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  • Yankees officially sign OF Holliday
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    The New York Yankees added some pop to their lineup by officially signing free agent outfielder Matt Holliday to a one-year deal Wednesday.

    • Financial terms of the deal were not announced by the team, but multiple media outlets reported previously the contract is worth $13 million. The seven-time All-Star is expected to serve as the Yankees' designated hitter and also fill in at first base.

      "I would have liked to have gotten a two-year deal or more; I want to play three or four more years," Holliday told the New York Daily News on Wednesday. "I'll take the one-year deal, hopefully go out and play really well and see what happens."

      Holiday, who turns 37 next month, missed seven weeks last season with a fractured thumb. He hit .246 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs in 110 games.

      Holliday, who spent the last seven seasons in St. Louis, is a career .303 hitter with 295 homers and 1,153 RBIs in 13 seasons.

      A 1998 seventh-round draft pick of the Rockies, Holliday spent five seasons in Colorado before he was traded to the Oakland A's in a November 2008 deal.

      In 2007, Holliday won the National League batting title with a .340 average, and he led the league with 216 hits, 386 total bases, 50 doubles and 92 extra-base hits. He finished as runner-up in NL MVP voting behind the Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins.

      Holliday signed a seven-year, $120 million free agent deal with St. Louis in January 2010. The Cardinals declined his $17 million option for 2018 last month.

      On Saturday, former Yankees outfielder/designated hitter Carlos Beltran, 40, signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

  • Yankees make offers to Chapman, Jansen
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    The New York Yankees are looking at a familiar face in their bid to secure an elite closer from the free agent trade market.

    • General manager Brian Cashman confirmed that the club has tendered contract offers to former Yankees fireballer Aroldis Chapman as well as fellow closer Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cashman, however, did not divulge the length of the potential deals to secure the services of either Chapman or Jansen.

      "They're both exceptionally talented individuals and they're both going to be well-rewarded for that talent, regardless of where they decide to play," Cashman told MLB.com. "It would be nice if somebody picks us at some point. If not, we'll adjust."

      Chapman reportedly is in search of a six-year deal, but his current team -- the Chicago Cubs -- appear to be moving on by trading for right-hander Wade Davis on Wednesday. The left-handed Chapman served as Chicago's closer since a July trade after posting a 3-0 mark with 20 saves and a 2.01 ERA in 31 appearances with the Yankees.

      The Dodgers and Marlins reportedly are interested in Chapman, although the latter club has expressed greater interest in Jansen.

      The National League Reliever of the Year this past season, Jansen recorded a 3-2 mark with a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves. The 29-year-old struck out 104 batters and posted a major-league-leading 0.67 WHIP.

      On June 20, Jansen picked up his 162nd save to become the Dodgers' all-time leader in the category, a record previously held by former closer and three-time All-Star right-hander Eric Gagne. Jansen increased his career total to 189 by the year's end.

  • Cubs trade Soler to Royals for closer Davis
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    The Chicago Cubs acquired right-hander Wade Davis from the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Jorge Soler on Wednesday.

    • Davis is expected to be the closer for the reigning World Series champion Cubs, filling the potential void of free agent Aroldis Chapman. The left-handed fireballer Chapman served as Chicago's closer since a July trade.

      Davis is familiar with manager Joe Maddon, having played under him with the Tampa Bay Rays.

      Davis posted a 2-1 mark with 27 saves and a 1.87 ERA in 45 appearances last season despite missing nearly the entire month of August due to a forearm strain.

      The 31-year-old Davis has been one of the most reliable relievers over the last three seasons, recording a 19-4 mark with 47 saves in 182 2/3 innings. His 1.18 ERA during the last three campaigns is the best among qualified major league relievers.

      Davis has a 55-37 career record with 47 saves and a 3.53 ERA in 334 appearances with Tampa Bay and Kansas City.

      "He's an All-Star closer, he's closed out world championships," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "One thing we learned this year -- when you play that extra month, it's hard on your bullpen. Wade can pitch the ninth. But we really like the other guys that we have. Hopefully this can take the burden off all of them."

      Soler batted .238 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 86 games last season. The 24-year-old Cuban is batting .258 with 27 homers and 98 RBIs in three campaigns with the Cubs.

      "We love his upside -- love his power," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Wednesday. "The fact that we have the DH (in the American League) we can utilize him in both spots."

  • Marlins reach deal with LHP Locke
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    The Miami Marlins made another step toward addressing their starting pitching on Wednesday, with left-hander Jeff Locke agreeing to a one-year contract worth $3,025,000, according to multiple reports.

    • The deal comes less than two weeks after the Marlins signed another free agent starter in Edinson Volquez. Locke became a free agent after Pittsburgh failed to offer him a contract by last Thursday's deadline.

      Miami is in need of starting pitching on the heels of the tragic death of ace Jose Fernandez.

      Locke posted a 9-8 mark with a 5.44 ERA in 30 appearances (19 starts) last season with Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old is three years removed from earning a spot on the National League All-Star roster in a season in which he posted a 10-7 record and 3.52 ERA.

