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Dan Straily to Marlins: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Miami Marlins reached an agreement Thursday to acquire starting pitcher Dan Straily in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds in return for a package headlined by pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice.

The Reds confirmed they had moved Straily in exchange for Castillo and Brice and outfielder Isaiah White. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported the trade was close.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided further details about the Reds’ plan for the pitchers:

Straily, a former promising prospect in the Oakland Athletics organization, is coming off his best MLB season to date with the Reds in 2016. The right-hander posted a 3.76 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 162 strikeouts in 191.1 innings across 34 appearances, including 31 starts.

The 28-year-old Marshall product enjoyed initial success with the A’s, accumulating an ERA slightly under 4.00 across his first two seasons. His numbers dropped off in a major way with Oakland and the Chicago Cubs in 2014, however, and he struggled again with the Houston Astros the following year.

Surprisingly, he managed to get his career back on track despite playing his home games in the bandbox known as Great American Ball Park. The Reds’ home stadium ranked fourth in baseball in terms of home runs per game last year, per

While Straily wasn’t immune to the park factors, giving up 31 homers, his splits were interesting. He was much better at home, finishing with a 2.90 ERA and 13 home runs allowed, compared to a 4.70 ERA and 18 home runs allowed on the road in the same number of outings.

Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer passed along comments from the veteran starter last September about his mindset when it comes to giving up the long ball.

“I don’t go to work every fifth day and think, ‘Oh, let’s try not to give up home runs today,'” Straily said. “When I get through a game and there are no home runs, it’s like, ‘Sweet.’ But some of those days when I do give up home runs, that’s usually all the runs I give up. I’d rather do that than give up back-to-back doubles.”

The advanced numbers do provide some cause for concern. His 3.76 ERA last season was a career best, but his xFIP checked in at 5.02, per FanGraphs. That’s mostly due to his low batting average on balls in play (.239) and high left-on-base percentage (81.2).

Ultimately, the Marlins are betting their more spacious stadium can rectify Straily’s problems with the home run. Marlins Park ranked 26th in home runs per game in 2016. But that alone doesn’t mean he’ll start posting No. 1 or No. 2 starter numbers.

That’s what Miami is likely hoping for following the trade, though. It will enter the new season without a clear-cut ace following the death of Jose Fernandez in September. So the team will look to fill the void in the aggregate.

Straily is set to join a rotation that also features Wei-Yin Chen, Tom Koehler and Edinson Volquez. The fifth spot will probably get decided during spring training, with Jeff Locke looming as the early favorite. It has the makings of a solid, albeit far from star-studded, group.

Meanwhile, the Reds receive a pair of potential impact pitchers in the deal. ranked Castillo fifth and Brice ninth in the Marlins’ prospect pool before the trade.

Castillo, 24, finished with a 2.26 ERA across stops at two levels of the minors last year. Brice, 24, was also impressive with a 2.74 ERA during stints in Double-A and Triple-A. While his first cup of coffee in the majors resulted in a 7.07 ERA, his WHIP was 1.00, and he struck out 14 batters in 14 innings.


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George Steinbrenner’s Daughter Comments on Family’s Ownership of Yankees

Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, a New York Yankees general partner and the daughter of longtime team owner George Steinbrenner, stated Wednesday the family still has no plans to sell the organization.

Dan Martin of the New York Post passed along comments Swindal made during a team charitable event called “Winter Warm-up” for the elderly. She said the family’s long-term outlook hasn’t changed since her father’s death in 2010.

“We’re all in,” she said. “I hope we own the team for eternity. You never know what life will bring, but we’re in it for the long haul.”

Swindal noted her son, Steve Swindal Jr., has taken on a role in baseball operations to help set the stage for a smooth transition to the next generation. She also praised Hal Steinbrenner, her brother and the team’s principal owner, for his job handling the franchise in recent years.

“Initially, we were trying to figure out how we were all going to handle things and when my father got sick, all four of us [siblings] went to work,” she said. “Hal has been a leader and he’s been great.”

Although questions are raised about a potential sale on seemingly an annual basis, the remarks echo those made by Hal Steinbrenner last spring training. He told Wallace Matthews of his father would be happy with how the family has stuck together to make things work.

“This is a family business and we’re all involved,” Steinbrenner said. “We all love being a part of this. We all know our dad wanted us to be a part of us, 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.”

