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Clayton Kershaw Reportedly Offered $300 Million Dodgers Contract During Season

Clayton Kershaw isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, but the Dodgers don’t want to waste any time locking up their ace southpaw.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported on Saturday that the Dodgers offered Kershaw a contract in the $300 million range during the season:

The Los Angeles Dodgers offered what was essentially a lifetime contract to pitcher Clayton Kershaw earlier this season, for a deal of in the range $300 million — “an A-Rod deal,” according to one source with knowledge of the scope and structure.

The two sides were unable to finish negotiations on that arrangement, sources say, because Kershaw was initially uncertain about committing to a deal so encompassing, and about having contract talks during the season.

Even though the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, Olney does note that “the negotiations progressed enough that there is confidence among some with knowledge of the talks that a long-term deal will be concluded this winter.”

Despite a lackluster start against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS to close the Dodgers’ 2013 postseason run, there is little doubt that Kershaw is worth the money.

He took home the National League Cy Young award in 2011 and was the runner-up for the prestigious award in 2012. He’s considered the front-runner to take home the coveted trophy again this season after going 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 33 starts this season. 

Kershaw’s production speaks for itself, but offering that kind of money for any arm, regardless of skill or reputation, is dangerous.

Johan Santana was the best pitcher in baseball when he signed a six-year, $137.5 million contract with the Mets in 2008. However, injuries have kept Santana from starting 30 games in all but his first season in the Big Apple. 

At 25 years old, Kershaw is cut from a rare cloth. His lethal repertoire, durability and youth make him a candidate to be the game’s leading arm for years to come.

As Olney notes, “the Dodgers nearly tripled their payroll in the span of a year” after Stan Kasten, Mark Walter and Magic Johnson took over the team’s reins. 

It’s hard to tell what number Kershaw and the Dodgers will eventually settle on, if they settle at all, but it’s pretty clear that this ownership group has the aggressive attitude to lock the game’s premier left-hander up for the long haul.

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Braves 1B Coach Terry Pendleton Shoves Chris Johnson in Dugout Altercation

Terry Pendleton made his discontent with Chris Johnson extremely obvious by shoving the Braves third baseman in a bizarre dugout altercation Saturday night.

Hardball Talk’s reporter Bill Baer gives some context for the situation:

Johnson hit a 1-2 grounder in the hole, but shortstop Jimmy Rollins dove for it and snagged it with just enough room to spare. He got to his feet quickly and fired across to first base to narrowly get the force at first base. Johnson slid head-first into the bag in an attempt to keep the inning going, but he was a few inches behind.

Baer then added, “As Johnson returned to the dugout, he received some consolation pats from his teammates. Out of nowhere, first base coach Terry Pendleton came up to Johnson and grabbed him and shoved him. Johnson didn’t react with any surprise, so it appears as if he did something wrong.”

Hardball Talk shows exactly what happened:

Sliding headfirst or not, Pendleton‘s reaction is sure to raise some eyebrows. It’s one thing for a player or coach to lose his temper during the game, but altercations such as this are extremely rare.

The Braves are currently battling the St. Louis Cardinals for the No. 1 seed in the National League playoff bracket, so emotions are running high in Atlanta. Perhaps that extra adrenaline is what pushed Pendleton over the edge here, but that’s impossible to say.

Johnson’s slide into first base seemed like a hustle play in live action, but Pendleton didn‘t see it that way. He took immediate exception to Johnson’s failure to run all the way through the bag and made sure the entire world knew exactly how he felt about it.

It’s hard to say how something like this will impact a team as it pushes down the playoff stretch, but these aren’t emotions anyone wants to see in their dugout. It’s one thing to get after each other, but physical conflicts like this one aren’t usually seen as a good thing.

The situation could look different once Johnson and Pendleton speak their sides of the story, but this is nothing but a strange scenario at this point.

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Ryan Freel: Former Baseball Star Dies at Age 36

The Major League Baseball world was dealt a sad blow Saturday night with the death of former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ryan Freel. reporter Chad Cushnir had the report:

First Coast News sports director Dan Hicken has learned that Ryan Freel, a Jacksonville native and former Major League Baseball has died at the age of 36.  The cause of death is suicide.

The Florida Times-Union reporters Justin Barney and Dana Treen gave more details on this sad situation:

Freel, 36, was found dead from a self-inflicted shotgun blast around 4 p.m. in his residence on Brookchase Lane in Jacksonville, Sgt. Mike Paul of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

Paul said that there was nothing suspicious and authorities were treating Freel’s death as a suicide.

Certain events put things into perspective, even for the most avid baseball fans. Saturday’s news hits home because of its tragic nature, but also because Freel was just 36 years old.

