to a deal with the Giants, who are often regarded as Japan's version of the Yankees.

The move would open up a spot on the 40-man roster for the Mariners while also allowing Caminero to move on without losing him to another major-league team. Although not yet eligible for arbitration, Caminero would be out of options in 2017, and likely wouldn't have made it through waivers if the Mariners tried to sneak him through. He also faced an uphill battle for a bullpen job in 2017, with several hard-throwing right-handers, including Nick Vincent and Steve Cishek, already guaranteed relief spots ahead of him.

Caminero was acquired by Seattle from the Pittsburgh Pirates in August for two minor leaguers. The 29-year-old pitched reasonably well after the trade, posting a 3.66 ERA and striking out 18 batters in 19 2/3 innings for Seattle, but walked 11 batters and made just five appearances for the Mariners in September.

He's probably best known for his blazing fastball, which averaged 98 mph in 2016 and hit speeds above 100 mph nine times last season, according to MLB.com.

Caminero leaves the majors having compiled a 3.83 ERA, 1.400 WHIP, and 143 strikeouts over 149 appearances with the Mariners, Pirates, and Miami Marlins.

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New York Mets reliever Jeurys Familia has been given the go-ahead by the team to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic for the Gigantes del Cibao, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.com.

Familia was arrested Oct. 31 on a domestic violence charge in Fort Lee, N.J. and recently pleaded not guilty to a charge of simple assault. The 27-year-old is set to appear in court Dec. 15 where the charge is expected to be dropped.

Familia has requested representation by lawyer Jay Reisenger, who was also the attorney for Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban closer who was allegedly involved in a domestic abuse dispute with his girlfriend on Dec. 7 of last year. Chapman was eventually suspended by MLB for 30 games.

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Juan Lagares' winter-ball season is off to the worst of starts.

The New York Mets center fielder, who's spending his winter playing for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican winter league, reportedly injured his shoulder attempting a diving catch on Sunday, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The injury, apparently suffered when Lagares landed on his shoulder, forced him to leave the game.

Lagares underwent an X-ray afterward, which came back negative, reports ESPN's Adam Rubin. Still, the injury was deemed concerning by the Mets, to the point that the 27-year-old is returning to New York for further examination, per Rubin.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told Davidoff he hopes to have more information by Monday.

Lagares, the 2014 NL Gold Glove winner in center field, posted a .682 OPS and played just 79 games for the Mets in 2016 due to a torn thumb ligament that required surgery in May. When he returned to action in late September, Lagares was relegated to the role of defensive replacement, thanks in part to the presence of Jay Bruce (acquired at the trade deadline), and the resulting logjam of outfielders.

The Mets are currently trying to free up more outfield space after Yoenis Cespedes re-signed with the team earlier this month. Assuming Lagares' health holds up, he's expected to play a major role in the Mets' outfield next season alongside Cespedes and either Bruce or Curtis Granderson.

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Hours after reportedly repatriating Kenley Jansen, the Los Angeles Dodgers have apparently brought Justin Turner back to Chavez Ravine as well, reportedly agreeing to a four-year, $64-million deal with the third baseman, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Turner is the latest Dodgers free agent to return to the team. Jansen agreed to come back on a reported five-year, $80-million deal Monday, while left-handerRich Hill inked a three-year, $48-million contract during the winter meetings. All told, the Dodgers have reportedly shelled out $192 million to retain the trio.
By bringing Turner back into the fold, Los Angeles will retain one of its lone right-handed power threats in 2016. The Dodgers struggled against southpaws last season, posting a mediocre .213/.290/.332 line with just 37 homers compared to .264/.331/.441 versus righties.
Turner, a Long Beach native who played college baseball at Cal State-Fullerton, resuscitated his career after landing in Los Angeles three years ago following failed stints with the Orioles and Mets. The 32-year-old has hit .296/.364/.492 with 50 home runs as a Dodger; last season he set career highs in homers (27), doubles (34), and runs scored (79) while playing over 150 games for the first time.
Across eight big-league seasons, Turner owns a .282/.348/.439 slash line with 58 homers, 138 doubles, and 282 RBIs. He's also been at his best in October, owning a 1.078 OPS in 18 postseason games since 2014.
The St. Louis Cardinals had reportedly been in pursuit of Turner earlier this offseason.

Last edited on Tue Dec 13th, 2016 02:11 am by lobo316

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He loves L.A.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly retained Kenley Jansen by agreeing to a five-year, $80-million deal with the closer, according to multiple reports. If completed, it will be the second-largest deal for a closer ever, behind Aroldis Chapman's reported $86-million deal with the Yankees from last week.

Jansen will be able to opt out of the deal after three years, reports Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown, citing sources.

The Miami Marlins were also pursuing Jansen and reportedly made him a five-year offer that exceeded $80 million once they missed out on Chapman. The Washington Nationals jumped into the sweepstakes late as well, reportedly making Jansen a bigger offer than the one he accepted from the Dodgers, sources told ESPN's Marly Rivera.

The 29-year-old is coming off a career season that saw him post a 1.83 ERA and save 47 games en route to his first career All-Star appearance and Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award.

In addition to the apparent agreement with Jansen, the Dodgers are also reportedly close to bringing back third baseman Justin Turner, according to Rosenthal.

If Turner's deal - expected to be four years in length, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi - gets done, Los Angeles will retain one of its lone right-handed power threats in 2016. The team reportedly extended an offer to Turner over the weekend that's believed to have been in the four-year, $64-million range, and there was optimism around Chavez Ravine that he'd accept the offer.

Turner, a native of Long Beach who played college baseball at Cal State-Fullerton, resuscitated his career after landing in Los Angeles three years ago following failed stints with the Orioles and Mets. The 32-year-old has hit .296/.364/.492 with 50 home runs as a Dodger; last season he set career highs in homers (27), doubles (34), and runs scored (79) while playing over 150 games for the first time.

The St. Louis Cardinals had also been in pursuit of Turner.

Turner and Jansen will be the latest members of the 2016 Dodgers to re-sign with the club after exploring free agency. During the winter meetings, the team brought left-hander Rich Hill back on a three-year, $48-million contract. All told, the Dodgers have reportedly shelled out $192 million to retain the trio long term.

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At the end of the day, Kenley Jansen wanted to go home.

The All-Star closer reportedly agreed to a five-year, $80-million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, meaning Jansen will return to the only team he's ever known. But the Washington Nationals appear to have tried their very best to prevent that from happening.

In desperate need of a closer, Washington was apparently ready to throw some serious cash at Jansen in order to lure him to the nation's capital. The team was reportedly willing to beat the Dodgers' offer by at least $5 million, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

That Nationals offer did contain deferrals, reports Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post, a move that's been used by the franchise as part of other large free-agent signings. Deferred money was a big part of Max Scherzer's $210-million deal with the club in 2015.

Ultimately, Jansen agreed to take what's still the second-largest contract ever given to a reliever to return to Los Angeles, but the Nationals appear to have left a mark on the Curacaoan during negotiations.

"The Nationals' presentation was exceptional and generous and for more money," Jansen's agent, Adam Katz, told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "They conducted recruitment of this player in a high caliber professional way. Kenley and I were very impressed.

"At the end of the day Kenley loves Los Angeles, his Dodger family, the fans here, and although money was a factor, it wasn't the most important thing."

Jansen's rejection of the Nationals continues what's been an up-and-down offseason for the NL East champions. Though they swung a big deal at the winter meetings to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox - at a very steep cost - the Nationals watched helplessly as midseason acquisition Mark Melancon jumped to the Giants, then failed in their attempt to replace him with both Jansen and Aroldis Chapman. They also swinged and missed in their attempts to trade for superstars Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen.

With Jansen, Chapman, and Melancon off the market, the Nationals' options to fill their ninth-inning role could include free agent Greg Holland - the former All-Star who's coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2015 - or another trade, perhaps for high-priced White Sox reliever David Robertson.

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Maybe Adam Eaton should go into the memorabilia business if this whole baseball thing doesn't pan out.

The former Chicago White Sox outfielder - now a member of the Washington Nationals after a trade during the winter meetings - seems to have a keen eye for baseball valuables. How else to explain his actions in July, when his now ex-teammate Chris Sale famously protested having to wear a 1976 throwback White Sox jersey for a start by cutting up all 25 uniforms before the game.

Eaton revealed Monday that, thanks to his quick hands, Sale's scissors missed at least one of those infamous throwbacks.

"I think I may have the only one that didn't get cut up," Eaton said to CSN Chicago's Chuck Garfien on the "White Sox Talk" podcast. "I secretly yanked mine down when he wasn't looking, and as of right now I think - besides the coaches; the coaches are one thing - but I want to know for sure that I'm the only player that didn't get his cut up."

Eaton added that the jersey - sitting in a box in his basement - has been authenticated, meaning it's probably worth a lot of money as is. But don't go thinking you'll get the chance to buy it at an auction down the road; on the contrary, it seems Eaton has big plans for his most prized possession the next time he and Sale cross paths.

"Whenever (the Nationals) visit Boston, I know it's a quick drive away, I'm gonna definitely see if I can't get his signature and maybe an explanation on the jersey," he continued. "It's definitely gonna go downstairs in my cave."

Sounds like a cut-and-dry plan to us.

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The Atlanta Braves have reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with left-hander John Danks, who sat out the majority of 2016 after being released by the Chicago White Sox in April, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Danks will make $1.5 million if he reaches the majors in 2017, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Danks was designated for assignment by the South Siders just one month into the season, after posting a 7.25 ERA and allowing over 11 hits per nine innings across four starts. The 31-year-old did not go to the minors after the DFA, and didn't sign with another team after being granted his outright release. Instead, Danks stayed home for the rest of the year.

Even if he begins the 2017 season in the minors, Danks will give the Braves another veteran arm to call upon should their young pitchers flounder. With that in mind, the Braves have already added other veteran arms this winter, inking 42-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and 43-year-old Bartolo Colon to one-year deals.

A former ninth overall pick of the Texas Rangers in 2003, Danks has spent his entire 10-year big-league career in a White Sox uniform. He owns a 79-104 record, 4.38 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 1,102 strikeouts across 247 starts.

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The San Diego Padres have reportedly agreed to a $3-million deal with 6-foot-8 Cuban pitching prospect Michel Baez, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Baez, 20, is not ranked on MLB Pipleine's top 30 international prospects list.

Baez last pitched in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional, in 2014. In 16 relief appearances split between Pinar del Rio and Mayabeque, he recorded a 5.22 ERA, struck out 17, and also walked 17 in 29 1/3 innings. The towering right-hander, who weighs 230 pounds, throws a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, per MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez; he's also developing a breaking pitch, according to Lin.

It's possible Baez could make his professional debut in Single-A next season, per Lin.

When in Cuba, Baez was a teammate of recent Padres signees Jorge Ona and Ronald Bolanos on the country's Under-18 team.

The Padres are already over their allotted cap on the international spending market for the 2016-17 signing period, even when taking into account the $5.75-million hard cap from baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. Because they went over the limit, the Padres will be taxed on Baez's contract, and prohibited from signing any player for more than $300,000 during the next international period.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Rays have finalized a two-year, $12.5 million contract with free agent catcher Wilson Ramos.

The signing announced Monday provides the 29-year-old, who's recovering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an opportunity to earn an additional $5.75 million in incentives.

Ramos was a NL all-star last season with the Washington Nationals, batting .307 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs in 131 games. He's expected to return from his knee injury at some point next summer.

Senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said the team is excited about what Ramos potentially adds on both offense and defense, adding that when healthy ''Ramos is one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.''

The Rays cleared room on the 40-man roster by designating catcher Justin O'Conner for assignment.

Ramos made his major league debut with Minnesota in 2010. He was dealt to the Nationals at the trade deadline that season and has batted .269 with 83 homers and 321 RBIs over portions of seven major league seasons.

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The Los Angeles Angels have acquired catcher Martin Maldonado and minor-league pitcher Drew Gagnon from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for backstop Jett Bandy, the teams announced Tuesday.

Maldonado slashed .202/.332/.351 in 76 games with the Brewers last season. It's unclear if he's pegged to start ahead of Carlos Perez behind the plate in Los Angeles.

Bandy, meanwhile, is coming off his first full season in MLB after appearing in two games for the Angels in 2015. The 26-year-old recorded a .234/.281/.392 slash line across 70 games this past season.

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If Jose Bautista is to return to the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason, he'll have to do so by taking a significant discount.

The Blue Jays reportedly remain unwilling to offer the free-agent slugger more than the one-year, $17.2-million qualifying offer that he declined from the club in November, industry sources told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.

It was reported earlier this week that the Blue Jays and Bautista's agent have remained in contact as the market for the six-time All-Star has been slow to develop.

Bautista is said to be seeking a two-year deal and had been hopeful that he would receive one from the Boston Red Sox; however, the club told Bautista's representatives that they would not surpass the luxury tax threshold in order to do so.

There is a need for the Blue Jays to add an outfielder after missing out on signing Dexter Fowler, but the team seems more inclined to collect the draft pick attached to Bautista rather than sign him to a new deal. Under the new terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Blue Jays can't issue Bautista another qualifying offer should they re-sign him.

Bautista spent the last nine seasons in Toronto, hitting .261/.382/.528 with 265 home runs and 701 RBIs in 1,078 games. He ranks ninth all time in franchise history in games played and hits, fifth in RBIs, third in OPS, and second in home runs.

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The Windy City is now the high-five city.

Right-handed reliever Koji Uehara is the newest member of the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs after reportedly agreeing to a one-year, $6-million deal on Wednesday, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

It was reported last week that the two sides had agreed to a deal, though the terms were not disclosed. Rogers adds that Uehara took less money to come to Chicago.

Uehara was one of the top relievers on the free-agent market as he remains highly effective despite entering his age 42 season. The eight-year veteran owns a 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 7.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the last four seasons with the Boston Red Sox wherein he also converted 79 saves.

While Uehara's been mostly durable throughout his career, a pair of injuries have interrupted his last two seasons. He suffered a broken right wrist in August 2015 after being hit by a line drive, and missed time last season with a strained pectoral.

The addition of Uehara now gives Joe Maddon three relievers with closer experience alongside Wade Davis and Hector Rondon.

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NEW YORK - Infielder Ruben Tejada has agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees and will report to big league spring training.

The 27-year-old, who split last season between St. Louis and San Francisco, would get a $1.35 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster. He is guaranteed $75,000 under Monday's agreement.

Tejada signed with the New York Mets in 2006 and played for the big league team from 2010-15. He hit .261 with 23 doubles, three homers and 28 RBIs in 2015; Tejada's season ended when the Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley broke his right leg with a takeout slide in the NL Division Series.

Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training this year, and he signed with St. Louis. He hit .176 in 23 games with the Cardinals, was released June 1 and signed with the Giants 2 1/2 weeks later. Tejada batted .156 in 13 games with San Francisco, was demoted to Triple-A on Aug. 2 and hit .301 in 40 games at Sacramento.

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Major League Baseball owners have reportedly ratified the new collective bargaining agreement by a 29-1 vote, one person with knowledge told the Associated Press.

Tampa Bay Rays managing partner Stuart Sternberg was the lone person to vote against the CBA.

The league and the Players' Association reached an agreement on a tentative deal for a new CBA on Nov. 30 just hours before the deadline. There were no overwhelming changes, though there were alterations to draft-pick compensation, the luxury-tax threshold, international signing bonuses, and the elimination of the All-Star Game affecting home-field advantage in the World Series.

The CBA also needs ratification from the players, who will hold their own separate vote.

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New York Yankees pitching prospect Alexander Figueredo was shot and killed during a party in his native Venezuela last month, the team confirmed to the New York Daily News on Tuesday.

Figueredo was 20 years old.

Venezuelan news outlet Notitarde first reported Figueredo's death in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

According to Notitarde's report, as translated by the Daily News, Figueredo was shot at a party in Guacara, a town about two hours west of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on Nov. 27.

Figueredo, a left-handed pitcher, spent his lone professional season with the Yankees' Rookie League affiliate in the Dominican Summer League in 2015, going 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 52 strikeouts to 22 walks over 57 innings and 11 starts.

He did not pitch in the organization this year for reasons that remain disputed. The Yankees have claimed Figueredo was given a season-long suspension for undisclosed reasons, according to George A. King III of the New York Post, while Notitarde's report claimed he was injured.

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Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement was signed, sealed, and approved by both owners and players on Wednesday. The Players' Association unanimously ratified their end, but only 29 of the 30 owners voted in favor of the new CBA.


That lone dissenting vote came from the Tampa Bay Rays, where owner Stu Sternberg chose to vote "no" due to several aspects of the new agreement that left the team unsatisfied.

"I am thankful for the hard work, leadership, and spirit of compromise that were essential to this agreement coming together," Sternberg said in a statement to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "However, twice a decade, the bargaining process provides an opportunity to address the extraordinary and widening competitive gap that exists on-field between higher and lower revenue clubs. I feel that opportunity was missed here.''

One specific area of concern for Sternberg is around MLB's June amateur draft, where he would have liked to see changes made to the format. The Rays finished 2016 with baseball's lowest payroll at a little over $71 million, and routinely field one of the two or three lowest payrolls in the sport. As such, the small-market team relies heavily on the draft to develop homegrown talent instead of spending copious amounts of money on high-end free agents.

But the Rays' draft slot has landed behind their big-money AL East rivals, the Boston Red Sox, six times in the last eight seasons thanks to Boston having a worse record. One notable instance came in the 2015 draft, when the Red Sox - drafting seventh overall after a bad 2014 - took Andrew Benintendi, who reached the majors this year and appears headed towards stardom. Five picks later, the Rays - who'd finished ahead of Boston in 2014 - chose Garrett Whitley. He's now the Rays' No. 8 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, but remains several years away from the big club.

That's the crux of what bothered Sternberg, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and it's why he voted against the deal. The Rays wanted this agreement to change the draft order so it favors small-market clubs and lets them draft higher than larger-revenue teams like Boston - or perhaps allowing small-market clubs to earn extra picks - instead of having the order decided solely by won-loss records from the previous season.

"Basically nothing was done to close the huge gap in access to talent," Sternberg told Sherman via text message. "A new approach in the Rule 4 (June) draft would have proved helpful."

It's not clear if the Rays proposed any changes to the draft as part of negotiations.

In addition to fielding the majors' lowest payroll in 2016, the Rays stumbled to their first 90-loss season since dropping the "Devil Rays" nickname in 2007, and drew a league-worst 1.286 million fans to Tropicana Field. The team has suffered from stadium issues since its inception, and has had little success trying to find a new home in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

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The Baltimore Orioles reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent catcher Welington Castillo on Wednesday, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The deal includes a player option for the 2018 season.

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The Philadelphia Phillies re-signed infielder Andres Blanco on Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year, $3-million deal.

Blanco has spent the last three seasons with the Phillies in a utility role, hitting .274/.337/.457 with 12 home runs and 42 doubles in 221 games. He slashed .253/.316/.405 with one home run and 15 doubles in 90 games in 2016, appearing defensively at all four infield positions.

The 32-year-old gives the Phillies some additional veteran depth on the bench behind fellow infielders Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, and Maikel Franco.

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After dedicating the last week to moving pieces off the major-league roster, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn spent Wednesday working to add.

The White Sox announced Wednesday they've signed left-hander Derek Holland to a one-year contract worth a reported $6 milllion.

Holland can earn an additional $2-million through performance-related incentives, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

"This move provides additional depth and flexibility in the rotation," Hahn said after the move was announced, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Holland had spent his entire eight-year career with the Texas Rangers, but hit free agency earlier this offseason after the club declined his $11-million option for 2017. He has dealt with numerous injury issues throughout the last three seasons, limiting him to just 203 innings over that time.

The 29-year-old went 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 67 strikeouts across 107 1/3 innings in 2016, missing almost two months midway through the season battling shoulder inflammation.

Holland will likely slide into the rotation, replacing the hole left after the White Sox traded Chris Sale during the winter meetings.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, and New York Yankees were all reportedly interested in Holland.

To make room for Holland on the 40-man roster, the White Sox designated left-hander Matt Purke for assignment.

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The Texas Rangers will reportedly submit forms by Friday that would give them the authority to prevent three of their superstars from playing in the World Baseball Classic.

Yu Darvish (Japan), Elvis Andrus (Venezuela), and Shin-Soo Choo (Korea) all fall under the criteria regarding injuries and risk, though the WBC has the final call.

"It's the intensity level earlier than a lot of these guys are used to, especially coming off a longer season," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "There's no data to suggest it's any more dangerous. We're just protective. This guy is meaningful to our fortunes this season."

Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, who broke his arm in April, falls under the same criteria, but the team apparently isn't concerned about his health.

There is, however, concern about left-hander Martin Perez pitching in the WBC, Daniels added. While the Rangers can't forbid him from joining the Venezuelan team, they nixed his idea of pitching in Winter League after logging a career-high 198 2/3 innings in his first full season after Tommy John surgery.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have signed left-hander Tommy Milone to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

Terms of the deal haven't been disclosed.

Milone spent last season with the Minnesota Twins, going 3-5 with a 5.71 ERA over 69 1/3 innings of work.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the signing could mean the team is building some depth to trade one of its six starters.

Haudricourt indicated the Brewers have had a lot of calls on Junior Guerra.

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The Toronto Blue Jays and Edwin Encarnacion don't have any clear path to a new deal.

After Encarnacion rebuffed a longer-term offer earlier in the offseason, the Blue Jays still haven't seriously considered making a one-year offer to the free-agent slugger, according to sources of TSN's Rick Westhead.

It's just the latest step in an offseason that hasn't gone the way Encarnacion anticipated.

He was - and still is - one of the most coveted free-agent hitters available this offseason, but after rejecting the Blue Jays' initial offer ahead of the winter meetings, Encarnacion's market - and price tag - shrunk considerably.

Of the teams that were initially considered the best fit - including the Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, and Texas Rangers - all have made several acquisitions that now make it nearly impossible to sign Encarnacion.

However, while Encarnacion's agent is likely sweating bullets trying to get his client a healthy contract, one general manager told Yahoo's Jeff Passan that suitors should be wary of trying to drive down the price even further.

"Teams shouldn't overplay their hands with him," one GM told Passan. "He's too good for the price to go much lower."

Last season, Encarnacion had a career year, belting 42 home runs and 127 RBIs, while slashing .263/.357/.529.

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The Colorado Rockies reportedly agreed to a three-year, $19-million contract with reliever Mike Dunn on Thursday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports.

The deal contains a $6-million club option for 2020 that will automatically vest if Dunn makes 130 appearances in 2018-19, or 60 appearances in 2019.

Dunn was one of the top left-handers on the free-agent market and replaces Boone Logan in the Rockies' bullpen.

The 31-year-old spent the last six seasons with the Miami Marlins and is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.40 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 28 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. Despite being left-handed, lefty hitters actually fared better against Dunn last season, combining for a .278 average compared to a .263 mark from right-handed hitters.

Dunn's ability to keep the ball in the park will be a benefit when pitching at Coors Field. He's allowed just 34 home runs in 351 career innings and has not allowed a homer in his nine appearances in Denver.

The addition of Dunn is the second major acquisition for the Rockies this offseason. They agreed to a five-year deal with Ian Desmond earlier this week, and are reportedly involved in contract negotiations to land either Mark Trumbo or Edwin Encarnacion.

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The Chicago White Sox remain open for business.

After making a pair of blockbuster moves earlier this month that shipped Chris Sale and Adam Eaton out of the Windy City, the White Sox are reportedly open to trading anyone should they get their asking price, major-league sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The trade of Sale signaled the rebuild in Chicago, and with several attractive veteran pieces still on the roster, it makes complete sense as to why the White Sox would deem no player as untouchable.

Left-handed starter Jose Quintana has generated the most interest of the remaining White Sox, though the asking price is believed to be significant. David Robertson is also likely to be at the top of the team's wish list to deal with so few options on the free-agent closer market.

Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Abreu are all highly expected to be traded as well, though their market might be slower to develop with so many free-agent bats still available.

The White Sox haven't reached the postseason since 2008 and are coming off a fourth straight losing season, but there's plenty of optimism on the South Side. Hahn's drastically improved his minor-league depth this winter by landing Major League Baseball's top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito, and top position player prospect Yoan Moncada in trades.

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The Philadelphia Phillies locked up a major piece of their young core Thursday, signing outfielder Odubel Herrera to a five-year contract extension running through the 2021 season, with a pair of club options for 2022 and '23.

Herrera will be guaranteed $30.5 million over the life of the contract, sources told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. The 2022 club option is worth $11.5 million, while the 2023 option would pay him $12.5 million if exercised, Zolecki added.

Signing the extension marks the end of a triumphant rise for Herrera, who originally signed with the Texas Rangers as an amateur free agent in 2008. After playing just 96 games at Double-A in 2014, the Venezuelan was selected by the Phillies in that year's Rule 5 draft.

He's since found a home in the City of Brotherly Love, emerging as one of the Phillies' most important pieces of young talent during their ongoing rebuild. The soon-to-be 25-year-old put together a solid rookie campaign in 2015, then saw his numbers rise even higher this past year, hitting .286/.361/.420 with 15 homers, 21 doubles, six triples, and 25 stolen bases while playing in 159 games. Herrera was the Phillies' lone All-Star in 2016.

The extension will delay Herrera's first crack at free agency by at least one year.

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The pc freaks won't like this.




The Cleveland Indians will feature a bit of a different look in 2017, but the logo that continues to draw much criticism will remain.

Cleveland has eliminated the use of its cream-colored alternate home uniform, and will instead use four different uniforms. The team will continue to use the Chief Wahoo logo on the sleeves of all four jerseys as well as on two different hats.

To clarify various Wednesday reports, here is our 2017 uniform plan.https://t.co/GMkDu208IX pic.twitter.com/wgrVzaDIr5

— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) December 15, 2016
The use of the Chief Wahoo logo is a point of significant criticism for the franchise, as some believe it to be offensive. During the Indians' postseason run, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated that he would meet with Cleveland's owner Larry Dolan in the offseason to discuss the future use of the logo.

"I understand that particular logo is offensive to some people, and I understand why," Manfred said in October. "On the other side of the coin, you have a lot of fans that have history and are invested in the symbols of the Indians."

The Indians made the block "C" their primary logo last season, but chairman Paul Dolan said last April that they have no plans to get rid of the Chief Wahoo logo entirely as it is part of the franchise's "history and legacy."

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BOSTON - San Diego Padres infielder Yangervis Solarte is the winner of the 2016 Tony Conigliaro Award.

The annual honor goes to a baseball player who overcomes adversity through ''spirit, determination and courage.'' Solarte's wife, Yuliett Pimentel Solarte, died of cancer in September at the age of 31.

Despite missing time to be with his wife and take care of his three daughters after she died, Solarte played in 109 games, batting .286 and setting career highs with 15 home runs and 71 RBIs.

Conigliaro was the youngest player to lead his league in home runs, but was never the same after he was beaned by Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton in 1967. Conigliaro died 1990 at the age of 45, eight years after a massive heart attack.

The award will be presented at the 78th Boston Baseball Writers' dinner on January 19.

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After missing out on two big name free-agent closers, the Miami Marlins have made an upgrade in the bullpen.

The team has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $12-million deal with reliever Junichi Tazawa, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The Marlins were heavily in pursuit of Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, reportedly offering them both separate deals worth over $80 million, and even presented Chapman with a proposed deal worth $87 million. The reliever eventually resigned in New York on a five-year, $86-million deal, while Jansen re-upped in Los Angeles on a similar five-year, $80-million contract.

Tazawa gives the Marlins a proven arm out of the bullpen, joining current closer A.J. Ramos, the hard throwing Kyle Barraclough, and veteran Dustin McGowan who just resigned with the team.

In seven years with the Boston Red Sox, Tazawa appeared in 302 games, posting a 3.58 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. His best season came in 2014 where he combined a 2.86 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 71 games out of the bullpen.

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For anyone interested in making a splash, the Miami Marlins can be had for a price of $1.7 billion.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could be looking to sell the franchise for that price, and is floating the team around sports bankers, according to Mike Ozanian of Forbes.

In January 2013, Ozanian referred to the new stadium as baseball's most expensive disaster.

Forbes released their annual list of the most valuable sports teams in March, and at $675 million, the Marlins ranked 29th out of 30 MLB teams. Loria looking to sell the franchise for just over a billion seems ostentatious, mostly due to the Marlins' poor operating profit of $15 million this season while ranking 27th and 28th in attendance each of the past two seasons.

Ozanian notes that a few years ago "wealthy people" were contacting Loria interested in purchasing the team but he refused. The Marlins promised fans a new era of baseball after constructing a brand new facility in 2012 that cost $516 million, and with the added cost of repaying high-interest construction bonds, the totals could drastically rise to $2.4 billion in the next 40 years.

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Tomo Ohka just can't quit the game he loves.

Now a knuckleball pitcher, Ohka - who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009 and last appeared in the independent leagues three years ago - signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training from the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.

"(Ohka is a) veteran pitcher with excellent control worth considering for the O's," general manager Dan Duquette told Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com.

The 40-year-old first came to the majors from Japan in 1999, when he was signed by the Boston Red Sox, whose GM at the time just so happened to be Duquette. Since then, he's compiled a 4.26 ERA and 590 strikeouts over 202 appearances with six teams, including the Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Montreal Expos. His last big-league action came with Cleveland seven years ago.

By signing with Baltimore, Ohka became one of just two former Expos players to still be active in professional baseball, joining Braves right-hander Bartolo Colon.

Since becoming a knuckleball pitcher in 2013, Ohka has spent time in his native Japan and then briefly in the Blue Jays' organization. His last appearance stateside came with the Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish in 2014.

Baltimore also signed infielders Garabez Rosa and Sean Coyle, and outfielder Chris Dickerson, to minor-league contracts Thursday.

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Though it amounted to a championship, Aroldis Chapman wasn't too thrilled about his role in the Chicago Cubs' postseason run.

Speaking to reporters Friday after being officially revealed as the newest member of the New York Yankees, Chapman admitted he disagreed with how Cubs skipper Joe Maddon used him in the playoffs.

"Personally, I don't agree with the way he used me, but he is the manager and he has the strategy. My job is to be ready, to be ready to pitch, however that is, however many innings that is, I need to be ready for that. I need to go in and do my job," Chapman said through an interpreter, according to ESPN's Andrew Marchand.

Chapman, whose career success has come predominantly as a ninth-inning closer, was used in a more liberal role by Maddon throughout the entire postseason. The southpaw reliever was called upon in the eighth inning on five occasions in the playoffs, and even made appearances as early as the seventh inning twice.