A lot is made about the Yankees’ lack of marquee free-agent signings since the death of George Steinbrenner. The inclusion of a luxury tax paired with having to pay off massive contracts has forced the team to avoid those major offseason splashes for the most part, though.

Furthermore, New York ranks second in payroll average over the past three years, according to the Baseball Cube. The Bronx Bombers still rank first in that category over the past 10 and 15 years.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman expressed optimism the front office would have more flexibility in 2018 as contracts start coming off the books, per Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media:

Well, this is my hope: First and foremost, as you see we’re transitioning from contracts that we vested heavily in and it did pay off for us in ’09 (with a World Series championship). So at the end of the day we are going to be in a position to do a number of things, and maybe we can turn the clock back to be big-game hunters that we have been accustomed to being.

The current generation of Steinbrenners have been hamstrung by the team’s financial situation after working hard to chase down the 2009 title. But the fanbase will want them to become high-end buyers once again next winter with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper among the possible free agents.    


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Wil Myers, Padres Agree on New Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

The San Diego Padres and first baseman Wil Myers finalized their agreement on a new six-year contract extension.

The Padres officially announced Myers’ extension will run through 2022 with a team option for 2023.

Jim Bowden of ESPN first reported the new deal last week. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the contract was expected to be worth “more than $80 million.”

Myers, a former top prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, finally started illustrating his high-end potential during a breakout 2016 campaign. The 26-year-old infielder posted a .336 on-base percentage with 28 home runs and 28 stolen bases this past season.

The converted outfielder has handled the transition well, posting a plus-eight defensive runs saved figure in his first full season at first base, according to FanGraphs. His speed also gives the Padres something most teams don’t receive from the traditionally power-heavy position.

The extension doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Myers told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune coming out of the All-Star break that he was interested in staying put for the long haul:

I love being here. I do really, truly believe that (General Manager) A.J. Preller has a plan for the future, and that’s a big deal when it comes to extension talks. I love everything about (Manager) Andy Green, what he’s done here. I think he’s going to be a great manager. As far as being here long-term, I could see myself doing it. I could see trying to build something here.

It’s a smart move by the Padres based on the first baseman’s talent. He merely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of this season. He has the skill set to become one of the top hitters in the National League over the next few years.

The only real question mark is his health. He’s dealt with a variety of injury issues since breaking into the big leagues with Tampa Bay in 2013. Those setbacks are why it took him so long to back up his strong debut campaign, and they likely played a role in the Rays trading him two years ago.

The Padres have had six consecutive losing seasons, but general manager A.J. Preller made a series of deals last season to greatly improve the farm system with high-end talents like Anderson Espinoza and Manuel Margot. 

Combine the talent making its way through the system with Myers’ natural hitting ability, and when all the pieces converge in San Diego over the next couple of seasons, the Padres will be a serious threat in the National League.

With the new contract in hand, Myers will now hope to leave those injury concerns in the rearview mirror and remain an important cog in the San Diego lineup for the foreseeable future.


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Josh Hamilton, Rangers Agree to Minor League Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Veteran outfielder Josh Hamilton reached an agreement Tuesday to re-sign with the Texas Rangers

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported the new deal and noted the contract includes an option for Hamilton to request his release if he’s not on the April 1 roster. Heyman also stated the new pact is for the minimum MLB salary ($535,000), if he makes the team.

Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram confirmed the minor league deal.

Hamilton said he will try to play first base, per TR Sullivan of Hamilton also told reporters said he has been cleared to resume all baseball activities.

The 35-year-old slugger has failed to make an impact in recent years due to a combination of nagging injuries and off-field issues. He missed the entire 2016 season with the Rangers after undergoing surgery, his third procedure in a 10-month span, to reconstruct the ACL in his left knee.

In 2015, Bill Madden and Michael O’Keeffe of the New York Daily News reported Hamilton met with MLB officials after suffering a cocaine and alcohol relapse. His highly publicized struggle with addiction to those substances has caused several setbacks throughout his career.

The North Carolina native’s on-field talent is undeniable, though. He’s a five-time All-Star and won the Silver Slugger Award three times during his prime with the Rangers.

Hamilton’s best year came in 2010 when he was named American League MVP. He won the batting title with a .359 average to go with 32 home runs, 100 RBIs and 95 runs scored. He also stole eight bases and finished with a 1.044 OPS.

Now, the question is whether he can still perform at that level. His last full season came with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013, and his numbers were well off from his peak. He posted a .250/.307/.432 line with 21 homers in 151 games.