The report mentions that, following his retirement in 2009, “Freel was a part of an organization on the First Coast called BLD Baseball which stands for Big League Development. Through this organization, Freel coached local youth baseball players.” 

Even after retirement, he managed to show how much he loved the game of baseball by passing his knowledge down to the next generation of players.

In his eight-year career, Freel hit .268 with 22 home runs, 143 stolen bases and 122 RBI. He played six seasons with the Reds, but he also played with four other teams as well. 

He was a player who always brought a ton of heart and effort to the field for each and every game. His speed set him apart, but he was a valuable player wherever he went.

This is sad news no matter how you cut it. Details are not available regarding the specific situation, but more information should become available in the coming days.

Freel’s heart and tenacity on the diamond were unmatched.

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his family, friends and former teammates during this trying time. 

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Seattle Mariners Reportedly Sign OF Raul Ibanez

The Seattle Mariners need a boost offensively, and they’re hoping Raul Ibanez can supply some pop in his return.

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners and Ibanez have reached an agreement:

Sports Radio 66 WFAN reporter Sweeny Murti announced the length of the deal:

Ibanez is 40 years old, but he showed in last year’s playoffs that he can still deliver big home runs when he hit three clutch homers for the New York Yankees. He may not provide 162 games’ worth of production, but he’s still a savvy player.

He hit .240 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 384 regular-season at-bats with the Yankees last year. He doesn’t provide consistent contact at the dish anymore, but the pop is still there. 

Ibanez probably won’t see much time in the outfield, but he could platoon with Jesus Montero as a designated hitter. If nothing else, he will provide leadership, a solid bench bat and a possible fourth or fifth outfielder depending on the pitching matchup.

He played with Seattle as a rookie in 1996 and stayed there through 2000 before heading to Kansas City for three years. Then he returned to the Mariners from 2004 to 2008 before taking his bat to Philadelphia.

His familiarity with the organization, and with the city, will help him make a quick adjustment this time around.

It would make sense if this is Ibanez’s final major league team. His career would have come full circle, and it seems like a fitting place to end things.

Before he hangs it up, though, he will be expected to provide some excitement in the Mariners’ offensively-challenged lineup next season.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Smart to Bring Veteran Cody Ross Back to NL West

The Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping they can turn back the clock on veteran outfielder Cody Ross, and why not?

Ross has been a journeyman for the past decade, but he has rarely let his teammates or fans down on or off the field since breaking into the big leagues with the Detroit Tigers in 2003.

Now, the former Boston Red Sox right fielder is headed back to the National League West after agreeing to a three-year contract with the Diamondbacks, according to ESPN baseball analyst Jim Bowden via Twitter:


But even before Ross takes his first swing at the plate for Arizona, Diamondbacks fans can breathe a little easier knowing their club has made a smart addition to its outfield, especially with right fielder Justin Upton’s future still up in the air

The deal means that the 31-year-old Ross will return to the division where he excelled with the San Francisco Giants late in 2010. Ross played 33 regular season games with the Giants after being claimed off waivers.

In the 2010 postseason, he recorded 15 hits and five home runs in 51 at-bats to help lead the Giants to the 2010 World Series title. He batted .294 in 15 games that postseason. 

Ross hadn’t been to the postseason before, or since. 

Last season, he hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI in 476 plate appearances for the Boston Red Sox. He provided quality at-bats to go with solid defense on the struggling American League East team.

Although the numbers aren’t eye-popping by any stretch, Ross, at his worst, is still a quality player to bring off the bench. He’s also an excellent clubhouse presence because of his World Series experience and willingness to accept whatever role his current team wishes to give him.

He can even adapt to new atmospheres. After all, he’s used to short stays and constant relocation. He’s played with six different MLB teams since 2003 and will now suit up for a seventh in 2013. That may not sound like a big deal, but it is when you’re looking for a steady presence. Ross will transition seamlessly, just as he has done in the past. 

There’s a whole lot more good than bad involved with bringing in Cody Ross. The consummate professional, Ross will offer Arizona much more than a presence at the plate or in the outfield. 

You might say Ross peaked in 2009 with the Florida Marlins when he hit .270 with 24 home runs and 90 RBI. Sure, his best baseball is likely behind him, but it’s not required for Arizona to be successful.

Ross isn’t a superstar, and he probably wasn’t the team’s first option, but he won’t disappoint. He’s a great leader, and he’s going to help his team win in whatever way necessary.

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Dodgers Reportedly Acquire Cardinals Utility Player Skip Schumaker

The Los Angeles Dodgers have worked hard to add to their roster this offseason, and that activity continued on Tuesday.