One of those seventh-inning calls came in Game 6 of the World Series with the Cubs up 7-2 on the Cleveland Indians - a game Chapman revealed Friday he should have never pitched in, according to Newsday's Marc Carig.

One day later, in Game 7, Chapman blew a save opportunity when he allowed Rajai Davis to hit an eighth-inning home run to tie the contest 6-6. Despite the blown save, Chapman still picked up the win, as the Cubs secured their first World Series in 108 years.

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The legal charges against Jeurys Familia may have been dismissed, but it appears Major League Baseball will come down hard on the New York Mets closer after an alleged domestic violence incident earlier this offseason.

Familia appears to be facing a 30-game suspension at minimum, league sources told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. It's also possible that the ban could stretch to at least 40 games, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post.

The 27-year-old had been charged with one count of simple assault stemming from an alleged incident on Oct. 31. Familia's wife, Bianca Rivers, called 911 on that evening, alleging her husband was drinking and "going crazy."


Despite the criminal case against him being dropped, Familia is still likely to face punishment from MLB for violating the league's domestic violence policy, and commissioner Rob Manfred can cite precedent if he decides to give him a long suspension. Jose Reyes received a 52-game suspension last year for an alleged domestic violence incident in which charges were ultimately dropped, while Aroldis Chapman was banned for 30 games despite never facing charges.

In November, Manfred said he planned to let the legal process play itself out before the league completed its internal investigation. MLB's examination is now "ongoing," sources told Ackert, and there is no timetable for an announcement of any discipline.

The Mets released a statement saying they "will await the outcome of MLB’s investigation" before commenting further, according to Martin.

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It's always hard to say goodbye.

The Baltimore Orioles' signing of catcher Welington Castillo Friday signaled a changing of the guard at Camden Yards, as it all but ended Matt Wieters' eight-year tenure in the Charm City. Though the Orioles are excited to have Castillo in the fold, both manager Buck Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette made special note to acknowledge Wieters' contributions to the club, and the place he holds in Baltimore baseball lore.

"As far as Matt Wieters goes, he did a good job for the club," Duquette said in a conference call Friday, according to Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. "He was a high draft pick and came up through the system and worked very hard and gave us tremendous service, and we wish him well. But for our ballclub, we think Welington was the best bet on the market."

Baltimore made Wieters the fifth overall pick out of Georgia Tech in 2007, and he made the team's investment pay off by reaching the big leagues two years later.

Despite missing a large chunk of 2014 and '15 due to Tommy John surgery, the 30-year-old leaves the Orioles as one of the best catchers in their history, having made four All-Star teams and winning a pair of Gold Gloves with the club.

Wieters accepted a qualifying offer from the Orioles last winter, but he wasn't extended one this year. As a result, he's now the best catcher left on the open market, and could command a large salary from interested teams.


For Showalter, the hardest part about seeing Wieters move on is knowing the impact he had on the larger community in Baltimore.

"Any time you're around somebody as much as we are, probably more than anybody, you get to know a person and his family, and his kids," Showalter said. "As many great things Matt did for us, there were a lot of great things the organization and city did for him and his family, too. So I try to keep that in mind.

"It was a great relationship for everybody, and I think everybody benefited from it."

Wieters' agent, Scott Boras, previously indicated that his client might not sign until the new year.

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The San Diego Padres completed the first major addition of their offseason Saturday by agreeing to a one-year deal with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Financial terms of the agreement have not been released, and the deal is pending a physical.

Chacin, 28, began the 2016 campaign with the Atlanta Braves, making five starts for the club, before he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in May.

The one-time 14-game winner appeared in 29 games for the Angels - making 17 starts - and finished the campaign on a high note, posting a 1.99 ERA over his last 40 2/3 innings.

Chacin, a veteran of eight MLB seasons, will join an inexperienced Padres rotation, consisting of arms who only made 64 starts last season.

Over the course of his big-league career, Chacin - who was signed out of Venezuela as an amateur free agent by the Colorado Rockies in 2004 - owns a 46-57 record with a 3.94 ERA across 163 appearances, 135 of which have been starts.

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The Chicago White Sox have avoided arbitration with Jose Abreu, agreeing to a one-year contract with the first baseman Saturday, the team announced.

The one-year deal will earn Abreu $10.825 million in 2017.

In mid-November, Abreu opted out of the remaining three years of his six-year, $68-million pact he signed with the White Sox prior to the 2014 season.

He was scheduled to earn $10.5 million in 2017 in the original contract - $325,000 less than his newly reworked salary - though he also turned down $11.5 million in 2018 and $12 million in 2019, according to Spotrac.

Abreu slashed .293/.353/.468 in 159 games with Chicago in 2016 and has driven in 100 RBIs in each of his three seasons in the majors.

He remains under club control through the 2019 season.

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Hours after finalizing a two-year contract with Junichi Tazawa, the Miami Marlins continued to bolster their bullpen by agreeing to a two-year deal worth $16 million - plus incentives - with right-hander Brad Ziegler, according to a source of FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

The 37-year-old Ziegler will earn $7 million in 2017 and $9 million in 2018 if he passes his pending physical, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports reports.

Ziegler, a side-winding right-hander who finished fifth in Major League Baseball in ground ball percentage (63.3 percent) last season to go along with a 2.25 ERA, will join a Marlins bullpen that finished eighth in the National League in ERA.

The veteran Ziegler - who saved 18 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season before he was traded to the Boston Red Sox - gives manager Don Mattingly another option to use at closer, as it's presumed he, along with Tazawa and A.J. Ramos, will all get a chance to win the role out of spring training.

Over the course of nine seasons in the big leagues, Ziegler owns a 34-28 record with a 2.44 ERA, 85 saves, and a 1.23 WHIP.

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Fenway Park's playing field is about to get even smaller next season.

With Boston Red Sox fans demanding more premium seating at the iconic stadium, the club has begun construction to sacrifice real estate in foul territory in order to add another 124 seats.

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy revealed Friday that the areas next to the dugouts behind first and third base have been the most requested by fans for added seating.

"It makes sense to add more seats," Kennedy said, according to the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman. "The No. 1 question we get from folks looking for Red Sox tickets and season tickets is, 'Can we get new seats?' And we tell them, 'Well, we may have other locations for you,' but the No. 1 request is for the first couple of rows between the bases. There's demand for this inventory."

While fans will undoubtedly welcome being closer to game action, the addition could come at a cost. Currently, only the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field owns a smaller foul territory than Fenway, though that will change once the construction is complete, according to Silverman.

A smaller playing field may also result in longer at-bats thanks to more foul balls, but Kennedy says MLB approved the changes.

"Absolutely we ran it by baseball operations, and we ran it by Major League Baseball," Kennedy told Silverman. "Our folks are all, as far as I know, fine with it."

Fenway's fair territory - already the smallest in the majors - will remain unchanged during the modifications.

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If Mark Trumbo was hoping to return to the Baltimore Orioles next season, his chances may have lowered on Saturday.

Negotiations between Trumbo and the Orioles have apparently hit a snag, according to MASN's Roch Kubatko, who reports Baltimore has pulled their offer to the slugger off the table.

Although Kubatko didn't cite the exact terms or financial commitment of the deal that was apparently dropped, he did report the Orioles made Trumbo a four-year offer in the range of $70-75 million at the beginning of December, which they believed was the best one available for the 30-year-old.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette also told Kubatko before December's winter meetings that the organization had made "multiple offers" to baseball's reigning home run king, but a deal has yet to come to fruition.

Trumbo has been a popular topic of discussion in the offseason, with the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners also showing interest in the two-time All-Star, but he still remains without a deal despite hitting 47 home runs and driving in 108 RBIs.

The Orioles were in a similar situation with first baseman Chris Davis prior to the beginning of the 2016 season, initially pulling back a seven-year offer to the hulking power hitter before eventually re-signing him to a $161-million deal of the same length.

Trumbo, who came over to the Orioles via trade before the 2016 season, posted a career-high .850 OPS and won the first Silver Slugger of his career last season.

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Tim Raines is so close to being inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, he can practically taste it, and along with gaining a ton of support from the baseball community in his last year of eligibility, he's also got a fellow inductee's blessing.

Andre Dawson, who was inducted into the Hall in 2010, believes this will be the year his best friend and former teammate joins him among baseball's greatest players.

"Oh, without a doubt, I definitely feel like this year's the window for him," Dawson told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. "He was a catalyst. He was one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all time. If you take a careful look at his numbers, rest assured you'd probably agree. Why it's taken so long, well, that's the toughness of getting into the Hall of Fame. It's not an easy process."

Raines received 69.8 percent of voter support last season - his highest total ever received - but still fell short of the required 75 percent needed for election.

The former Montreal Expos great spent 23 seasons in the big leagues, amassing 808 stolen bases - good for fifth among the all-time leaders. He also scored 1,571 runs, recorded 2,605 hits, and posted a .385 on-base percentage, which he didn't even realize had actually happened.

"I didn't even know anything about it," Raines told Kepner. "That was what I was thinking, but I didn't really think about the number. I didn't think about having a .400 on-base percentage, like that was important. I just felt like: I batted .300, and I knew if I walked enough, I was going to be on base a lot. So the chance of me scoring, especially with the threat of stolen bases, was a lot greater."

If Raines does indeed enter the Hall on his last try, he'll join Red Ruffing (1967), Joe Medwick (1968), Ralph Kiner (1975), and Jim Rice (2009) as players who were inducted during their last season of eligibility.

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It's been more than three years since Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun admitted to - and was suspended for - using performance-enhancing drugs, yet the ghosts of his past continue to hover over him.

The 33-year-old winner of the 2011 National League MVP has constantly been mentioned as a trade target during the offseason, and was nearly traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last August before a deal fizzled out at the non-waiver deadline, but he still remains a member of the Brewers despite the team rebuilding.

One MLB executive believes it's Braun's link to PEDs, on top of a pricey contract, that continue to make teams hesitant about acquiring his services.

"When a guy with that contract has been busted once, it’s hard to commit those dollars and those player resources because if he gets busted again, you lose all of your guys and you lose Braun. Nobody is saying he’d do it again, but while he’s a very good impact player, it’s just a tough one," the executive told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

After missing the majority of the 2013 season because of the suspension, Braun has increased his productivity every year since, most recently hitting 30 home runs, driving in 91, and posting a .305/.365/.538 slash line last season.

Over the course of his career, the six-time All-Star has homered 285 times, driven in 937 runs, owns a .910 OPS, and has been worth 38.7 WAR.

He is owed $76 million through 2020, and has a $15-million mutual option for the 2021 season.

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Jimmy Rollins isn't ready to hang up his cleats just yet.

The 38-year-old shortstop agreed to a minor-league contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Rollins will earn a $1-million base salary if he plays for the Giants for the entire season, according to Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

The veteran appeared in 41 games with the Chicago White Sox last season after signing a minor-league contract. He slashed just .221/.295/.329 with two home runs and eight RBIs before he was designated for assignment in June.

Rollins has played 17 big-league seasons, mostly with the Philadelphia Phillies, winning the National League MVP award in 2007 after hitting .296/.344/.531 with 30 home runs, 20 triples, 41 stolen bases, and 94 RBIs.

Over the course of his career, Rollins owns a .264/.324/.418 hitting line, has won four Gold Gloves, and has been worth 49.4 WAR.

He also won a World Series title with the Phillies in 2008.

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As the Toronto Blue Jays continue to search for upgrades in the outfield, the team isn't budging on its stance regarding one of the franchise's most iconic athletes.

The organization has not presented Jose Bautista with a deal that exceeds the initial one-year, $17.2-million qualifying offer, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

It was recently reported that the Blue Jays, while still in talks with Bautista's camp, were unwilling to offer the 36-year-old a multi-year deal higher in annual salary than the $17.2-million qualifying offer.

The Blue Jays submitted qualifying offers to Edwin Encarnacion and Bautista in November that were both rejected, which ties the two former sluggers to draft pick compensation if they sign elsewhere. The market for Bautista has been slow to develop, but has picked up as of late, with the Los Angeles Dodgers showing interest in the slugger.

Morosi notes the Blue Jays have well-known interest in trading for New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce. The team from Canada have a need in the outfield after missing out on free-agent Dexter Fowler, who signed a five-year, $82.5-million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates made their first major addition of the offseason on Monday by agreeing to a two-year, $11-million deal with right-hander Daniel Hudson, according to sources of Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.

He could also earn an additional $1.5 million per year in incentives, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

Hudson supposedly passed his physical on Monday, but the Pirates have not yet officially announced the deal.

After the reported deal surfaced, Hudson took to social media to thank the Diamondbacks for his tenure with the club.

The 29-year-old Hudson, who was converted into a reliever during the 2014 season, struggled to a 5.22 ERA last season in 70 appearances with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The former starter tossed 222 innings during a 16-win campaign in 2011.

He'll join a Pirates bullpen in need of late-inning help.

Over the course of his seven-year career, Hudson has undergone Tommy John surgery twice, and has posted a 35-23 record with a 3.94 ERA across 199 appearances.

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Clay Buchholz has thrown his last pitch in a Boston Red Sox uniform.

The Philadelphia Phillies acquired the right-hander from Boston on Tuesday in exchange for minor-league second baseman Josh Tobias.

Philadelphia will assume all of Buchholz's $13.5-million salary for 2017, according to Matt Gelb of Philly.com. By shedding his entire salary, the Red Sox payroll will now fall under the new CBA's competitive balance tax, thus resetting the penalties they would have faced if they were over, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

Buchholz leaves the Red Sox after an up-and-down decade with the club. On Sept. 1, 2007, in his second career start, Buchholz spun a no-hitter at Fenway Park; later, he played a key role as a starter on the team's 2013 World Series championship club, and finished sixth in Cy Young voting in 2010. But his tenure in Beantown was full of issues, including injuries and inconsistent performances, especially after he signed a $29.945-million extension in 2012.

Buchholz was made expendable by the acquisition of Chris Sale earlier this month, but the Red Sox had also been trying to deal him following an up-and-down 2016 season that saw him shift to the bullpen amid some early season struggles, only to return to the rotation later in the year because of injuries. Buchholz posted a 3.57 ERA in 13 relief appearances last year, compared to a 5.01 mark in 21 starts; he also finished 2016 on a roll after his rough start, pitching to a 3.02 ERA and striking out 36 in August and September.

He leaves Boston having compiled a 3.96 ERA, 899 strikeouts, and a 1.303 WHIP in 206 appearances - and 188 starts - with the club.

It's likely the 32-year-old will start in Philadelphia, where he'll be yet another veteran on a one-year deal with the rebuilding Phillies. Already this offseason the team has brought in veteran relievers Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit on cheap short-term contracts, while starter Jeremy Hellickson accepted the $17.2-million qualifying offer to return to Citizens Bank Park.

The Miami Marlins were also reported to have been interested in Buchholz, but apparently balked at what they perceived to be a high asking price from Boston in top pitching prospect Luis Castillo.

Tobias, a 31st-round pick of the Phillies in 2015, hit .291/.362/.422 with nine homers, 31 doubles, and 10 stolen bases over 127 games split between Single-A Lakewood and High-A Clearwater. He was not ranked in the Phillies' top-30 prospects by MLB Pipeline.

Philadelphia designated first baseman Richie Shaffer for assignment to make room for Buchholz on the 40-man roster.

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The San Diego Padres have apparently reached a deal to bring back left-hander Clayton Richard, as the sides reportedly agreed to a one-year contract, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The deal will pay him $1.75 million, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Richard began 2016 with the Chicago Cubs but was released in August after struggling through an injury-plagued first half in the team's bullpen. The 33-year-old showed a drastic improvement after being released and joining the Padres, posting a 2.52 ERA while averaging 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 11 appearances (nine starts). Overall, Richard posted a 3.33 ERA, 1.655 WHIP, and struck out 41 batters in 36 games last season.

It's likely that Richard will join fellow free-agent acquisition Jhoulys Chacin - who reportedly agreed to his one-year, $1.75-million deal with the Friars on Sunday - in San Diego's rotation next year.

Richard, who also pitched in San Diego from 2009-14, missed the entire 2014 season due to thoracic outlet syndrome. He owns a 4.23 career ERA, 543 strikeouts, and a 1.412 WHIP across 206 appearances with the Padres, Cubs, and Chicago White Sox.

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NEW YORK - Pitcher Nick Goody has been traded from the New York Yankees to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named or $50,000.

The teams said Tuesday the swap must be completed by May 5.

A 25-year-old right-hander, Goody had a 4.66 ERA in 27 relief appearances for the Yankees this year, striking out 34 in 27 innings. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2012 amateur draft and was sidelined following reconstructive right elbow surgery in April 2013. Goody made his big league debut in July 2015 and pitched in seven games for New York that year.

He was designated for assignment Dec. 15 to open a roster spot needed when the Yankees completed their $86-million, five-year contract with free-agent reliever Aroldis Chapman.

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Oswaldo Arcia is changing locations once again.

The 25-year-old outfielder, who appeared in games for four different big-league clubs in 2016, has agreed to a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, reports Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

Terms of the reported deal were not disclosed.

The left-handed hitting Arcia - whose OPS is .165 higher against righties - will join an outfield mix including A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Yasmany Tomas, and Jeremy Hazelbaker in Arizona.

Arcia hit 20 home runs with the Minnesota Twins in 2014. He split 69 games of action between the Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins, and the San Diego Padres last season, hitting .203/.270/.366 in the process.

Over the course of four big-league seasons, the Venezuelan owns a .235/.298/.422 slash line, which has included 44 home runs and 131 RBIs.

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The Cleveland Indians announced Tuesday they've signed first baseman Chris Colabello to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Colabello can opt out of the deal if he's not in the big leagues by June 1 of next season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Colabello, who spent the 2015 and '16 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, played just 10 games in the majors last year. He was suspended 80 games in April after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug named dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, though he's vehemently denied having knowingly used the substance. Following the completion of his suspension the Blue Jays sent Colabello to Triple-A, and he did not make another big-league appearance.

Before his suspension, the 33-year-old was regarded as an excellent rags-to-riches story, having spent seven years in the independent leagues before getting his shot in the majors in 2012 with the Minnesota Twins. Colabello's best year came with the Blue Jays in 2015, when he hit .321/.367/.520 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs as the right-handed half of a first base platoon that helped the Blue Jays snap a 22-year playoff drought.

Colabello went just 2-for-29 in 10 games to begin 2016 before his suspension was announced; those struggles continued after he returned to the diamond, as he posted a .536 OPS in 40 games at Triple-A Buffalo.

Despite his lackluster performance and PED suspension, he'll be given a shot to crack the Indians' roster at spring training. The Indians are in need of right-handed hitting options at first base now that Mike Napoli is a free agent.

Cleveland has reportedly extended offers to multiple big-name first basemen still on the open market. Names still available that could interest the Indians include Napoli, Mark Trumbo, Chris Carter, and Colabello's former teammate in Toronto, Edwin Encarnacion.

Colabello is scheduled to represent Italy in this March's World Baseball Classic, according to a November report from Sportsnet's Jamie Campbell.

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Jason Heyward's first season after signing a $184-million contract with the Chicago Cubs didn't exactly go well.

The 27-year-old struggled offensively, posting a .230/.306/.325 slash line with a career-low OPS of .631, hitting just seven home runs in 592 plate appearances.

In order to switch things up - hopefully for the better - Heyward has been working on a new swing in offseason workouts in Arizona.

His new approach features different hand positioning and bat placement than his stance from 2016.

@WhatTheMicah @DEvanAltman best I can do rn. Hard to find a longer side angle from 2016 showing full swing/load. pic.twitter.com/NbNK4E4WzJ

— Corey Freedman (@CFCubsRelated) December 20, 2016
The season prior to signing with the Cubs, Heyward hit .293/.359/.439 with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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While much of the talk surrounding Neal Huntington's offseason has been about potentially finding a new home for Andrew McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates general manager also appears interested in adding a high-profile name to his club.

The Pirates have reportedly "worked hard" to try to trade for Chicago White Sox starter Jose Quintana, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

Quintana has drawn attention across the league since the White Sox signaled a willingness to deal after trading both Chris Sale and Adam Eaton away for prospects earlier in December.

The 27-year-old is among the top left-handers in the American League and is comfortably under team control through the 2020 season, owed just $37.85 million.

Quintana's team-friendly deal would fit perfectly into the long-term plans of the cost-conscious Pirates, who need starting pitching help. There is no shortage of competition, however, as the New York Yankees and Houston Astros are also believed to be in talks for his services, with the asking price said to be extremely high.

The White Sox reportedly asked the Astros for young right-hander Joe Musgrove along with the club's two top prospects.

Quintana is coming off the best season of his five-year career, in which he went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 181 strikeouts over 208 innings. He's thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons.

The Pirates do have the prospect capital needed to swing a deal with the White Sox, as Tyler Glasnow (No. 8), Austin Meadows (No. 9), Josh Bell (No. 20), and Kevin Newman (No. 42) are all ranked among the top 50 prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

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After a short-lived stint in the Japanese league, Jonny Gomes is planning an MLB comeback.

The 36-year-old spent 13 seasons in the majors before signing with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2016. After just one home run in 18 games, he decided to pack it in, but it didn't signal his retirement.

Gomes is expecting an MLB job next season, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

"I've got some more pull homers in the tank,'' he said Wednesday.

Gomes has 162 home runs in over 1,200 MLB games between seven teams.

His last time in the bigs was in 2015, when he started the season as a member of the Atlanta Braves. At the end of August, he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals, though he was left off the postseason roster as the team won the World Series.

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Manny Ramirez appears on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, but the 44-year-old's days of playing professionally may not be done yet.

Ramirez's wife Juliana told TMZ Sports that her husband is currently considering an offer to play professional baseball overseas, but no official decision has been made.

"He is training extremely hard," Juliana said. "Batting, CrossFit, Orange Theory. He never stops."

She added: "I told him, 'Go for it.' Baseball is the love of his life other than his family and I totally support him 100 percent."

Ramirez last appeared in the majors in 2011 and last played professionally in 2014 with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. He hit .222/.273/.375 with three home runs in 24 games while serving as a player-coach.

The 12-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, and 2004 World Series MVP has previous experience playing in China. Ramirez signed with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan in 2013, hitting .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 49 games. He left early, however, in order to be closer to his family and attempt to return to the majors.

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Ivan Nova is sticking with the club that helped revitalize his career.

The right-hander reportedly agreed to a three-year, $26-million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, sources told Robert Murray of FanRag Sports.

The deal is a significant drop-off from the offers that Nova's agent claimed he received in November. Greg Genske stated that his client had offers in the three-year, $36-million range - a similar deal to the one fellow former Pirates reclamation project J.A. Happ landed last winter. Nova, however, was eager to return to Pittsburgh, and it's possible he took less money to do so.

"I don't want to leave this clubhouse, to be honest," Nova told Adam Berry of MLB.com in late September. "It's not up to me. I've got to talk to my agent. My agent will let me know what's going on. If there's something I can do to stay here, it's what I will do."

After struggling for parts of three seasons with the New York Yankees, Nova landed in Pittsburgh at the non-waiver deadline last summer and found immediate success. He went 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 64 2/3 innings with the Pirates, striking out 52.

Nova was one of the top remaining starters on the free-agent market and helps the Pirates address a major need in the rotation. It was reported Wednesday that general manager Neal Huntington had been working hard to trade for Chicago White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, and Nova's arrival apparently hasn't gotten in the way of the Pirates' pursuit, a source told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Nova's signing represents the second pitcher the Pirates have added this week. They reportedly agreed to a two-year, $11-million deal with right-handed reliever Daniel Hudson on Tuesday.

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Double E refused the Jays offer of 4 years/$80mil deal.
He or his agent badly mis-read the market.




The Cleveland Indians have won the sweepstakes, agreeing to a three-year deal with designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion worth $60 million, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reports.



According to ESPN, the Indians have a fourth-year team option for Encarnacion worth $20 million. He also has a $5-million buyout for the fourth year, giving him a guaranteed contract of $65 million, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The deal isn't believed to include an opt-out, though Encarnacion was trying to get one after the first year.
Prior to the winter meetings, Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer, took a lot of heat for rejecting the Toronto Blue Jays' initial four-year, $80-million offer. It was then believed the slugger wasn't going to get anywhere near that money.
But, considering how the market played against Encarnacion - with the Blue Jays signing Kendrys Morales, the Boston Red Sox signing Mitch Moreland, and theNew York Yankees signing Matt Holliday, to name a few - the slugger ended up with a better-than-expected contract.
While at least 10 teams were linked with Encarnacion over the past month or so, eventually it came down to the Indians, the Oakland Athletics, and a third team that many believed to be the Texas Rangers.
The Athletics discussed a two-year deal with Encarnacion, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 33-year-old, though, didn't bite on a low-budget team with a massive ballpark.
Last season, Encarnacion had a big year, matching his career high with 42 home runs while recording 127 RBIs. He also proved his durability with 160 regular-season games played.

Last edited on Fri Dec 23rd, 2016 07:02 am by lobo316

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The Atlanta Braves reportedly agreed to a five-year, $30.525-million extension with outfielder Ender Inciarte on Friday, league sources told Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

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The Los Angeles Angels have added some speed and depth to their outfield.

Ben Revere has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4-million contract with the Angels, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

To make room for him on its 40-man roster, Los Angeles designated outfielder Ji-Man Choi for assignment.

Over the course of the offseason, the organization has continued to search for a left-handed hitting complement to Cameron Maybin in left field.

Last season, Revere struggled a year after tearing it up with the Toronto Blue Jays. The 28-year-old slashed a career-worst .217/.260/.300 with 44 runs scored and just 14 stolen bases.

That being said, he's likely to platoon with the right-handed hitting Maybin, and for good reason. Revere owns right-handed pitching to the tune of a .281/.316/.340 line with 29 triples and 52 doubles.

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Edwin Encarnacion agreeing to join the Cleveland Indians didn't come without some tough financial decisions.

Before ultimately agreeing to a three-year, $60-million deal with the Indians, Encarnacion rejected a two-year deal and $50 million from the Oakland Athletics, an MLB source said, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Encarnacion's agent Paul Kinzer said the Texas Rangers and Athletics were in the mix until the "very last minute," and one of the factors in his decision not to join the Athletics was the added distance between the West Coast and his home in the Dominican Republic.

While the exact financials are not clear, a two-year deal worth $50 million from Oakland would have paid Encarnacion $25 million annually. Earlier in the offseason, Encarnacion rejected a four-year, $80-million deal from the Toronto Blue Jays and subsequently countered with an proposal of $100 million instead.

After talks fell apart, the Blue Jays pursued Kendrys Morales instead, eventually coming to terms on a three-year, $33 million deal, and later signed Steve Pearce to a two-year, $12.5-million contract.

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After just one year apart, the Detroit Tigers are reuniting with a familiar face.

The Tigers have agreed to terms with catcher Alex Avila on a one-year contract, the team announced Friday. The deal is reportedly worth $2 million, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Avila left the Tigers last offseason to join the Chicago White Sox on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. The 29-year-old struggled with a hamstring injury, though, only appearing in 67 games with the White Sox, batting .213/.359/.373 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs.

He's expected to share catching duties with James McCann, and will rejoin his father, Al Avila - the Tigers' general manager. In seven previous seasons with the club, Alex combined to hit 242/.345/.397 and made an All-Star Game appearance in 2011, when he hit .295/.389/.506 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs in 141 games.

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Indians sign Encarnacion...
Tigers sign Avila....
It's gonna be a LOOOOOOONG summer in Motown!:(

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Cleveland Indians fans are really excited about Edwin Encarnacion.

One day after signing the big bopper away from the Toronto Blue Jays on a three-year, $60-million deal, the Indians sold nearly 200 season tickets, according to Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com.

Ticket offices were supposed to be closed for the holidays, but after news broke of the signing, the team kept the lines open. A spokesperson said it was, of course, an unusual number of ticket sales for an average day.

While the Indians have posted a winning record in each of the last four seasons - including with two playoff appearances and an American League pennant in 2016 - attendance hasn't reflected that success.

Over that span, the team hasn't finished higher than 27th in the majors in average attendance.

Going into the 2016 season, Cleveland's season-ticket base was approximately 7,500. While a team spokesperson wouldn't disclose how many season-ticket sales were made following the World Series, they're reportedly "trending very well and have far exceeded last year's number."

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With a clear method to their madness, the San Francisco Giants continue making under-the-radar depth moves.

A few days after inking veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins to a minor-league deal, the Giants have done the same with Michael Morse and Justin Ruggiano, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy.

Details of the deals are still unknown, and the club hasn't confirmed the signings.

At one point during his 12-year career, Morse was a legitimate power threat, launching 31 homers in 2011 with the Washington Nationals. He evened out after that, and ironically, his last productive season in the majors was in 2014 - his lone year with the Giants.

That year, Morse belted 16 home runs and drove in 61 runs, while slashing .279/.336/.475 over 131 games.

For his part, Ruggiano has bounced around seven different organizations over the last eight years, and hasn't held a full-time job since 2014.

He's always been a part-time player, and played a career-high 128 games in 2013 with the Miami Marlins. Last season, Ruggiano totaled 26 games between the Texas Rangers and New York Mets before electing for free agency in November.

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Jose Bautista appears to be coming to terms with his collapsed market.

The free-agent slugger, who last spring was believed to be seeking a five-year deal, is reportedly willing to accept a one-year offer, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The catch, however, is the value of the deal needs to be higher than the $17.2-million qualifying offer Bautista rejected at the start of the offseason.

The six-time All-Star is coming off a down season with the Toronto Blue Jays in which injuries limited him to just 116 games. He hit .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs, 24 doubles, and 69 RBIs while striking out 103 times.


The market, which was once thought to be robust, apparently has little to no suitors. The Boston Red Sox already told Bautista's agent they don't have the money, while Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette openly said he wouldn't sign Bautista because the fan base strongly dislikes him.

It was reported earlier this week that Bautista has rejected solid offers in order to re-sign in Toronto. The Blue Jays, however, have reportedly not presented a deal to Bautista that exceeds the qualifying offer they previously extended.

The Blue Jays have already lost one franchise icon in Edwin Encarnacion this winter, after he accepted a three-year, $60-million deal Thursday from the Cleveland Indians. For their loss, Toronto will receive a draft pick as compensation.

While the match between the Blue Jays and Bautista seems perfect - the team needs a corner outfielder with power and Bautista wants to return - the front office has put a high value on building up the minor-league system after big trades in recent years moved several top prospects out. While the Blue Jays wouldn't have to surrender a draft pick to sign Bautista, they would, however, cost themselves the opportunity of receiving compensation that would come once he signs somewhere else.