      Locke owns a 35-38 career mark with a 4.41 ERA in six seasons with the Pirates.

  • Rockies, Desmond agree to 5-year, $70 million deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    The Colorado Rockies agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal with free agent outfielder/infielder Ian Desmond, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

    • The versatile Desmond primarily played center field for the Texas Rangers in 2016 after playing exclusively at shortstop for the Washington Nationals for seven seasons.

      Desmond will play in the outfield and at first base in Colorado, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

      The 31-year-old Desmond hit .285 with 22 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 156 games for the Rangers last season. For his career, he is hitting .267 with 132 homers and 518 RBIs.

      The Rockies must give up the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft to sign Desmond, and the Rangers will receive a compensation pick somewhere between the first and second rounds.

      Desmond turned down a seven-year, $107 million offer from the Nationals in 2014 only to struggle in 2015 and take a one-year, $8 million deal from the Rangers in February.

  • Phillies sign reliever Benoit to 1-year pact
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    Veteran right-hander reliever Joaquin Benoit agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the team announced on Tuesday.

    • Benoit, who recently turned 39, has been a strong setup man for most of his career. His 0.98 WHIP over the past seven seasons trails only Kenley Jansen (0.89) and Craig Kimbrel (0.95) among relievers.

      Benoit was 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA while splitting time between the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays last season. He posted a stellar 0.38 ERA in 25 appearances for Toronto after being acquired in late July.

      Benoit has recorded 51 saves during a career that began in 2001 but the Phillies plan to keep him in a set-up type role.

      "I think one of things that as appealing to us about Joaquin is he has pitched the sixth, he's pitched the seventh, he's pitched the eighth, he's pitched the ninth, and he's been good in all of those roles at various times throughout his career," Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak told reporters. "We feel better today than we did a few days ago that we have several players in our bullpen that can compete for the ninth, the eighth, the seventh, the sixth. We made our bullpen better."

      Benoit's career includes stops with the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres in addition to last season's time with Seattle and Toronto. He has compiled a 57-43 record and 3.79 ERA in 712 appearances (55 starts).

  • MLB notebook: Red Sox acquire Sale from White Sox
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    Chris Sale is headed to Boston in a winter blockbuster deal.

    • The Red Sox reportedly acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday for top prospect Yoan Moncada and prospects Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe and Victor Diaz.

      Sale, a five-time All-Star and the American League strikeouts leader in 2015, joins forces with reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and former Cy Young recipient David Price.

      The ace southpaw was long rumored to be on the trade market and was reportedly on the verge of being traded to the Washington Nationals as of Tuesday morning.

      -- The New York Yankees announced that they will retire the number of former shortstop Derek Jeter and unveil his plaque in the team's storied Monument Park in a pregame ceremony on Mother's Day, May 14, 2017.

      Jeter's No. 2 is the 21st number to be retired by the Yankees, and Jeter himself is the 22nd player to receive the honor -- No. 8 was retired twice for Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey on Old-Timers' Day in 1972.

      Before Jeter, the trio of Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte were the last players to have their numbers retired in 2015. Jeter retired after playing a franchise-record 20 seasons with New York after the 2014 season.

      The 14-time All-Star is the Yankees' all-time leader in hits (3,465), singles (2,595) games played (2,747), doubles (544), stolen bases (358), at-bats (11,195) and hit-by-pitches (170).

      -- Tyler Thornburg is headed to the Red Sox after the Milwaukee Brewers traded the right-handed reliever for third baseman Travis Shaw, minor league shortstop Mauricio Dubon and minor league righty Josh Pennington.

      The Red Sox will also send a player to be named later and cash to the Brewers.

      Thornburg, 28, helps bolster the back end of the Red Sox's bullpen with free agents Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler unsure to return. Thornburg is 14-9 with a 2.87 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 144 games over five seasons.

  • Red Sox land Sale from White Sox for four prospects
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    Chris Sale is headed to Boston in a winter blockbuster deal.

    • The Red Sox reportedly acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday for top prospect Yoan Moncada and prospects Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe and Victor Diaz.

      Sale, a five-time All-Star and the American League strikeouts leader in 2015, joins forces with reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and former Cy Young recipient David Price.

      The ace southpaw was long rumored to be on the trade market and was reportedly on the verge of being traded to the Washington Nationals as of Tuesday morning.

      But the White Sox instead worked out the deal with the Red Sox for Moncada and the other three prospects.

      "When you trade a pitcher of Chris Sale's ability, it can only be because we were motivated by an impactful return of young talent, and we have more than accomplished that with Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz," Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager, said in a statement. "We believe each of these players can be part of a quality core of future championship caliber White Sox teams."

      There were rumors tying Sale to the Red Sox before last July's trade deadline, some suggesting Boston would have to give up young stars Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to acquire the pitcher.

      Sale, 27, is 74-50 with a 3.00 ERA and 1,244 strikeouts in 228 career games (148 starts), all with the White Sox. In 2016, Sale posted a 17-10 record and a 3.34 ERA with 233 punchouts over 32 starts.

