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Willie McCovey’s Tax Evasion Charges Pardoned by President Obama

President Barack Obama pardoned baseball Hall of Famer and San Francisco Giants great Willie McCovey on Tuesday of tax evasion. 

According to the Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs, McCovey was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $5,000 in 1996 after he falsified federal income tax returns.

The New York Daily NewsJake Becker reported McCovey did not disclose $33,000 he made at an autograph show in 1989. When McCovey entered his plea, he also reportedly came clean about $70,000 he did not report to the Internal Revenue Service following several other appearances at autograph shows. 

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, Obama granted 273 commutations and pardons on Tuesday. All told, Obama has issued 1,385 commutation grants—which represents the most by any president. 

The wide-ranging acts of clemency were announced three days before Obama is scheduled to leave office.  

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World Series Champion Cubs Reveal Date for White House Visit

The Chicago Cubs will be the last team to visit President Barack Obama in the White House before he leaves office on Jan. 20. 

According to NBC 5 Chicago’s Mary Ann Ahern, the Cubs—who hail from Obama’s hometown—will meet with the 44th president on Monday, Jan. 16. 

Although Obama is a noted Chicago White Sox fan, he publicly supported the Cubs during their come-from-behind World Series run as they took down the Cleveland Indians in seven thrilling games:

First Lady Michelle Obama also tweeted her support of the Cubs in the midst of their historic championship run:

In December 2016, the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Sullivan reported the Cubs were working to try to arrange a meeting with Obama before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. 

“Because of the respect the organization has for the White House and for the president, it’s something you’d like to see if we can make it happen,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said, per Sullivan. 

And with Obama’s final days in the Oval Office currently winding down, it’s only fitting that a team from the Windy City would be the last to make the trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

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Jarrod Dyson to Mariners for Nathan Karns: Latest Trade Details, Reaction

The Seattle Mariners made a move to upgrade their outfield Friday when they acquired Jarrod Dyson from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns, according to the News Tribune‘s Bob Dutton.’s Greg Johns confirmed the report, and the Mariners made the move official shortly thereafter. 

“Jarrod brings us a winning pedigree, along with elite-level defense and baserunning,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said, according to a team press release. “He joins players like Leonys Martin and Jean Segura in creating a disruptive element on the bases to our offensive game while also enhancing our ability to prevent runs on defense.”

After the Mariners announced the trade, Dyson posted a message on Twitter thanking the Royals organization:

Dyson is not going to bring much power to the table considering he’s tallied seven career home runs and 101 RBI since he debuted in 2010, but he will offer the Mariners a major upgrade on the basepaths. 

The 32-year-old has recorded at least 25 stolen bases in five consecutive seasons, which is welcome news for a Seattle team that ranked 24th in MLB last season with 56 swipes. 

Since 2012, Dyson has recorded 156 stolen bases, tied for sixth-most in the majors (also: Ben Revere) during that time span,” the Mariners’ press release noted. “Over the last five seasons, the left-handed hitter has been successful on 84.8 percent (156-of-184) of his stolen base attempts, second-best in the majors during that time.”

Johns broke down what Dyson’s addition says about the Mariners’ approach entering the 2017 season: 

As for the Royals, Karns represents a low-risk, low-cost acquisition who could help bolster the team’s pitching staff over time, as’s Jeffrey Flanagan noted: 

And while the 29-year-old’s 14-9 record and 4.41 ERA in 46 career starts may not be jaw-dropping, he did start last year 5-1 through the first two months of the season before his production tailed off and he was bothered by a lower back strain. 

If Karns can channel his pre-All-Star break form from 2016 and continue to keep his fastball velocity around 93 mph while effectively mixing in his curveball and changeup, he could soon look like a bargain for a club that is hoping to return to the postseason following a one-year absence. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie, More

Major League Baseball’s hot stove has cooled off in the aftermath of the winter meetings, but there’s still some buzz circulating the rumor mill as the calendar gets set to flip to 2017. 

Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has emerged as a legitimate trade candidate following a sensational 2016 season, and he’s not the only infielder who could be available. 