The incentive for Bautista accepting a one-year deal is he has the opportunity to re-establish his value in hope of securing a multi-year deal next offseason. With changes to the CBA, he'll no longer be eligible to receive a qualifying offer, which should make him a more attractive option next winter.

In addition to Bautista, there are a number of impact bats remaining on the market, including Mike Napoli, Mark Trumbo, Brandon Moss, Colby Rasmus, and Chris Carter.

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A Texas Rangers-Josh Hamilton reunion appears to be closer than ever.

Rangers doctors have cleared the former MVP after evaluating his left knee, and there's a "good chance" Texas signs him to a minor-league deal, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Hamilton attempted a comeback last season, playing in one game with Double-A Frisco before shutting it down. The slugger has been dealing with a wonky knee for the past year or so.

The 35-year-old underwent his third knee operation since 2015 in June, and Texas released him in August in a procedural move.

After spending five consecutive All-Star seasons with the Rangers from 2008 to 2012, which included an MVP award in 2010, Hamilton signed a monster five-year, $125-million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Things didn't go as planned as he failed to produce in his first two years. But after going through a drug relapse in the offseason following his second campaign with the Angels, the team made it clear they didn't want him back despite being on the hook for $28 million in 2017.

While he's spent time away from the game, as fate would have it, the Rangers are in need of a solid outfield option or a designated hitter.

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Two of the most controversial figures on this year's Hall of Fame ballot could find themselves enshrined into Cooperstown this summer.

Both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have received 70.7 percent of the vote from 28.3 percent of known ballots, according to tracker Ryan Thibodaux. In order to be elected into the Hall of Fame this year, they'll each need to be included on 76.9 percent of the remaining ballots.

Jeff Bagwell, Vladimir Guerrero, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez have so far all received the required 75 percent of the vote needed in order to be inducted.

Curt Schilling, Lee Smith, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent, and Gary Sheffield currently have received a lower percentage of the vote than they did last year.

Former New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is the only player currently at risk of falling off the ballot as he so far has failed to receive the required five percent.

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CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati Reds completed their front office reorganization on Tuesday, with Dick Williams succeeding Walt Jocketty as general manager and president of baseball operations.

Jocketty announced a year ago that he was moving toward retirement after the 2016 season. He'll be an executive adviser to the club for now. Williams assumes all of Jocketty's duties as general manager and president of baseball operations.

In addition, the club hired Mark Heil as player development analyst, Mark Edwards as baseball operations analyst, Haley Alvarez as administrative assistant to baseball operations, and Nick Wan as data scientist.

The Reds lost 98 and 94 games the last two seasons while going through a rebuilding movement. They decided to bring manager Bryan Price back for 2017.

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Rob Manfred hasn't changed his stance on pitch clocks in MLB.

The baseball commissioner has been vocal in the past about his intention to speed up the sport in order to draw in younger fans, previously throwing his support behind a pitch clock to limit a pitcher's downtime between pitches.

While the idea has yet to feature in the big leagues, baseball successfully introduced pitch clocks in the minors last season, a point Manfred makes in his argument for possible big-league implementation.

"The reason I like the clock is not that I'm looking to force somebody to do something, but I think it is a constant reminder of the need to move things along," he told the New York Daily News' John Harper, "and I think that's really important in terms of dealing with the pace-of-play issues.

"It's had great results in the minor leagues. Quantitative data shows that it made the games go faster, but equally important, players don't complain about it. They get used to it and they work within it."

Along with capping a pitcher's rest, Manfred has also looked to limit the number of relievers a manager can call upon in an inning, though he's treading more cautiously on that front due to a direct impact on the game itself.

"I don't want to pre-judge these issues. The easiest things to deal with are dead time," he said. "How much time does it take a batter to get into the box? How much time is there between pitches? How much time does it take to effectuate a pitching change? There are lots of things around the concept of a pitching change. How quickly does the guy get in from the bullpen? How many warmup pitches does he need?

"Those are all non-competitive things. When you get into dictating the use of a particular kind of player that affects the competition more directly, you have to go slower."

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After missing all of last year following season-ending knee surgery, Josh Hamilton appears to be on the verge of returning to the majors with the club in which he achieved the most success.

Hamilton is expected to sign with the Texas Rangers in the near future, with a minor-league deal reportedly considered a formality, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.

The Rangers watched Hamilton work out earlier this month and team doctors believe his knee is healthy. Sullivan adds a reunion is now just a matter of figuring out the details.

Hamilton last appeared in the majors with Texas in 2015, hitting .253/.291/.441 with eight home runs, eight doubles, and 52 strikeouts in 50 games.

Despite Hamilton having played just 139 games over the last three seasons, taking a flyer on the 35-year-old comes with little risk for the Rangers. The Angels are paying him $26 million this season in what is the final year of his deal he originally signed in 2012, while he helps bring additional depth and power from the corner outfield for the Rangers.

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The Canadian National Team will have an enormous absence for the World Baseball Classic as Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has declined the invitation to represent his country.

"I have decided to decline this year's WBC event," Votto said in a statement. "There were some aspects of my performance in 2016 that I have decided were lacking. I would like to use 2017 spring training for preparation.

"I am thankful to the Baseball Canada program for inviting me to join the team. It is an honor to represent my country. I made this decision with much reflection because of the pride I have wearing the Canadian flag on my uniform."

Votto, who represented Canada at the 2013 and 2009 tournament, is one of the premier Canadian players currently in the majors and would have been a core piece of the country's lineup at the WBC.

The 33-year-old slashed .326/.434/.550 with 29 home runs, 34 doubles, and 97 RBIs in 158 games for the Reds last season, hitting .408/.490/.668 in 72 games following the All-Star break.

While the news is a major blow for Canada, they still could add Freddie Freeman and Justin Morneau to play the position. All-Star catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Michael Saunders have already committed to play, though right-hander Jameson Taillon has declined.

Canada is in tough with tournament favorites, the United States and Dominican Republic in their group along with Colombia.

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The Philadelphia Phillies have been one of the more active teams during the offseason in an effort to improve as the calendar year gets set to turn over, but despite all of their additions they aren't interested in reuniting with two of the team's most productive players of the past decade.

Philadelphia has shown no interest in reuniting with free agent first baseman Ryan Howard or second baseman Chase Utley, reports Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

Although the Phillies have taken an approach of acquiring veteran players on one-year deals during the offseason thus far - with the likelihood of trading them at the midsummer deadline - general manager Matt Klentak has shied away from the pair, who spent a combined 26 seasons with the club.

The Phillies could be more interested in a different left-handed bat such as veteran Kelly Johnson, Heyman believes.

The 37-year-old Howard and 38-year-old Utley combined to make nine All-Star appearances during their stay in the "City of Brotherly Love," which included a World Series title in 2008.

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The year of 2016 wasn't very kind to the New York Mets - something Noah Syndergaard feels strongly about.

The 24-year-old staff ace and superhero-resembling right-hander took to Twitter - as he usually does - lamenting the year that was after a large number of Mets players missed time with injury.

2016 Mets Recap:
Wright hurt
Duda hurt
Walker hurt
Harvey hurt
Degrom hurt
Matz hurt
Wheeler delayed
lost Wild Card
Bart leaves ☹️
2016: 🖕U

— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) December 28, 2016
Syndergaard's grief isn't surprising, as the Mets rash of injuries - particularly to their starting rotation - contributed to New York's early postseason exit after advancing to the World Series in 2015.

Along with the injuries, Syndergaard isn't too happy that Bartolo "Big Sexy" Colon is no longer with the team, after the 43-year-old signed a one-year, $12.5-million deal with the Atlanta Braves.

For the young starter's sake, let's hope 2017 is a lot kinder to the Mets.

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The Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista appear to be talking once again.

With the new year approaching, Bautista's representatives are engaged in active contract discussions with the Blue Jays, sources told FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

General manager Ross Atkins told MLB Network on Tuesday that the 36-year-old was still an alternative for the Blue Jays, after Bautista said he would be willing to accept a one-year deal to re-sign with them if it exceeded the $17.2-million qualifying offer he rejected in November.

"He is a proven force in the lineup. He's obviously still an alternative for us and we're glad that he is," Atkins said. "We'll do everything we can to improve our team and that is one avenue."

The six-time All-Star, who has hit 265 home runs with the club since joining them in 2008, had a down year last season amid injury issues, hitting .234/.366/.452 while posting his lowest OPS (.817) since 2009.

The Blue Jays have reportedly been on the hunt for an outfielder to add to their roster for most of the offseason, and have been linked to Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson of the New York Mets, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and free agents Brandon Moss and Michael Saunders.

Re-signing Bautista wouldn't cost the team any draft pick compensation, which would be a huge plus.

Over the course of his 13-year career in the bigs, he owns a .255/.368/.493 slash line with 308 home runs and 862 RBIs.

He earned $14 million last season.

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Retired pitcher Curt Schilling has never been one to keep his thoughts to himself, and he made sure his opinions were made clear once again in a recent interview about his chances of being elected into baseball's Hall of Fame.
The 50-year-old, who has drawn a load of criticism on social media thanks to his views on numerous subjects such as transgender people and politics, appeared on the Kirk & Callahan radio show on WEEI Thursday to discuss the subject and didn't hold back.
"I'm either going to be in the Hall of Fame or not based on the people who vote," he said. "I've never hit my wife. I've never driven drunk. I've never shot anyone. I've never shot myself. All the things that people are in the news for, I haven't done those things.
"It doesn’t mean I haven't made some major mistakes, but 99.9 percent of mine are my mouth because I am passionate about the things I believe in. I don't get offended by people who don't believe in my (views)."
Schilling, who is listed on 53.3 percent of submitted ballots, according to data collected by Ryan Thibodaux, is on the ballot for a fifth time along with Sammy Sosa, whom he believes should also be an easy choice for voters to elect, despite his ties to performance-enhancing drugs.
"Sammy Sosa hit 60-plus homers three years in a row. The writers are clearly telling you they think he is a fraud, but there are other guys that cheated, who are getting voted in."
Schilling also touched on Ivan Rodriguez, who has appeared on 85.2 percent of submitted ballots, despite being named by Jose Canseco as a steroid user in 2005.
"I don't know. He was a Canseco guy. Canseco is like WikiLeaks, never been wrong. I think he was a phenomenal player. I don't know. That's the tough one because it gets back to the point - where do you draw the, if you're going to draw a line where do you draw it and how do you draw it? I don't know. I love Pudge, which there is a personal piece to that, but I don't know. I think he's the best defensive catcher I ever saw."
Eligible Hall of Fame candidates must appear on 75 percent of ballots in order to be elected.

Last edited on Fri Dec 30th, 2016 03:47 am by lobo316

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"Rock" looks to be a lock for Cooperstown.

Tim Raines, the former big-league outfielder who played 11 years with the Montreal Expos before stints with the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, and Florida Marlins, has seen his Hall of Fame chances skyrocket in his final year of eligibility.

Raines' name has been ticked on 121 out of 134 (90.3 percent) Hall of Fame ballots, according to Ryan Thibodaux's Hall of Fame tracker. The early tally is currently the second-highest amount of votes in this year's class, behind only former Houston Astros infielder Jeff Bagwell, who has been on 93.2 percent of ballots.

Raines nearly cracked the Hall earlier in 2016, but fell just short of the required 75 percent of votes, finishing at 69.8. Campaigns from prominent members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, however, including CBS Sports' Jonah Keri, seem to have persuaded eligible voters to give Raines one last chance at Cooperstown.

The 23-year veteran's case isn't without merit, either. In nine seasons with the Expos from 1979-90, Raines was named an All-Star seven times, and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting on three occasions, including an impressive 1983 season when he slashed .298/.393/.429 with 90 stolen bases and a league-best 133 runs scored in 156 games.

While his speed on the basepaths dropped off later in his playing days, the former left fielder's 808 stolen bases in 954 tries remains the highest stolen-base percentage in MLB history at 84.7 percent (among players with at least 400 attempts). His batting numbers remained consistent throughout his career as well, as he retired in 2002 with a .294/.385/.425 career slash line.

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Brian Cashman has high hopes for Aroldis Chapman's second stint with the New York Yankees.

The general manager was a guest Thursday on MLB Network's "High Heat" where he revealed the fireballer's longevity is a strength the Yankees fully intend to make use of, if possible.

"We certainly hope that Chapman … can be a freak of nature in terms of his durability as we move forward," Cashman said.

A more durable Chapman may also allow the Bronx Bombers to experiment slightly with his traditional closer role, though it may not be the southpaw's preferred usage. Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon managed Chapman in a more liberal role during the team's 2016 postseason run, though the left-hander didn't agree with the different utilization in the playoffs.


Along with his 100-mph fastballs, Chapman's relatively injury-free career has allowed him to be a consistent threat out of the bullpen. His last serious injury came in March 2014 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds when a line drive struck him in the head, forcing him to undergo surgery and miss 34 games.

Last edited on Fri Dec 30th, 2016 03:54 am by lobo316

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The New York Yankees are expected to field a predominantly youthful squad for the 2017 campaign, led by the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Luis Cessa. They also expect big things from Greg Bird, who missed the entire 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

The 24-year-old first baseman underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in February. Now in recovery, Bird said he's surprised by his strong progress to date as he looks forward to next season.

"At this point, I feel so much better than I did before," Bird explained in a video posted on the Yankees' Facebook page. "... I have no doubt in my mind that I can go out and perform this year like I want to perform. The doctor told me when he did the surgery you’re going to be amazed at how good this thing is going to feel when it’s all said and done, and technically it’s not all said and done yet and it’s already catching me off guard at times with how unbelievable it is in a lot of ways, so I’m excited."

Bird provided the Yankees with a productive 46 games to end the 2015 season, when he hit 11 home runs and recorded 31 RBIs to go along with an .871 OPS. After hurting his shoulder, however, Bird chose the surgery route because he didn't believe it would hold up for an entire season.

"I think it was really kind of an over time thing, just wear and tear and then maybe a few specific times where I might’ve banged it around a little too much," Bird said. "I took time off in the offseason and tried rehab and it just didn’t do anything for it. It was almost in a worse place than it was before that. At that point it’s like how are you going to get through another season with a shoulder like this. We had to make the decision to have surgery, and now looking back on it it was the right decision for sure because I feel a lot better, I’m confident in it again and I’m right where I want to be."

If completely healthy, Bird is expected to compete with Tyler Austin for the starting first base job when the Yankees enter spring training.

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The Cleveland Indians went all-in to get Edwin Encarnacion. So much so, they can't afford to bring back one of their key players.

After signing Encarnacion to a three-year, $60-million deal, the Indians "have exhausted their budget," according to Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer, meaning they likely don't have the funds to bring back speedy outfielder Rajai Davis.

Despite being 36 years old, Davis had an extremely productive season, slashing .249/.306/.388 with 43 stolen bases and a career-high 12 home runs over 134 games.

Davis earned $5.25 million last season and platooned with left-handed hitting outfielder Tyler Naquin.

Over the course of 11 seasons, Davis has 365 stolen bases and is slashing .267/.314/.387.

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Jose Abreu is apparently a hot commodity in Chicago.

Teams are reportedly showing more interest in working out a trade with the White Sox for the Cuban infielder than power-hitting third baseman Todd Frazier, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Despite the unequal interest, Cafardo adds the White Sox have been making "due diligence" calls on Frazier, who could very well entice a club looking for right-handed power in their lineup.

The higher interest in Abreu could be due in part to a down year by Frazier that saw him slash .225/.302/.464 despite mashing 40 home runs in 2016. Abreu, meanwhile, owned a .293/.353/.468 slash line, and also has the benefit of longer team control, as his current contract runs through 2019 while Frazier, who's also a year older, will be a free agent at the end of the upcoming season.

That the White Sox are willing to trade anyone with value on the roster this offseason has been no secret. General manager Rick Hahn has already authored two high-profile trades this winter, sending ace Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox and outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals.

Both moves significantly overhauled the club's farm system as Chicago received both Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito, the top position and pitching prospects in the majors, respectively, according to MLBPipeline.com.

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Noah Syndergaard might have a bit of an issue with Bryce Harper.

The Washington Nationals superstar outfielder offered up his fiery support for Ohio State ahead of its contest against Clemson in an Instagram post Friday, though not everyone enjoyed his roaring manner, apparently.

In a not-so-subtle comment on a republished video, Syndergaard referred to Harper as a "douche," but later deleted the insult. As we should know by now, though, nothing ever goes away on the internet:

Noah Syndergaard, barstool commenter..Bryce Harper hater pic.twitter.com/sR0FRXwhZ8

— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) December 31, 2016
On a semi-related note, the two division rivals will play each other for the first time next season on April 21 in New York.

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If there was any doubt about where right-hander Matt Bush would factor into the Texas Rangers' plans for next season, general manager Jon Daniels made things very clear.

Daniels told 1310 KTCK last week that Bush will enter camp as a reliever, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

"Matt Bush is coming into camp as a reliever," Daniels said. "I expect him to be a very good reliever for us."

The hard-throwing 30-year-old, who was absent from baseball for four years due to a number of off-field incidents, is happy to pitch where the team wants him to, although starting has crossed his mind.

"I thought about (starting) a little bit, just the idea of it," Bush explained. "Looking back on my season, I'm very grateful and very thankful to be able to stay healthy and strong and continue to progress into the role I was in. I'm looking forward to being able to do the same (in 2017).

"I've never started professionally. I feel great with where I'm at as a reliever right now. I feel like it's the best place for me right now. I still have some building to do with my arm. My career is very young. I just want to continue to do what I did last year."

In his first season in the big leagues, Bush posted a 7-2 mark with a 2.48 ERA, which included 61 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings as a reliever, but with the Rangers' abundance of depth in their bullpen and a need in their rotation, the idea of Bush starting had been rumored, but was ultimately shot down.

"(He has) a lot of things you would look for in a starting pitcher. ... That's why we had the conversation," Daniels said. "The flip side is the unknowns. He hasn't pitched a whole lot given his background as a converted shortstop and missing time. There's so much unknown. He hasn't been trained as a starter. He hasn't built up innings."

If the season began today, the Rangers would use a rotation featuring Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Andrew Cashner, and A.J. Griffin.

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Jose Canseco is using social media make his feelings known once again, this time attacking Major League Baseball's decision not to allow certain players into the Hall of Fame.

On Sunday, Canseco unleashed a barrage of tweets, accusing MLB of being a hypocrite in its selection process.

Canseco believes MLB is allowing entrance to certain players who used performance-enhancing drugs throughout their careers, while making it difficult for others who did the same.

The hall of fame MLB induction. ..MLB don't be such a hypocrite. Don't hand select.let all the ped users in or don't let any in

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 2, 2017
As of Monday, 154 ballots have been submitted by eligible voters for the 2017 Hall of Fame class, according to Ryan Thibodaux. Among them are several players who are right on the cusp of meeting the 75 percent required to be inducted, including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two players Canseco believes should be in.

How dare MLB not let bonds ,mcguire, palmeiro,sosa,Juan Gonzalez and Roger clemens in the MLB hall of fame..

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 2, 2017
The two candidates are easy Hall of Fame inductees based solely on career numbers, but both are known users of performance-enhancing drugs. Canseco didn't seem to care about their use when it came to their election, and slammed the voting process as a whole.

They have inducted and will induct several more well-known ped users into the Hall of Fame MLB should be ashamed of them of themselves

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 2, 2017
MLB HD perfect definition of hypocrisy either let all the PD users who qualify in or do not have select or let none in

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 2, 2017
whole voting system should be revamped the writers who vote on the Hall of Fame should be replaced with more educated knowledgeable writers

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 2, 2017
The 52 year-old Canseco, who hit 462 home runs and won an MVP award during his 17-year career, was an admitted PED user during his playing days and wrote a tell-all book "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big" in which he named several players who used steroids during their careers.

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The Cincinnati Reds announced Tuesday they have signed right-handed reliever Drew Storen to a one-year contract.

Storen's deal with the Reds is worth a reported $3 million, though he could earn another $1.5 million in performance bonuses, as well as $500,000 if he is traded, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Storen is coming off a "Jekyll and Hyde" campaign in 2016 that saw him produce drastically different results with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. After opening the year in Toronto, Storen struggled north of the border, posting a 6.21 ERA in 33 1/3 innings.

He fared much better following a late July trade to the Mariners, however, pitching to a 3.44 ERA in Seattle in 18 1/3 innings.

With Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen already possible ninth-inning arms on the Reds, Storen is unlikely to take up his former closer role with Cincinnati.

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This doesn't make sense for the Phils





The Philadelphia Phillies could be about to make a giant splash on the market.

Free-agent slugger Jose Bautista is reportedly on the Phillies' wide-ranging list of potential targets, though Philadelphia is hesitant about having to surrender a draft pick to sign the former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder, sources told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Bautista is tied to draft-pick compensation after rejecting a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays in November. Though it has arguably hurt his market, the Phillies would only have to cough up a second-round pick to sign the outfielder, thanks to their bottom-10 finish in the majors last season.

While Bautista, 36, would likely prefer to sign with a contender at this point in his career, Philadelphia's low payroll and an opening in right field - Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr are currently their projected right fielders for 2017 - could entice free agents to the City of Brotherly Love.

Joining Bautista on the Phillies' reported list of considered targets are Michael Saunders, Brandon Moss, and New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce. While a trade would be required to land Bruce, Rosenthal adds the Phillies would consider a swap if they do not have to send significant prospects in a deal with New York.

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It seems as though Aaron Sanchez has chosen to be represented by the most powerful agent in all of sports.

The 24-year-old right-hander has joined Boras Corporation - the sporting agency run by Scott Boras, sources told Hazel Mae of Sportsnet.

It's an interesting development, as the Toronto Blue Jays' relationship with the outspoken agent has been cloudy at best. The organization ended a long drought of signing non-Boras clients after the team agreed to a deal with Franklin Morales in April. Before Morales, the Blue Jays had not negotiated a contract with a client of Boras' since Brad Wilkerson in 2008.

It should be noted, however, that Boras' relationship with current Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro is a lot better than it was with Alex Anthopoulos. The sports agent was critical of the team in the past regarding their stance on refusing to offer free agents a contract of five years or more.

Sanchez will be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2018 and is still under team control until 2021, so any long-term contract negotiations with the Blue Jays and Boras will have to wait. The promising starter is coming off a terrific season where he posted a 15-2 record combining to an AL best ERA at 3.00, respectively.

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Following a year that included an investigation for sexual assault and his third DUI, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang may be removed from South Korea's roster ahead of the World Baseball Classic.

South Korea manager Kim In-sik touched on Kang's behavior saying he was mindful of the 29-year-old's "worsening public opinion" which has heavily influenced his impending decision of Kang's participation in the tournament.

"Kang Jung-ho is a great player, but I've started to wonder if it's worth the trouble taking him to the WBC (amid falling public opinion)," Kim told Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News Agency.

"Personally, I am leaning toward taking Kang off the roster."

The 2015 Rookie of the Year candidate was named to South Korea's roster in November before he was charged with leaving the scene of a DUI accident on Dec. 2 in Seoul. Kang's blood alcohol level was 0.084 percent during the accident, above the legal limit of 0.05 percent. It was his third DUI since 2009; he was also arrested in 2011 in an incident where he caused property damage.

Kang was also investigated for an alleged sexual assault on a woman in a Chicago hotel room in July, though no charges have been laid.

If Kang is in fact removed from South Korea's roster, Kim confirmed that St. Louis Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh would be considered as his replacement. Despite a strong rookie season with the Cardinals in which he posted 19 saves, Oh was left off the 28-man roster due to a fine from January 2016 on illegal overseas gambling charges.

Oh was suspended 72 games by the Korean Baseball Organization, though Kim admitted he thinks Oh's inclusion over Kang wouldn't be as chastised in the public eye.

Kang hit .255/.354/.513 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs last season with the Pirates.

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The Oakland Athletics are bringing back a familiar face.

The team has reunited with outfielder Rajai Davis - who spent three seasons with Oakland from 2008-10 - agreeing to terms on a one-year deal.

Although the team did not release financial details, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that the contract is worth $6 million.

The deal also includes $450,000 in performance bonuses, multiple sources told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 36-year-old was not extended a qualifying offer by the Cleveland Indians and was granted free agency. He is coming off a productive season with the Tribe after leading the American League in stolen bases with 43. He hit a career high 12 home runs last season and is most known for his clutch game-trying, two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series.

The Athletics will likely utilize Davis in all three outfield positions and as a base stealing threat. During his tenure with the Athletics, Davis swiped 116 bags and the veteran speedster is currently fifth among active players for stolen bases with 365.

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Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been officially removed from team Korea's 28-man roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, according to Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News Agency.

Korea's manager, Kim In-sik, made the decision in a meeting with team officials Wednesday, a day after admitting he was leaning towards removing Kang due to the 29-year-old's troubling history with driving under the influence of alcohol.

The third baseman was charged with his third DUI since 2009 - as well as fleeing the scene of an accident on Dec. 2 in Seoul. He was also under an investigation for an alleged sexual assault incident in July in a Chicago Hotel room, though no charges have been laid.

There was speculation that St. Louis Cardinals reliever Seung-hwan Oh would be considered as Kang's replacement. Instead, the roster spot will be filled by Kim Ha-seong - a 21-year-old All-Star shortstop playing for the Korean Baseball Organization's Nexen Heroes.

Team Korea will open the tournament against the Netherlands on March 7 in Seoul.

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Gavin Floyd may have only given the Toronto Blue Jays 28 appearances last season before a sprained shoulder put him out of action, but it appears that was enough to earn him a new deal with the club.

Toronto has re-signed the 33-year-old right-hander to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.

Floyd - once a durable starter in the Chicago White Sox organization who made 30-plus starts per season for the club from 2008-11 - has struggled with injury since 2013, appearing in only 49 games since then.

During his time with the Blue Jays last season, Floyd posted a 4.06 ERA over 31 innings of work, striking out 8.7 hitters per nine innings.

Over the course of his career, the veteran owns a 74-76 record with a 4.37 ERA and 1.32 WHIP across 243 appearances, 196 of which have been starts,

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Imagine how much money Mike Trout would make as a free agent this offseason.

At the ripe age of 25, Trout is a two-time MVP and easily the best player in baseball. Considering some of the contracts that were handed out this year, Trout would've netted a record-breaking deal that would've easily surpassed the $300-million mark - and possibly eclipsed $400 million.

So in a particularly weak market this year, the Los Angeles Angels superstar could've legally become a free agent due to a California state law, as described by Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs.

A relatively obscure provision under California law - specifically, Section 2855 of the California Labor Code - limits all personal services contracts (i.e., employment contracts) in the state to a maximum length of seven years. In other words, this means that if an individual were to sign an employment contract in California lasting eight or more years, then at the conclusion of the seventh year the employee would be free to choose to either continue to honor the agreement, or else opt out and seek employment elsewhere.

Trout was drafted by the Angels in June 2009, and has since signed a six-year extension worth $144.5-million in 2014. That means under the provision, Trout could realistically opt out of his deal without repercussion because 2017 will mark his ninth season employed by the organization.

Grow goes on to say the California legislature has considered eliminating the protection for certain professional athletes.

A player like Albert Pujols, who signed a fresh 10-year deal with the Angels in 2012, could walk away from his contract following the 2018 season.

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Alex Rodriguez has no intentions of returning to the diamond.

In 2017, that is.

Following his release by the New York Yankees last season, rumors began to swirl about whether or not A-Rod would return to baseball in an effort to reach the illustrious 700-home run plateau.

His agent, Ron Berkowitz, put those rumors to bed, saying his client intends to serve as the Yankees' special advisor in 2017, just as it was agreed upon.

"Alex is enjoying his time off and looking forward to heading to spring training to work with the young guys as he has said all along," Berkowitz said, according to Christian Red of the New York Daily News.

As far as Yankees general manager Brian Cashman knows, he's heard "nothing new" about a potential Rodriguez comeback this coming season.

That being said, if he wants to keep playing, Cashman won't stand in his way.

"He's certainly invited to participate in spring training," Cashman said. "But Alex is also free to do as he pleases, if he wants to try and keep playing. We welcome the opportunity for him to impact our young players at spring training.

"Alex would work directly for Hal (Steinbrenner)," he added. "All the parameters have been vocalized and they remain the same from last year. He's got a life to live too, and I'm sure he's going to have a lot of opportunities in broadcasting, in business.

"People will be tugging him in a lot of different directions."

Following the 2016 campaign, A-Rod excelled in his role as a postseason analyst for FOX Sports, which he also did in 2015.

By the numbers, and through the controversy that riddled most of his career, it's difficult to argue that Rodriguez is one of the greatest players of all time.

He has 696 career home runs, fourth on the all-time list behind legends Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. After netting a season-long suspension in 2014 following the Biogenesis doping scandal, he came back in 2015 to slash .250/.356/.486 with 33 homers and 86 RBIs.

It was a completely different story in 2016, though, as he crawled to a .200/.247/.351 line with 67 strikeouts in 65 games.

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The World Series champion Chicago Cubs showed an incredible amount of depth in not only their lineup, but their organization last season en route to the franchise's first World Series title since 1908, and they plan to continue to add to their deep squad before spring training gets underway.

Chicago is shopping for another starting pitcher with the idea of moving to a six-man rotation at some points next season to lessen the burden on some of their starters who logged a lot of innings during their strenuous run to the World Series, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Cubs starters logged a National League-leading 989 innings of work during the regular season, as well as an additional 93 1/3 of postseason work, last year. Most of the innings were courtesy of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and Kyle Hendricks.

Left-hander Mike Montgomery is currently slated to fill the fifth spot in the Cubs' rotation, but he's never pitched more than 100 innings during one MLB season in his career.

The Cubs have reportedly been one of the favorites to land free-agent right-hander Tyson Ross, but could also turn their attention to re-signing Travis Wood, or taking a look at trade acquisition Caleb Smith for the role, according to Sherman.

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randon Phillips must really love his life in Southern Ohio.

The Cincinnati Reds second baseman reportedly exercised his no-trade clause to block a trade for a second straight winter. This year, Phillips apparently vetoed a deal that would have sent him to the Atlanta Braves in November, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Cincinnati would have paid down a significant portion of Phillips' $14-million salary in 2017 as part of the deal, per Rosenthal; it's not clear what other players may have been involved in the proposed transaction, or why Phillips chose to block it. According to Rosenthal's sources, Phillips' motive was not money - rather, it was a personal decision stemming from "unspecified issues" he wanted changed before signing off on the deal.