      The highly competitive Sale also was embroiled with controversy last season when he was scratched from a start and sent home after cutting up the team's throwback uniforms that he didn't want to wear. The White Sox suspended him for five days in the wake of the incident.

      The situation fueled speculation that Sale would be traded prior to last season's trading deadline but he remained with the club ... until Tuesday.

      "We cannot thank Chris enough for all he has done and what he has meant for the White Sox organization since we drafted him in 2010," Hahn said. "We certainly wish he and his family all the best."

      Moncada, a 21-year-old Cuban infielder widely viewed as the top prospect in baseball, struggled after making his major league debut in 2016, batting .211 (4-for-19) with one RBI in eight games with the Red Sox.

      But he also was named by Baseball America as the 2016 Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .294/.407/.511 with 31 doubles, six triples, 15 home runs, 62 RBI, 72 walks, 94 runs scored and 45 stolen bases over 106 games between Class A Salem and Class AA Portland.??

      Kopech, a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher, is the fourth-rated prospect in the Red Sox's system according to Baseball America. Kopech, a native of Longview, Texas, has gone 8-7 with a 2.61 ERA (39 ER/134.2 IP) and 172 strikeouts in 36 appearances (35 starts) over three minor league seasons in the Red Sox minor league system after being selected in the first round (33rd overall) of the 2014 draft out of Mount Pleasant (Texas) High School.??

      Basabe, a 20-year-old outfielder, was Boston's eighth-ranked prospect. Basabe, a switch-hitter, has recorded a .253 (281-1,109) average with 59 doubles, 25 triples, 21 home runs, 134 RBI, 204 runs scored and 73 steals in 298 career games over four minor league seasons in the Boston organization.

      Diaz is a 22-year-old right-hander. Diaz, a native of Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic, is 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA (31 ER/93.0 IP), 17 saves, 98 strikeouts and just two home runs allowed in 58 relief appearances over two seasons (2015-16) in the Red Sox system. He was signed as an international free agent on December 12, 2014.

  • Nationals, White Sox engaged in talks on Sale
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    Chris Sale may be relocating to the nation's capital in the near future.

    • The Nationals are deeply engaged in talks with Sale's club, the Chicago White Sox, about a trade that would send the five-time All-Star left-hander to Washington for two top prospects, according to multiple reports.

      Sale, who led the American League in strikeouts in 2015 and is widely considered the top pitching prize available on the trade market, would fetch the White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito and outfielder Victor Robles.

      "When you have negotiations with other clubs about potential trade fits, you have to have that line you aren't going to go below; otherwise you're compromising too much in terms of value," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Monday, via ESPN.com.

      Sale, 27, is 74-50 with a 3.00 ERA and 1,244 strikeouts in 228 career games (148 starts), all with the White Sox. In 2016, Sale posted a 17-10 record and a 3.34 ERA with 233 punch outs over 32 starts.

      The ace is owed $12 million in 2017 and has club options of $12.5 and $13.5 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

      If the deal goes down, Sale would team up with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96 ERA, 284 strikeouts in 2016) and Stephen Strasburg.

  • Brewers trade Thornburg to Red Sox for Shaw, prospects
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    Tyler Thornburg is headed to the Boston Red Sox after the Milwaukee Brewers traded the right-handed reliever for third baseman Travis Shaw, minor league shortstop Mauricio Dubon and minor league righty Josh Pennington.

    • The Red Sox will also send a player to be named later and cash to the Brewers.

      "It's been real Boston. Excited for the opportunity ahead of me in Milwaukee! Looking forward to this next chapter of my career! #Brewers," Shaw wrote on his Twitter account.

      Thornburg, 28, helps bolster the back end of the Red Sox's bullpen with free agents Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler unsure to return. Thornburg is 14-9 with a 2.87 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 144 games over five seasons.

      In 2016, Thornburg totaled 13 saves while going 8-5 with a 2.15 ERA in 67 appearances. Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski previously said he wanted to acquire a bullpen arm with closing experience.

      Shaw, 26, beat out Pablo Sandoval to win the Red Sox's starting job at third base last season. Shaw hit .242 with 16 homers and 71 RBIs in 145 games. He is a lifetime .251 hitter with 29 homers and 107 RBIs.

      Shaw's departure seems to indicate the Red Sox will stick with Sandoval at third next season. The former World Series MVP missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May.

  • Yankees to retire Jeter's No. 2 on Mother's Day
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    The New York Yankees announced Tuesday that they will retire the number of former shortstop Derek Jeter and unveil his plaque in the team's storied Monument Park in a pregame ceremony on Mother's Day, May 14, 2017.

    • Jeter's No. 2 is the 21st number to be retired by the Yankees, and Jeter himself is the 22nd player to receive the honor -- No. 8 was retired twice for Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey on Old-Timers' Day in 1972.

      Before Jeter, the trio of Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte were the last players to have their numbers retired in 2015. Jeter retired after playing a franchise-record 20 seasons with New York after the 2014 season.