According to Los Angeles Times reporter Dylan Hernandez, the Dodgers have acquired Skip Schumaker from the Cardinals:

It’s unclear what the Cardinals will receive in return, according to Hernandez’s full report, but you can’t imagine that the price will be all that steep. The deal also depends on Schumaker‘s ability to pass a physical.

Hernandez mentions that “Hitting coach Mark McGwire pushed for the Dodgers to acquire the 32-year-old Schumaker, whom he worked with in St. Louis.” He hit .276 in 304 plate appearances last season.

Schumaker will earn $1.5 million this season, his final year under contract. He can play all three spots in the outfield, but he’s frequently lined up at second base throughout his career. Having a guy that you can plug in to many different positions makes things easier on the manager, and it forces other teams to be on their toes as well.

Because he’s a left-handed bat, he will pair well with Mark Ellis at the position. He hits right-handed pitchers exceptionally well, and that will make the Dodgers’ lineup more versatile as well.

There’s nothing about this move that is big time, but he’s the kind of player who makes the team better because he does the small things. Every great team needs depth, and every team needs quality leadership that they can turn to when the season reaches its critical moments.

Schumaker played in a great Cardinals organization for eight years. He’s a team-first guy, and he will help the Dodgers try to become contenders in the National League West with quality veteran leadership.

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Shin-Soo Choo: OF’s All-Around Ability Makes Reds Lineup More Potent

The Cincinnati Reds‘ offense would have been fine next season without any new additions, but it got even better Tuesday night.

CBS’ Jon Heyman announced the three-way trade that had baseball fans turning their heads:

Out of all those names, Choo‘s stands out the most. He’s one of the league’s most underrated players, but his talents were mostly wasted on an unsuccessful Cleveland squad.

Last season, Choo hit .283 with 16 home runs and 67 RBI. He also stole 21 bases.

When you look at who he is replacing in Drew Stubbs, it’s obvious how much he will upgrade the Reds’ offense. Stubbs‘ .277 on-base percentage is almost 100-points lower than Choo‘s, which should make everyone hopeful that the Reds will have more runners on base when their power hitters come to the plate.

Defensively, it’s uncertain how Choo will adjust to playing center field, but he has been a very successful right fielder, so the potential is there. 

Stubbs was a nightmare at the top of the order. He boasted a ton of speed and athleticism, but he was never consistent at the plate. When your supposed table setter can’t get on base, that kills an offense before it even gets started.

Choo isn’t a superstar, but he’s a very solid player. He has power, even if it is a little less than Stubbs‘, and he’s a better contact hitter. For a team that has more than enough power to go around, this move makes sense.

Reds fans were always left waiting for Stubbs to realize his upside, but it never happened. Choo already has. He’s only under contract through the end of this season, so his future is uncertain, but he will make the team better overall next year. 

The only possible hang up could be his ability to transition on defense, but one thing is for sure. He’s going to get on base and facilitate a Reds lineup that has more than enough bats to bring him home.

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Trevor Bauer: Full Scouting Report on Cleveland Indians’ New Prospect

The Cleveland Indians acquired top young pitcher Trevor Bauer Tuesday night in a three-way trade that sent the baseball world spinning.

CBS’ Jon Heyman had the news:

Shin-Soo Choo‘s name is the one that jumps off the page at everyone, but Bauer’s name can’t be overlooked either. He was selected No. 3 in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks

He went 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA last season between Double-A and Triple-A and had 157 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.

He has top-of-the-rotation stuff, and he has yet to reach his full potential. That makes this deal a bit of an unknown for the Indians, but the upside is major for a team that’s seeking to find a more successful path next season.

Let’s look at three more things about Bauer that Indians fans must know.


Interesting Workout Routine

According to’s Jim Caple, Bauer utilizes a unique, and slightly bizarre, workout routine. This first came to light when the Diamondbacks drafted him in 2011, but Caple highlights it well:

The foul pole-to-foul pole long toss is not the most interesting part of Bauer’s warm-up routine, though. Before the rookie hopeful steps on the rubber for his warm-up pitches between innings, he channels Happy Gilmore by taking a step or two from behind the mound and firing the ball as hard as he can toward home plate. 

Caple also mentions that:

Bauer’s long toss routine begins in one corner of the field, and he gradually works his way to the other corner with high, arcing throws that he says do not place much stress on his arm. When he gets to the corner, he works his way back, throwing the ball harder and harder as he progresses. 

This wouldn’t really be a big deal, but Bauer isn’t a very big guy. At 6’1” and 185 pounds, he reminds many of Tim Lincecum in stature. It’s hard to believe that someone’s arm can take that much punishment.

You can look at this in a few ways. In Caple‘s story, Bauer mentions that he’s been doing this since he was 14 years old. If he’s used to it, and it obviously works, no harm, no foul. 