Then there’s the Tampa Bay Rays’ Drew Smyly, who has continued to generate interest from teams in need of quality starting pitchers to round out their rotations. 

So as the rumblings get louder, here’s a rundown of the latest rumors from across MLB


Multiple Teams Showing Interest in Dozier

With so many big names off the market, all eyes are on Dozier and the Twins for the time being. And as it turns out, Minnesota may be more motivated to deal him than initially believed. 

According to 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson, the Los Angeles Dodgers are “still very much in it” when it comes to the chase for Dozier. Wolfson added the St. Louis Cardinals are also “very much in it,” while the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants “remain in dialogue.” 

Interest in Dozier, of course, is not a surprise. 

The 29-year-old put together a stellar 2016 campaign that saw him bat a career-best .268, smash 42 home runs and notch 99 RBI. Those 42 dingers were the most all-time by an American League second baseman, per’s Mike Axisa, and they evidently made several National League contenders take notice.

Chief among that group is the Cardinals, who represent a logical landing spot for the 2015 All-Star.  

“The Cardinals spent big to sign Dexter Fowler, and they were linked to Justin Turner before he agreed to re-sign with Los Angeles, so it’s not [surprising] to hear they’re in on Dozier,” Axisa wrote. “St. Louis clearly wants another middle-of-the-order power bat and Dozier qualifies.”

Regardless of which team comes out on top in the chase for Dozier, one thing is clear: The Twins are intent on maximizing return value for the rising star before he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2018 season. 


A’s Making Lowrie Available? 

The Oakland A’s don’t appear thrilled with their situation at second base in the short term, and executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has disclosed as much.

“It’s a concern,” Beane said, per CSN Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich. “Long term, I think we feel like we have some options that probably aren’t quite ready yet. I think we prefer not to rush those options.”

And while Jed Lowrie has proved his worth in the past, it seems the A’s could look to ship him out of the Bay Area if they’re able to show teams he has recovered fully from August’s left foot surgery. 

“It’s believed they’ve at least gauged trade interest for him this winter, though his physical status could make it tougher to pull off a deal,” Stiglich wrote. “He’s in the final season of a three-year deal that will pay him $6.5 million in 2017.”

Dealing Lowrie over the offseason may not be particularly easy since interested parties will want evidence he’s able to stay healthy once he returns to the diamond, but this is a situation worth monitoring as the spring approaches. 


Mariners Still Chasing Smyly

Seattle Mariners starting pitchers ranked fourth in the American League with a 4.25 ERA last season, but the team’s front office isn’t content just yet. 

According to the Seattle TimesRyan Divish, “A baseball source said the Mariners tried to work a deal for Rays lefty Drew Smyly during the winter meetings.”

Divish added the following regarding Tampa Bay’s motivations behind a potential deal involving Smyly: “Tampa seems more inclined to part with Smyly since he’s projected to make $6.8 million in his third year of arbitration and is a free agent after the 2018 season.”

It remains unclear what the Mariners would part with to try and pry Smyly from the Rays, but there’s no denying he’d be a quality pickup for a franchise looking to make its first postseason appearance since 2001. 

The 27-year-old southpaw owns a 3.74 lifetime ERA, and his mark of 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings would bolster the back end of a Mariners rotation that already boasts Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton. 


Stats courtesy of

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Matt Harvey Comments on Recovery from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Surgery

New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey watched his 2016 campaign come to an abrupt end when he was forced to undergo season-ending surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, but the 2015 National League Comeback Player of the Year sounded optimistic regarding his return when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday. 

According to’s Adam Rubin, the 27-year-old confirmed he’s on the mend and feeling strong on the mound after the surgery “involved removing a rib so that muscles constricting a nerve that bridges the neck and shoulder had space to relax.”

Specifically, Harvey confirmed he’s no longer experiencing numbing sensations in his right throwing hand. 

“My hand was really cold all the time,” he said, per Rubin. “I’ve got some warmth back and no more tingling. The ball is coming out really good right now, especially for December.”