      The 14-time All-Star is the Yankees' all-time leader in hits (3,465), singles (2,595) games played (2,747), doubles (544), stolen bases (358), at-bats (11,195) and hit-by-pitches (170).

      Jeter's hit total ranks sixth in major league history, and he boasts a career .310 batting average with 260 home runs and 1,311 RBIs.

  • Winter meetings notebook: Rangers try to acquire Hamilton
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 5, 2016

    OXON HILL, Md. -- One of the more intriguing rumors making the rounds here Monday at the Major League Baseball winter meetings was the interest that the Texas Rangers had in Billy Hamilton, the speedy outfielder of the Cincinnati Reds.

    • Buster Olney of ESPN reported that the Rangers were interested in Hamilton while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports sent out a tweet that Texas was also in the running for Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who had a down year in 2016.

      "We have been meeting with teams that are interested in our players. I am not going to comment on specific teams and what they are asking about," said Dick Williams, in his first winter meetings as the Reds general manager. "We have players that other teams have shown interest in. We have been willing to listen to where those discussions go. It has been nothing more than that as this point."

      How would the Reds replace Hamilton, one of the faster players in the game?

      "That is one of the reasons Billy has an enormous high price tag," Williams said. "You don't replace Billy one for one. It would set off a chain of events we would have to do" to replace him.

      Williams said Monday afternoon that he did not feel any closer to any kind of deal. But he also said he was very confident the Reds would be willing to make some key transaction before the end of the winter meetings here Thursday.

      Hamilton hit .260 with 58 steals last season. Other Reds veterans who could acquire interest are infielders Bandon Phillips and Zack Cozart.

      Nationals' Rizzo mum on Harper

      USA Today reported Monday that agent Scott Boras is seeking a $400 million dollar contract for Bryce Harper, the Nationals outfielder who will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Harper was the National League MVP in 2015 but slumped this past year at the plate.

      Washington general manager Mike Rizzo was asked if he had begun conversations with Boras about a contract extension for Harper.

      "I am not going to answer those type of questions," said Rizzo, standing outside of his 11th floor suite at the Gaylord Hotel & Conference Center. "Those are private."

      Melancon signs with Giants

      Closer Mark Melancon, who ended the 2016 season with the Washington Nationals, signed a deal with the San Francisco Giants, according to reports.

      He was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Nationals in late July and helped Washington win the National League East. Melancon, from Colorado, combined for 47 saves in 2016.

      "We gave an offer we felt was market value," Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He is one of the elite closers in the game and a great teammate. At the end of the day the Giants offered him more and he took the deal. That is what free agency is all about."

      Hill signs three-year deal with Dodgers

      Less than two years ago lefty Rich Hill was pitching for the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League.

      On Monday the veteran pitcher signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team he ended the 2016 season with. He joins Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers rotation. The contract is for three years and $48 million, a source told MLB.com.

      "I always wanted to get back to starting," Hill said after the signing was announced at the winter meetings. "I didn't know if the opportunity would present itself. I did it with Long Island and going back to Boston" in 2015.

      Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is not worried about the makeup of his starting rotation. "The left-handed-ness doesn't worry us," Roberts said. "Just to have guys like him (Hill) and Clayton lead the way for guys like lefty Julio (Urias), it is very exciting for us."

      Hill was 3-2 with an ERA of 1.83 in six starts for the Dodgers in 2016 after he was acquired from the Oakland A's.

      Is Jansen headed to Marlins?

      Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who is a free agent, could be headed to the Miami Marlins, according to the member of a front office of a National League team. The deal could be for five years, though it was not official early Monday evening.

      --David Driver covers the Washington Nationals for The Sports Xchange.

  • Red Sox pick up Farrell's 2018 contract option
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 5, 2016

    John Farrell's seat became a little less hot on Monday.

    • The Boston Red Sox picked up the 2018 contract option on Farrell, who managed the team to a 2013 World Series championship and a 339-309 record over his four seasons at the helm.

      Farrell, 54, guided the Red Sox to an American League East division championship after going 93-69 in 2016. The Red Sox were swept in the ALDS by the eventual AL-champion Cleveland Indians.

      After back-to-back last place AL East finishes in 2014 and 2015, Farrell's job security came into question.

      Farrell took a leave of absence in August 2015 after being diagnosed with stage one lymphoma. He was replaced by bench coach Torey Lovullo, who was recently hired to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks.

      Farrell returned the following spring training and managed the entire 2016 season.

      Before managing the Red Sox, Farrell spent two seasons as the skipper for the Toronto Blue Jays. He is 493-479 in six seasons.

      Farrell previously served as the Red Sox's pitching coach from 2007 to 2010. He also pitched eight MLB seasons with the Indians, then-California Angels and Detroit Tigers from 1987 until 1996.

  • MLB notebook: Giants close deal with Melancon
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 5, 2016

    The San Francisco Giants agreed to a deal with right-handed closer Mark Melancon, according to reports Monday.

    • The agreement with the free agent is pending a physical.