Last July, Hamilton told Sullivan he expected to be at full strength by spring training, and he expressed confidence in his ability.

“One-hundred percent,” Hamilton said. “I feel confident when I’m healthy, and really healthy, I’m as good as anybody in the game.”

Agreeing to a one-year deal for the minimum will force Hamilton to prove himself, though. His most likely path to playing time would come at DH for the Rangers, but at the outset, he’ll probably battle Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields for a bench spot throughout the spring.

Ultimately, it’s a low-risk move for the Rangers based on the salary and Hamilton’s previous track record of success. He could prove to be a savvy signing, if he stays healthy.

The first major hurdle for the 1999 first overall pick will be making it through spring training without any injury setbacks. If that happens, there’s a good chance he’ll earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.


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Luis Valbuena: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent 3B

Veteran infielder Luis Valbuena is still searching for a landing spot in free agency after slugging 66 home runs over the past four years.

Continue for updates.

Orioles Show Fringe Interest In Valbuena

Friday, Jan. 6

Jerry Crasnick of reported Friday that the Baltimore Orioles have discussed the idea of signing Valbuena. He noted that the organization’s biggest need is in the outfield, however, and that’s an area where the 31-year-old Venezuela native has only four games of experience in the majors.

Valbuena was on pace to have his best season to date in 2016 before a hamstring injury brought a premature end to his campaign in August. His .260 batting average and .816 OPS were both career highs, and he tallied 13 homers in 90 games for the Houston Astros.

Angel Verdejo Jr. of the Houston Chronicle noted the versatile infielder was focused on his recovery and not the potential offseason impact after suffering the injury setback.

“I have to get ready and see what happens,” Valbuena said.

He started his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2008 and then spent three years apiece with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs before ending up in Houston in 2015. In all, he owns a career .232/.317/.394 triple-slash line in 798 games.

His impact has increased over the past handful of years. Along with the aforementioned 66 home runs, he’s tallied 184 RBI and 202 runs scored since the start of the 2013 campaign.

In turn, it’s a bit surprising he hasn’t generated more interest. Crasnick previously linked him to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted that the New York Yankees reached out to Valbuena’s representatives in early December. But his market has been mostly cold since.

The Orioles are basically set on the infield, barring any injuries. While they do have a possible opening in right field, Valbuena has never played there at the pro level. Designated hitter is also an option, but Baltimore likely doesn’t want to block prospect Trey Mancini for an extended period of time.

Ultimately, Valbuena may be forced to accept a shorter-term contract than he originally anticipated with hope of proving himself and then reentering the market in 2018 or 2019. If so, he could provide some nice bang for the buck as a late-offseason signing.


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Edwin Encarnacion to Indians: Takeaways from DH’s Introductory Press Conference

The Cleveland Indians officially introduced prized free-agent signing Edwin Encarnacion on Thursday.

Paul Hoynes of reported the sides finalized a three-year, $60 million contract after the former Toronto Blue Jays slugger passed a physical Wednesday. The deal also includes a fourth-year club option worth $25 million.

Zack Meisel of highlighted the donning of the Tribe jersey for the first time:

Chris Antonetti, the Indians’ president of baseball operations, admitted the reigning American League champions weren’t sure they could make this type of offseason splash, per Jordan Bastian of

“At the start of the offseason, we didn’t think this was possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet noted Encarnacion called Cleveland a “perfect fit,” even though there’s a part of him that’s struggled with moving on from the Blue Jays.

Now that Encarnacion is a member of the Indians, Tom Withers of the Associated Press pointed out the star’s focus has shifted to one thing: capturing the championship that slipped through Cleveland’s grasp against the Chicago Cubs in last season’s Fall Classic.

“I believe in this team, and I believe we can win the World Series,” Encarnacion said.

OddsShark noted the oddsmakers agree the Indians are once again a serious threat to capture the American League pennant. They rank second behind only the Boston Red Sox in the current AL odds and third overall, with the defending champion Cubs the favorite to repeat as champions.

Encarnacion will carry a heavy burden if Cleveland is going to live up to those expectations. The Dominican Republic native has been one of the game’s best power hitters over the past five years. He’s hit at least 34 home runs every year during that stretch, including 42 homers last season for Toronto.

The 33-year-old marquee addition will probably split time between first base and designated hitter with Carlos Santana. They’ll combine with Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez to form a terrific top six in the order if Brantley can stay healthy after missing most of 2016.   