Harvey also expressed optimism regarding his ability to bounce back following a shaky statistical 2016 season precipitated by nerve issues. 

“I’d like to think so. Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball,” Harvey said, per Rubin. “The way things are feeling now, the way the body feels, I’m feeling great.”

In 17 starts last season, Harvey went 4-10 with a career-worst 4.86 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. In fact, it marked the first time in Harvey’s career that he posted an ERA above 3.00. 

Harvey, of course, is no stranger to rebounding following injury woes. 

The 2013 All-Star missed the entirety of the 2014 season after he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery, but he rebounded in 2015 by going 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 188 strikeouts and 37 walks over the course of 29 starts. 

Based on that precedent and the steady rate at which Harvey has seemingly recovered over the past five months, it won’t be a surprise if he returns to the mound and assumes dominant form once again for a Mets team that will have its eyes on reclaiming the NL East crown. 

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Mark Melancon to Giants: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Mark Melancon spent the second half of the 2016 season with the Washington Nationals, but the 31-year-old closer is moving on from the reigning National League East champions after signing with the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

The Giants announced the deal Monday after Buster Olney of ESPN first reported the agreement. Melancon would comment on the news via Twitter: 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the contract is for four years and $62 million. The deal includes an opt-out clause after the second season, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area broke down the financial terms:

Olney noted Melancon’s deal is a record one, but he spoke to a National League evaluator who said “that’ll soon be broken.”

The Nationals acquired the three-time All-Star from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 30 to help fortify the closer’s role in the nation’s capital.

After Melancon recorded 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA and a 0.960 WHIP in 45 appearances with the Pirates, he proceeded to hold down the fort with the Nationals.

Melancon notched 17 saves for Washington while finishing 28 games and appearing in 30 in total. By the time his two-month stint in D.C. came to a close, Melancon had notched a 1.82 ERA and 0.809 WHIP.

He finished an MLB-best 67 games thanks to a three-pitch arsenal comprised of a fastball, wicked cutter and curveball, according to FanGraphs.

Speaking to reporters in August, Melancon credited his time with the New York Yankees and famed closer Mariano Rivera for the development of his cutter.

“I was in the pen with Mariano,” Melancon said. “I got to watch that a lot from him and just sit behind the plate, sit behind him pitching, and not only did I notice how important the cutter and the movement and when to throw it in, backdoor it and all that stuff, but just his location and how important that was.”

Based on the way Melancon performed a season after he tallied a major league-best 51 saves, targeting him in free agency was a no-brainer for the Giants since they ranked 15th in bullpen ERA (3.65) among all MLB teams in 2016.

Bringing Melancon aboard also gives the Giants some peace of mind at the back end of their bullpen.

San Francisco blew an MLB-high 30 saves last season, which contributed to a woeful 58.9 save percentage. Only five teams recorded lower save percentages.

That number figures to improve if Melancon can replicate the success he’s experienced over the past couple of years once he arrives in the Bay Area.

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MLB Rumors: Hottest Trade Rumors Entering Winter Meetings 2016

The 2016 Major League Baseball winter meetings will run from Sunday through Thursday in National Harbor, Maryland, and trade buzz is picking up as general managers get ready to intensify discussions regarding some of the sport’s biggest names.

From All-Star starting pitchers to game-changing outfielders, there are plenty of enticing names circulating in advance of hot-stove season.

“It’s one of the worst free-agent groups I can remember,” a National League executive told’s Jayson Stark. “So I think people are saying, ‘Let’s go make a trade.'”

As the meetings get underway, here’s a rundown of the latest rumblings from across the sport. 


White Sox Seeking King’s Ransom for Sale

Chris Sale’s name has been popular in the rumor mill for some time, and the Chicago White Sox are reportedly seeking a major haul in exchange for the five-time All-Star.

“We’re hearing the same grumbling about the White Sox’s price tag this winter as we heard last July,” Stark reported. “One exec described them as asking for ‘the Shelby Miller deal,’ plus at least two additional pieces.”