The reported trade between Cincinnati and Atlanta was apparently being discussed at the same time the Braves were busy signing utility man Sean Rodriguez - whose primary position is second base - to a multi-year contract. Once Rodriguez was officially signed, the likelihood of Phillips joining the Braves decreased considerably; there's still a faint, but very unlikely, chance that talks could be rekindled, according to Rosenthal.

Last season, the rebuilding Reds had deals in place to send Phillips to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals, both of which were blocked by the 35-year-old. In the case of the Washington deal, Phillips reportedly demanded an extension from the club but was rebuffed; he made no such requests to Atlanta this time around, reports Rosenthal, and the Braves - also in the midst of a rebuild - apparently weren't interested in him as a long-term option anyway.

In a December interview, Phillips refused to answer whether he'd ever waive his no-trade clause to leave Cincinnati, saying only that he's still very happy to be playing baseball in the Queen City.

"Honestly I haven't really thought about anything," he said at the time, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "All I know is I'm the starting second baseman of the Cincinnati Reds, as of right now. I'm happy just to have a job. I'll just go from there. I don't really know what's going to happen. The only thing I know is I'm still in the Major Leagues. I'm playing baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. I love my city. I'm happy where I'm at. I can't really predict the future."

Phillips has spent the last 11 seasons in Cincinnati, where he's made three All-Star teams and won four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. Last season he hit .291/.320/.416 with 11 homers over 141 games for the lowly Reds, but he posted a career-worst minus-7 defensive runs saved in the field. The Reds would like to move Phillips in order to give young second baseman Dilson Herrera the everyday job.

Phillips, a free agent after this coming season, is a native of Georgia and lives in the Atlanta area.

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Edwin Encarnacion officially moved on from the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday when the Cleveland Indians announced their three-year deal with the slugger and unveiled him at a press conference.

While Encarnacion discussed a number of topics Thursday - including why he made the decision to join the Indians, his admiration for manager Terry Francona, and the bond he's already created with new teammates Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor - he also expressed his difficulties with walking away from the Blue Jays.

"It's very hard for me ... but I'm moving forward now," Encarnacion said before thanking the entire Blue Jays organization and their fans for their support.

The Blue Jays, in turn, thanked Encarnacion for his eight stellar years with the franchise via a video tribute celebrating his legacy in Canada.

Thanks for everything, @Encadwin! pic.twitter.com/yQR97v9n2j

— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 5, 2017
Encarnacion finished his time in Toronto ranked among the franchise's top 10 hitters in home runs (239), RBIs (679), walks (477), slugging percentage (.522), and runs scored (593), but he's excited about joining a new team in Cleveland - one that nearly won the World Series this past season.

"Everybody knows Cleveland has one of the best teams in the American League. I'm happy to be here. I want to win," Encarnacion said.

The 33-year-old hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and 127 RBIs for the Blue Jays last season, and is expected to provide the Indians with power in the middle of their lineup, replacing Mike Napoli, who's still on the free-agent market.

Over the course of his 12-year career, Encarnacion owns a .266/.352/.498 slash line with 310 home runs and 942 RBIs.

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Just hours after dealing Seth Smith for pitching the Seattle Mariners appear to have filled their vacant outfield spot, as they've reportedly acquired speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for right-hander Nathan Karns, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.

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The Baltimore Orioles have traded right-hander Yovani Gallardo and cash to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith.

In his lone season with the Orioles, Gallardo struggled as he was marred by injuries. Despite the off-year, he should step into the vacancy in the Mariners' rotation created by Taijuan Walker, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in November.

“Gallardo gives us the veteran presence that we have been searching for,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a release. “He has a track record of durability and success as a starting pitcher. After examining the free agent and trade market, Yovani is the best fit for our club as we move forward this offseason.”

Over his 10-year career, Gallardo owns a 3.79 ERA. He spent the first eight years with the Milwaukee Brewers, the 2015 season with the Texas Rangers, and last year with Baltimore.

In 2016, he went 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA over 118 innings of work.

Heading to Baltimore, Smith likely won't produce nearly as much as Mark Trumbo did last season for the Orioles, but he'll bring veteran leadership and pop to the lineup.

Last season, his 10th in the majors, Smith slashed .249/.342/.415 with 16 homers and 63 RBIs over 137 games.

"Seth Smith is a veteran leader, good on-base man and proven hitter," Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said, according to the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. "We look forward to his contributions to the 2017 Orioles."

The trade will also save the Orioles roughly $4 million in salary.

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The Texas Rangers reportedly added some much-needed depth to their outfield on Friday, agreeing to a minor-league deal with Travis Snider, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Snider, who will earn $1 million should he land on the Rangers' major-league roster, has bounced around during his eight-year career, and spent all of last season with the Kansas City Royals' Triple-A affiliate. In 84 games, he hit .245/.340/.350 with three home runs, 16 doubles, and 63 strikeouts.

The 28-year-old last played in the majors in 2015, splitting time between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. Since 2013, he owns a combined .239/.313/.379 slash line with 22 home runs in 338 major-league games, seeing time in both left and right field.

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Ballots from the Baseball Writers' Association of America continue to roll in for the 2017 Hall of Fame class, and among the names currently in good position to be elected in their first year of eligibility is Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who has appeared on 82.5 percent of ballots (75 percent is required for election), according to stats courtesy of Ryan Thibodaux.

While nearly 60 percent of ballots haven't been received, Rodriguez is in good shape to enter the Hall on his first try and has the support of another legendary backstop, Johnny Bench, who was elected into the Hall in 1989 during his first year of eligibility.

"He should be a lock," Bench said last week, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. "Thirteen Gold Gloves. As complete a catcher as I've ever seen. He was intimidating behind the plate, a real solid hitter and incredibly durable. He is everything you'd hope for at the position."

During the course of his 21 years of big-league ball, Rodriguez squatted behind the plate in more games than any catcher in history (2,543), topping second place finisher Carlton Fisk by more than 200 games.

He was also a 14-time All-Star, an AL MVP winner in 1999, and owned a lifetime hitting line of .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs, 1,332 RBIs, and 127 stolen bases.

"Those are crazy numbers," Bench told Grant. "I had 17 broken bones in my body. I got to a point where I simply couldn't physically do it anymore. He kept doing it - and at a high level - for much longer. For him to endure the beating he took back there and keep playing, those numbers alone show that he belongs."

One thing working against Rodriguez, however, is his link to performance-enhancing drugs. He was named by former teammate Jose Canseco as a steroid user in the tell-all book "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big" in 2005, which Canseco later confirmed during an interview with Mike Wallace.

"In '92, you were traded to the Texas Rangers," Wallace asked. "Did you teach your new teammates how to use steroids?"

"Yes. We spoke and educated three or four players there. ... Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez," Canseco explained. "I injected them. Absolutely."

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Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo got a huge scare on Friday when his parents happened to be in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport during Friday's deadly shooting.

Rizzo said on Twitter that his parents were just passing through the airport en route to another destination. Fortunately, they were able to escape unharmed, leaving their 27-year-old son both grateful and upset for those who weren't as lucky.

Parents were traveling through FLL today during the shooting. So thankful they r ok. Praying for those families not getting the same news.

— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) January 6, 2017
A lone gunman opened fire in a baggage-claim area at the busy airport on Friday afternoon. Five people were killed and at least eight were wounded. The suspect, identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, has been taken into custody, according to Erik Ortiz and Kalhan Rosenblatt of NBC News.

The Miami Marlins, whose ballpark is located about 28 miles south of the Fort Lauderdale Airport, also took a moment to pay tribute to those affected by Friday's events.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) January 6, 2017

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Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto had himself a very busy Friday - and he may not be done yet.

After swinging two trades on Friday, Dipoto told Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune that he's open to adding more pitching this winter.

One pitcher was acquired by Dipoto on Friday in the form of right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who came over from Baltimore for outfielder Seth Smith. But Dipoto also dealt away another arm Friday when he sent Nathan Karns to the Royals for Smith's outfield replacement in Jarrod Dyson.


The Mariners have been targeting rotation upgrades throughout this offseason, but hadn't had success finding arms aside from the Gallardo deal, and acquiring Chris Heston via trade earlier this winter. They've already been linked to several veteran pitchers still on the open market, including one-time Mariner Doug Fister, and were reportedly in contact with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds about starting pitching.

It's not known if the Mariners are working on any more moves or are speaking with any free agents following Friday's flurry of action.

Seattle's starters struggled as a unit last season. Ace Felix Hernandez missed time due to injury and didn't resemble himself throughout the year, while three pitchers who started at least 19 games for the team finished with ERA's above 4.00.

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Tyson Ross has been a popular name on the rumor mill as of late, with the free-agent right-hander reportedly drawing interest from the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Washington Nationals.

Although the Nationals appear to be a "long shot," according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, they do have an ace up their sleeves in the form of Tyson's younger brother Joe, who pitches for the team.

On Friday, the younger Ross sibling discussed the idea of the Nationals signing his brother with Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post, and assured he wouldn't mind it happening, although it would have to be on one condition.

"He can come here as long as he doesn’t take my job," Joe joked. "I’ve been trying to get him over here."

The Nationals appear to have a full rotation next season, with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, and the younger Ross, but signing Tyson could be added insurance, especially after Strasburg missed time battling various injuries - including an elbow problem - in 2016.

The 29-year-old Tyson pitched just one game - on Opening Day - for the San Diego Padres in 2016, missing the season with a shoulder issue before undergoing thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

During his career, he owns a 3.64 ERA across 153 appearances, 102 of which have been starts.

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Dan Duquette isn't discounting anyone as a possible addition to the Orioles, no matter how much the city of Baltimore may despise them.

In December, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations infamously referred to Jose Bautista as a "villain in Baltimore" and appeared to rule out his club as a potential destination for the free-agent slugger. But with the 36-year-old still looking for an employer in 2017, Duquette cleared the air regarding his comments, stating an improbable pairing with Bautista isn't off the table.

"I was just trying to make it clear to the agent that we didn't want the fans to be upset that we were trying to bring Bautista here after we had competed against him for the last six or seven years," Duquette said on MLB Network Radio on Sunday. "That kind of got blown out of proportion."

Bautista joining the Orioles may be the last thing some Baltimore fans want. After nine seasons with their AL East rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays, the outfielder has been involved in a handful of incidents with the team in recent years, perhaps most notably his war of words with reliever Darren O'Day.

As long as the conditions are right, though, Baltimore will keep an open mind throughout free agency.

"We are always interested in the market this time of year," Duquette said. "There is some good value. We're still interested in a number of players in the market. We'll have to see if there's a match."

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The hype involving the Chicago Cubs wasn't just a 2016 thing.

After the historic franchise ended a 108-year World Series curse in November when it defeated the Cleveland Indians for its first championship since 1908, people still really want to watch them play baseball, even if it's just at spring training.

Cubs fans began lining up at 3 a.m. to purchase spring training tickets - which went on sale seven hours later - in Mesa, Ariz. on Saturday, according to Paola Bolvin of The Arizona Republic.

3TV News shared footage of the die-hard Cubs fans, who weren't willing to risk not getting tickets online when ticket sales opened up, waiting in the cold instead.

"I've been in line since 3:30 this morning with my buddy," fan Pete Contreras told Lindsay Reiser of AZ Family.com.

Ticket purchasers even paid premium prices and exorbitant fees, according to Bolvin, to get their hands on what should be the hottest tickets in spring training.

Cubs pitchers and catchers report to camp on Feb. 14, while position players are scheduled to arrive on Feb.17. The club will open up its spring with split-squad games against the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants.

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Manny Ramirez is the only member of the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot who will play professional baseball next season.

Manny Ramírez de 44 años, jugará en la Liga de Japón 🇯🇵. @elrinconbeisbol pic.twitter.com/8K4mbVNbSr

— ALFONSO VENEGAS (@alfonsovenegasv) January 9, 2017
The former big leaguer has agreed to a deal with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League Plus, the club announced.

The SILP is an independent league in Japan, and is not affiliated with Nippon Professional Baseball, the highest level of competition in the country.

Ramirez's last full season in the majors came in 2010, when he split time between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. He also appeared in five games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

The 44-year-old's last action in affiliated ball was in 2013 as a member of the Iowa Cubs, the Chicago Cubs' Triple-A affiliate. He appeared in 24 games, belting three homers.

As of the latest Hall of Fame count, compiled by Ryan Thibodaux, Ramirez has garnered 25.1 percent of the vote, meaning he'll have to wait until 2018 for another crack at getting into the Hall.

Over his 19-year big-league career, Ramirez was a 12-time All-Star and a nine-time Silver Slugger recipient. He has 555 career home runs, 1,831 RBIs, and an impressive slash line of .312/.411/.585.

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Team USA's chances of winning the World Baseball Classic took a hit on Monday when the Washington Nationals announced right-hander Max Scherzer won't pitch in the event - which begins in March - due to a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, according to MASNsports' Mark Zuckerman.

The Nationals did not provide details about how Scherzer injured his finger, but said he's expected to be ready for spring training.

The 32-year-old, winner of the 2016 National League Cy Young, was expected to headline a formidable American pitching staff along with the likes of Chris Archer, Andrew Miller, Marcus Stroman, and Danny Duffy.

Scherzer dominated the NL last season, posting a 20-7 record with 284 strikeouts and a 2.96 ERA across 228 1/3 innings, en route to the second Cy Young of his nine-year career.

Team USA - which plays its first contest of the WBC on March 10 - is part of a tough Pool C that includes the defending champion Dominican Republic, along with Colombia and Canada.

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Murray Chass is sticking with his controversial Hall of Fame vote, or a lack thereof.

The former New York Times and Associated Press writer drew backlash Sunday for intentionally submitting a blank Hall of Fame ballot despite a loaded 2017 class - but he's standing behind the decision.

"I don't have to defend not voting for anybody," Murray said Monday as a guest on MLB Network Radio. "In my opinion, the players fell short of what is a HOF player or used stuff."

Submitting a blank ballot is a controversial tactic, as it increases the total number of votes a player requires. Therefore, with the threshold set at 75 percent for election, submitting a blank ballot hurts every players' chances more than simply not voting at all.

While Chass did recognize some on the ballot for their talent, he said none of them stood out as Hall of Fame worthy.

"The Hall is for the best players, not very good players," Chass said. "There are players on ballot that are very good, but fall short of HOF."

Though Chass is no longer an active member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America - he left the New York Times in 2008 - he's allowed to continue voting for the Hall of Fame thanks to the J.G. Taylor Spink Award he received in 2003, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Spink Award is the highest prize given by the BBWAA.

In 2016, the only vote on Chass' ballot was for Ken Griffey Jr., despite being able to vote for a maximum of 10 eligible names.

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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman took significant steps to improve both the bullpen and the offense this winter, though the rotation is likely to remain as is when the team heads for spring training next month.

"We stay engaged with the marketplace, but I think more likely than not - 99 percent likely - we are going to be going to camp with what we have," Cashman told ESPN's Jim Bowden, according to Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News.

"And that's (Mashiro) Tanaka, CC (Sabathia), and (Michael) Pineda locked into three spots and then five guys competing for the final two spots between - in no order - (Adam) Warren, (Luis) Cessa, (Chad) Green, (Bryan) Mitchell, and (Luis) Severino."

The Yankees' inconsistent rotation ranked as one of the worst in the American League in 2016, posting a 4.44 ERA over 916 innings. Tanaka was the staff ace, posting a 3.07 ERA over a career-high 199 2/3 innings, and the Yankees will need to rely on him heavily once again with concerns over the durability and consistency of both Sabathia and Pineda.

Cashman has reportedly been engaged in trade talks with the Chicago White Sox involving Jose Quintana, though there's been a reluctance to part with the farm system. The Yankees will need to add some pitchers under contract over the next few seasons as Sabathia and Pineda are both free agents in 2018, while Tanaka can also opt out of his contract.

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The Boston Red Sox will head into spring training hoping the third time's the charm for Pablo Sandoval at the hot corner.

Sandoval struggled in his first full season in Boston in 2015, and missed all but three games in 2016 after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Fully recovered and personally motivated to make good on the five-year, $90-million deal he signed two winters ago, Sandoval now has some idea of the benchmarks the club would like him to hit this coming season.

"He's in great shape," Dombrowski told Buster Olney of ESPN. "He's worked very hard this wintertime. I think he's driven to show that he's still a real solid major league player. I think he can come back and be a good, dependable, everyday third baseman for us from an offensive and defensive perspective.

"I think if he can go out there and hit us .270 to .275 and hit 12 to 15 home runs and knock in 70 to 75 runs at third base for us, I don't think that's asking too much for him. He's done those types of things in the past. Now, he has to go and do it. He has to go and perform. But I think at his age, which he's still in the prime of his career, with the focus that he has, with the talent that he has, I think it's very realistic expectations. He doesn't need to carry us. He just needs to give us solid play at third base."

Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 126 games in his first season in Boston, a far cry from his production during his seven seasons in San Francisco in which he averaged a .294/.346/.465 slash line to go with 15 homers and 66 RBIs.

Much of the concern early on in Boston has been Sandoval's lack of fitness and his inability to hit left-handed pitching. He slashed .199/.244/.319 against lefties in 2015, limiting his effectiveness as a switch-hitter, while committing a career-high 15 errors.

To Sandoval's credit, he's said and done all the right things this winter. He admitted last month to becoming complacent after signing with the Red Sox, but said that he his motivated to revive his career and has shown a dramatic improvement physically with his offseason workout.

After losing the starting job to Travis Shaw last spring, Sandoval will enter camp as the primary option after the Red Sox traded Shaw to Milwaukee last month.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a deal with free-agent outfielder Colby Rasmus, a source told FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

The one-year deal will reportedly pay Rasmus $5 million in guaranteed money, and contains another $2 million in incentives, according to multiple reports.

Heyman first reported the Rays as a possibility for Rasmus earlier Monday.

Rasmus slashed .206/.286/.355 in 107 games with the Houston Astros in 2016 before having his season cut short due to injuries. He played his last game of 2016 on Sept. 18 before reportedly undergoing surgeries in the offseason to repair a core muscle as well as a hip labrum, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi.

The 30-year-old will likely split time in left field with Corey Dickerson, though Rasmus can also provide backup for Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier in center field.

Through eight MLB seasons, Rasmus owns a career .241/.311/.434 slash line and has blasted 156 home runs. Along with the Astros, he's also had stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays.

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Shortly after it was revealed that Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer would forego his opportunity to pitch in the World Baseball Classic due to a stress fracture in his finger, he released a statement saying this isn't a new injury.

Related: Scherzer won't pitch in WBC due to stress fracture in finger

Scherzer said the injury in his right ring finger first occurred late in the season, but because it didn't affect his pitching, coupled with not knowing the severity of it, he pitched through the pain.

"In late August I experienced discomfort in my right ring finger and received a finger sprain diagnosis," Scherzer said via Twitter. "Since I was pain free during my starts and my performance and velocity were unaffected, I continued to pitch.

"The medical staff and I both agreed this likely wouldn't resolve itself until the offseason when I could rest. By December my symptoms had not dissipated and that's when a second (sic) MRI revealed a stress fracture in the knuckle of my right ring finger."

Scherzer made six starts following his appearance on Aug. 30. Injured or not, he went a perfect 6-0 to close out the year, owning a 3.29 ERA over 38 1/3 innings of work during that span.

Still, Scherzer won't take a chance on jeopardizing his 2017 season.

"I am no longer in a position to compete in the World Baseball Classic," Scherzer said. "I am disappointed that I will not get to reunite with Jim Leyland and Jeff Jones, but I'm excited to see how Team USA performs this spring."

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LOS ANGELES - Kenley Jansen is coming back to close games for the Los Angeles Dodgers after finalizing an $80-million, five-year contract.

The team announced the deal Tuesday with the 29-year-old free agent right-hander, who earned his first All-Star selection last year. The contract was agreed to Dec. 12, subject to a physical.

Jansen was 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA and a career-high 47 saves, tied for second in the major leagues, in 53 chances last season. He ranked second among NL relief leaders with a 1.83 ERA, fifth with 104 strikeouts and first with a 9.45 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Jansen threw scoreless relief in six of seven postseason appearances.

He is 19-13 with a 2.20 ERA and 189 saves in seven major league seasons with the Dodgers since making his big league debut in 2010.

Last season, Jansen became the franchise saves leader with 189 and strikeouts as a reliever with 632.

The native of Curacao was signed by the Dodgers in 2004 and spent the first five years of his career as a catcher before converting to pitcher in 2009.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated infielder Micah Johnson for assignment.

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The Detroit Tigers' offseason has been anything but exciting, as the franchise has only added a backup catcher in Alex Avila and traded away outfielder Cameron Maybin, while signing a number of players to minor-league deals.

It was presumed the Tigers were doing this while looking for ways to limit or even shed payroll after comments from general manager Al Avila indicated as such in November, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Avila appeared on MLB Network on Tuesday and stated he was never asked to get rid of salary by ownership.

"Frankly, ownership has not told me to dump salary," he said, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck. "Basically they asked me: If you can make a good baseball trade, that's great."

Avila's words come two months after he said nearly the opposite, which created speculation about the futures of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and Victor Martinez in Tigers uniforms.

"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 back in November. "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."

Detroit has missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons after winning four consecutive division titles, but is forced to compete with the 2016 American League champion Cleveland Indians, who recently upgraded their roster by inking slugger Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year deal.

The Tigers currently have the second-highest payroll in baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to spotrac.

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Bautista must be desperate. As for the Twins, they should be rebuilding.





The Minnesota Twins lost 103 games last season and are firmly entrenched in a rebuild, but they might have eyes on at least one big free-agent target anyway.

Minnesota reportedly had a meeting with the representatives of free-agent outfielder Jose Bautista, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com.

The level of interest from either side remains unclear, however, and it's not known if the meeting advanced any possible contract talks.

Bautista rejected a qualifying offer from the Toronto Blue Jays in November, meaning the team signing him would have to forfeit their first-round pick. However, the Twins wouldn't have to surrender their 2017 first-rounder - the first overall pick - should they sign Bautista, as it's protected.

Although they limped to the worst record in the majors last year, the Twins might see themselves as a possibility for Bautista if he was willing to join the club on a one-year contract. The 36-year-old has seen his market value dwindle over the winter, and it's possible that he may have to consider a one-year offer to rebuild his value and try free agency again next winter. In Minnesota, Bautista could possibly be used in a utility role and slide between first base, right field, and designated hitter.

One reason Bautista might at least consider joining the Twins would be his love of hitting at Target Field. Although he's only played there as a visitor, Bautista's career 1.324 OPS in 98 plate appearances at the eight-year-old ballpark is his highest at any stadium - including Rogers Centre - where he's made at least 80 plate appearances. He's hit 14 career homers and 19 extra-base hits at Target Field.

Bautista has most recently been linked with the Blue Jays, his team of the past nine seasons, though they reportedly have not made him an offer since he rejected the team's qualifying offer. He was also linked with another rebuilding team in the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this winter.

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The Oakland Athletics have filled the empty corner in their infield, agreeing to a deal with third baseman Trevor Plouffe pending a physical, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

It's a one-year deal, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The contract will reportedly pay Plouffe approximately $5 million in base salary, with the possibility of more money through incentives, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Plouffe has been a member of the Minnesota Twins for his entire seven-year career in the majors. He owns a modest career slash line of .247/.308/.420 with 96 homers in 723 games.

After a 22-homer outburst in 2015, his power numbers regressed last year. He only managed to knock 12 home runs through an injury-riddled season that saw him miss time due to three trips to the disabled list for an intercostal strain, a fractured rib, and an oblique strain.

Hitting in Oakland won't help his power numbers, as it's one of the worst home run ballparks in the majors.

It's unclear what specific role he'll play, though he's expected to see lots of time against left-handed pitching.

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Former New York Mets Triple-A manager Wally Backman says general manager Sandy Alderson is the reason he can't get a job in affiliated ball, and claims he can prove it with evidence from within the Mets organization.

"There's been a bad roadblock, and I know where it's coming from," Backman told Bob Klapisch of The Record in an explosive interview. "In the last phone call I had with Sandy (in September), he said, 'I will do anything I can to help you.' But he is not an honest man. People are telling me, 'Sandy has it in for you. You're being blackballed.'"

Backman, who will manage in Mexico this coming season, had managed in the Mets system since 2010, winning two Pacific Coast South Division league titles, and being named PCS Manager of the Year in 2014.

So, naturally, he was skeptical when he couldn't find a job this offseason, despite his willingness to accept a position at the lowest levels of minor-league baseball.

"I've talked to several teams, and every one of them has said, 'You're overqualified.' How can you be overqualified when you're trying to win?" Backman said. "No one is overqualified unless there's something else going on."

To say Backman's departure from the club was rough would be an understatement. It was so murky that no one was certain whether he was fired or resigned. On Tuesday, he made it clear it was the latter, but it wasn't on his terms.

"I got a phone call and was told if I didn't resign I would be let go," Backman said, adding that it had something to do with his mishandling of prospects Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo during their minor-league stints in Las Vegas this past year.

To this day, he's thrown for a loop as to what he could've done wrong. He said all he did was give Conforto a day off after playing 19 consecutive games, despite starting in 31 of 33 of them.

In Nimmo's case, he said, he followed front-office orders and batted him No. 1 or 2 in the batting order in 84 of 90 games before he got the call to the majors. Now, he can't find a job, and fears that managing in Mexico will keep him out of sight of the people he's trying to connect with.

"The only thing I can think of is that I have a strong personality and Sandy didn't want someone like me working for him anymore, even though I'd always treated him with total respect," Backman said. "But no one was more loyal to this organization than me.

"No one wanted those kids to succeed more than I did."

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Brian Cashman expects Brett Gardner to be in pinstripes come Opening Day.

After saying the Yankees were "99 percent likely" to begin spring training with the roster as is, New York's GM stayed consistent, saying he's rejected every trade presented to him involving Gardner, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.

Gardner was selected by the Yankees in the third round of the 2005 MLB Draft, making it to the big leagues three years later and playing his entire nine-year career with the organization.

Over that time, Garner has been a staple in the outfield, registering 218 stolen bases - sixth in club history - while posting a .264/.346/.388 slash line.

In 2016 he was a Gold Glove recipient for the first time in his career, a year after being named to his first All-Star Game.

The 33-year-old is in the middle of a four-year, $52-million contract that's set to expire following the 2018 season, though the club can exercise a $12.5-million team option for 2019.

While the Yankees have always been known as a veteran team with veteran players, the organization has clearly changed its direction.

Coming into the 2016 season, MLB.com failed to rank the Yankees in the top 10 best farm systems.

That was in March.

Nine months later, the Yankees are pegged as "the best and deepest farm system in the game - and also the most improved over the past 12 months," according to MLB.com's Jim Callis.

So, while Gardner has proven to be a serviceable outfielder in a small Yankee Stadium, the team around him - with the exception of Jacoby Ellsbury - is getting younger.

Aaron Judge (24) is in right field, Rob Refsnyder (25) is the fourth outfielder, Gary Sanchez (24) is the starting catcher, and top prospects Clint Frazier (22) and Gleyber Torres (20) are among a slew of youngsters who should crack the majors in the next season or two.

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The Seattle Mariners didn't wait long to deal Mallex Smith.

After trading for the outfielder from the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, the Mariners shipped him, along with minor-league shortstop Carlos Vargas and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for left-hander Drew Smyly.

"We have been clear that one of our top priorities this offseason was to continue to bolster our starting rotation," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a press release. "Today's moves allowed us to add an experienced pitcher to our starting group. Drew took the ball 30 times last season, threw over 175 innings, and is a proven performer in the American League. He's a good fit for our club."

The trade is the 11th in two months by Dipoto, who's trying to build a contender in a tough American League West division.

He acquired Smyly less than a week after trading for right-hander Yovani Gallardo, which will give the Mariners a different look in their rotation to begin 2017.

Smyly will join his third big-league club in six seasons, previously spending time with the Rays and Detroit Tigers. Over the course of his career, he owns a 3.74 ERA during 156 appearances - 85 of which have been starts.

"You have to give up something to get something," Rays senior VP of baseball operations Erik Neander said in a statement about trading Smyly. "The type of return and talent we got we thought was something that made sense for us and we are eager to see how it plays out from here."

Smith, 23, made his major-league debut with the Braves last season, appearing in 72 games and slashing .238/.316/.365. The speedy outfielder also swiped 16 bases in 24 attempts.

The 25-year-old Yarbrough was the 13th-best prospect in the Mariners system, according to MLB Pipeline, after going 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA in Double-A.

Vargas, 17, recently hit .242/.344/.391 in the Dominican Summer League, to go along with seven home runs and 35 RBIs.

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The New York Mets' major-league spring training camp will not be interrupted by Tebow Time.

The club announced its non-roster invitees on Wednesday, and did not include Tim Tebow among the 13 names.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson previously stated it was unlikely the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback would receive an invite to big-league camp, though Tebow could still receive some at-bats with the major-league club this spring by being called up for Grapefruit League games.

Manager Terry Collins said in December that he'd like to have Tebow in camp, but if he wasn't invited, he'd try to bring the outfielder up for some games.

Tebow agreed to a minor-league deal with the Mets last September and participated in the club's instructional league before moving on to the Arizona Fall League. He homered on the first pitch of instructional league, but went on to hit .194/.296/.242 in 70 plate appearances in the AFL.

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Ryan Vogelsong is going to try to continue his career in the Twin Cities.

The veteran right-hander has reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with the the Minnesota Twins that includes an invitation to big-league spring training, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

If he makes the big club out of camp, Vogelsong could provide a relatively young Twins staff with an important veteran presence and mentor. He could also serve as a mentor to the Twins' cadre of young arms in the minors if he ultimately ends up there.

Vogelsong spent 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but only appeared in 24 games because of facial fractures sustained when he was hit in the face by a pitch during an at-bat in May. He successfully returned to the mound in August and made another 12 starts down the stretch, finishing 2016 with a 4.81 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 61 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings.

The 39-year-old is perhaps best remembered for his time in San Francisco from 2011-15, when he made his only All-Star appearance in 2011 and played a key role in the Giants' World Series titles in 2012 and '14. Over his 12-year big-league career - interrupted by a four-season stint in Japan - Vogelsong owns a 4.48 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 900 strikeouts in 289 appearances and 179 starts.

Minnesota also reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with right-hander Nick Tepesch, according to Miller.

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When the offseason began, no one could have predicted outfielder Jose Bautista would still be available on the free-agent market in January, but that's precisely what is happening, which could mean his eventual return to the team he's made his home for the past nine seasons.