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Diamondbacks File Suit Over Stadium Repairs: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Tuesday the organization filed a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Stadium District over money for capital repairs of Chase Field. 

Steve Gilbert of passed along a statement from D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick, who said the decision to bring the suit came after the sides couldn’t reach an agreement:

It is extremely unfortunate that we have been forced to take action today following several years of attempts to resolve this matter out of court. We have made a promise to our fans, who have been partners with us on the building of this stadium and our franchise, to provide the best experience in all of baseball in a safe and welcoming environment. The inability of the Maricopa County Stadium District to fulfill its commitments has left us with no other option.

The Maricopa County Stadium District conducted an assessment of Chase Field, which opened in 1998, and it determined $185 million in upgrades were needed, according to the report. The sides have remained at odds about how to pay the costs.

The report noted the Diamondbacks believe the Stadium District is responsible for $135 million of those fees. The team has offered to pay for the improvements in exchange for more stadium flexibility, including booking the park when it’s not being used for baseball, but the district declined that offer.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press provided a response from Maricopa County officials, who were prepared to sell Chase Field to private investors last summer before the deal reached a roadblock with the team:

It is disappointing the Diamondbacks are suing their fans who helped build Chase Field. The team simply wants out of the contract that makes them stay and play through the 2028 season. Saying the facility is in disrepair is outrageous. The Maricopa County Stadium District has spent millions during the off-season on concrete and steel work that keeps the stadium safe and looking great for each baseball season.

Kendrick agreed the stadium isn’t a danger to fans heading into the 2017 season, per

“Our fans can rest assured that today’s filing will have absolutely no impact on the day-to-day operations of the D-backs and the upcoming season and that for 2017, Chase Field is completely safe,” he said.

In addition, noted D-backs attorney Leo R. Beus stated the organization isn’t seeking any money from the county or the taxpayers as part of the lawsuit. Instead it’s asking the court to remove a “contract restriction” that prevents it from exploring other stadium options.

The Diamondbacks averaged 25,138 fans across their 81 home games in 2016, a number that ranked 21st of the league’s 30 teams, according to Chase Field’s 1998 debut date leaves it in the middle of the pack in terms of age, checking in as the 14th-oldest MLB facility.

Arizona is slated to open its 2017 home schedule with a game against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, April 2.

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Drew Storen to Reds: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

The Cincinnati Reds reached an agreement Tuesday with veteran relief pitcher Drew Storen on a contract for 2017. 

The Reds officially announced Storen signed a one-year deal on Twitter. Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported the deal is worth $3 million with a $1.5 million performance bonus and a $500,000 bonus if he’s traded.

Storen struggled with the Toronto Blue Jays, posting a 6.21 ERA and 1.59 WHIP across 38 appearances, after getting shipped north of the border by the Washington Nationals last offseason. A second trade in seven months, this time to the Seattle Mariners in July, helped him get back on track.

The 29-year-old reliever finished with a 3.44 ERA and 0.87 WHIP while striking out 16 batters in 18.1 innings down the stretch for the Mariners. Those numbers were more in line with what the former Nats closer accomplished during his time in the nation’s capital.

Bob Dutton of the News Tribune passed along comments from Storen about working his way back into high-leverage situations in Seattle after sliding down the bullpen pecking order in Toronto:

I enjoy those situations because you’re just rolling off adrenaline. I’ve been in those situations before—usually because of my fault. It’s a good spot. That’s a really important part of the game, and it allows me to be the bridge to the flames we have coming out at the back. Those guys are just coming out and attacking people.

In addition, showing he could be trusted in the late innings helped bolster his stock heading into the offseason after it took a downward turn for a while.

Storen has become more comfortable with his changeup over the past few years, but he still relies predominately on his sinker and slider. When he’s commanding those two pitches effectively, he can provide a lot of valuable innings out of the pen.

In the end, the Reds decided he was worth the investment as they worked to upgrade the bullpen during the offseason. It’s a signing that probably won’t garner much attention given the crowded reliever market, but it’s still a solid addition.

The Reds are in the process of rebuilding, which is why they aren’t looking to make many long-term investments. Bullpen depth is essential for the team in 2017 after its starting pitchers threw 859 innings last season, fewest in MLB

It’s also a wise move for Storen to start next season with a team like the Reds. He will likely be used in high-leverage situations early in the year, and if he is successful, there’s always a market from contending teams for relievers at the trade deadline. 