As NESN’s Mike Cole pointed out, the Arizona Diamondbacks had to part with Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair to snag Miller and Gabe Speier

However, the belief around baseball seems to be that the White Sox could lower their asking price to part ways with the ace, who’s under team control for three more years at a reasonable price of $39.5 million.  

“I think the price is going to come down…and I think they’re going to move him,” a National League executive told Stark. “In fact, I’d be surprised if they don’t.”

Considering Sale has never recorded an ERA above 3.50 and is coming off a season in which he led the AL in complete games (six) while notching 233 strikeouts and 45 walks, the White Sox should have no trouble finding a solid package of prospects to help stabilize their future.


Nationals Leading the Chase for McCutchen

An NL executive told Stark the Pittsburgh Pirates are “actively trying to move” outfielder Andrew McCutchen, and it appears as though there’s a front-runner for his services, according to’s Jim Bowden:

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi added that the Nationals remain in the lead for McCutchen, but he noted the Texas Rangers have also contacted the Pirates about a potential swap. 

The Nationals were seemingly a bat away from solidifying their status as World Series favorites a season ago, so snagging McCutchen—if he’s not too expensive—would be a no-brainer for the reigning NL East champions.

Not only is McCutchen a lifetime .292 hitter with a .381 on-base percentage, but he’s also hit more than 20 home runs every season dating back to 2011. Plus, he’s captured five All-Star berths during that six-season span.

Furthermore, McCutchen is on a team-friendly deal that would be manageable for the Nationals moving forward. The 30-year-old is due $14 million in 2017 with a club option worth $14.5 for 2018 before his contract expires.

If the Nationals are able to swing a deal for McCutchen, they would be able to shift some pieces around and field one of the league’s most dangerous lineups.

According to Stark, the hope is that McCutchen would play center field, while Trea Turner would shift over to shortstop.


Justin Verlander on the Block

At first glance, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander would seem like a tough sell on the trade market.

He’s owed $28 million in each of the next three seasons, and he owns a $22 million option for the 2020 season that vests if he finishes among the top five in Cy Young Award voting.

However, those financial considerations haven’t stopped competing clubs from doing their homework on a potential deal for the 2016 Cy Young runner-up.

“There’s a big difference between them and the White Sox,” an AL executive told Bleacher Report’s Danny Knobler. “The White Sox would have to get a ton to trade [Chris] Sale, and even then, their owner might not really want to do it. The Tigers are looking for value, but I think they would like to make a trade.”

With that said, there could be a hang-up even if the Tigers are able to hammer out the framework of a deal with a rival club.

Verlander’s contract contains a no-trade clause, so he would need to approve any deal before it’s signed, sealed and delivered.

From that standpoint, it’s no wonder an AL executive estimated the chances of Verlander being dealt hover around 20 percent, according to Knobler.


Stats courtesy of Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

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Dexter Fowler: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation on Free-Agent CF

Dexter Fowler put together an All-Star-caliber season with the Chicago Cubs throughout 2016, and at least one American League team has already expressed strong interest in bringing the free-agent center fielder aboard. 

Continue for updates. 

Blue Jays Chasing Fowler

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Citing sources, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported the Toronto Blue Jays “are showing a strong interest” in Fowler with Jose Bautista a potential goner in free agency. 

Heyman added that Fowler reuniting with the Cubs “appears unlikely” after the defending World Series champions signed Jon Jay to a one-year, $8 million deal on Tuesday, according to’s Jesse Rogers

On Nov. 23, Heyman reported the New York Yankees did some homework on Fowler, but the team’s level of interest in bringing the 30-year-old to town remained unclear. 

Fowler was dialed in throughout the 2016 season, and the numbers prove as much. In 125 games, he batted .276 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI and 13 stolen bases while working as a switch-hitting linchpin at the top of the order. 

MLB Trade Rumors‘ Tim Dierkes also noted Fowler “led all free agents with a .393 on-base percentage in 2016 and reinforced his center field defense as at least average.”