Bautista is back on top of a Toronto Blue Jays' list of first-choice options among their preferred players, which also includes Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson, according to sources of TSN's Steve Phillips.

One of Phillips' sources also told him the Blue Jays feel confident they will land one of their preferred options.

Bautista rejected a $17.2-million qualifying offer from Toronto in November, but had drawn minimal interest on the open market, until recently as he's been linked to the Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, and Minnesota Twins.

He's been an alternate plan for the Blue Jays since the end of December, according to general manager Ross Atkins, and the two sides have reportedly had active discussions about a new contract.

Toronto has already lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleveland Indians in free agency, but have added designated hitter Kendrys Morales and utility player Steve Pearce to their lineup.

Bautista is a popular player in the Great White North after belting 265 home runs in a Toronto uniform, which included the "Batflip heard 'round the world" in the 2015 postseason.

The 36-year-old produced his lowest OPS since 2009, missing time with injuries, but still owns a .910 career OPS in a Blue Jays uniform.

Over the course of his 13-year career, Bautista has slashed .255/.368/.493 with 308 home runs and 862 RBIs.

The Dominican earned $14 million in 2016, the last year of a five-year, $64-million extension he signed before the beginning of the 2011 season.

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Santiago Casilla's time in the Bay Area will reportedly go on.

The 36-year-old, who began his big-league career in Oakland and spent the past seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants, has agreed to a two-year deal with the Athletics, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Casilla's deal is worth $11 million and he can make up to $3 million more in performance bonuses, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

The deal would be the third big-league contract handed out by the Athletics in a little over a week. They also inked Rajai Davis and Trevor Plouffe to one-year deals.

If Casilla signs, the veteran right-hander would provide the back end of the Athletics' bullpen with a fourth reliever that has closing experience.

Once the Giants signed Mark Melancon to be their closer this offseason, a return to San Francisco seemed unlikely for Casilla, who was in tears this past postseason after not getting called into the deciding game of the National League Division Series, which San Francisco lost to the Chicago Cubs.

Casilla saved 31 games for the Giants in 2016, but was removed from the closer's role in the middle of September after blowing two consecutive saves and three over the course of the month.

During his time with the Giants, Casilla accumulated 123 saves and posted a 2.42 ERA.

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Santiago Casilla's tenure in San Francisco ended in one of the worst ways possible.

In the final game of the Giants' postseason, the bullpen collapsed in the ninth inning against the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS.

That collapse happened after San Francisco took a 5-2 lead into the ninth. Five Giants pitchers collectively blew the lead, while Casilla - the team's longtime closer who lost that job earlier in the season - watched the entire thing unfold from the bullpen.

After new broke Wednesday that Casilla had agreed to a two-year deal with the Oakland Athletics, the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman revealed that Giants manager Bruce Bochy never got a chance to personally apologize to Casilla before the winter.

So instead, Bochy penned his former player a heartfelt letter, saying he wished they had an opportunity to speak.


Bochy went on to say how much he appreciated what Casilla did for the Giants over his seven seasons by the Bay.

A 13-year veteran, and a member of the Giants since 2010, Casilla had his worst season since joining San Francisco in 2016, authoring a 3.57 ERA and losing the closer role. The tipping point was when he blew two consecutive saves in September.

Over his time with the Giants, Casilla owned a 2.42 ERA and notched 366 strikeouts over 394 2/3 innings of work.

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Though it may be hard to believe, MLB's most active general manager this offseason says he's done dealing.

At the big-league level, that is.

"You may not hear from us again," Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said, according to The News Tribune's Bob Dutton. "I am 100 percent certain that we will now look at minor-league deals, bringing guys in to compete in camp for bench roles or depth roles."

Dipoto's latest move came in the form of acquiring outfielder Mallex Smith and left-hander Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows.

He proceeded to flip Smith, Ryan Yarbrough, and Carlos Vargas to the Tampa Bay Rays for rotation guy Drew Smyly.

Those two moves were his 35th and 36th trades in 16 months since he was hired, but he insists he's done.

"I think what you see is what you get," he added. "This is our team."

The Mariners were close to busting out of baseball's longest postseason drought last season, but narrowly missed out. Dipoto is hell-bent on making sure the team makes it to October this year, flipping the team entirely while keeping the nucleus intact.

Related: Poll - Will the Mariners make the playoffs in 2017?

In addition to Wednesday's moves, the Mariners added big leaguers Jarrod Dyson, Jean Segura, Yovani Gallardo, Danny Valencia, Mitch Haniger, and Marc Rzepczynski this offseason.

While the club gave up right-hander Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte in order to acquire Segura from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dipoto believes the team is finally ready for the spring.

"We now have five experienced starters," Dipoto said. "All of whom have done it in our league. We particularly like the fact that none of those guys is on a one-year deal.

"We do have control for at least two years for each of our five starters."

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With a lot of the attention surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays focused on free agent Jose Bautista, another player from last season's squad is still in the mix for a potential return as well.

The Blue Jays remain in contact with free-agent outfielder Michael Saunders, according to sources of FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

In November, general manager Ross Atkins confirmed the club had interest in the 30-year-old.

"(Saunders) is by no means off our radar," Atkins said, according to Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. "What we're doing is trying to understand all of our alternatives and what the costs are and then trying to piece together the best possible scenario, to build the best team. But he is squarely on our radar."

The Blue Jays have a need to fill, as they're currently projected to start the season with Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce, and one of Melvin Upton Jr. or Ezequiel Carrera patrolling the outfield.
Saunders, who has also drawn interest from the Philadelphia Phillies andBaltimore Orioles, was an All-Star for the first time last season after getting off to a strong start to begin the year. However, he slumped dramatically in the second half.
Over the course of his career, Saunders owns a .235/.309/.402 slash line with 75 home runs and 242 RBIs during eight big-league seasons.
He earned $2.9 million in 2016.

Last edited on Fri Jan 13th, 2017 01:54 am by lobo316

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Mark Trumbo remains a free agent with pitchers and catchers set to report to spring training in about a month, and his current unemployment may be because of a drastic overestimation of the market.

With the hopes of landing a contract in the $70 million-$75 million range, Trumbo reportedly turned down a four-year, $52-million offer earlier in the offseason from the Baltimore Orioles, according to sources of ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Bowden later corrected himself and reported that Trumbo actually turned down a three-year, $41-million offer, which was close to a report from Peter Gammons, who said the offer was actually for three years and $40 million.

The offer Bowden initially reported the Orioles made was the exact same deal outfielder Josh Reddick agreed to with the Houston Astros in mid-November, but after hitting 47 home runs - which led the majors - it appeared Trumbo thought he could do better.

After Baltimore pulled its deal off the table, negotiations between the two sides picked up again recently. As of Thursday, Trumbo reportedly said he would accept a discounted deal in the $40 million-$50 million range over three years from the Orioles after he initially asked them for a three-year, $50-million deal.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette recently suggested the team may be more interested in the draft-pick compensation it would acquire if Trumbo signed with another club, so the 30-year-old may have to check in with the Texas Rangers or Colorado Rockies, who've both reportedly shown interest in his services.

One rival executive told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal on Thursday he sensed the relationship between Trumbo and the Orioles was damaged, and that the slugger would prefer to sign somewhere else.

He still has competition on the open market from a number of other unemployed power hitters such as Mike Napoli, Jose Bautista, Chris Carter, Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders, and Pedro Alvarez.

Trumbo hit .256/.316/.533 with 108 RBIs for the Orioles last season, while leading the majors in home runs with 47.

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One highly coveted free-agent starter appears to have decided on a new home.

Right-hander Tyson Ross agreed to a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, a source told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Financial details haven't been released.

Ross was considering four teams - two of which were the Chicago Cubs and Rangers, who were considered his two most likely landing spots.

The 29-year-old made only one start last season due to thoracic outlet syndrome - an injury that affects blood vessels between the collarbone and first rib. When healthy, he proved to be the Padres' most reliable starting pitcher from 2013-2015, accumulating a 3.07 combined ERA and an even more impressive 3.13 FIP in 80 starts.

Ross is the second Padres pitcher the Rangers have added as a free agent this offseason, previously agreeing to terms with Andrew Cashner on a one-year, $10-million deal in November.

With the potential Ross addition, the Rangers will enter 2017 with a starting rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Ross, and Cashner.

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The Colorado Rockies have officially signed All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado to a two-year deal reportedly worth $29.5 million, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Arenado is set to make $11.75 million in 2017 and $17.75 million in 2018, a significant upgrade from the $5 million he made in 2016.

In just four seasons with the Rockies, Arenado has been one of the best players in baseball since his arrival on the scene. The 25-year-old has belted 83 home runs over the last two seasons, to go with 263 RBIs and 78 doubles while slashing .291/.343/.572.

A few days earlier, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich spoke on the topic of inking Arenado to a long-term deal, and said the two parties would take things in stride.

"We will work on trying to get a one-year deal done and if things come up, just like anything else, we are going to keep an open mind to anything,” he said to The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders.

Arenado will be arbitration-eligible one more time at the conclusion of his two-year deal, and can become a free-agent following the 2019 season.

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The Atlanta Braves have acquired infielder Micah Johnson from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the teams announced Friday.

Los Angeles designated Johnson for assignment earlier in the week to clear a spot on the 40-man roster after re-signing closer Kenley Jansen.

Johnson is a former ninth-round selection in the 2012 draft. He spent most of the 2016 season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, slashing .261/.321/.356 with five home runs, 23 doubles, and 26 stolen bases.

The 26-year-old was then promoted to the majors as a September call-up, and registered one hit in just six at-bats.

Given his skill set, it's clear his path to the majors would've been blocked in Los Angeles. The Braves, on the other hand, are rebuilding, giving him better opportunities in the infield and outfield.

Johnson made his big-league debut in 2015 as a member of the Chicago White Sox. He appeared in 36 games, slashing .230/.306/.270 with 30 strikeouts in 100 at-bats.

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Manny Machado got his raise.

Machado and the Baltimore Orioles reportedly avoided arbitration Friday by agreeing to a one-year, $11.5-million deal, a source told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

That represents a $6.5-million raise from last season.

The contract also reportedly contains award bonuses, reports Encina, the details of which are not yet known.

This marks the second consecutive year Machado and the Orioles have avoided arbitration. In 2016, he made just $5 million after settling before what would have been his first arbitration hearing.

Appearing in 157 games for Baltimore last season, Machado put together a spectacular 2016 campaign that saw him reach career highs in home runs (37), RBIs (96), doubles (40), and on-base plus slugging (.876) en route to his second straight top-five MVP finish. He's scheduled to reach free agency after the 2018 season.

Earlier Friday, Baltimore also avoided arbitration with closer Zach Britton, who scored a massive raise of his own by agreeing to a one-year, $11.4-million deal.

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Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro admitted that he was as surprised as any with how the market for Edwin Encarnacion played out this offseason.

"I think there's not an expert, not an agent, and there's not a team that thought the market would go the way it did. Certainly not Edwin's agent, and certainly not Edwin," Shapiro said Friday on The Jeff Blair Show. "At the time we talked to Edwin, two weeks after we made that offer to Edwin, three weeks after we made that offer to Edwin, a month after we made that offer to Edwin, he still thought he was going to get far more dollars than what we offered and he ended up signing for less than what we offered."

The Blue Jays offered Encarnacion a four-year, $80-million deal at the start of free agency that was rejected by his agent. The team quickly responded by inking Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33-million deal - a move that Encarnacion's agent Paul Kinzer said late last month surprised both he and his client.

With his market limited, Encarnacion chose the Cleveland Indians over the Oakland Athletics, eventually agreeing to a three-year, $60-million deal with the reigning American League champs. The slugger said that he was thankful to receive a multi-year deal, and hoped that he could help the Indians win a World Series.

Shapiro acknowledged that it was tough to watch the scenario play out with Encarnacion, given his ability and standing with the club. While an unfortunate set of circumstances led to his departure, he believes the front office did the best they could given their options.

"That's unfortunate for us, and to some extent - although he's in a great situation and a great place and I'm sure he's going to be very happy - somewhat unfortunate for him," Shapiro said of Encarnacion leaving for Cleveland. "It's circumstance and situation that no one could have forecast.

"So yes, we could have gambled, we could have waited, and I guess in hindsight given all the information now, if we knew it was going to do this - that's kind of a silly question - we would have done if differently. But we didn't have all the information and I think it was important for us to have a plan, and as you negotiate, it's always important to both have walkaways and have alternatives. If you don't have those two things, you're not going to have a successful outcome and so we went to an alternative."

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At the beginning of the offseason, it appeared the Detroit Tigers might make a number of changes to the club after general manager Al Avila stated the team planned to dump payroll.

That didn't end up happening, which was a relief to pitcher Justin Verlander, who was one of many Tigers linked to trade rumors.

Several teams called the Tigers about Verlander in early November, but the 33-year-old winner of the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP might not have let it happen even if a trade was approved.

"It was interesting hearing about it," Verlander said. "That gets your wheels spinning a little bit ... I'm a 10-and-5, and got a full no-trade so I would have to okay the thing, and I love Detroit. I would have to weigh a lot of things. We want to win. And Mr. Ilitch has done a great job my entire career there putting a great product on the field ... He wants to give Detroit a World Series and so do we."

Verlander is one of several veteran players on an aging - and expensive - Tigers squad that's missed the postseason in two consecutive seasons while owning one of the largest payrolls in the league.

"It would have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody. I'm too old to be part of a rebuild, but they kept saying wholeheartedly we're not doing a rebuild, we're trying to make smart baseball decisions, and if we can't make those decisions then we're not going to blow up the team for the sake of salary," Verlander added.

Over the course of his 12 years in the big leagues, Verlander owns a 173-106 record with a 3.47 ERA across 2,339 innings and 352 starts.

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lobo316 wrote: The Colorado Rockies have officially signed All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado to a two-year deal reportedly worth $29.5 million, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Arenado is set to make $11.75 million in 2017 and $17.75 million in 2018, a significant upgrade from the $5 million he made in 2016.

In just four seasons with the Rockies, Arenado has been one of the best players in baseball since his arrival on the scene. The 25-year-old has belted 83 home runs over the last two seasons, to go with 263 RBIs and 78 doubles while slashing .291/.343/.572.

A few days earlier, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich spoke on the topic of inking Arenado to a long-term deal, and said the two parties would take things in stride.

"We will work on trying to get a one-year deal done and if things come up, just like anything else, we are going to keep an open mind to anything,” he said to The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders.

Arenado will be arbitration-eligible one more time at the conclusion of his two-year deal, and can become a free-agent following the 2019 season.
This guy always kills the Giants. Swings the bat like Ruth and plays defense like Brooks Robinson.

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The Chicago Cubs will enter 2017 with one of their prized arms officially under contract.

The team avoided arbitration with right-hander Jake Arrieta, reportedly coming to terms on a one-year, $15.64-million deal according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The 2015 NL Cy Young winner is coming off a season in which he failed to build off his elite performances of the past two years, despite winning 18 games for the World Series champion Cubs.

The 30-year-old struggled for most of the second half of the season, combining to a 3.69 ERA in his final 13 starts, compared to a much more Arrieta-like 2.68 ERA he accumulated in the first half. His strikeouts also went down significantly from 9.5 K/9 to a modest 7.5 K/9 in the later half.

The one-year commitment should benefit both the Cubs and the player in this case, as Arrieta will have a chance to redeem himself in 2017 with a strong performance as he is set to become a free agent next offseason.

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The rebuilding San Diego Padres certainly kept busy Friday.

With the team reportedly close to signing Wil Myers to an extension, the Padres locked up another one of their promising talents, agreeing to a two-year contract with infielder Yangervis Solarte.

The deal includes club options in 2019 and 2020. Solarte will earn $2.5 million next season and $4 million in 2018. Both club options will kick in the following season at $5.5 million and $8 million in 2020.

He received a $250,000 signing bonus, and will earn a guaranteed $7.5 million in 2017 and 2018, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The versatile Solarte played three positions for the Padres last season, starting games at third, second, and first base. He put together a career year at the plate, hitting .286/.341/.467 in 109 games with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs - all personal bests.

The 29-year-old took a leave from the team in July to tend to his wife, Yuliett Pimentel Solarte, after she was diagnosed with cancer. Yuliett passed away in September after her battle at age 31, leaving behind Yangervis and his three daughters

Yangervis was given the Tony Conigliaro Award at the end of the season, handed out annually to the player that overcomes adversity through spirit, determination, and courage.

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One year into his mammoth seven-year, $217-million contract with the Boston Red Sox, a genuine David Price admits his first full season with his new team didn't always feel natural.

"Last year was the first time in my career I didn’t have fun when I was on the field," Price told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. "When I’m pitching well, I’m smiling. There wasn’t a lot of smiling."

Although Price showed flashes of his usual, dominant self, the left-hander struggled out of the gate, posting a 4.34 ERA with 16 home runs allowed in his first 19 starts as a member of the Red Sox.

The 31-year-old's postseason struggles were also brought to light once again, as the southpaw surrendered five earned runs lasting only 3.1 innings in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. The poor performance elevated his career postseason ERA to 5.54 to go along with a 0-8 record as a starter.

"I let people down last year and that was the biggest thing. When you go to a different team, you want to earn the respect of your teammates. You want to go out there and establish yourself for your teammates and your new fan base, absolutely. I don’t feel like that ever happened," Price said.

Regardless of statistics in 2017, Price is looking forward to his future with the Red Sox. There is a clause in his contract that would allow Price to opt out at the end of next season, but he put an end to any concerns regarding that possibility.

"I’m staying right here," Price said. "There was a reason I signed here and there’s a reason I’ll stay for six more years. I came here to win and we’re going to win. If I go out there and pitch well, they’ll support me."

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The Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly have a plan B.

Though the Dodgers have been mired in reported trade negotiations with the Minnesota Twins for second baseman Brian Dozier all offseason, Los Angeles is now considering Detroit Tigers infielder Ian Kinsler as a "possible fallback" if a deal can't be reached for Dozier, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.

Los Angeles may soon switch its focus to Kinsler, as talks between the Twins and Dodgers regarding Dozier reportedly have "no momentum." Minnesota is apparently asking for more than just top pitching prospect Jose De Leon in return.

If Detroit agrees to ship Kinsler to the Dodgers, however, the swap would need the green light from the second baseman himself. Thanks to a limited no-trade clause, Kinsler is able to reject any trade to the Dodgers, though his agent has said Kinsler will waive the clause if he's given a contract extension.

With Chase Utley still a free agent, the Dodgers have a hole to fill at second base. They'd likely prefer a right-handed hitter to balance a lineup that hits predominantly from the left side.

While Dozier appears to be Los Angeles' top target, Kinsler would be a suitable alternative, as the 34-year-old slashed .288/.348/.484 with 28 home runs last season with Detroit.

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The Chicago Cubs decided this offseason that Jorge Soler wasn't to be a part of their future plans, and one of the reasons might have been revealed.

During a Q&A session at the Cubs Convention, Vice President of Player Development Jason McLeod was asked by a fan how the team handles players who don't hustle during games.

"Coaches get on guys all the time. There are a few times throughout the year where a player will get pulled out of the game," McLeod replied, according to Tony Adracki of Chicago CSN.

"This is not trying to harp on 'Georgie' at all, but he got yanked a couple of times last year for not hustling out to the outfield, for not running down the line."

The player McLeod refers to as "Georgie" is in fact Soler, who despite possessing a significant amount of skill, was called out for his hustle or lack thereof multiple times last season - particularly in Game 3 of the World Series in the Cubs' 1-0 loss, according to a previous report from Chicago CSN's Patrick Mooney.

That turned out to be Soler's last action as a member of the Cubs, as the talented 24-year-old was traded to the Kansas City Royals for closer Wade Davis in December.

Soler has struggled with injuries early in his career, appearing in only 70 games on average in three seasons. He was limited to 86 games last season due to leg injuries. When healthy, he displayed some power at the plate, hitting .238/.333/.436 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs.

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The San Diego Padres have reportedly added yet another veteran arm to their rotation, agreeing to a one-year, $1.75-million contract with right-hander Trevor Cahill, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

The deal will be completed once Cahill takes his physical with the Padres, which will happen after he visits the White House with his former team, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs, on Monday, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Cahill is the third veteran free-agent starter to join the Padres this winter, as the rebuilding club tries to inject experience into a young rotation. Southpaw Clayton Richard and right-hander Jhoulys Chacin also joined the club on one-year deals earlier in the offseason.

Cahill has made just four starts in the last two years and spent 2016 as a middle reliever with the Cubs. The 28-year-old reportedly had offers from four other teams - including a pair of contenders in the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers - but his apparent desire to return to the rotation led to the Padres winning his services, per Nightengale.

Cahill's best season as a starter came in 2010 with the Oakland Athletics when he posted a 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 118 strikeouts over 30 starts en route to his only All-Star appearance and a ninth-place finish in AL Cy Young voting. He was never able to replicate that success as a starter, however, and was eventually moved to the bullpen amid growing struggles.

After joining the Cubs as a free agent in August 2015, Cahill emerged as a valued reliever for manager Joe Maddon. In 2016, Cahill appeared in 49 games as a reliever (along with one spot start) and posted a 2.74 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while striking out 66 batters; he did not pitch in the postseason.

In 262 career appearances and 174 starts with the Cubs, Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Atlanta Braves, Cahill owns a 4.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 820 strikeouts to 462 walks.

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The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $9-million deal with outfielder Michael Saunders, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The contract, which is pending a physical, also contains an option for 2018 worth a reported $11 million - a figure that could increase to as much as $14 million through escalator clauses - reports Rosenthal. The option can be bought out for $1 million.

In Saunders, the rebuilding Phillies will get an additional left-handed bat capable of solid power who can play either corner outfield spot. His presence could allow the Phillies to give Aaron Altherr some more time in the minors while Saunders takes over in right. Saunders and Altherr could also potentially form a platoon at the position.

Philadelphia already added to its outfield corps this winter by trading for veteran outfielder/second baseman Howie Kendrick and signing free agent Daniel Nava; they also locked up Odubel Herrera on a lucrative extension.

Saunders is coming off the best season of his eight-year career, and one that saw the injury-plagued 30-year-old play over 120 games for just the third time in his career. Though he tailed off considerably in the second half, Saunders hit .253/.338/.478 with 24 home runs and 32 doubles for the Toronto Blue Jays while playing in a career-high 140 games - only a year after appearing in just nine contests following a knee injury in spring training. That production was enough to earn him his first career All-Star berth.

The Blue Jays had been interested in bringing back Saunders - and the Canadian was open to returning - but Monday's reports of the Blue Jays nearing an agreement to reunite with Jose Bautista likely closed the door on Saunders' career in his native land.

For his career, Saunders owns a .235/.309/.402 slash line with 75 homers, 114 doubles, and 242 RBIs over 702 games with the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. He's scheduled to represent Canada at the World Baseball Classic.

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The Kansas City Royals locked up a major piece of their rotation Monday, agreeing to a five-year, $65-million contract extension with left-hander Danny Duffy.

"We're excited to have Danny as a part of our organization for (the) next five years," general manager Dayton Moore told Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com.

Arbitration eligible for a third time this winter, Duffy and the Royals were $750,000 apart in salary demands after exchanging figures last week. The new deal, which buys out Duffy's final year of arbitration, does not include a no-trade clause or any options, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Duffy, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, is coming off a strong season with Kansas City in which he went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in a career-high 179 2/3 innings. He's gone 28-23 over the last three seasons serving as both a starter and reliever, posting a 3.36 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 465 2/3 innings.

The 28-year-old was one of a number of core Royals players destined to hit free agency after this coming season, along with Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar. Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson were also set to hit free agency before the club traded them in a pair of deals this offseason.

With Duffy's extension, the Royals now have three starters - including Ian Kennedy and Yordano Ventura - locked up through the 2019 season.

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Jose Bautista appears close to returning to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, but he may already have an eye on next year's free-agent market.

Should the outfielder and the Blue Jays come to an agreement, it will likely be a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2018, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

A mutual option would essentially act as an opt-out for Bautista, who would likely decline his half should he perform to expectations in 2017.

Earlier Monday, Rosenthal reported that the deal was likely to be two years in length, and between $35 million to $40 million in value. Negotiations appear to have been fluid between the two sides, however, it appears that multiple scenarios - including both one- and two-year deals - have been discussed, per Sportsnet's Shi Davidi.

Bautista has been searching for a lucrative multi-year agreement, but his market dried up over the course of the offseason. In recent weeks, his camp has appeared to be more willing to take a one-year deal, on the condition that it was worth more than the $17.2-million qualifying offer he rejected from the Blue Jays in October.

Although he apparently received interest from multiple teams in recent days, Bautista's apparent desire to return to Toronto appears to have won out. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the 36-year-old will be declining multiple offers worth more money to stay in Toronto; it's not clear what teams may have made those offers, though Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians were both "in the bidding" for Bautista's services in recent days.


Bautista would fill a pair of needs for the Blue Jays in the form of a big right-handed power bat to offset the loss of Edwin Encarnacion, and as a corner outfielder whose presence would boost a sub-par group outside of Gold Glove finalist Kevin Pillar.

Since joining Toronto via trade in August 2008, Bautista's emerged as one of the most feared and controversial sluggers in baseball while becoming the face of the Blue Jays during the team's renaissance and return to the playoffs. He currently ranks in the top five of virtually every offensive category in Blue Jays history, and is only 71 homers shy of passing Carlos Delgado for the all-time franchise lead.

Other teams that have been linked to Bautista this winter include the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, and Philadelphia Phillies.

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The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to hear from Major League Baseball before spring training in regards to the punishment the team will receive after the club was under investigation for breaching the Houston Astros' database.

"I think the goal is for the Commissioner to get things completed by late January, hopefully early February at the latest," Cardinals principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. told Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com.

"They've done a lot of investigative work and have reviewed everything that occurred in the federal procedures. At this point, I think they're in pretty good shape with what's going to get them to make a decision."

The FBI and the Justice Department informed the team of the investigation around two years ago after a Cardinals employee illegally accessed the Astros' database that contained internal trade discussions as well as scouting reports.

Chris Correa, the Cardinals former scouting director, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and fined over $279,000 after the investigation revealed he had accessed the Astros' database multiple times to receive private information.

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Wil Myers is staying put in San Diego.

The Padres and the first baseman have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $83-million contract that will keep him at the club until at least 2023, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

The deal, which also includes an option year, will buy out Myers' three remaining arbitration years as well as his first three years of free agency (four, if the option is exercised). It will also become the richest contract awarded to a player in Padres history, eclipsing the $75-million deal given to pitcher James Shields in 2015.

Both parties were said to be nearing a deal Friday, though it was unclear how much Myers was expected to receive in the six-year extension.

The 26-year-old is considered a key component of the Padres' long rebuild since being acquired by the club from the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2015 season.

In 157 games with San Diego in 2016, Myers slashed .259/.336/.461, hitting 28 home runs, and earning the slugger his first All-Star nomination of his career.

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The Texas Rangers reunited with Josh Hamilton on Tuesday, officially agreeing to a minor-league deal with the former American League MVP.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels attended a workout involving Hamilton last month and after team doctors gave the player a clean bill of health, the two sides began negotiating a reunion. Hamilton said that he didn't speak with any other teams, and that he would not have signed with anyone else.

The five-time All-Star, who can request a release if he's not in the majors by April 1, hasn't appeared in a major-league game since October 2015 and missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery.

A life-long outfielder, Hamilton will work out at first base for the Rangers. The club currently has utility man Jurickson Profar penciled in at the position, and have also been in talks with free agent Mike Napoli.

The new deal with the Rangers marks the third different go-round for Hamilton and the club.

The 35-year-old spent five seasons in Texas before signing a five-year, $125-million deal with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012, only to play just 240 games over two seasons while suffering an alcohol and drug relapse. Hamilton was traded back to the Rangers in 2015, with the Angels covering roughly $60 million of his remaining salary.

Hamilton hit .253/.291/.441 with eight home runs and eight doubles in 50 games for the Rangers in 2015, striking out 52 times.

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Jose Bautista is coming home.

After several days of what appeared to be tense negotiations between Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays, the outfielder reportedly reached an agreement with the team Tuesday on a one-year, $18-million contract, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The contract - which is pending a physical - also reportedly contains a pair of mutual options that could make the deal worth $60 million over three years, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Some details are still being worked out, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, including the format of what would be a third-year vesting option. Passan added that the buyout of the 2018 option could be worth between $500,000 and $1 million.

Bautista's reported 2017 salary figure appears to fall in line with earlier reports that suggested the outfielder was only open to taking a one-year deal if it exceeded the $17.2-million qualifying offer he rejected from the Blue Jays in November.

Poll: Did the Blue Jays make the right move by bringing back Bautista?

Keeping Bautista is a coup for the Blue Jays, who lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland earlier in the winter. His presence not only boosts their lineup, but gives the Blue Jays a much-needed corner outfielder, even with his defense having declined over the past year.

The 36-year-old has spent the last eight full seasons in Toronto after arriving in an August 2008 trade. Over his Blue Jays tenure, Bautista emerged as a superstar with his 54-homer campaign in 2010, and became a face of the franchise as the Blue Jays broke a 22-year playoff drought in 2015. He sits at or near the top of virtually every offensive category in Blue Jays history, and is just 71 homers shy of passing Carlos Delgado for the franchise's all-time lead.

Bautista is coming off a subpar season by his standards, posting a .234/.366/.452 slash line over 116 games - though he still smacked 22 home runs and walked 87 times. His season was cut short by a pair of fluky injuries, including a case of turf toe that put him in a walking boot in June, and he was not named an All-Star for the first time in seven years.


Besides Toronto, Bautista also reportedly received interest from the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, and Philadelphia Phillies at various points during the winter.

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Alex Rodriguez is having no trouble finding work since stepping away from Major League Baseball.

Since his release from the New York Yankees in August, the 41-year-old has signed on with a talent agency, served as a baseball analyst for FOX Sports, co-hosted "Live with Kelly," and is now set to host a pilot on CNBC.

"Back in the Game" (working title) will pair ex-athletes in financial distress with mentors who attempt to get them back on their feet. Michael Strahan will serve as an executive producer.

While A-Rod has not officially retired, his agent, Ron Berkowitz, said earlier this month that his client would not return to play in 2017, but still intends to serve as a special adviser to the Yankees.

"Alex is enjoying his time off and looking forward to heading to spring training to work with the young guys as he has said all along," Berkowitz said, according to Christian Red of the New York Daily News.

Rodriguez, who spent 22 years in the majors, sits just four home runs shy of becoming only the fourth player to hit 700 for his career.

