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Monday, July 15, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Report: Yankees sent scout to watch Syndergaard start

The New York Yankees are doing their due diligence on starting pitchers, even the ones who look unattainable.

The Yankees had a scout in Miami to watch Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard’s start on Saturday, according to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. It’s also noted that they were far from the only team to be keeping an eye on the hard-throwing right-hander roughly two weeks ahead of the MLB trade deadline.

It’s no secret that the Yankees need starting pitching, and if available, Syndergaard would be one of the best on the market. The Mets have said they won’t be trading him, and they have no real incentive to unless they’re blown away by an offer.

Syndergaard has not been at his best in 2019, posting a 4.55 ERA in 18 starts. There was some chatter of a potential trade between the two teams during the offseason, but it went nowhere.

Mike Moustakas explains why he declined Home Run Derby invite

Mike Moustakas

When Christian Yelich had to pull out of the Home Run Derby with a minor injury, some felt that teammate Mike Moustakas and his 25 home runs were a natural fit. Moustakas has plenty of power, and it would ensure that Milwaukee Brewer fans still had someone to root for in the contest.

Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman got the nod instead, however. It wasn’t because Moustakas wasn’t asked — it was because he declined.

“I just wanted to go and enjoy my time,” Moustakas said, via Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “I got to sit there and watch the Home Run Derby with my daughter. I did it in Miami and I felt like one was good for me. It was fun, but it was a lot going on. Everybody in the clubhouse wanted me to do it. It would have been fun, but I didn’t really feel like doing it.”

MLB hoped that adding a $1 million prize would entice more players to participate in the derby, and they got quite the show. However, Moustakas brings up another factor that works against some players participating — if you’re not already an All-Star, you have to cancel a midseason vacation to compete. There are the old worries about messing up a swing, but Moustakas has a relevant point too.

Rays want to ‘responsibly’ add players at trade deadline

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays are genuine playoff contenders, but are working on a smaller budget and don’t want to sell the farm. Still, they’ll be looking to add over the next two and a half weeks.

Rays senior vice president Chaim Bloom said Saturday that the team wants to “responsibly” improve the current team, feeling that the players have performed well enough that they’re owed reinforcements.

“What we think of this group and the way they’ve played so far it certainly motivates us to want to help them out however we can,” Bloom said, via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “We want to make sure we do that responsibly, that we’re staying true to our goal of competing sustainably and be able to do this consistently over a number of years. Anything we can do to help them out is something we’re certainly going to look at.”

In other words, the Rays are cautious buyers. That makes their plan similar to that of the Cincinnati Reds. At 54-40, the Rays are wild card leaders, though the Yankees’ dominance may be too much to overcome in the AL East. Given that they start the second half in a playoff spot, upgrades are worthwhile.

Report: Thunder open to keeping Chris Paul

Chris Paul Rockets

While Chris Paul has been frequently linked with a move away from Oklahoma City, there are also indications that the Thunder would be comfortable keeping the newly-acquired guard.

According to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report, the Thunder would have no problem keeping Paul on board if they can’t find a trade partner and Paul is willing to stay. While his deal is bloated with three years and $124 million remaining, that is still a year less than Russell Westbrook had left.

Paul’s willingness to stay remains somewhat of a question. The 34-year-old has never even played in the NBA Finals, and is running out oftime to find that elusive championship. The reality is that Paul just doesn’t have a ton of potential takers thanks to his contract unless Oklahoma City is willing to sweeten the pot by adding assets, and he may have to settle for playing on a non-contending Thunder team for at least one season.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on IL with back strain

Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer’s minor back issue just keeps lingering, and now it’s landed the ace on the injured list.

The Washington Nationals placed Scherzer on the 10-day IL Saturday with a mid-back strain. The move is retroactive to July 10, meaning Scherzer could be activated in a week.

Originally, Scherzer opted to skip the All-Star game but didn’t think he’d miss a start. That changed on Friday when he was scratched from his scheduled Sunday start. The hope was that he could go Tuesday, but that won’t happen either. Washington will hope that he’ll be ready to go against Atlanta next weekend.

Ben Simmons ‘doubtful’ to play for Australia this summer

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers will have a fresh Ben Simmons when the new season starts.

Simmons’ agent Rich Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Simmons is “doubtful” to play for Australia at the FIBA World Cup, meaning he will have a full summer to rest and prepare for the 2019-20 season.

This will be music to Philadelphia’s ears. The team has already made clear that Simmons is one of the players that they’ll be relying on to make big plays in big moments after Jimmy Butler’s departure, and to have Simmons free of international duty will make them quite happy.

Security guard will press charges against Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott

The security guard who was allegedly assaulted by Ezekiel Elliott will press charges against the Dallas Cowboys running back.

Kyle Johnson was allegedly bumped and shoved over a metal railing by Elliott during an incident in Las Vegas in May. The guard said he originally sought an apology and would have been satisfied with that. He claims he changed his mind after Elliott escaped punishment from the NFL. He also deemed Elliott’s apology to be insincere.

“To not have anything happen to him, the NFL is basically saying it’s okay to go to Vegas, get obliterated and shove people over fences,” Johnson told Enzo Marino of FOX 5 Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police will investigate the guard’s claims. If they deem there is enough evidence to charge Elliott, the Cowboys running back could be charged with battery.

You can judge for yourself the sincerity of Elliott’s apology, but it hasn’t been enough for Johnson. It remains to be seen whether new evidence will come to light as part of the investigation, and how the NFL would react if it did.

Anthony Davis found out about trade to Lakers on Instagram

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis learned an important lesson about declining his agent’s calls during the middle of trade season.

Davis was introduced as a Los Angeles Laker on Saturday, and admitted that he had found out about his trade on Instagram. Why? Because he was watching a movie when it went down and declined both of agent Rich Paul’s phone calls before realizing that something might have been going on.

The moral of the story is that if you know you’re probably going to be traded and your agent calls twice in a short time period, you should probably pick up once. He’s far from the first athlete to learn about his trade via social media, but in this instance, Davis doesn’t really have anyone to blame but himself. It makes for a great story, though.