But if Bauer gets hurt, you can bet that people will turn toward this as one of the main culprits.

One thing is for sure, though. You won’t find many professional baseball pitchers who are tossing the ball from foul pole to foul pole before the game. It makes Bauer more remarkable than his ability clearly shows.

Some may think that Bauer’s routine will wear him out, but it really just sets him apart in a completely unique way.


Major League Experience

Take the word experience with a grain of salt here, but it’s experience nonetheless. 

Bauer started four games for the Diamondbacks last season, but it didn’t go well, and he was eventually sent back down to Triple-A. He racked up a 6.06 ERA and went 1-2, but he did rack up 17 strikeouts in 16.1 innings.

You have to expect Bauer to bounce back as he becomes more mature. Now that he’s gotten his first taste of major league action, that could bode well for his prospects moving forward.

It also means that he could be in the Indians rotation immediately. He could fit in behind Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez as a possible upgrade to the rest of the Indians young rotation. 

Don’t take Bauer’s poor start to his major league career to heart. It’s not always easy to adjust. With his stuff and feel for the game, he still has considerable potential.


Free-Agent Eligible in 2019

The value surrounding top-flight prospects has a lot to do with potential, but it also has a lot to do with team control, especially for a low-budget baseball team.

Lucky for the Indians, Bauer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The Indians new prospect isn’t arbitration eligible until 2016, and he can’t become a free agent until 2019. That gives Cleveland plenty of time to build around him and develop him into the pitcher that he has the potential to be.

Getting rid of a guy like Choo is always going to be a big deal, but it’s hard to tell if he would have re-signed with the Indians after this season. Rather than lose him for nothing, the Indians were able to flip him and get a controllable guy like Bauer in return.

This may not pay dividends right away, but it definitely could down the line.

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Ryan Dempster Reportedly Rejects $25 Million Offer from Boston Red Sox

Ryan Dempster hasn’t reached an agreement with an MLB team yet this offseason, but it’s not like he hasn’t had his chances. 

According to ESPN, Dempster rejected a two-year deal from the Boston Red Sox on Friday night:

This is pretty shocking considering how old Dempster is and the money that was on the table. The 35-year-old is not going to get many opportunities to be an ace anywhere, meaning it would be wise for him to accept a deal that allowed him to be a prominent starting rotation member.

Between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers last season, Dempster had a 12-8 record with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He didn’t blow anyone away, but his ground-ball pitching allowed him to string together pretty solid numbers across the board.

The 14-year veteran has definitely lost a step in terms of ability, but he has experience on his side having pitched for four different ball clubs. That said, the American League East would present a different challenge than Dempster is used to.

The right-hander would have fit in behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz in the Red Sox rotation, but now Boston will have to look elsewhere.

According to Chicago Tribune writer Paul Sullivan, the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers are also in the mix. With his most recent rejection, both of those teams still have a chance to land Dempster in free agency.

The innings eater must have his reasons for rejecting Boston’s offer. Maybe he likes to throw in the National League, or maybe he wants to be the guy in a lesser rotation.  

Whatever it may be, one thing is clear: Dempster won’t be a middle-of-the-rotation starter in Beantown.

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Andruw Jones Reportedly Signs with Japanese League’s Rakuten Golden Eagles

Andruw Jones enjoyed a successful 16-year career in the major leagues, but it appears that he will be taking his game elsewhere next season.

ESPN Stats & Info had the news, along with an interesting tidbit regarding his career:

Sports Illustrated (via Nikkan Sports) announced that the team Jones will be joining is the Rakuten Golden Eagles. SI‘s report also mentions that “Nikkan Sports estimates the deal is worth approximately $3.5 million including signing bonus, base salary and performance bonuses.”

With the New York Yankees last season, Jones hit just .197 with 14 home runs and 34 RBI. He provided some power off the bench, and in limited starting duties, but that was all he could muster in 94 games played.

That’s way down from his .254 career average, though. As ESPN Stats & Info mentions, he’s shown his home-run ability throughout his career and also has 1,289 career RBI.

The 35-year-old Jones has won 10 Gold Gloves in his major-league career. Even as a rookie with the Atlanta Braves in 1996, his potential was obvious.

The Japanese League should still be a challenge for Jones, and it’s understandable that he would choose to take his career in that direction. At his age, it’s hard to tell whether any major-league teams would’ve offered him a deal.

Because of his reputation, Jones should be very popular in Japan. He has a big personality and still has a flair for the big play.

Jones played with five major-league teams during his career. He made his mark as an Atlanta Braves center fielder, but he managed to contribute, in some way, wherever he went.

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