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The brother of Miami Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez was stabbed to death Monday in the Dominican Republic, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, citing multiple sources.

Brandy Volquez, 25, was reportedly involved in a fight with two men at a barber shop in Santo Domingo before his eventual death.

One person is in police custody, but no further details - including a motive - have been revealed, according to Jorge L. Ortiz from USA Today, citing a Dominican television station.

Edinson posted a tribute in Spanish to his brother on Instagram on Tuesday. According to translation from Frisaro and from theScore, the tribute reads: "I will always remember you my brother. May God have you in his kingdom. RIP one love."

The loss is the second recent one for the 33-year-old Volquez, whose father died hours before he started Game 1 of the 2015 World Series.

He signed a two-year, $22-million contract with the Marlins on Dec. 1 after spending the past two seasons with the Kansas City Royals.

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Catcher J.P. Arencibia, perhaps most famous for his record-setting big-league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, has retired from baseball.

The 31-year-old, who split his 2016 season between the Triple-A affiliates of Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, made the announcement on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.

"I really never could take a walk in my career but this walk will be my biggest yet. I'm walking away from baseball," Arencibia wrote. "I've been blessed to play the game I love professionally for 10 years with six of those seasons in the MLB. I have done everything with hard work and no short cuts.

"So many great memories, nothing bigger than my debut in Toronto. Thank you to the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, and Tampa Bay Rays for giving me a chance to live my dream. Toronto and Canada will always hold the biggest part of my heart, I always felt at home there."

The Blue Jays' first draft pick in 2007, Arencibia's debut on Aug. 7, 2010 at Rogers Centre memorably etched his name into baseball's record books. He homered on the first pitch of his career and finished the day 4-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs to become the first player since 1900 to hit two home runs and record four hits in his big-league debut.

Arencibia was the Blue Jays' starting catcher from 2011-13, but declining production and poor defense led the team to cut him after a disastrous 2013 season. He started 2014 as the Rangers' No. 1 catcher but failed to hold the job, and most recently appeared in 24 games with Tampa Bay in 2015.

Arencibia finishes his big-league career with a .212/.258/.412 slash line, 80 home runs, 245 RBIs, 484 strikeouts, and 85 walks. He also represented the United States at the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

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OAKLAND, Calif. - Infielder Trevor Plouffe has agreed to a one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics and is expected to be the primary third baseman if he can stay healthy.

The team announced the move, which is worth $5.25 million, on Wednesday.

Plouffe went on the disabled list for three different injuries last season with Minnesota. He began the year as Minnesota's starting third baseman and hit a career-best .260 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs in 84 games.

Plouffe was batting .302 with two home runs and six RBIs over 12 games before his first time on the DL on April 19 with a strain in the right ribcage area. He was sidelined again from July 2 to Aug. 7 because of a broken left rib, then didn't play again after Sept. 6 because of a strained left hamstring.

The 30-year-old Plouffe provides versatility as he can also play first, making 13 starts there and 60 at third.

Oakland designated right-hander Zach Neal for assignment.

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The Cleveland Indians continued to shape their team Wednesday in anticipation of spring training by signing outfielder Brandon Guyer to a two-year contract with a club option for 2019.

The contract will pay Guyer $2 million in 2017 and $2.75 million in 2018, reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. He'll earn $3 million in 2019 if the club option is exercised. If the option is declined, he'll receive a $250,000 buyout.

Guyer was the lone arbitration-eligible player on the Indians who did not sign before the deadline, but inking the two-year deal will keep both sides from attending an arbitration hearing.

Cleveland will likely include Guyer in its outfield rotation, which also includes Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, and Abraham Almonte, although he could potentially see time at designated hitter, too.

The lefty-mashing Guyer came to the Indians in a trade from the Tampa Bay Rays at last season's August non-waiver deadline, and went on to hit .333/.438/.469 for the Indians, including .333/.500/.389 in the postseason.

The 30-year-old also posted an impressive 1.021 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2016.

He earned $1.185 million last season, his fifth in the big leagues.

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When the results of the 73rd Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame election are revealed Wednesday evening, the lives of the players whose names are called will change as they join the most exclusive club in baseball.

One player who never experienced the satisfaction of receiving the honor is Jose Canseco, who won an American League MVP, Rookie of the Year, and hit 462 home runs, but had his reputation tarnished by steroid use.

The 52-year-old also wrote a tell-all book titled "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big" in which he named several players who used steroids during their careers, and he dished out some anger on social media prior to the upcoming announcement.

The Hall of Fame voters have no idea what they're talking about they need me on the panel to explain the ped era. What are they afraid of

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
I could easily clean up the Hall of Fame voting system if they would just contact me what are they afraid of the truth

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
These so-called Hall of Fame voters need me to educate them on the the ped era and how to figure out the voting by inside information

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
The only people who should be able to vote on the Hall of Fame are the players themselves from that era who understood the era

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
Canseco went on to accuse people involved in the voting process of being corrupt, and even lashed out at former baseball commissioner Bud Selig with an indignant tweet about his involvement during the PED era.

People who cannot handle the truth or do not want to hear the truth are extremely corrupt

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
There's going to be more drug users in Cooperstown then The YArd at San Queintin

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
bud selig gets an honorary needle in the ass as the leader of the ped era. Put that on his plaque

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
Canseco then implied that Jeff Bagwell - who appears to have secured 88.3 percent of submitted votes, according to stats tracked by Ryan Thibodaux - was a steroid user despite what Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated had to say.

Tom verducci's ballot for the Hall of Fame what an idiot he said that Jeff Bagwell never use steroids you have got to be kidding me right

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
One player Canseco appeared to be rooting for - in his own way - was former teammate Ivan Rodriguez, who he said should be inducted if Mike Piazza made it in.

If moike Piazza who used steroids is in the Hall of Fame Pudge Rodriguez definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame much better catcher

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 18, 2017
This isn't the first time Canseco has made his feelings known about the Hall of Fame, and it surely won't be his last.

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San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey was issued a formal pardon Tuesday by President Barack Obama for charges of tax evasion issued to the Hall of Famer in 1995.

"I want to express my sincere gratitude to President Obama not only for this kind gesture on my behalf, but also for his tireless service to all Americans," McCovey said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. "He will be deeply missed and I wish him all the best in the future.''

McCovey was originally charged after he knowingly failed to report $70,000 in income made from autographs and appearances between 1988-1990.

He was later fined $5,000 in 1996 and given two years' probation for the failure to report the income.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986, McCovey spent 19 of his 22 big-league seasons with the Giants, slashing .274/.377/.524 in 2,256 games with San Francisco. He also had stints with the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics, though his presence is greatest in the Bay Area, with fans unofficially labeling the body of water behind AT&T Park "McCovey Cove" in his honor.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have traded outfielder Mikie Mahtook to the Detroit Tigers for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the Rays announced Wednesday.

Mahtook, Tampa Bay's first-round pick in 2011 (31st overall), made his MLB debut in 2015. He slashed .231/.275/.410 with 12 home runs in 106 games in the majors.

To open a spot on their 40-man roster, the Detroit Tigers announced they have designated outfielder Anthony Gose for assignment.

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Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred became the latest voice to express displeasure with the rising trend of defensive shifts.

In recent seasons, managers have increasingly opted to place their infielders where batters have historically hit the ball, leading to a generally lower offensive output around the league.

Though its staunchest defenders will label shifts as strategy, Manfred isn't a fan of its intended effect.

"It does affect certain types of players disproportionately, and it also exacerbates some trends in the game that may not be great from an entertainment perspective," Manfred told WFAN's Mike Francesa on Wednesday.

"When you shift on certain types of players, it increases the likelihood that they're either going to strike out or try to hit it out of the ballpark. That's the reality."


Some players, such as free-agent first baseman Ryan Howard, have spoken out against the defensive tactic, arguing that shifts can take away anywhere from 30-50 hits a year.

But don't hold your breath on changes coming anytime soon, Manfred admitted.

"You get into a thing where you start telling people the way they defend is going to be limited, now you're having a competitive affect," he told Francesa. "That's a much more serious undertaking."

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The Miami Marlins' busy offseason of adding arms to both their starting rotation and bullpen continued Thursday.

Miami is close to a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for right-hander Dan Straily, according to sources of Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan. The deal is apparently done, pending physicals, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.

Right-handers Luis Castillo and Austin Brice, as well as minor-league outfielder Isaiah White, are going to Cincinnati, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Moments after the deal was reported, Straily told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon he had yet to be told he had been traded.

Straily, 28, was a bright spot in the Reds' rotation last season - his first in Cincinnati - posting a career-low ERA of 3.76 and earning 14 wins across 191 1/3 innings, although he did tie for the National League lead with Max Scherzer in home runs allowed (31).

He'll be in the mix for a starting spot in Don Mattingly's rotation with pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in less than a month.

Castillo, 24, was ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the Marlins organization by MLB Pipeline after going 8-6 with a 2.26 ERA in 26 appearances - 24 starts - across two levels in the minors last season. He was originally part of a Marlins trade with the San Diego Padres last season involving Andrew Cashner, but was sent back to Miami in exchange for Colin Rea, who suffered an elbow injury in his first start for the Marlins.

The 24-year-old Brice was ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the Marlins organization by MLB Pipeline. The ninth-round selection in the 2010 draft appeared in 15 games for Miami last season, posting a bloated 7.07 ERA across 14 innings of work. He did own a 2.89 ERA in 102 innings across Double and Triple-A in 2016.

White, 20, was a third-round selection in the 2015 draft who was listed by MLB Pipeline as the No. 16 prospect in the Marlins' system. He struggled to a .214/.306/.301 slash line in Single-A last season.

Miami has already acquired Volquez, Locke, A.J. Ellis, Brad Ziegler, and Junichi Tazawa this offseason.

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The Steinbrenner family name has been synonymous with the Yankees ever since "The Boss" George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973, and don't expect any changes on the horizon.

"We're all in," George's daughter and Yankees general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal said Wednesday, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post. "I hope we own the team for eternity. You never know what life will bring, but we're in it for the long haul."

George died in 2010, but his family carried on the business. Hal Steinbrenner currently serves as managing general partner, while Henry G. Steinbrenner, Joan Steinbrenner, Jessica Steinbrenner, and Jennifer occupy different roles in the front office.

Hal, who took over day-to-day control of the Yankees in 2008 following his father's downturn in health, said in March that the family-run club is a way of keeping his dad's legacy alive, and they hope to maintain the family ties through their children and grandchildren.

"This is a family business and we're all involved," Hal told ESPN's Wallace Matthews. "We all love being a part of this. We all know our dad wanted us to be a part of (this), and we all know he's watching down on us and happy that we're all a part of it. Believe it or not, to us, that's a big deal. The idea is, let's keep it going."

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LOS ANGELES - Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew has passed the one-month mark since a heart and kidney transplant with no signs of rejection.

Carew tells the American Heart Association News he's ''doing great'' since the 13-hour operation on Dec. 16. He's spent the last week in a rehabilitation center and expects to return home soon.

Carew says he wants to remind people to get their hearts checked. His donor was a 29-year-old man.

The 71-year-old former Twins and Angels star had a heart attack in September 2015 and later had a device implanted in his heart.

Carew played from 1967 to 1985. He was a seven-time American League batting champion and first-ballot selection to the Hall of Fame.

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CARACAS, Venezuela - Former star shortstop Ozzie Guillen has a word of advice for big leaguers who want to play winter ball in Venezuela: Don't.

Now guiding the Tiburones in his native country, the first Latino manager to win a World Series says any major leaguer who wants protect himself from getting hurt should avoid taking part.

"If one of these players gets injured, no fan, or no team owner, is going to come and give them the thousands or millions of dollars they're worth," Guillen told The Associated Press from the clubhouse before a recent game. "Sincerely, I thank them all for being part of the league. But personally I don't think any major leaguer should play here."

Guillen says so many Venezuelan players choose to take the risks because they love the game and the fans back home. Among them are Kansas City Royals Gold Glove shortstop Alcides Escobar, who Guillen is coaching for the Tiburones.

But the hardships on and off field are many. Venezuela is mired in a severe economic crisis, and the league's eight teams haven't been spared. Attendance and sponsorship at stadiums are way down and budgets are tight after a collapse in crude prices.

Highways where teams travel are also notoriously perilous. Nobody wants to become the next Wilson Ramos, the Tampa Bay Rays catcher who was abducted in 2011 at gunpoint, so bodyguards are a constant presence in dugouts before games. The skyrocketing crime has led 16 major league teams to shutter their scouting academies in the country in recent years.

Despite the hazards, Guillen, who managed the 2005 Chicago White Sox to the championship, says the level of baseball talent in Venezuela remains robust and notoriously boisterous fans are as enthusiastic as ever.

"This isn't about money. It's about passion," he said. "Do you think Escobar wants to get on a bus at 4 in the morning just for a trip to Puerto La Cruz?"

Guillen hasn't managed in the majors since the Miami Marlins fired him at the end of the 2012 season - it was his only year at that job, and got off to a rough start when he incensed local fans by saying he admired Cuban leader Fidel Castro because the brutal dictator had managed to stay in power for so long.

Guillen later apologized, but throughout his career he's struggled with a reputation of speaking a little too freely. In Chicago, he was once fined and ordered to take sensitivity training after using a gay slur to describe a baseball columnist.''

In Venezuela, he managed the Tiburones to the semifinals after years of inconsistent performance only to see its hopes of obtaining its first championship in 30 years dashed when it was eliminated Tuesday by the Cardenales from Lara state.

The 53-year-old Guillen insists his sojourn in Venezuela isn't about trying to make a climb back into baseball's mainstream. He says managing the Tiburones, where even at the peak of his career he would play for a few weeks each year, was always something he wanted to do.

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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced Thursday that the club will go to arbitration with reliever Dellin Betances after the two sides failed to agree on a salary for the 2017 season.

Betances, who is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, requested $5 million, while the Yankees countered at $3 million. An arbiter will now be forced to decide his salary.

"Based on all our discussions, it was clear that there were different perspectives and such a wide bridge, so we'll go and basically have a polite discussion about market value and history of where the marketplace sits versus attempts for new market creation," Cashman said, according to Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News.

The 28-year-old has been an integral part of the Yankees' bullpen over the past three seasons and is one of the top relievers in the majors. In 73 appearances last year, he posted a 3.08 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 126 strikeouts while also converting 12 saves.

Cashman acknowledged that there has been some thought of inking Betances to an extension, but doesn't expect anything to happen at this time.

Betances earned $507,500 in 2016.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have found themselves a new closer.

Milwaukee announced Thursday they've signed right-hander Neftali Feliz to a one-year contact, which Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reports is worth a guaranteed $5.35 million.

Feliz, who Passan reports is expected to be the Brewers' closer, can earn an additional $1.5 million in incentives, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.

"We are excited to add a pitcher with Neftali's stuff to the back end of our bullpen," general manager David Stearns said, according to the Brewers' official Twitter account. "Neftali has a long pedigree of getting high-leverage outs. We believe he has the capability to help anchor our young relief corps."

After the Brewers traded Jeremy Jeffress at August's non-waiver deadline, Tyler Thornburg took over the closer's role for the club. But the 28-year-old Thornburg was also traded this past December, once again leaving a vacancy at closer for Milwaukee.

"I think getting the opportunity to close the game, that’s what I’m looking for. The Brewers gave me that chance," Feliz said, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

The 28-year-old Feliz appeared in 62 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, striking out 10.2 hitters per nine innings while posting a 3.52 ERA.

Feliz was once a dominant closer for the Texas Rangers, saving 72 games between 2010-11 before transitioning into a starter and eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery. He only appeared in 14 games from 2012-13.

Over the course of his eight-year career, Feliz owns a 3.22 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 308 appearances, which included seven starts.

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The Los Angeles Angels have come to terms on a deal with versatile infielder Luis Valbuena, pending a physical, a source told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

While terms of the deal are still unknown, it's expected to be a two-year contract with an option.

Valbuena will supplement an already loaded Angels infield that includes Yunel Escobar at third, Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, Danny Espinosa at second, C.J. Cron at first and Albert Pujols as the designated hitter.

While he isn't a major upgrade defensively, he could produce some pop from the right side if he platoons all over the diamond. Not only that, but both Escobar and Espinosa are set to hit free agency following the 2017 season, and Valbuena would be a decent fall-back option.

Over his nine-year career, Valbuena has seen the most time at third and second base, but has also been used at first base, shortstop, and designated hitter. He's only played four career games in the outfield, and he's not expected to see playing time over Cameron Maybin, Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Ben Revere.

Last season, Valbuena proved to be an effective player in his second season with the Houston Astros, slashing .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and driving in 40 runs over 90 games.

His best season was in 2015, when the 31-year-old netted career highs with 25 homers and 56 RBIs.

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Mark Trumbo is returning to Charm City.

The free-agent slugger reportedly reached agreement on a three-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, according to Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com.

The contract, which is pending a physical, will reportedly pay Trumbo $37.5 million, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. It also contains some deferred money, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports.

The reported value of the deal represents a large drop from what Trumbo was apparently demanding earlier this offseason. During the winter meetings the 31-year-old was said to be seeking an $80-million contract, but ultimately had a hard time finding himself a home for 2017.

The prospect of Trumbo returning to Baltimore appeared to have dimmed somewhat at the beginning of the new year. Multiple reports last week suggested he had had turned down a three-year offer from Baltimore at some point this winter, while a December report said the team had pulled its offer off the table entirely.

During an interview this week, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette added to the drama by saying that acquiring the compensatory first-round pick tied to Trumbo should he sign elsewhere was more of a priority for the team than re-signing him.

Still, there have been flickers of hope that the sides might work something out in recent weeks, including a report that Trumbo might be willing to lower his asking price to remain with the Orioles.

Related - Finding a home: Why Orioles will sign Trumbo

Trumbo, the last available free agent tied to a first-round draft pick, led all of baseball with 47 home runs in 2016 - his first year with the Orioles - while playing 95 games in right field and another 56 at designated hitter. A two-time All-Star, Trumbo owns a career .776 OPS with 178 home runs, 517 RBIs, 231 walks, and 856 strikeouts over 849 games with the Orioles, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Seattle Mariners.

Besides the Orioles, Trumbo received interest from the Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics, and Texas Rangers over the course of the offseason.

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Josh Johnson is calling it quits.

The 32-year-old right-hander is expected to announce his retirement after nine seasons in the majors, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Johnson had a minor-league deal in place for 2017 with the San Francisco Giants, and was working his way back from his third Tommy John surgery.

Once a dominant pitcher, Johnson hasn't toed the rubber in the majors since 2013 when he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Since then, he twice signed with the San Diego Padres with hopes of making a return, but it never came to fruition.

Over nine years in the majors, Johnson authored a modest 58-45 record and a 3.40 ERA, but it was his 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Florida Marlins that put him on the map.

Between the two All-Star seasons, he compiled a 26-11 record, owning a 2.80 ERA over 392 2/3 innings of work while striking out 377 batters.

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Strochez no more?

Toronto Blue Jays starters Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez's well-known friendship seems to have hit a snag, following weeks of speculation that the two were dealing with a possible feud.

"We're still friends," Stroman said, according to Sean Fitz-Gerald of the Athletic. "We're not as close, but we're still friends."

"We're not as close, we're not as close. Obviously, we go our separate ways. We're around different people. But we're still friends, we're still friends. Just because we're not together every single second of the day, people, like, lose their mind."

Speculation of a quarrel between the two began when a Reddit user did a little investigating and came to the conclusion that Stroman and Sanchez no longer followed each other on social media, including Twitter and Instagram. The once inseparable duo were no longer together during training sessions, as Stroman was seen preparing for next season by himself after the two spent all of last offseason gearing up for 2016.

"It's crazy. It's crazy to see. The speculation needs to stop. Honestly, it's just social media craze phase. That would never happen 10 years ago. You'd never even see that debate," he said.

"I know everyone's speculating here and there. We're still good."

While it's unclear what might have caused a rift between the two starters, Stroman and Sanchez are likely to be together for the foreseeable future in Toronto as both pitchers are under team control until 2021, with Stroman currently in his first year of arbitration.

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Marcus Stroman and the Toronto Blue Jays will be going to an arbitration hearing.

The 25-year-old right-hander confirmed to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet on Friday that he's going to a hearing with Toronto over a difference of $300,000.

Stroman is reportedly seeking a $3.4-million salary, while the Blue Jays filed at $3.1 million. Either way, he'll earn a big raise from his 2016 salary of $515,900.

The diminutive hurler made 32 starts for Toronto last season for the first time in his career, one season after making a return from ACL surgery that caused him to miss most of the 2015 campaign.

Overall, he tossed 204 innings in 2016 and posted a 9-10 record with a 4.37 ERA, but that may not be enough to get the raise he is seeking.

"That missing year and mediocre platform do him no favors," one experienced arbitration specialist told Nicholson-Smith on Jan. 10.

Over his three-year career in the bigs, the former first-round draft choice owns a 24-16 record with a 3.91 ERA, which includes a rate of 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and a WHIP of 1.22.

Toronto settled with all their arbitration-eligible players except Stroman before last Friday's deadline.

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Following eight years of leadership from former President of the United States Barack Obama, a new head of state was sworn in Friday.

Donald Trump was officially introduced as the 45th president on Inauguration Day, and baseball athletes reacted on Twitter.

No matter what your thoughts on today are, as Americans, thank whoever you pray to for a peaceful transfer of power.

— Jed Bradley (@Jed_Bradley) January 20, 2017
Today we start a new chapter, let's work together, and remember only saying negative without an idea is creating divide, it does not help US

— Huston Street (@HustonStreet) January 20, 2017
What good is going to come from rioting and vandalizing? Nothing. It's time to pull on the same rope no matter what your views are....

— Rookie Davis (@rookdavis24) January 20, 2017
I do get bored in the offseason 🤔 Slogan: Throw Cheese, Hit Bombs, America! Yaay!
Change Running Mate: @mrsmet https://t.co/k0JFwOGzrS

— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) January 20, 2017
As we begin this new chapter there are some things we all need to remember if we're going to be able move forward together. #Thread

— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) January 20, 2017
A lot of people are worried and scared and at risk of being marginalized or ignored by this incoming administration. Be mindful of that.

— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) January 20, 2017
Remember not everyone has the same American experience as you. Just because it hasn't happened to you, doesn't mean it's not happening.

— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) January 20, 2017
Embrace diversity. Be accepting. Don't rush to judgements or assume something is illegitimate because it's different. Keep an open mind.

— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) January 20, 2017
Damn good speech @realDonaldTrump #MAGA

— Drew Butera (@drewbutera) January 20, 2017
It took 8 years...but we finally got change!!! #MAGA

— Drew Butera (@drewbutera) January 20, 2017
#InaugurationDay!!! #USA

— Jason Motte (@JMotte30) January 20, 2017
Pray for our leaders and that we all can make America great again! #TrumpInauguration 🇺🇸

— Anthony Bass (@AnthonyBass52) January 20, 2017
My White House bid came up short. However, my VP pick will send out a #HammelforPres T-Shirt. Follow and RT to #winhttps://t.co/15emh9xpsU pic.twitter.com/6mj3DO7Vhv

— Jason Hammel (@HammelTime39) January 20, 2017

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OAKLAND, Calif. - Relief pitcher Santiago Casilla is crossing the bay again, re-joining the Oakland Athletics with a two-year contract Friday after seven seasons with San Francisco.

While the right-hander lost his job as closer last season for the Giants' struggling bullpen, he provides A's manager Bob Melvin with some options of when to use him. Casilla could be called upon to help handle ninth-inning duties along with regular closer Sean Doolittle, while Ryan Dull also could be in the mix.

Casilla has spent his entire big-league career between the two Bay Area teams; his initial six seasons were with Oakland.

He went 2-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 31 saves last season after posting a 4-2 record with a 2.79 ERA and a career-best 38 saves in 2015.

Left-hander Ross Detwiler and outfielder Alejandro De Aza agreed to minor-league contracts with invitations to big-league spring training. Outfielder Brett Eibner was designated for assignment to clear roster room for Casilla.

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Tim Lincecum isn't ready to hang up his spikes.

Rich Thurman, the agent for the two-time Cy Young award winner, says that his client has been "throwing and getting ready for the season" despite not being under contract for 2017, according to Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News.

Thurman confirmed to Baggarly that Lincecum continues to seek a big league contract, and is not entertaining any ideas of retirement or playing elsewhere.

Lincecum held a showcase tryout for teams last season, and was later signed by the Los Angeles Angels, where he failed to show the form that helped him become one of the most intimidating pitchers in the league.

Over a span of nine starts for the Angels last season, Lincecum recorded a 2-6 record with a dreadful 9.16 ERA to go along with a WHIP of 2.37 in 38.1 innings.

With a history of nagging hip injuries, only time will tell if Lincecum's body can catch up with his drive to compete.

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Spring training for the Detroit Tigers hasn't even gotten underway and manager Brad Ausmus has already made up his mind about who will start on the mound Opening Day.

Right-hander Justin Verlander will get the nod when Detroit travels to Chicago to do battle with the White Sox on Apr. 3, Ausmus confirmed at TigerFest on Saturday, according to Evan Woodbery of MLive.

Verlander has started every Opening Day for the Tigers since 2008 except 2015, when he was injured at the time.

The skipper wouldn't comment on what the rotation would look like after Verlander, but the Tigers are expected to fill out the remaining spots from a crop of starters including Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, and Buck Farmer.

The Tigers have been victorious in four consecutive Opening Day starts by Verlander, who finished second in Cy Young voting last season after tossing 227 2/3 innings and going 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA.

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What a week for "Pudge."

Two days after Ivan Rodriguez was elected to the Hall of Fame along with Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell, the Texas Rangers announced Friday they're retiring the retired catcher's No. 7, who said he'd enter Cooperstown as a Ranger.

"This has been a crazy 4-5 days since I received the call," Rodriguez told the crowd at an awards banquet Friday, according to MLB.com's TR Sullivan. "I want to thank all of you. You have been a big part of me, all the support you have given me in my career. It has been a great 13 years with the Rangers. I played with six organizations but this is the best I've ever been with."

It will be the third Rangers number retired in franchise history, along with the No. 34 worn by Nolan Ryan and the No. 26 worn by Johnny Oates. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 is retired across all of Major League Baseball.

"It's great," Rodriguez said. "It is just another great honor. That's how much respect the organization has for me to do that. I knew they were probably going to do it and they were waiting for the right moment. I'm glad they are doing it in the year I am going to the Hall of Fame."

An official ceremony will take place in August at a yet to be determined date.

Rodriguez retired in 2012 after 21 seasons in the big leagues.

The 14-time All-Star and 13-time Gold Glove winner owned a career slash line of .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 1,332 RBIs. He won the AL MVP in 1999.

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Pitcher Yordano Ventura dead at age 25.
Car crash

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Major League Baseball's commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement on behalf of former infielder Andy Marte and starter Yordano Ventura - two players that died in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.
"Today is a very sad day for our entire game and particularly for the many loyal fans in the Dominican Republic, the home of both Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte.
Yordano was a key figure in the Royals' recent success. His electric talent on the mound helped lead the Royals to two American League pennants and the 2015 World Championship. Andy was a respected member of six organizations who played seven Major League seasons, including for the Cleveland Indians from 2006-2010.
On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to the families, teammates, friends and fans of both players."
Marte, 33, was involved in a car accident between San Francisco De Macoris and Pimentel. The former top prospect last played for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that expressed their condolences following news of his death.
Ventura was killed in San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic. The talented 25-year-old played four seasons with the Kansas City Royals.

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Los Angeles Dodgers president Andrew Friedman called up some old friends Monday, and finally came away with his right-handed hitting second baseman.

Los Angeles acquired second baseman Logan Forsythe from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for top pitching prospect Jose De Leon, the teams announced Monday.

The deal reunites Friedman and Forsythe some three-plus years after Friedman - then running the Rays - brought him to Tampa Bay in another trade.

"(Logan's) a grinder," Friedman told reporters, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. "He's a professional hitter. Can really handle left-handed pitching as well as right. Has some versatility. Is a good baserunner and we felt was the type of player we needed to be aggressive in going out and adding to our current group."

The one-for-one swap ends an offseason-long saga for the Dodgers, who have spent the winter in search of a right-handed power hitter to man the keystone spot. Besides Forsythe, who they were connected to earlier this winter, the Dodgers were also in pursuit of All-Star second basemen Brian Dozier and Ian Kinsler. Talks with the Detroit Tigers about Kinsler never seemed to get off the ground, while discussions about Dozier with the Minnesota Twins appeared to halt over Minnesota's insistence on a larger return than just De Leon.

Minnesota reportedly asked for two additional prospects along with De Leon in a Dozier trade, causing the Dodgers to back away and turn to Forsythe, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.

Poll: Did the Dodgers trade for the right 2B?

Forsythe, who will replace veteran Chase Utley at second base in Los Angeles, is a cheaper option than both Kinsler and Dozier financially. The 29-year-old will earn just $5.75 million in 2017, and can earn $8.5 million in 2018 via a club option.

Forsythe will undoubtedly help balance out a lefty-heavy Dodgers lineup that struggled against left-handed pitching in 2016. Collectively, Dodger hitters posted a meager .213/.290/.332 slash line, 72 OPS+, and 37 homers against southpaws last year, compared to .264/.331/.441, 112, and 152 versus righties.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Forsythe hit .264/.333/.444 with 20 home runs, 24 doubles, and 52 RBIs for the Rays last season. The six-year veteran previously spent three years with the San Diego Padres.

De Leon was ranked as the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect and the seventh-best right-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline. After a stellar 2016 season in Triple-A, he made his big-league debut with the Dodgers in September but was rocked to a 6.35 ERA and 1.529 WHIP in four starts; as a result, he did not make the team's postseason roster.

The Rays - who now have a potential opening in their rotation thanks to last week's trade of Drew Smyly - seem to think highly of the 24-year-old, and see him as someone who can help their staff immediately.

"De Leon is a talented starting pitching prospect who can soon become a key member of our major-league rotation," general manager Erik Neander said in a statement. "We are really excited to acquire someone we consider one of the top pitching prospects in baseball."

Neander added that the Rays will look for Forsythe's replacement at second internally, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

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Monday's trade of Logan Forsythe appears to have upset the face of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Star third baseman Evan Longoria reacted to news of the deal that sent Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers for top pitching prospect Jose De Leon with displeasure. Longoria appeared to get along with the second baseman, and his reaction bluntly displayed his unhappiness with the transaction.