A season after recording a career-best 4.1 offensive wins above replacement, per, Fowler should finally be able to cash in on a long-term deal a year after he was forced to settle for a one-year pact with the Cubs.

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Justin Verlander Defends Kate Upton’s Tweets Regarding MLB Cy Young Award Loss

Kate Upton, the fiancee of Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander, expressed her frustration with this year’s American League Cy Young voting Wednesday when it was announced Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello won the award despite receiving fewer first-place votes.  

In a series of NSFW tweets, Upton had some pointed words for baseball writers who failed to include Verlander on their ballots:

Hey @MLB I thought I was the only person allowed to f–k @JustinVerlander ?! What 2 writers didn’t have him on their ballot? He had the majority of 1st place votes and 2 writers didn’t have him on their ballots?!! can you pick more out of touch people to vote?@MLB. Sorry Rick but you didn’t get any 1st place votes? you didn’t win. #ByeFelicia@MLB keep up with the times and fire those writers

On Thursday, Verlander explained the reasons behind Upton’s outrage in a Twitter conversation with the New York Daily News‘ Mark Feinsand: 

Verlander finished the 2016 season 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA, league-best 1.001 WHIP and 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Porcello, meanwhile, went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.009 WHIP, 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings and a league-best ratio of 5.91 strikeouts to one walk.

According to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the two voters who failed to include Verlander on their ballots were Fred Goodall of the Associated Press and Bill Chastain of 

Chastain admitted in a conversation with Feinsand that he sent his ballot in a week before the regular season ended, and he disclosed that his choice for first place was between Porcello and Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton.

Over the final week of the season, Verlander pitched 14.2 innings and allowed one earned run. In his lone start during that same stretch, Porcello allowed eight hits and three earned runs in a 5-3 Red Sox win over the Toronto Blue Jays

“I feel bad that people are upset about this; I did the best I could,” Chastain said. “I went around the clubhouse, I asked guys. I agonized over this. The biggest thing for me was between (Baltimore closer Zach) Britton and Porcello.”

Tampa Bay Times writer and chairman of the BBWAA’s Tampa Bay chapter Marc Topkin noted neither Chastain nor Goodall voted with malicious intent.

“Both Bill and Fred are longtime veteran, experienced baseball writers and certainly have the ability to make what they felt were the proper decisions,” he said, per Feinsand. 

While the 33-year-old Verlander may have come up short in the voting, his production throughout the second half of the season indicated he should remain effective well into his mid-30s. 

After he went 8-6 before the All-Star break, Verlander posted an 8-3 record, 1.96 ERA, 134 strikeouts and 24 walks in 110.1 innings after the break. 

Based on those stellar stats, Verlander should be in the Cy Young conversation for a couple of more seasons as he seeks to maintain his status as one of the AL’s premier pitchers. 


Stats courtesy of unless noted otherwise. 

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MLB, Rangers Investigating Alleged Sexual Assault Involving Academy Players

Major League Baseball and the Texas Rangers are reportedly investigating an alleged sexual assault involving multiple players at the Rangers’ academy in the Dominican Republic.

On Thursday, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported the alleged assault involved four players from the Rangers’ academy. Charges have not been filed.

The Rangers released a statement confirming they are cooperating with MLB during the investigation, per Rosenthal:

The Texas Rangers became aware of an incident at our Academy in the Dominican Republic and we acted promptly to open an investigation. We have reported the incident and are cooperating fully with Major League Baseball and the authorities in the Dominican Republic. With this being an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment at this time.

Citing sources, Rosenthal reported the players allegedly involved were placed on administrative leave under the guidelines of the minor league domestic violence policy. They will reportedly remain on leave until the investigation is complete.

According to a 2011 article from’s Richard Durrett, the Rangers’ academy—like several in the Dominican Republic—is designed to immerse developing players in baseball on an all-day basis. 

It’s a 24/7 baseball environment,” Rangers field coordinator Jayce Tingler said at the time. “We have a chance to teach them, get them game experience, help them learn English and make them stronger.

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