      Melancon, who turns 32 in March, is coming off an outstanding season with the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates in which he posted a combined 47 saves with a 1.64 ERA in 71 1/3 innings. Melancon was acquired by the Nationals at the trade deadline. He pitched in a league-leading 75 games last season. Since 2013, he has 147 saves, including a National League-leading 51 in 2015.

      --Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper reportedly is asking for a record-breaking deal that will exceed 10 years in length and pay him more than $400 million.

      According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Nationals are balking at Harper's massive demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension and are preparing to be without their All-Star outfielder after 2018. Harper's agent, Scott Boras, said discussions have taken place for only a one-year deal in 2017. Harper, who earned $5 million in 2016, is eligible for salary arbitration.

      Harper, 24, will be 26 years old when he hits the free agent market in 2018. He hit 121 home runs in his first five major league seasons and won the 2015 National League MVP award. He owns a .279 career batting average with 334 RBIs.

      --Rich Hill needed only a handful of appearances to make a striking impression with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

      On Monday, the Dodgers signed the veteran left-hander to a three-year contract. While the Dodgers did not disclose terms of the deal, MLB.com reported it was worth $48 million. It's a rather remarkable deal for a pitcher who as recently as 2015 was pitching with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

      Hill, 36, was acquired by the Dodgers from the Oakland Athletics in mid-July but, because of blister issues, did not make his debut for Los Angeles until Aug. 24. Hel finished 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts for Los Angeles and made three more appearances in the postseason, capped by six scoreless innings of two-hit ball against the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

  • Nationals RF Harper seeking record $400M pact
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 5, 2016

    Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper reportedly is asking for a record-breaking deal that will exceed 10 years in length and pay him more than $400 million.

    • According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Nationals are balking at Harper's massive demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension.

      The team also is preparing to be without their All-Star outfielder after 2018, a high-ranking Nationals executive told USA Today.

      Harper's agent, Scott Boras, said discussions have taken place for only a one-year deal in 2017. Harper, who earned $5 million in 2016, is eligible for salary arbitration.

      "I have had no discussions with the Nationals regarding Harp and a long-term contract," Boras told Yahoo Sports.

      Harper, just 24, will be 26 years old when he hits the free agent market in 2018. He hit 121 home runs in his first five major league seasons and won the 2015 National League MVP award. He owns a .279 career batting average with 334 RBIs in 657 games.

      The other prospective 2018 free agents include Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, center fielder Adam Jones and closer Zach Britton, as well as Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and New York Mets starter Matt Harvey -- plus potentially Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and David Price of the Boston Red Sox, who have opt-out clauses.

      Washington finished last season with a $155.5 million payroll and the Nationals have already committed $87.4 million in salaries in 2019 to Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer, starter Stephen Strasburg and infielder Ryan Zimmerman, according to USA Today.

  • Dodgers bring back LHP Hill on three-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 5, 2016

    Rich Hill needed only a handful of appearances to make a striking impression with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

    • On Monday, the Dodgers signed the veteran left-hander to a three-year contract. While the Dodgers did not disclose terms of the deal, MLB.com reported it was worth $48 million.

      It's a rather remarkable deal for a pitcher who as recently as the 2015 season was pitching with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

      "I think it's something that has been an incredible journey to get to this point, but never did I ever think that I would pack it in," an emotional Hill said at a press conference Monday. "I never thought I was done."

      Hill, 36 was acquired by the Dodgers from the Oakland Athletics in mid-July but, due to blister issues on his pitching hand, he did not make his debut for Los Angeles until Aug. 24.

      The well-traveled Hill made up for lost time by winning his first three starts for the Dodgers in dazzling fashion, not allowing a run and permitting only six hits in 19 innings.

      Hill finished 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts for Los Angeles and made three more appearances in the postseason, capped by six scoreless innings of two-hit ball against the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

      "Last year we actually came pretty close to signing Rich, last offseason and obviously traded for him last season," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Monday. "But I think being around him for the three months we were, it exceeded even what our expectations were. So that, in part, is what gave us the confidence to bet on him."

      Hill's days as a starter appeared over after he underwent major shoulder surgery in 2009. In fact, he did not start one game in a five-year span (from 2010-14) before surfacing with the Boston Red Sox in 2015 and making four starts over the final month.

      That prompted Oakland to sign Hill to a one-year contract and he responded with a 9-3 mark and 2.25 ERA in 14 starts before he was shipped down the California coast to the Dodgers.

      Hill, in an interview with the MLB Network, offered one reason for his career renaissance: failure.

      "When you fail you gotta look at it as experience and how am I going to perserve through that failure," said Hill, who pointed to the New England Patriots and San Antonio Spurs to reinforce his point. "They don't panic when they fail and that's something that I've learned as I've gotten older and that's something that comes with age."

      Hill, who turns 37 in March, is 38-28 with a 4/10 ERA in 221 career appearances (94 starts).

      "When you are younger, you think of -- well, when I was younger, it would be more of the thought of okay, you want to get to that point of landing a long-term deal," Hill acknowledged. "Now it's more 100 percent is on winning and that's it, period."