"I'm surprised and upset at losing a player, clubhouse presence, and friend like Logan," Longoria told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "He's a rare player."

Longoria is one of the few players to be given a big-money extension by the small-market Rays. In 2012, the three-time All-Star put his signature on a six-year, $100-million deal that begins this season and will keep him in a Rays uniform through 2022.

Yet despite his commitment to the team in the midst of stadium troubles and minuscule payrolls, Longoria has had to sit through the Rays trading multiple star players just as their salaries are about to rise.

Among the names dealt away from Tampa Bay ahead of free agency are David Price and James Shields - both teammates of Longoria's on the Rays' 2008 AL championship club - along with Drew Smyly, who was sent to Seattle earlier this month, and utility man Ben Zobrist.

Longoria wasn't the only Rays star who appeared to be upset over the Forsythe deal. Although starter Chris Archer - the subject of trade rumors himself throughout the winter - welcomed De Leon to the team, he expressed his sadness at losing one of his favorite teammates.

I'm really, really, really gonna miss Logie bear 🐻. Doesn't get more classy or blue collar than him. Happy I was able to play with that man.

— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) January 24, 2017
@johnlforsythe it was a pleasure playing with your son. Have fun on your visits to Cali

— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) January 24, 2017
Forsythe is set to make $5.75 million in 2017, with an $8.5-million club option for 2018.

Now that his salary is off the books, Tampa Bay is set to enter 2017 with a league-low payroll sitting slightly over $45 million, though arbitration settlements will likely push that up somewhat. Tampa Bay's 2016 year-end payroll of $81,283,926 was 29th in the sport, per Cot's Contracts.

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In the midst of their grief for Yordano Ventura, the Kansas City Royals are being forced to take care of some financial business surrounding his contract.

Ventura - who died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Sunday - was under contract to the Royals for another three years and $19.75 million (plus a $1 million buyout for two option years) at the time of his death. That money will reportedly still be paid out by the Royals, and it will all go directly to Ventura's estate - but the Royals will only be reimbursed if the cause of the crash is ruled to be accidental, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

According to Rosenthal, Ventura's deal included a clause "nullify(ing) payment for failure to perform due to injury or death resulting from driving a motorized vehicle while intoxicated." No alcohol was found at the site of the accident, and Royals general manager Dayton Moore noted that toxicology results won't be available for at least three weeks.


The Royals have reportedly already begun discussing the details of the contract with Major League Baseball, per Rosenthal.

While it remains unclear if Ventura was under the influence of alcohol, details of his final hours before the accident are beginning to emerge. Ventura was apparently photographed attending the "Patronales 2017" festival, a large party that honors the Dominican Republic's patron saint Ochoa, according to Rustin Dodd and Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star.

His agent, Jose Luis Rojas, told a Dominican television station that Ventura was driving to the town of Cibao - an 80-mile journey from his starting point - per the Star.

Ventura's car was found several feet off the road, and a guard rail was ripped from its moorings as a result of the impact. It's known that Ventura was driving in foggy conditions, and at least one official who investigated the crash site believes that speed - the stretch of road he was driving on has a speed limit of 15 mph - may have been a factor.

"It's an open road," Jacobo Mateo Moquete, a public information officer with the Dominican Republic's Commission on Military and Police for the Department of Public Works, told Dodd and Torres. "It's in excellent shape. But it does take you through a mountainous area, so you have to drive with caution.

"It has to be an issue of speed. It has all the characteristics of that. There's nothing obstructing the view."

Ventura, who will be laid to rest in a funeral service on Tuesday, was 25 years old.

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The Chicago Cubs have reportedly agreed to a deal with oft-injured free-agent starter Brett Anderson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The one-year contract - which is contingent on Anderson passing his physical - is reportedly worth $3.5 million, and contains incentives that could raise its value to $10 million, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Earlier Monday, Anderson tweeted he was en route to the Windy City, leading to speculation about his possibly signing in the city.

Wheels up to Chicago...I bet it's cold there.

— Brett Anderson (@BrettAnderson35) January 23, 2017
If healthy, Anderson would add depth to an already excellent core of starters for the defending World Series champions. It's possible that he could claim the fifth starters' role and push southpaw Mike Montgomery back to the bullpen, head to the minors as depth, or even move into an unfamiliar relief role himself.

Health, of course, is the key for Anderson, a former top prospect in the Oakland Athletics' system. The soon-to-be 29-year-old has been effective when off the disabled list, but has made frequent trips to the injury ward in recent years. After making 62 starts over his first three big-league seasons, he's appeared in just 65 major-league contests over the last five years, and has pitched in over 16 games just once during that span due to a variety of ailments.

Anderson posted a 3.69 ERA, 1.331 WHIP, and 116 strikeouts over a career-high 31 starts and 180 1/3 innings in 2015, but couldn't stay off the DL this past year. A back injury suffered in spring training kept him off the field until August, and he then sprained his wrist in his season debut and missed another month. Overall, Anderson made just four appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, and posted a 11.91 ERA for his troubles.

Anderson earned $15.8 million in 2016 after accepting the Dodgers' qualifying offer last winter. He owns a career 3.86 ERA and 1.318 WHIP over 685 2/3 innings with the Dodgers, Athletics, and Colorado Rockies.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have added to their bullpen depth as the club has agreed to a one-year deal worth $1 million with reliever Shawn Tolleson, the club announced.

Tolleson's deal with Tampa Bay could also earn him an extra $150,000 in incentives, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin.

Both parties were first reported to be nearing a deal Tuesday.

Formerly the closer for the Texas Rangers in 2015, Tolleson struggled this past season as he pitched to a 7.68 ERA in 36 1/3 innings with the Rangers. After being outrighted off the roster in October, the 29-year-old elected instead to enter free agency.

Tolleson owns a career 3.92 ERA in 218 innings pitched. He racked up 35 saves in 2015, though only 11 in 2016 as Texas replaced him in the closer's role with Sam Dyson.

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The San Francisco Giants have found a backup for franchise player Buster Posey behind the plate, agreeing to a one-year, $2-million deal with catcher Nick Hundley, the team announced Tuesday.

Hundley will likely supplant Trevor Brown - who appeared in 75 games for the Giants last season - as Posey's backup, giving the lineup an additional veteran presence who's familiar with the National League West. Hundley previously played for the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres.

The 33-year-old Hundley spent the past two seasons in Colorado, hitting 20 home runs while driving in 91 runs to go along with a .282/.330/.455 slash line in 706 plate appearances.

Over his nine-year career, Hundley owns a .250/.303/.404 slash line with 72 home runs and 305 RBIs.

In a corresponding move, the Giants will designate infielder Ehire Adrianza for assignment.

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As Yordano Ventura's friends and family continue to mourn the loss of the 25-year-old - who died Sunday in an automobile accident - at his funeral Tuesday in the Dominican Republic, some potentially disturbing details have emerged surrounding his death, and his mother wants answers.

Ventura's mother, Marisol, is reportedly seeking an investigation into her son's death as he was apparently robbed of his possessions at the crash site, reports Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star.

Ventura "was carrying items such as cash, garments that included his World Series ring and other valuable items, which were stripped," after he crashed his jeep, reports Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star, as per the Spanish language site Pio Deportes.

Ventura "was found alive, but several people assaulted him instead of helping him, after suffering the fatal accident at kilometer 14 of the road Juan Adrian," Grathoff reports, according to the website Ensegundo.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore confirmed the Royals were aware of the report robbery, Gregorian reports.

Ventura's funeral services took place Tuesday in Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic, where several players, such as David Ortiz, Salvador Perez, Greg Holland, Mike Moustakas, and Jarrod Dyson were in attendance, along with multiple Royals staff members, including Moore and manager Ned Yost.

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The San Francisco Giants came to a reported minor-league agreement Monday with Korean infielder Jae-gyun Hwang, which would guarantee the 29-year-old $1.5 million if he makes the major-league roster.

Money didn't seem to be a determining factor in Hwang's decision to depart from Korea, though, as he apparently turned down $8 million from the Lotte Giants in the Korean Baseball Organization to sign with the Giants, reports KBO analyst Daniel Kim.

The agreement between Hwang and the Giants has not been made official, but the veteran of 10 KBO seasons was spotted sporting a new look Monday:

Hello San Francisco! #sfgaints #mlb pic.twitter.com/9XD0LbwVvl

— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) January 24, 2017
Hwang hit an impressive .330/.391/.558 with 26 home runs and 104 RBIs for Lotte last season, and in his career owns a .285/.349/.433 slash line with 114 home runs and 585 RBIs over 4,653 plate appearances.

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The Colorado Rockies appear to have landed a potential closer.

Greg Holland has signed a one-year deal with the club that includes a vesting option for the second year, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.

The deal, which is pending a physical, guarantees Holland $7 million, but could reach up to $10 million with non-closing incentives, and $14 million with closing incentives, according to Passan.

The 31-year-old Holland was one of the top remaining relief arms on the open market after saving 145 games for the Kansas City Royals from 2011-15. He missed the entire 2016 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Holland was non-tendered by the Royals in December 2015 after tearing the UCL in his throwing elbow.

He impressed during a bullpen session in front of 60 scouts in November - sitting at 88-91 mph with his fastball - and a number of teams, including the Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs, showed interest in acquiring him.

Before the Tommy John surgery, Holland was one of the game's best closers, fashioning a 2.42 ERA with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings during 309 appearances.

Last edited on Thu Jan 26th, 2017 02:57 am by lobo316

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Seattle Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez was one of a number of victims of a high-end burglary ring in the state of Washington.

Bellevue police announced Wednesday the details of the largest burglary bust in the city's history. Three men have been arrested and accused of being involved in 123 burglaries in Seattle and the surrounding area, claiming roughly $3 million worth of merchandise.

Among Hernandez's stolen items were a New York Yankees World Series ring from 2000, and a pair of watches that were taken during a burglary on Nov. 1, 2016.

BREAKING: This ring belongs to @RealKingFelix and his home was 123 that was broken into. This is a Yankees World Series ring that he owns. pic.twitter.com/EjYixZxuHe

— Alex Rozier (@AlexRozierK5) January 25, 2017
These watches also belong to @RealKingFelix .His home broken into in a burglary ring in Bellevue, Medina, Mercer Island, Seattle, Clyde Hill pic.twitter.com/Gdz5miO6f4

— Alex Rozier (@AlexRozierK5) January 25, 2017
"The burglars would case homes in high-end neighborhoods, break a rear window or sliding door with a rock or other object, and then steal jewelry, purses, cash, and firearms," police said in a news release obtained by the Seattle Times' Sara Jean Green.

One of the watches stolen from Hernandez was being worn by the suspect at the time of his arrest, according to Alex Rozier of King 5 Seattle. The watch has "King Felix" engraved on it.

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Jake Diekman received some fantastic news on Wednesday when he was informed that a four-hour surgery he underwent to remove his colon, which was wrecked by ulcerative colitis, was successful.

Diekman's fiancee, Amanda Soltero, posted on Twitter that the 30-year-old Texas Rangers reliever was in recovery and the surgeon said the surgery went great.

Thank you for your prayers for us. Happy to report @JakeDiekman is in recovery and his surgeon says it went great! 2 hrs and we can see him.

— Amanda Soltero (@AmandaSoltero) January 25, 2017
Diekman is expected to undergo further procedures - which should help him combat the loss of his colon - thus forcing him to miss at least the first half of the season.

The hard-throwing left-hander, who was diagnosed with the disease when he was 10 years old, decided to undergo surgery after he lost 20 pounds in two weeks this past December.

Diekman was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015 as part of the trade for Cole Hamels.

Since coming to Texas, he's posted a 3.01 ERA in 92 games for the club, striking out 9.5 hitters per nine innings.

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The Philadelphia Phillies added another ex-member of the 2016 Boston Red Sox to their roster, agreeing to a minor-league deal with veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan on Wednesday.

Hanigan is expected to earn $1.25 million plus $375,000 in incentives if he makes the club, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports reports.

He will head into the Phillies spring training camp competing for time behind the plate with Cameron Rupp and former Red Sox teammate Bryan Holaday, who also agreed to a minor-league deal with the club in December.

The 36-year-old Hanigan is a serviceable backup, but is coming off a down year in which he hit .171/.230/.238 with one home run, four doubles, and 27 strikeouts in 35 games. He missed time with both an ankle and neck injury, but expects to be healthy heading into spring.

Hanigan owns a .218/.307/.308 slash line with eight homers and 21 doubles in 173 games over the last three seasons, throwing out 27 of 99 (27 percent) base stealers.

The Phillies also added right-hander Clay Buchholz in a trade this winter. The two-time All-Star had spent the previous 10 years of his career in Boston.

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Former Philadelphia Phillies prospect Matt Imhof is retiring from baseball at age 23 after he lost his eye following a routine pregame exercise last season.

Seven months after losing his right eye in a training accident, Phillies prospect Matt Imhof announces his retireme… pic.twitter.com/7SC29Kcjzi

— Siva Kodali (@kodali_siva) January 25, 2017
Imhof was performing a stretching program prior to a Class A game in June when a piece of metal broke off the wall and struck him in the face. Along with suffering a fractured nose and breaking two orbital bones, he injured his eye beyond repair.

Seven months after undergoing surgery to remove his eye completely, the former pitcher announced Wednesday that he's stepping away from the game.

"I still love the game of baseball and I'm proud of everything I accomplished in the game," Imhof wrote in a story for ESPN. "It's opened doors for me I never thought I'd walk through. It's allowed me to represent my country on the biggest stage, and it's given me a platform to effect positive change in the lives of those less fortunate than myself.

"I am blessed that I was able to play this game for 18 years and will never forget the lessons it taught me along the way."

Imhof was selected 47th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft. In two seasons split between Rookie League and High A, he posted a 3.69 ERA over 173 innings of work.

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Former Philadelphia Phillies prospect Matt Imhof is retiring from baseball at age 23 after he lost his eye following a routine pregame exercise last season.

Seven months after losing his right eye in a training accident, Phillies prospect Matt Imhof announces his retireme… pic.twitter.com/7SC29Kcjzi

— Siva Kodali (@kodali_siva) January 25, 2017
Imhof was performing a stretching program prior to a Class A game in June when a piece of metal broke off the wall and struck him in the face. Along with suffering a fractured nose and breaking two orbital bones, he injured his eye beyond repair.

Seven months after undergoing surgery to remove his eye completely, the former pitcher announced Wednesday that he's stepping away from the game.

"I still love the game of baseball and I'm proud of everything I accomplished in the game," Imhof wrote in a story for ESPN. "It's opened doors for me I never thought I'd walk through. It's allowed me to represent my country on the biggest stage, and it's given me a platform to effect positive change in the lives of those less fortunate than myself.

"I am blessed that I was able to play this game for 18 years and will never forget the lessons it taught me along the way."

Imhof was selected 47th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft. In two seasons split between Rookie League and High A, he posted a 3.69 ERA over 173 innings of work.

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The Cleveland Indians have added another outfielder into the mix for next season, reaching a minor-league agreement with free agent Austin Jackson, reports ESPN's Buster Olney.

His deal includes an out clause at the end of spring training if he doesn't make the team, and Jackson will earn a base salary of $1.5 million with $4 million in incentives if he makes the squad, reports Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

The 29-year-old spent 2016 with the Chicago White Sox, appearing in 54 games before surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his right knee ended his season.

He hit .254/.318/.343 during his stint with the White Sox.

The Indians already possess a potentially deep outfield with Michael Brantley, Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, and Abraham Almonte on their depth chart.

Jackson could be insurance, however, for Brantley who's on the recovery road after undergoing shoulder surgery and missing most of the 2016 season.

Jackson is a veteran of seven big-league seasons, and was once an everyday player for the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners.

He owns a career slash line of .272/.332/.396 with 55 home runs, 49 triples, and 314 RBIs. He's also swiped 108 bags.

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Adam Rosales is headed back to Oakland.

After spending four seasons with the Athletics from 2010-13, Rosales formally agreed to a one-year deal with the club on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old utility infielder struggled last season, the first of his nine-year career in which he eclipsed the 100-game mark. Rosales slashed .229/.319/.495 with a career-high 13 homers and 35 RBIs as a member of the San Diego Padres.

Rosales will strictly serve as a depth player in Oakland, considering the A's have Trevor Plouffe at third, Marcus Semien at shortstop, Jed Lowrie at second, and Yonder Alonso at first.

As a counter-move, Oakland designated left-hander Dillon Overton for assignment.

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The Oakland Athletics have traded outfielder Brett Eibner to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for a minor-league player, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Jordan Tarsovich is the player going to Oakland, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee, and right-hander Carlos Frias will be designated for assignment by the Dodgers to clear roster space, reports Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.

Neither of the teams have made the deal official.

The Dodgers were seeking another outfield bat and liked Eibner's athleticism and the fact that he could be optioned to the minors, according to Rosenthal.

Eibner was designated for assignment by the Athletics on Jan. 20 to make room for Santiago Casilla.

The 28-year-old appeared in 44 games for Oakland last season, hitting .165/.252/.303 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

He did post an OPS of .922 in the minors in 2016, and is one season removed from fashioning a .303/.364/.514 hitting line with Triple-A Omaha.

Eibner was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Kansas City Royals and owns a career slash line of .193/.266/.353 in the big leagues.

Tarsovich, 25, was a 22nd-round draft choice by the Dodgers in 2015. He hit .219/.325/.343 with four home runs and 16 RBIs at Double-A Tulsa last season.

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NEW YORK - Researchers say they've documented an unseen drag on major league baseball players that can wipe out home field advantage, make pitchers give up more home runs, and take some punch out of a team's bats.

The culprit: jet lag.

Travelers are well aware of the fatigue, poor sleep and other effects that can descend like a fog when their body clocks are out of sync with their surroundings. The new work adds to previous suggestions that professional athletes are no different.

Dr. Ravi Allada of Northwestern University said he and his colleagues wanted to study the effects of body clock disruptions on human performance. So they chose baseball, a game with plenty of performance measures gathered from hundreds of games a year, played by people who get little chance to settle in to new time zones when they travel.

They looked for jet lag's effects by analyzing 20 years' worth of Major League Baseball data. They found 4,919 instances of a team taking the field after crossing two or three time zones but without enough time to adjust. People generally need a day of adjustment for each time zone crossed.

Their analysis was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Results of the new study generally showed that traveling eastward was more disruptive than going west, a known feature of jet lag. A surprise, though, was that home teams seemed to suffer its effects more than visiting teams did.

Among the findings:

- Over all the games in the 20 years, teams won about 54 percent of games played at home, showing a home field advantage of four percent. But that edge was obliterated when home teams that were jet-lagged from traveling eastward played teams with no apparent jet lag - an apparent result of seemingly small declines in performance.

- After traveling eastward, jet-lagged home teams hit fewer doubles and triples, stole fewer bases and grounded into more double plays than when they weren't affected. The impact on doubles was about one fewer per every seven games, while the other effects were smaller.

- Eastward travel was linked to pitchers allowing more home runs, both at home and away. The difference came to roughly one home run every 10 games.

The researchers suggested starting pitchers might get time to overcome jet lag if they are sent a few days ahead of the team to distant away games. Many teams send them ahead now on long flights, but it's usually only a few hours early, to avoid overnight travel.

The researchers said they had no explanation for why teams were more hampered by jet lag at home than when they played elsewhere. Maybe that reflects some protection from a more structured daily schedule on the road than at home, they suggested.

That's a reasonable idea, said Dr. W. Chris Winter, a Virginia sleep specialist who consults with several major league teams.

Winter, who has published research on how jet lag affects baseball teams but had no role in the new study, said the findings moved beyond simply documenting an effect on overall team performance toward learning more about it.

Ballplayers know jet lag a problem, and have recently taken steps to ease the burden of their schedules. The Major League Baseball Players Association, concerned about fatigue, negotiated several changes in scheduling rules starting in 2018. For example, each team's 162-game regular season schedule will be played over 187 days, up from 183. And there will be new rules on scheduling games, taking into account the timing of consecutive games.

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he doesn't have much choice in the matter






It's been a trying last few years for Ryan Howard, but the 37-year-old has no intention of walking away from baseball.

The hulking slugger is a free agent for the first time this winter after the Philadelphia Phillies declined his $23-million option for 2017, ending their 13-year relationship.

Howard's performance has declined steeply in recent years, and he's watched his playing time and batting average go down, though his power numbers remain consistent. He's reached the 20-homer plateau in each of his last three seasons and could help a team looking for power from the left side of the plate.

"I think I can still go out there and compete, and compete at a high level," Howard told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "I understand that I'm not going to play every single day. With the way that the game has changed, with teams having analytics and all that, I understand all that stuff."

With his time in the National League likely finished, Howard told Rosenthal he's "open" to becoming a DH after logging almost 1,500 career games at first base.

The free-agent market hasn't been especially kind to one-dimensional power hitters this winter. Howard remains without a club three weeks before spring training opens, along with fellow sluggers Chris Carter, Mike Napoli, Mark Reynolds, and Brandon Moss.

A number of teams could still use the services of a Howard-type player, such as the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers.

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The Cincinnati Reds have officially agreed to a one-year deal with right-handed pitcher Scott Feldman, reportedly worth $2.3 million, a source told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Feldman opened last season with the Houston Astros, posting a 2.90 ERA in 62 innings, including five starts.

At the Aug. 1 trade deadline, Feldman was shipped to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor-league pitcher Guadalupe Chavez. Feldman struggled north of the border, however, posting an 8.40 ERA in only 15 innings with Toronto.

Feldman, who can slide into the Reds' rotation or pitch in relief, owns a career 4.40 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

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The Cleveland Indians will reportedly hold a press conference Friday to announce that they will host the 2019 MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field, multiple sources told Zack Meisel of the Plan Dealer.

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David Ortiz appears fully committed to his retirement plan.

The Boston Red Sox announced Thursday they will retire Ortiz's No. 34 during a June 23 ceremony at Fenway Park, prior to their matchup with the Los Angeles Angels.

Ortiz will join Bobby Doerr (No.1), Joe Cronin (No. 4), Johnny Pesky (No. 6), Carl Yastrzemski (No. 8), Ted Williams (No. 9), Jim Rice (No. 14), Wade Boggs (No. 26), Carlton Fisk (No. 27), and Pedro Martinez (No. 45) as the players to have their number retired by the Red Sox.

The 41-year-old officially retired in November after 20 major-league seasons, though there's been plenty of speculation regarding a potential return despite Ortiz reiterating on numerous occasions that he has no plans to come back.

"My playing time has already expired," Ortiz told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes earlier this month. "Baseball is not something that you wake up today and you say, 'I'll play tomorrow.' Baseball is something that carries a lot of sacrifice, a lot of preparation, and there is a reason why we train the entire year to play it, practice every day, especially during the season, because it is a sport of consistency."

Ortiz will become just the second player in Red Sox history to have his number retired without already being in the Hall of Fame, but the legacy he built in 14 years in Boston made him an obvious choice to receive the honor just months after retirement.

In Red Sox history, the slugger ranks sixth in hits, fifth in games played and runs, fourth in walks and OPS, third in RBIs and second in homers, while playing a key role on three World Series championship teams.

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Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais didn't surprise anyone Thursday when he announced his Opening Day starter.

Felix Hernandez will get the starting nod April 3 when the Mariners visit Minute Maid Park to play the Houston Astros, reports Bob Dutton from The Tacoma News Tribune.

The 30-year-old will make his 10th Opening Day start - and his ninth consecutive - for the Mariners, a franchise record.

Seattle is 8-1 on Hernandez's Opening Day starts.

The Venezuelan was 11-8 with a 3.82 ERA last season across 25 starts - his lowest total since his rookie year in 2005 - pitching just 153 1/3 innings and striking out a career-low 7.2 hitters per nine innings.

Over his career, King Felix owns a 154-109 record with a 3.16 ERA.

He was the 2010 winner of the American League Cy Young award.

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Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna has been named the Athlete of the Year in his native Mexico.

Congratulations to Roberto Osuna on winning Athlete of the Year in Mexico! 🇲🇽 ¡Felicitaciones, @RobertoOsuna1! 👏👏👏

📷 @record_mexico pic.twitter.com/LY2mygQRFj

— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 26, 2017
Osuna, who will represent Mexico at the World Baseball Classic, has emerged as one of the game's top relief options at the ripe age of 21.

In two seasons with the Blue Jays, he has 56 saves and owns a sparkling 2.63 ERA over 143 2/3 innings pitched. In his first season, he finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting, and a year later struck out 82 batters over 74 innings.

The right-hander was signed by the Blue Jays out of Mexico when he was just 16 years old. He only played three seasons of minor-league ball before his promotion to the majors.

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The Washington Nationals addressed their need for middle-infield depth Thursday by agreeing to a one-year deal with Stephen Drew that's reportedly worth $3.5 million plus incentives, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Drew enjoyed a successful season with the Nationals in 2016, hitting .266/.339/.524 with eight home runs and 11 doubles in 70 games while seeing time at second and third base in addition to time at shortstop.

The move gives the Nationals added insurance in the infield behind Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy, and Anthony Rendon that was lost when the club traded away Danny Espinosa to the Los Angeles Angels last month.

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General manager Jerry Dipoto is at it again.

The Seattle Mariners have made yet another trade, this time acquiring left-hander Dillon Overton from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for catcher prospect Jason Goldstein, the team announced.

"Dillon has been successful at every level in the minor leagues," Dipoto said, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. "He is a young, controllable pitcher with major-league upside who adds to our depth."

The 25-year-old appeared in seven games with the Athletics last year, including five starts. He went 1-3 with a 11.47 ERA with 17 strikeouts. He did, however, perform well in Triple-A combining to a 13-5 record, 3.29 ERA, and 105 strikeouts before his call up to the majors.

Goldstein, 22, was drafted by the Mariners in the ninth round in 2016. He played 16 games in Single-A, hitting .279/.328/.311 with six RBIs.

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Despite the intentional submissions of blank ballots from some voters this winter due to an unwillingness to select player's linked to performance-enhancing drugs, the Baseball Hall of Fame has no intentions of altering rules to prevent previously suspended or suspected users from being excluded from the ballot.

"Rules are always a topic of conversation and thought," HOF president Jeff Idelson told Jayson Stark of ESPN. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about any of our sets of rules for election.

"(But) bottom line is, we still feel very comfortable with the character, integrity and sportsmanship portion of the rule that asks that those characteristics be evaluated in terms of candidacy for election. Could they change in the future? It's always possible. But sitting here today, we're comfortable (with those rules) as they are."

The Baseball Writers' Association of America nominated three new players into Cooperstown this month - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez - while suspected PED-users Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds saw significant gains in their fifth year on the ballot.

The inclusion of Bonds and Clemens, in addition to formally suspended user Manny Ramirez on the ballot has been a controversial topic for some voters. Murray Chass submitted a blank ballot this year, saying that he either didn't feel that any player deserved to be in or that they "used stuff." Bill Livingston also submitted a blank ballot, claiming that he would not vote for anyone until baseball decides what to do about the steroid era.

The criteria to get elected into Cooperstown is based somewhat on a character clause, though Idelson acknowledges that's open to be interpreted by voters how they see fit.

"I don't know how else to define character, integrity and sportsmanship, or how else to provide guidance," Idelson told Stark. "When I have conversations with writers about asking for guidance, there really isn't a follow-up as to what that would be. So I guess I'm not sure what more guidance writers would want."

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CLEVELAND - Baseball's mid-summer classic is sliding back home to Cleveland in two years.

The Indians, who have been enjoying a renaissance on the field, will host the 90th All-Star Game in 2019 at Progressive Field, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Friday as a light snow fell at the downtown ballpark.

Cleveland last hosted the event in 1997, when Indians catcher Sandy Alomar hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning to lead the AL to a win and earn MVP honors.

This will be the sixth time the game will be hosted by the Indians, the most among the teams.

Landing the game is another boost for the Indians, who won the pennant last year and took the Chicago Cubs to seven games before losing a dramatic World Series.

It's been a notable offseason for Cleveland, which added one of the game's elite sluggers by signing free-agent Edwin Encarnacion.

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CLEVELAND - Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has discussed a possible solution to the club's divisive Chief Wahoo logo with Indians owner Paul Dolan.

Manfred and Dolan have had multiple meetings on the touchy subject, including one on Friday that included Indians minority owner John Sherman, before the team announced it will host the 2019 All-Stare Game at Progressive Field.

The club has come under increased pressure to permanently remove the red-faced, smiling logo, which has been labeled offensive and racially insensitive.

Dolan said nothing has been resolved and he intends to meet again with Manfred, who would not divulge his preference for an outcome.

"I'm not going to speculate about what I want the end of the process to be," Manfred said. "I think that Paul has been fantastic about engaging in conversations. I want those conversations to continue, and I think we'll produce a result that will be good for the Indians and good for baseball. What exactly that is, I don't want to speculate right now."

Manfred would not say if a timetable for a solution has been set.

When the Indians made the World Series last season, the national spotlight increased debate over the logo, and Manfred indicated he wanted the club to make a change.

"I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why," Manfred said before Game 2.

The Indians have been slowly phasing out the Wahoo logo in recent years, replacing it with a block ''C'' logo on some of the team's caps. However, the logo remains on the sleeves of some jerseys and hats.

While sensitive to the feelings of others, Dolan has stated in the past that Wahoo is part of the team's history and legacy. There are others who see it as a symbol of civic pride, perhaps ignoring how the caricature of a Native American, can be viewed as demeaning.

Every season, protesters gather outside Progressive Field before the home opener to decry the team's use of the logo. However, recently there have been an equal number of fans pushing to retain Wahoo, which the club has used in various forms since the 1940s.

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Kris Medlen is coming back to Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves have reportedly signed the right-hander to a minor-league deal, without an invite to spring training, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After two subpar seasons with the Kansas City Royals, he had his 2017 option declined this winter.

A former 10th-round pick by the Braves in the 2006 draft, the 31-year old spent five seasons with the Braves. Overall, he compiled a 2.95 ERA over 512 2/3 innings pitched.

Medlen's best season came in 2012, when he went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA, striking out 120 batters and surrendering just 23 walks.

His Braves career came to an end during 2014 spring training after he was forced to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery - the second time in less than four years he had to have the procedure.

After missing the entire year, he returned to pitch two seasons with the Royals, where he struggled to the tune of a 5.12 ERA over just 82 2/3 innings of work.

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A leak has potentially revealed the look of the New York Yankees' spring training hats, which SportsLogos.net reports will feature the historic and traditional pinstripes on the rim.
Leak gives a sneak peek at the 2017 #MLB Spring Training uniforms #YankeesMore photos and details here: https://t.co/g9cS05AxMMpic.twitter.com/qLlMkFMHLi
— Chris Creamer (@sportslogosnet) January 27, 2017
While some fans were happy with the new look, the hats received negative attention on Twitter.