His exact role in the pen probably won’t be known until close to Opening Day. He could work himself into the seventh or eighth inning with a strong spring training. And it’s a bonus that he has closing experience should the need arise during the year.

The deal does come with some risk when you factor in his struggles with the Blue Jays. But the upside outweighs the downside when taking his whole track record into account and where the Reds are at starting next season.



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Ivan Nova Re-Signs with Pirates: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced they have re-signed starting pitcher Ivan Nova on a three-year contract on Tuesday.

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports, citing sources, first reported the three-year deal was worth $26 million, with a $2 million signing bonus on Dec. 22. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, citing a source, confirmed Murray’s report and noted the deal is still pending a physical. 

Nova watched his stock drop considerably across his final two-plus seasons with the New York Yankees. With his contract set to expire, the club traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August, and the move seemed to provide the spark the Dominican Republic native needed.

The 29-year-old right-hander posted a 3.06 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with 52 strikeouts in 64.2 innings across 11 starts after the move. It represented a significant improvement after putting up a 4.90 ERA in 21 appearances for the Yankees.

John Perrotto of Today’s Knuckleball noted the veteran starter credited pitching coach Ray Searage and getting away from the bright lights of New York for the turnaround in September.

“He’s a great pitching coach,” Nova said. “We’re having fun here with him. I think that’s one of the keys. It gives me the confidence to go out there and have fun and do the best that you can. We couldn’t always have fun in New York.”

Nova had three complete games during the stretch run with Pittsburgh, which matched his total from his six-plus years with the Yankees. His strong finish also showcased the potential he flashed at times, but never fully capitalized, while in pinstripes.

All told, his overall numbers don’t jump off the page with a 4.30 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 595 strikeouts in 793.2 career innings. He’s in the middle of what’s typically a player’s prime years, however, and it’s reasonable to believe he can still improve in 2017 and beyond.

Staying in Pittsburgh certainly seems like the right decision on the surface. It gives him an opportunity to build off the progress he made during the latter stages of last season and keeps him in a smaller market, which fit his personality well.

It’s also a wise signing for the Pirates. The team still has several question marks in its rotation behind Gerrit Cole, though it hopes Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl can assume more vital roles. Nova can fill a spot in the middle or back of the rotation with the ability to pitch like a No. 2 starter.

Ultimately, it’s no guarantee he’ll parlay his successful finish in 2016 into a breakout season. But it’s a risk worth taking for a team needing pitching depth. 


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Jose Abreu, White Sox Agree to New Contract: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

The Chicago White Sox and first baseman Jose Abreu reached an agreement Saturday on a one-year contract extension to avoid arbitration.

Chicago announced the new deal on its official Twitter account. Scott Merkin of reported the power-hitting infielder will earn $10.825 million in 2017.

Abreu has made a massive impact across his first three years in the majors. He’s cranked 91 home runs to go along with a .299 batting average and a .360 on-base percentage. In addition, he’s also tallied at least 100 runs batted in every year.

The Cuba native’s success quickly eliminated any concerns about his transition as a 27-year-old rookie after a successful career in the Cuban National Series. He’s proved himself as one of the most impactful offensive contributors in the American League.

In September, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times noted the first baseman lamented the fact that his individual numbers haven’t translated into team success, stating, “In this sport nobody likes to lose.”

He expressed an interest in sticking with the organization for the long haul, though:

I’m going to forever be grateful to this organization because of everything they’ve done for me. I would like to play my whole career in the U.S., with this team, because it’s like my family. They were the ones who gave me the opportunity, they were the ones who helped me through the whole process to come here and to become a U.S. resident. They have been very supportive of me, and my family, too. I want to be with this team, to be an important part of this team and to win a championship with this team.

The latest contract is a small step toward that goal. It also represents a minor pay raise after he made $10 million in 2016 before exercising an opt-out clause in his prior deal, per Spotrac.

He’s been the subject of some trade rumors this offseason as well. Thomas Harding of reported in early December the White Sox and Colorado Rockies engaged in “preliminary talks” about a potential deal. It’s unclear whether those discussions ever advanced beyond the exploratory stage.

For now, he’s slated to hit in the middle of the Chicago order. It’s a lineup featuring some strength from the No. 2 through No. 5 spots with Abreu, Tim Anderson, Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera. But the rest is patchwork as the club enters a rebuilding phase.

Ultimately, the White Sox’s decision to revamp the system could lead to an Abreu trade. It will be difficult to find another player or prospect capable of replacing his pop, though.


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