  • Giants agree to deal with closer Melancon
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 5, 2016

    The San Francisco Giants agreed to a deal with right-handed closer Mark Melancon, according to reports Monday.

    • The agreement with the free agent is pending a physical.

      Melancon, who turns 32 in March, is coming off an outstanding season with the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates in which he recorded a combined 47 saves with a 1.64 ERA in 71 1/3 innings.

      Melancon was acquired by the Nationals at the trade deadline. He pitched in a league-leading 75 games last season.

      The Giants targeted Melancon since the offseason began after blowing a major league-high 30 saves in 2016 as their bullpen faltered in the second half and postseason.

      Melancon has 147 saves since 2013. He led the National League in 2015 with 51 saves.

      Melancon owns a career 2.60 career ERA with 168 saves in 444 games over eight seasons with the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals.

  • Reports: Yankees, Holliday agree to 1-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, December 4, 2016

    Free agent outfielder Matt Holliday and the New York Yankees reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $13 million.

    • Multiple media reports Sunday said Holiday would be heading from St. Louis to the Bronx. According to the New York Post, Holliday will serve as the Yankees' designated hitter and also fill in at first base.

      Holiday, who turns 37 next month, missed seven weeks last season with a fractured thumb. He hit .246 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs in 110 games.

      Holliday, who spent the last seven seasons in St. Louis, is a career .303 hitter with 295 homers and 1,153 RBIs in 13 seasons. He is a seven-time All-Star.

      A 1998 seventh-round draft pick of the Rockies, Holliday spent major league five seasons in Colorado before he was traded to the A's in a November 2008 deal that sent Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street to Denver.

      In 2007, Holliday won the National League batting title with a .340 average, and he led the league with 216 hits, 386 total bases, 50 doubles and 92 extra-base hits. He finished as runner-up in NL MVP voting behind the Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins.

      Holliday signed a seven-year, $120 million free agent deal with St. Louis in January 2010. The Cardinals declined his $17 million option for 2018 last month.

      On Saturday, former Yankees outfielder/DH Carlos Beltran, 40, signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

  • Selig, Schuerholz elected to baseball Hall of Fame
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, December 4, 2016

    Bud Selig, who was commissioner of baseball during a resurgence of interest but also the "steroid era," and John Schuerholz, architect of championship teams with the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves, were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

    • The selections were made by the veterans committee at Oxon Hill, Md., ahead of baseball's winter meetings.

      Selig, the 82-year-old former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, became commissioner of baseball in September 1992. Two years later, he made the announcement that the World Series was canceled due to a prolonged work stoppage that carried over into the next season.

      Officially the interim commissioner for his first six years on the job, Selig ultimately held the role until January 2015.

      In the interim, baseball made a big comeback due to interest in the slugging exploits of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998, then Barry Bonds in subsequent years. The luster of those moments ultimately eroded when all three of them, and scores of other players, including Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens, were cast under suspicion of the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

      In 2005, Selig and other baseball figures were called into Washington for Congressional hearing into PEDs in the game. Eventually, baseball beefed up its drug-testing and -punishment programs.

      According to the Hall of Fame's website, baseball's revenues rose from $1.2 billion in 1992 to $9 billion when Selig retired.

      Schuerholz became the first general manager to guide both an American League team and a National League team to World Series crowns.

      Baseball's youngest GM when he took over in Kansas City in 1981, Schuerholz led the Royals to the 1985 World Series title. He left to run the Braves in 1990, and Atlanta captured the 1995 World Series.

      Schuerholz, 76, remains the president of the Braves.

      Selig and Schuerholz will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 30. Others they beat out in the Sunday vote were Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, McGwire, Lou Piniella and George Steinbrenner.

      Results of voting on modern players eligible for enshrinement this year will be announced Jan. 18.

  • Baseball winter meetings offer plenty of intrigue
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, December 4, 2016

    Now that the new collective bargaining agreement is set, major league baseball can turn to the real business of winter -- stocking, restocking and de-stocking as teams turn toward to the 2017 season.

    • Some teams will step up.

      Some will step into the future.

      There will be many more near-deals than deals, although with all 30 teams in their hotel rooms/nerve centers at the Gaylord National Harbor hotel rooms on the Potomac River and myriad agents available, the opportunities for business are substantial. Sometimes things do not get serious until the big dominos fall. Sometimes value is found early, and the big dominos are all that is left.

      A couple of things are certain:

      Scott Boras will hold his annual state-of-his-clients press conference in a Gaylord hallway. Standing room only ... if you can find him.

      And if you hear the theme from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" on the telephone ringer, Cincinnati exec Kevin Towers is nearby.

      Five teams to watch

      Chicago White Sox

      In left-hander Chris Sale, the Sox have one of the most-sought trade piece available. Sale, 27, has won 70 games with a 3.04 ERA and averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings in a hitter's park in the last five seasons and is owed only $36 million including two team options through 2019. The White Sox have not had much success catching Cleveland, Kansas City and Detroit in the AL Central despite spending big the last two winters, and there is a sense in the industry that they will try a different path. Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and closer David Robertson could be available, and closers will be in demand.