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The Cleveland Indians certainly have plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2017 season.

The club is the reigning American League champ, landed one of the hottest free-agent bats in Edwin Encarnacion during the offseason, and announced Friday that it will host the 2019 All-Star Game at Progressive Field.

All of that fanfare surrounding the club has generated significant interest at the gate, with owner Paul Dolan telling reporters Friday there's been a significant jump in season-ticket holders over the winter.

"We've gone from about 8,500 season tickets last year to approaching 11,000 (this year)," Dolan said, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

Despite winning the division by eight games last year, the Indians struggled with attendance during the regular season. They averaged 19,650 fans per game, good for 28th in the majors.

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SAN DIEGO - Randy Jones, the San Diego Padres' first Cy Young Award winner, is fighting throat cancer linked to tobacco use during his baseball career.

Jones told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Thursday that he has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments since being diagnosed in November.

The 67-year-old former pitcher says the cancer was caught early and hasn't spread. Jones said doctors told him it's a result of the chewing tobacco he used as a player. He has smoked cigars throughout his adult life.

''Overall, I'm feeling really good,'' Jones told the newspaper.

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, a longtime Padres star and franchise icon, died of salivary gland cancer in 2014 that he believed was related to using tobacco during his major league career.

Jones was drafted by the Padres in 1972 and became the club's first pitcher to appear in an All-Star Game in 1975. He was an All-Star the following year when he won the NL Cy Young Award.

The left-hander had a 92-105 record with a 3.30 ERA for the Padres from 1973-80. He is the franchise's career leader in starts, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. He retired after two seasons with the New York Mets.

Jones said he hopes to join the Padres in mid-March for the remainder of spring training, where he has been a guest instructor at the team's camp in Arizona since 2013.

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Maybe fan reaction wasn't the only reason the Baltimore Orioles didn't pursue Jose Bautista.

A new chapter in the ongoing feud between Bautista and the Orioles was written on Saturday afternoon thanks to Baltimore's star slugger, Chris Davis. While speaking to fans at the Orioles' annual FanFest, Davis took a moment to rip into the Toronto Blue Jays' star outfielder, who's long been one of the most detested athletes among Baltimore's sports fans.

"He's actually a pretty good dude - said no one ever," Davis quipped, according to Jon Solomon of CBS Sports. "... He's a guy who's easy to dislike."

Though the Blue Jays-Orioles rivalry has often been intense over its 41-year history, Bautista's arrival in Toronto and subsequent emergence as a brash, outspoken superstar has pushed their rivalry to another level. In 2013, he famously homered off Orioles reliever Darren O'Day, then delivered some smack talk to both Davis and the rest of the Orioles while rounding the bases; two years later, he angrily homered several pitches after the Orioles threw behind him. Once again he mouthed off to his opponents while rounding the bases, and nearly started a brawl with Adam Jones.


Despite all that bad blood, the Orioles were linked to Bautista while he was still a free agent, but general manager Dan Duquette quickly poured cold water on any thought of the 36-year-old joining the enemy.

"We told (Bautista's) agent that we are not interested because our fans don't like him. Our fans don't like Jose Bautista, with good reason," Duquette told reporters at the winter meetings, though he later attempted to clarify the remark.

Bautista has hit 28 of his 308 career home runs against the Orioles, with 13 of those coming at Camden Yards. Ironically, the six-time All-Star actually began his career with the Orioles as their 2004 Rule 5 pick, but was waived that June after going just 3-for-11 in 16 games.

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The Kansas City Royals have added the left-handed bat they were searching for.

The club has agreed to a two-year, $12-million contract with first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The deal is pending a physical.

Kansas City has apparently structured the contract so it's significantly back-loaded, reports Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Moss' 2017 salary is not yet known, per Dodd.

Jim Bowden of ESPN was the first to report the two sides were close to a deal.

A need for added offense was clear this offseason after Kendrys Morales opted for greener pastures, signing a three-year, $33-million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Moss' hitting ability from the left side gives the organization another solid piece to join Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, and Mike Moustakas as the other left-handed hitters in the lineup. It also marks the first free-agent signing the Royals have made so far this offseason.

Although Morales performed a bit better than Moss last season, the veteran outfielder hit an impressive 25 home runs against right-handed pitching compared to Morales' 19.

Moss is expected to serve as the team's designated hitter on most occasions as the newly acquired Jorge Soler is slated to be the team's everyday right-fielder. The veteran 33-year-old spent the past two years with the St. Louis Cardinals but has experience hitting in the American League when he was a member of the Oakland Athletics from 2012-2014, and with the Cleveland Indians in 2015.

Moss, who was an All-Star with the Athletics in 2014, combined to slash .249/.330/.481 with 93 home runs and 282 RBIs in four seasons playing in the AL.

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After the separate deaths of Dominican-born baseball players Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura, one young athlete from San Pedro De Macoris shed light on the way of life in the country.

"The people in the Dominican, they have a different life from here in the United States," Minnesota Twins outfielder Miguel Sano said on ESPN Radio 1500, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. "If you drink you can drive, all that stuff. It's tough now for their families and for the big leagues."

Sano, a former friend of Ventura's, said that he spoke to the 25-year-old Kansas City Royals pitcher shortly before Ventura's tragic car accident. San Francisco Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto gave Ventura some advice that Sano says has stuck with him.

"I saw Ventura a couple days before he died," Sano said. "I remember Cueto, he said, 'Ventura, when you drink, don't drive.' So it's always in my mind, what Cueto said. When I drink, I never drive. But I don't drink anymore."

Sano went on to lose 15 pounds ahead of last season after he gave up drinking. Although Ventura's toxicology report isn't set to be released for another 16 days, Dominican officials said that no alcohol was found at the site where Ventura crashed his vehicle.

The remainder of Ventura's $20-million contract will depend on the toxicology report, as the Royals are expected to send the money to his estate if the death is ruled accidental. The contract includes an exception that the club will not be reimbursed any money if his death is ruled to be caused by driving intoxicated.

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The Tampa Bay Rays are looking to get creative next season in order to add more depth to their roster.

The club's plan is to move Brad Miller from first base to second, a strategy that would allow the team to pursue a first baseman in free agency, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

After being acquired by the Rays through trade from the Seattle Mariners, Miller began last season as the team's everyday shortstop, starting 95 games at the position. Following the trade deadline acquisition of infielder Matt Duffy, the Rays moved Miller to first base where he played the final 37 games of the campaign.

The timing of the Rays' plan is perfect as the club has been linked to several veteran first basemen as of late, particularly Chris Carter, Mike Napoli, and Billy Butler. Any future additions would allow the Rays to deploy Miller at second base - a position he is familiar with, appearing in 37 games at the post throughout his career.

The 27-year-old had a career year with the Rays in 2016, combining for 30 home runs, 81 RBIs, a .482 slugging percentage, and a .786 OPS.

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The Washington Nationals have added some pitching depth by announcing Saturday they've agreed to a minor-league deal with right-hander Vance Worley, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post.

Worley will receive an invitation to the Nationals' major-league camp, and is guaranteed $1 million if he makes the big-league roster, Castillo reports; the deal also contains $1.65-million worth of incentives. It's possible that he'll compete for a bullpen spot, though he could also serve as rotation depth thanks to his past work as a starter.

Worley made 35 appearances - all but four of which came in relief - for the Baltimore Orioles last season, where he posted a 2-2 record with a 3.53 ERA, 1.373 WHIP, and 56 strikeouts to 35 walks in 86 2/3 innings; he missed nearly a month in June with a groin issue, and did not appear in the American League wild-card game. Baltimore non-tendered the 29-year-old in December.

Worley, a seven-year veteran of the majors, owns a 3.75 ERA, 1.389 WHIP, 447 strikeouts, and 190 walks in 139 appearances (85 starts) for the Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins, and Pittsburgh Pirates.

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With two weeks to go until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, the Los Angeles Angels added another potential arm to their rotation Monday after reportedly agreeing to a minor-league deal with right-hander Bud Norris, a source told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Norris has bounced around the last two years, with the Angels representing his fifth club over that time.

The 31-year-old split the 2016 season between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 6-10 with a 5.10 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 102 strikeouts over 113 innings. He's gone 24-29 with a 4.81 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 101 games (58 starts) since 2014.

Norris will likely compete with Jesse Chavez for the final spot in the rotation and could also serve in the bullpen.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers traded right-hander Carlos Frias to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations Monday, according to a team announcement.

Frias was designated for assignment by the Dodgers on Jan. 25 to make room for outfielder Brett Eibner, who was acquired in a trade from the Oakland Athletics.

The 27-year-old Frias spent most of 2016 in the minors, fashioning a 4.15 ERA across two minor-league levels.

He did make a lone appearance for the Dodgers in the bigs last season, tossing four innings of two-hit ball July. 7.

Over the course of three seasons in the majors, Frias owns a 4.50 ERA and 1.38 WHIP across 33 appearances, including 15 starts.

In a corresponding move, the Indians designated utility player Richie Shaffer for assignment.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Free-agent outfielder Colby Rasmus and the Tampa Bay Rays have finalized a one-year, $5-million contract.

Ramus can earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses, the Rays said Monday.

The 30-year-old has a .241 career average with St. Louis (2009-11), Toronto (2011-14), and Houston (2015-16). He hit .206 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs in 107 games last year, reaching 15 homers for the fifth straight season, but his production dropped from a .238 average with 25 homers and 61 RBIs in 2015.

To open room on the 40-man roster, the Rays released outfielder Jason Coats. Claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on Jan. 11, the 26-year-old injured his right elbow throwing the following day and needs Tommy John surgery.

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The Chicago White Sox have long been the Second City's second baseball team, and they've often acted like it in many ways.

Unlike their older brothers on the north side of town, the White Sox have never been major players in the free-agent market. In fact, the largest contract they've ever handed out was the six-year, $68-million deal given to current first baseman Jose Abreu in 2013 (Frank Thomas' $64.4-million deal is second).

General manager Rick Hahn may already be looking forward to changing that way of thinking in a few years. Speaking at the White Sox FanFest on Sunday, Hahn answered a fan's question about the team's future spending plans by hinting that the rebuilding team will be looking to open their wallets in a big way when all their newly acquired prospects develop and begin to gel into a winner - something Hahn hopes will happen just as the great free-agent class of 2018 hits the market.

"When the time comes, we intend to be in position to spend to add the final pieces to this club," Hahn said in response to the fan, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. "The 2018 and 2019 free-agent classes are stacked. A number of players will command nine-figure contracts. There's nothing magical about the $68-million threshold. And we know spending is the final piece of all this. When we get there, we expect the resources to be there."

Hahn began stripping his big-league club down after another disappointing campaign riddled with various controversies, all of it happening in the shadow of the Cubs' World Series title. Longtime ace Chris Sale was dealt to Boston for a large package of prospects, including fire-balling pitcher Michael Kopech and last year's No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, Yoan Moncada; he then traded outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington for one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Lucas Giolito, and two others.

He's not close to done, either. Jose Quintana is still on the team, and the White Sox have been dangling him all winter hoping for another large return. Abreu could also find himself moved at some point, as could veterans Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, and Todd Frazier during the season.

While Hahn is hopeful this young core he's putting together will be ready to contend and therefore warrant spending on reinforcements in 2018, he stopped short of saying the franchise would push to be ready in two years. If they're not good enough to participate in the star-studded 2018 free-agent class, that simply won't be the year they spend - and he won't shortcut this rebuild just to sell extra tickets.

"We're going to know when we get that critical mass of championship-caliber players together that it's time to start augmenting from the outside," Hahn said. "When we start augmenting with free agency, you will know within a year or two that this thing is ready to take off."

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The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with left-handed reliever J.P. Howell, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Howell spent the last four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and is coming off a down year in which he posted a 4.09 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts across 50 2/3 innings.
The 33-year-old was among the majors' top lefty relievers from 2013-15 when he crafted a 1.97 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 155 innings. Howell owns a .249/.339/.389 career line with 43 home runs allowed against right-handed hitters, and a .229/.306/.317 line with 14 homers against lefties.


Toronto's largest remaining need heading into spring training was that of a left-handed reliever, and now barring any other moves, Howell will likely serve as the Blue Jays' primary one out of the bullpen.
Prior to landing Howell, the Blue Jays were reportedly interested in Jerry Blevins, Craig Breslow, Travis Wood and Boone Logan. Rosenthal notes that the club is still looking to add a right-handed reliever in the one-year, $3-million range.

Last edited on Thu Feb 2nd, 2017 02:07 am by lobo316

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The Washington Nationals are still in need of a closer with spring training approaching, and although adding a high-end reliever to fill the role seems like a priority, the club went a different route in reportedly adding to their bullpen options on Tuesday.

Washington has come to agreements on minor-league deals with pitchers Joe Nathan and Matt Albers, reports MLB.com's William Ladson.

Nathan could earn $1.25 million in the majors if he makes the team and could net north of $3 million if he hits certain incentives, reports Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

The 42-year-old right-hander sits second behind Francisco Rodriguez among active pitchers in saves, but has only pitched 13 innings since the beginning of 2015.

Nathan made his way back from a second Tommy John surgery last season, appearing in 6 1/3 innings split between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants.

Over the course of his 16-year career, Nathan owns a 2.87 ERA to go along with 377 saves in 423 opportunities.

Albers, 34, spent the past two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, fashioning a 4.16 ERA during 88 appearances. His ERA skyrocketed from 1.21 in 2015 to 6.31 last season amid a rising walk rate and decreased strikeout-per-nine-inning total.

The veteran right-hander has appeared in 452 games during his 11-year career, splitting time with six different teams. He owns a career ERA of 4.38 during 604 innings of work.

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It wasn't too long ago that Domonic Brown was an All-Star during an impressive 2013 campaign with the Philadelphia Phillies, but now the 29-year-old will need to fight for a spot on a big-league roster entering spring training.

Brown has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Colorado Rockies, according to a source of Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.

This is the first mention of Brown's name throughout the offseason after he put up subpar numbers with the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo last season. During 126 games, which included 509 plate appearances, Brown hit .239/.303/.336 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs.

With the Rockies already possessing a stacked outfield of Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, and Gerardo Parra it's likely that Brown will serve as nothing but organizational depth.

During his All-Star campaign in 2013, Brown hit .272/.324/.494 with 27 home runs and 83 RBIs, but has hasn't been able to replicate those kind of numbers since.

Over the course of his big-league career, the former top prospect owns a .246/.305/.405 slash line with 54 home runs and 229 RBIs.

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After hitting 42 homers and driving in 102 runs last season, Khris Davis is a much richer man.

The outfielder won his arbitration case against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, and will earn $5 million next season. Oakland was arguing the 29-year-old should be paid $4.65 million.

Davis, who was acquired by the Athletics from the Milwaukee Brewers on Feb. 12, 2016, led the team in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, hits, and strikeouts last season.

He earned $524,500 in 2016.

Wednesday's decision marks the second concluded arbitration hearing this offseason, with the Boston Red Sox winning their case over pitcher Fernando Abad on Tuesday.

Twenty other players remain scheduled for hearings, which are slated to run until Feb. 17.

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The Colorado Rockies traded right-hander Eddie Butler and international bonus money slot No. 94 to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right-hander James Farris and international bonus money slot No. 28.

Butler has 36 major-league appearances (28 starts) on his resume over three seasons in Colorado, posting a 6.50 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, and 94 strikeouts over 159 1/3 innings. He went 2-5 with a 7.17 ERA in 17 appearances in 2016.

The 25-year-old fared a little better with Triple-A Albuquerque last season, going 8-3 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 15 starts. Butler was designated for assignment to make room for the signing of Greg Holland.

Farris has yet to reach the majors and spent last season splitting time between Single-A and Double-A. In 43 relief appearances the 24-year-old crafted a 2.59 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 74 strikeouts over 66 innings.

The No. 28 bonus slot is valued at $563,700, while the No. 94 slot is valued at $235,200.

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Wily Mo Pena may be on his way back to the major leagues.

The 35-year-old outfielder has reportedly come to terms on a minor-league deal with the Cleveland Indians that would see him make $700,000 if he cracks the big-league roster, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Pena broke into MLB in 2002 with the Cincinnati Reds where he spent parts of four seasons before moving on to the Boston Red Sox and later the Washington Nationals. Pena was absent from MLB for two seasons before returning in 2011, splitting the campaign between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners.

Following his MLB tenure, Pena spent four seasons in Japan between the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (2012-13), Orix Buffaloes (2014), and Tohoku Raukten Golden Eagles (2015).

Over eight MLB seasons, Pena slashed .250/.303/.445 with 84 home runs in 599 games.

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Belting a National League-leading 41 homers last season may not be enough to land Chris Carter the contract he desires to stay in the majors for 2017.

The slugger remains on the free-agent market just two weeks before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and his agent Dave Stewart believes it might soon be time to entertain offers from Japan.

"I think at some point we have to make it a serious consideration," Stewart told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "It's getting late there, too. Those teams are filling their spaces, too."

The 30-year-old is coming off a year with the Milwaukee Brewers in which he hit .222/.321/.499 with a career-high 41 homers, 27 doubles, and 206 strikeouts in 160 games.

Carter is one of a number of one-dimensional sluggers who have seen their markets disappear this winter. Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo combined to hit 89 home runs last season but both settled for three-year deals, while the likes of Mike Napoli, Ryan Howard, and Adam Lind remain without work despite hitting at least 20 homers in 2016.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers have been linked to Carter recently, and Stewart acknowledged there's still a possibility he signs a deal stateside.

"We've had enough conversations - I know what they’re thinking," Stewart said of the Rays. "We just haven't advanced in that direction yet."

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To a degree, it's now a little more understandable why the Los Angeles Dodgers weren't able to trade for Brian Dozier.

Over the course of talks between the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins, the narrative was always about how the Twins' asking price was far too high.

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports shed some light on the situation, name-dropping some high-end talent the Twins wanted in return.

Minnesota wanted the Dodgers' top prospect, right-hander Jose De Leon, but that wasn't much of a secret. At one point, Morosi adds, they also wanted to include the now-third ranked prospect in the organization, second baseman Willie Calhoun, as well as the now-fourth ranked prospect, right-hander Yadier Alvarez.

While those names may not ring a bell, here's some perspective as to why the Dodgers refused to let them go.

Calhoun, 22, absolutely mashes baseballs. In 132 games at Double-A Tulsa last season, he belted 27 home runs, drove in 88 runs, and tacked on 25 doubles to his credit. Not only that, but he's shown patience at the plate, drawing 45 walks.

Alvarez is a 20-year-old right-hander out of Cuba with electric stuff. He has the ability to touch 100 mph with his fastball, and between Rookie League and Single-A last season, he had a 2.12 ERA, striking out 81 batters over 59 1/3 innings of work, while surrendering just 21 walks.

So to trade all those prospects for Dozier doesn't make sense. Instead, L.A. moved on and acquired just-as-capable second baseman Logan Forsythe from the Tampa Bay Rays in a straight-up deal for De Leon.

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The St. Louis Cardinals appear to have locked up an integral part of their starting rotation.

Right-hander Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals reportedly agreed to a five-year, $51-million contract extension Wednesday, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Martinez's extension, which is expected to be officially announced Thursday, also includes a pair of options which could take the deal through the 2023 season, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.

The reported deal is the largest extension awarded to a first-time arbitration eligible player, exceeding Corey Kluber's five-year, $38.5-million deal with the Cleveland Indians in 2015.

Both sides were involved in arbitration discussions and the new deal will erase three arbitration-eligible years and two years of free agency for the 25-year-old. Earlier in the arbitration process, the Cardinals offered $3.9 million, and Martinez countered with $4.25 million.

Martinez has been one of the more productive and efficient young starters in baseball the past two seasons, combining for a 30-16 record along with a 3.02 ERA and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He's also produced 9.4 WAR - the most among Cardinals starters.

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The Colorado Rockies' offseason goal seems to be adding even more power to an already lethal home-run hitting team.

The club has agreed to bring back veteran first baseman Mark Reynolds on a minor-league deal, the team announced.

The 33-year-old is expected to be Ian Desmond's backup at first base, where Reynolds started 102 games for the Rockies last season.

As is usually the case when hitting in the friendly confines of Coors Field in Colorado, Reynolds saw a spike in production with the club last year, hitting .282/.356/.450 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs in 118 games. Playing at home, Reynolds combined for .310/.383/.497. But a promising sign for the Rockies was his production away from Coors, where he hit a steady .255/.329/.403 in 59 games.

The slugger has bounced around from team to team the last few years, playing with the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, and Baltimore Orioles since 2012. He's combined to hit 93 home runs since then but also strikes out a ton, with 668 throughout the same time span.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates' season hasn't even started yet and they're already getting injury news.

The team announced Wednesday that prospect Josh Bell underwent surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee. They expect him to return to baseball activities in two to four weeks.

It's unclear whether he'll be ready for Opening Day.

In his first taste of big-league action last season, the former second-round pick fared well, posting a .273/.368/.406 slash line with three homers and 19 RBIs over 45 games.

As it stands, the team has Bell slated to be its No. 1 first baseman, though his backup, John Jaso, will likely get more at-bats to start the season due to the injury.

Bell is the third-ranked prospect in the Pirates system behind No. 1 Tyler Glasnow and No. 2 Austin Meadows.

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The Jays shudda signed this guy instead of Howell.





The Cleveland Indians have apparently added Boone Logan to what is already shaping up to be an impressive bullpen next season, agreeing to a deal with the left-hander on Thursday, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Logan's deal, which is pending a physical, is for one year and will include a club option for 2018, according to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com.

The 32-year-old Logan will join a 'pen that features one of the game's top relievers in Andrew Miller, as well as closer Cody Allen, who saved 32 games for the Indians last season.

The veteran southpaw drew plenty of interest from a number of clubs, such as the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Minnesota Twins, but appears to have settled on the defending American League champions.

He held left-handed hitters to a slash line of .142/.222/.255 last season.

Logan also posted his lowest ERA since 2013 last season with the Colorado Rockies, despite pitching his home games in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, while maintaining a high strikeout rate of 11.1 per nine innings. Since 2012, Logan has always averaged more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings.

Over the course of his 11-year career, he owns a 28-23 record and 4.45 ERA during 581 appearances across 410 1/3 innings of work.

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David Ortiz may never step up to bat for the Red Sox again, but he'll always be able to roam Boston's streets in style thanks to a parting gift from the club's front office.

On his Instagram account Wednesday, Ortiz showed off a lustrous new Mercedes he was apparently gifted by members of the Red Sox ownership, including owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and president Sam Kennedy.

It's unclear if the car is an alluring offer to try and bring the slugger out of retirement, but if it is, it's a pretty good attempt.

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Hal Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, doesn't believe Aroldis Chapman's 30-day suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy last season will be a problem as he gets set to begin his second stint with the club.

"Quite frankly it was manageable the minute he got here last year," Steinbrenner said Thursday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. "He was great. Look, he admitted he messed up. He paid the penalty. Sooner or later we forget, right?

"That's the way we're supposed to be in life. He did everything right, and said everything right, when he was with us."

According to police, Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend in an October 2015 argument, though he didn't face criminal charges.

After conducting its own investigation, however, MLB suspended Chapman for the first 29 games of the 2016 season.

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Bronson Arroyo, who last pitched in the majors in 2014, is deciding to give it another go.

The 40-year-old starter passed his physical and has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, citing a source.

Arroyo's attempt fell short last season after he signed with the Washington Nationals but was shut down with an elbow injury. Close to a year later, the veteran is expected to compete for a rotation spot with the rebuilding Reds.

"I couldn't sit here and say I will be over the hump now," Arroyo said. "That's what Spring Training is going to be for - to see how much my arm will take.

"I think if I'm healthy, I can make the club, especially this club. I went eight years and gave them 105 wins. I don't think I'm in a position for people to tell me that I don't have good enough stuff to get people out in the Major Leagues. I think the hitters will let me know that," he said.

Arroyo was with the Reds organization from 2006-13, combining for a 4.05 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and a 105-94 record. His lone All-Star appearance came with the team in 2006, and Arroyo finished 12th in NL Cy Young voting in 2010, while also winning his first and only Gold Glove award.

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lobo316 wrote: Hal Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, doesn't believe Aroldis Chapman's 30-day suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy last season will be a problem as he gets set to begin his second stint with the club.

"Quite frankly it was manageable the minute he got here last year," Steinbrenner said Thursday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. "He was great. Look, he admitted he messed up. He paid the penalty. Sooner or later we forget, right?

"That's the way we're supposed to be in life. He did everything right, and said everything right, when he was with us."

According to police, Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend in an October 2015 argument, though he didn't face criminal charges.

After conducting its own investigation, however, MLB suspended Chapman for the first 29 games of the 2016 season.



New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner caused a stir Thursday when he suggested it was easy to "forget" about the domestic violence incident involving the team's biggest offseason acquisition, Aroldis Chapman, but Steinbrenner now says he misspoke.
The comments in question came from an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today, in which Steinbrenner discussed Chapman's 2015 incident that allegedly included him pushing and choking his girlfriend before firing a gun eight times.
"Quite frankly it was manageable the minute he got here last year," Steinbrenner initially told Nightengale.
"He was great. Look, he admitted he messed up. He paid the penalty. Sooner or later we forget, right?"
After taking heat for his comments, Steinbrenner insisted he made a mistake, later telling David Lennon of Newsday he meant to say "forgive" instead of "forget."
"I thought I said 'forgive,'" Steinbrenner explained. "We forgive. That’s what we do - forgive."
Chapman was suspended for the first 30 games of the 2016 season because of the incident, and was later traded from the New York Yankees to the Chicago Cubs.
After winning the first World Series title of his career with the Cubs, Chapman opted for a return to New York, signing a five-year, $86-million with the Yankees in December.

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Alex Rodriguez's transition from player to coach is on the verge of taking place.

New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner announced Thursday that A-Rod will be in Tampa serving as an instructor for two separate stints during the club's spring training.

"I left it with (Rodriguez) ... to call (GM Brian Cashman) and work it out with Cash, but he clearly wants to be a part of it," Steinbrenner told David Lennon of Newsday. "So I think you'll probably see him toward the beginning and probably toward the middle. It’s really up to Cashman when particularly he wants him."

The Yankees gave Rodriguez an unconditional release from his player contract last August in order to sign him as a special adviser and instructor that will see him with the club through December 2017. Rodriguez was also free to pursue a playing opportunity with another team if he chose to.

Despite his transgressions, Rodriguez has earned a strong reputation as a valuable clubhouse presence. He's been praised for his leadership and work with younger players, which makes him a strong asset for a club like the Yankees who are transforming their roster toward youth.

"I told Alex, six months ago or so, his impact with the young kids, he's such a good teacher, and he's such a good mentor," Steinbrenner said.

"I just love when he's down at the (minor-league complex), working with the (Gleyber) Torres and the (Jorge) Mateos of the world, and I think he loves it too. But he's always welcome in the Bronx, he knows that, in whatever role he wants. We have not gotten past March yet."

The Yankees are still paying the remaining $21 million of Rodriguez's player contract, which expires at the end of this season.

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Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Shelby Miller lost his arbitration case and will earn $4.7 million in 2017.

Miller had asked for $5.1 million in salary, while the Diamondbacks countered with the $4.7 million that was awarded by the three-person panel of arbiters Friday.

Acquired from the Atlanta Braves in a blockbuster deal in December 2015, Miller's first season in the desert was a disaster. The 26-year-old went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, and 70 strikeouts in 101 innings, while also seeing time in Triple-A following a demotion.

Miller, who was in his second year of arbitration eligibility, earned $4.35 million last season.

The Diamondbacks still need to go to arbitration with recently acquired starter Taijuan Walker.

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The Kansas City Royals and reliever Kelvin Herrera met halfway.

The sides avoided arbitration Friday by officially agreeing to a one-year deal that's reportedly worth $5.325 million, a source told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Herrera originally asked for $5.6 million last month, while the Royals had countered with $5.05 million.

Herrera has spent his entire six-year career in Kansas City and will serve as the club's closer in 2017 following the departure of Wade Davis. The 27-year-old Herrera posted a 2.75 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 86 strikeouts in 72 innings last season while converting 12 saves.

With the agreement in place, the Royals have now settled with all their arbitration-eligible players.

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The Minnesota Twins reportedly shored up their bullpen Thursday, agreeing to a one-year, $2.05-million deal with right-hander Matt Belisle, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The 36-year-old is coming off a productive season with Washington Nationals, appearing in 40 games with a 1.76 ERA, seven walks, and 32 strikeouts.

Belisle is expected to provide depth in the bullpen as closer Glen Perkins recovers from a shoulder injury that could result in him missing the start of the season.

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Move over LeBron James, there's a new sheriff in Cleveland convincing a front office to make some moves.

Before the Indians signed 35-year-old Wily Mo Pena - who last played in the majors in 2011 - it was Edwin Encarnacion who told the team to travel to the Dominican Republic to see Pena train, according to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. As it turns out, the Indians signed the veteran shortly thereafter.

Encarnacion and Pena have long been friends and although Pena's deal with the Tribe doesn't extend to the big-league camp, he will have an opportunity to prove himself with the organization's minor-league players.


Pena last suited up for the Seattle Mariners in 2011 and didn't play baseball at all last season. His last game action game came in 2015 in Japan, where he hit .268/.396/.448 with 17 home runs and 40 RBIs with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

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Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred attended the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. on Friday and addressed a number of topics, including what the league intends to do in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

Trump's order, put in place Jan. 27, calls for a severe travel ban - with few exceptions - on people with citizenship from seven Muslim-based countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia.

Based on those changes and an uncertain future, Manfred said MLB will continue monitoring the situation, but added that the order shouldn't affect the league much at this time.

"We are monitoring the developments with respect to immigration matters," Manfred said, according to MLB.com's David Adler. "Obviously our foremost concern is that players that are under contract with our organization be able to come and go. But as of right now the countries that have been mostly affected are not places where we have players. But we are monitoring the situation."

Although MLB hasn't employed a notable Muslim player since Sam Khalifa in 1987, Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish is part Iranian, born to an Iranian father in 1986.

Darvish's full name is Sefat Farid Yu Darvish.

In November, Manfred also commented on Trump's proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which could create a problem in MLB with a number of Mexican players - including Adrian Gonzalez and Roberto Osuna - being employed by the league. Manfred said then he didn't believe Trump's decisions - which may include a