      Tampa Bay Rays

      The Rays seem to grow young pitching and they have plenty with which to wheel and deal in D.C. Only Minnesota had fewer than the Rays' 68 victories last year, a down year that was shared statistically by ace right-hander Chris Archer. With lefty Blake Snell posted to join the rotation full-time, the Rays have the arms to swap for an offense that was 14th in league in runs and on-base percentage despite a career year from Evan Longoria, who is owed $107 million through 2023. And if the Rays really wanted to make a splash … Longoria has been linked to the Dodgers in speculation.

      Boston Red Sox

      Like track records? Franchise builder Dave Dombrowski has used the winter meetings to make a splash for a decade, dating to the 2007 deal in which he acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for Detroit at the cost of Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin and three others. He knows the art of the deal, landing Max Scherzer (2009) Ian Kinsler (2013), Yoenis Cespedes (2014) and David Price and Craig Kimbrel in his first season in Boston last winter. The Red Sox are stocked with young talent at the major league level, but a bat to replace David Ortiz would help, and the Sox have system to consider a move.

      Los Angeles Dodgers

      The Dodgers have built with a purpose the last few years, rebuffing repeated requests to part with top pitching prospect Julio Urias and other up-and-comers. Their situation is a little different this winter with the (at least temporary) loss of free agents Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner and Rich Hill, which leave big holes in the bullpen, third base and the rotation. Major league baseball reportedly has told the Dodgers to reign in spending in order to accommodate the league rule on debt to cash on hand ratio regarding new ownership. Urias will join the rotation this year, but the Dodgers have a host of other young talent indulging Cody Bellinger, Alex Verdugo, Willie Calhoun and Jose De Leon. The Dodgers' front office prizes the young, controllable set, but is this the winter they trade the kids for someone such as Chris Sale or Chris Archer? Stay tuned.

      Chicago Cubs

      After busting a 108-year curse, the Cubs could be excused for taking a few deep breaths. They won't, of course. The Cubs have a hole at closer, and after the success of now-free agent closer Aroldis Chapman could decide former closer Hector Rondon is not the answer there. The Cubs also could be proactive in addressing a rotation in which both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey will become free agents after 2017. They have an excess of young outfielders in Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, and Schwarber particularly appears to be a star-in-waiting as evidenced by his World Series contributions while returning from a broken leg.

      Five players to watch

      Closer Kenley Jansen. The Giants have stated their desire to add a closer after their bullpen struggled down the stretch and in the NLDS against the Cubs, and they have money to spend on Jansen or Aroldis Chapman, the most expensive of the free agent crew. The Dodgers would welcome a reunion at the right price, but as in the case of free agent Zack Greinke last winter, they are not likely to make the final offer. Miami has been mentioned as landing point, a move that would not only reunite Jansen with former manager Don Mattingly but also would bring him closer to his home in Curacao.

      OF/1B Mark Trumbo. He found a perfect fit in Baltimore last season, where his power played to the tune of a major league-leading 47 homers in 2016. Trumbo has always hit in the American League, including a short stay in Seattle. Colorado, which has a hole at first base, is said to exploring the possibility, but the AL seems a better bet.

      3B Justin Turner. The best third baseman on the open market, Turner hit his stride in his native Southern California after being nontendered by the New York Mets three years ago, At the same time, the market on him seems undefined. Turner will play this season at 32, and the back of his baseball card in not particularly eye-catching until the last two seasons, when he took advantage of an opening and seized the Dodgers' third base job. Some are projecting it will take five years to sign Turner, and it will be instructive to see how far teams are willing to go on Turner, who had 27 homers and was far above average defensively in his contract year.

      Closer Mark Melancon. He generally considered the third of the three top free agents closers available, but why? Melancon does not have the power arm of Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, but he has the success. He has 33, 51 and 47 saves with a 1.93 ERA the last three seasons, all but two months with Pittsburgh, and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is strong believer in his mental makeup. Melancon throws strikes, and his strong ground-ball rate makes him a fit in any park. He may not be as sexy as the other free agents, but he may be the best fit and the best value. The Giants made a play for him at the 2016 trade deadline.

      CF Dexter Fowler. The Orioles' three-year, $33 million deal with Fowler last winter fell apart when the language on an opt-out provision could not be ironed out, leaving Fowler as an $8 million fallback option that the Cubs jumped on late in spring training. Fowler had a sparkling year with a career-high 126 OPS+, and he also played at career-best levels defensively after a simple adjustment to play a little deeper in center. He will play next season at 31 and should earn much more than the $11 million he was in line for last year. St. Louis needs a center fielder, and Washington could be a landing spot.

  • Beltran agrees to one-year deal with Astros
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, December 3, 2016

    The Houston Astros and free agent Carlos Beltran reportedly have agreed to a one-year deal worth $16 million.

    • Multiple reports on Saturday said Beltran will be staying in the Lone Star State.

      New York traded Beltran to Texas in July during the final season of his three-year contract. In deciding to join the Astros, Beltran will reunite with Yankees teammate, Brian McCann, who was traded for a pair of pitching prospects.

      The Astros won 84 games last season and also have added outfielder Josh Reddick this offseason.

      Between the Yankees and Rangers, Beltran batted .295 with 29 home runs and compiled an .850 on-base plus slugging percentage. He most likely will play first base or serve as the designated hitter for the Astros.

  • Angels' Pujols to miss four months after surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 2, 2016

    Los Angeles first baseman/DH Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes, putting his status for the Angels' April 3 opener at Oakland in jeopardy.

    • The 36-year-old Pujols played through the injury in 2016, hitting .268/.323/.457 with 31 home runs and 119 RBIs in 152 games this season.

      The recovery time is expected to be four months, but if there are any setbacks, he could miss time at the start of the season.

      "I would imagine he's frustrated and I can sympathize with that frustration," Angels general manager Billy Eppler told the L.A. Times. "The mark of an elite athlete is dealing with those obstacles. He embraces challenges. I would imagine he'll do the same in this scenario."

      The procedure was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina.

      Pujols' 591 career home runs rank ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

      The Angels went 74-88 last season.

  • Pirates, LHP LeBlanc avoid arbitration
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 2, 2016

    The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to terms on a one-year contract Friday with left-handed pitcher Wade LeBlanc for the 2017 season, avoiding salary arbitration.

    • LeBlanc, 32, will make $750,000 in 2017 and a club option for 2018 is worth $1.25 million with a $50,000 buyout, according to reports.

      The Pirates acquired LeBlanc in a September trade with the Seattle Mariners. In eight games and 12 innings in Pittsburgh, he allowed one earned run, striking out 10 and walking two with one save.

      LeBlanc posted a 3-0 mark with one save and a 4.50 ERA in 11 appearances (eight starts) with the Mariners.

  • Braves acquire LHP Garcia from Cardinals
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 2, 2016

    After eight seasons in St. Louis, Jaime Garcia is headed to Atlanta.

    • The Braves acquired the 30-year-old left-handed pitcher Thursday in exchange for right-hander John Gant and two minor-leaguers.

      St. Louis also received right-handed pitcher Chris Ellis and infielder Luke Dykstra, son of former major-leaguer Lenny Dykstra.

      "We had targeted (Garcia) for a number of years and feel he will be an impactful part of a revamped rotation," Braves general manager John Coppolella said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It was tough to trade away three kids we really liked, but we want to win and we want to create competition for our young pitchers.

      "I spoke with Jaime and he's feeling great and really excited about this opportunity."

      Garcia posted double-digit wins last season for the fourth time in his career, finishing 10-13, but he recorded a 4.67 ERA, the highest mark since his first partial major league season in 2008.

      He struck out 150 and walked 57 in 171 2/3 innings in 2016. All three totals were the second highest of his career for a single season.

      Garcia's time in St. Louis was marked by numerous injuries and surgeries that led to large chunks of time on the disabled list. The Cardinals picked up Garcia's $12 million option for 2017, so the veteran will be a free agent after next season.

      Gant, 24, made 20 appearances (seven starts) for the Braves this year, going 1-4 with a 4.86 ERA. He pitched in 12 games (10 starts) for Triple-A Gwinnett, finishing 3-3 with a 4.18 ERA.

      "I like what's there and believe there's some upside," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Gant.

      Ellis, 24, went a combined 12-9 with a 4.49 ERA in 28 starts last season between Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi. He was a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2014, then was acquired by Atlanta in the deal that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to Anaheim.

      "As his command improves, so will he," Mozeliak said of Ellis to the Post-Dispatch.

      Dykstra, 21, was a seventh-round draft pick in 2014. He hit .304 with a .332 on-base percentage, a .363 slugging percentage, no homers and 41 RBIs in 81 games for low Class A Rome last season.

      "He likes to swing (the bat) and put it in play, and he's a good athlete," Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch about Dykstra.

  • Pirates' Kang faces DUI charge in South Korea
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 1, 2016

    Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was arrested in his native South Korea on charges of drunk driving and fleeing the scene.

    • "We have been made aware of the very serious charges filed against Jung Ho Kang early Friday morning in Seoul, South Korea," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement released by the team Thursday. "We are extremely disappointed in Jung Ho and in his decision process during this matter. I know first-hand how foolish and dangerous it is to drive under the influence and am most thankful that, as we understand it, no one was injured.

      "We will have further comment once we have been able to gather all of the relevant facts and speak with the player."

      Kang, 29, batted .255 with 21 homers in 103 games last season, the second of a four-year deal.

      According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Kang was released after being charged. Biertempfel also reported Kang's blood-alcohol content was .084 according to the police report. The legal limit is South Korea is 0.05. Penalty for DUI can be a fine and three years in jail.

      This is the second major legal issue Kang dealt with recently. During the 2016 season, Kang was investigated by the Chicago Police Department for allegations of sexual assault.