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Friday, February 15, 2019

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Adam Wainwright predicts MLB strike, fears players walking out midseason

Bryce Harper

MLB owners appear to once again be taking a stand this offseason against handing out massive long-term contracts to star free agents, and one veteran player is convinced the practice is going to eventually result in a work stoppage.

Longtime St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainright said Friday that he is “100 percent” certain there is going to be a strike if MLB owners don’t show more of a willingness to pay players. The 37-year-old said he’s concerned it could happen in the middle of a season.

Wainwright went on to criticize owners for placing too much emphasis on analytics and placing everything in a “sabermetric box” without taking intangibles into consideration.

The biggest issue, of course, is whether or not team owners are working together to keep the price of free agents down. That would be collusion, which is illegal. However, there’s a good chance officials have simply realized there’s no need to be paying a player like Albert Pujols $28 million when he’s 39 and batting .245.

Wainwright is not the only veteran player who has gone off about free agency recently, but it doesn’t seem like a change is coming anytime soon. In all likelihood, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are going to get less money than they were seeking. While that could be the result of collusion, it could also be that teams are getting wiser.

Antonio Brown ‘likes’ tweets about Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault allegations

Ben Roethlisberger

Antonio Brown may have given a sign on Friday that he is open to smoothing things over with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his social media activity still says otherwise.

When Brown essentially abandoned the Steelers during the final week of the regular season, a report claimed he had an ugly altercation with Ben Roethlisberger before he left the team. If that wasn’t evidence enough that the relationship between Brown and Roethlisberger is strained, perhaps Brown “liking” two tweets about the sexual assault allegations against Big Ben will be.

It seems like Brown was just trying to point out that there is a double standard with how Steelers fans view players, but it says a lot that he called attention to the allegations against Roethlisberger. Though Roethlisberger has tried to downplay the issues between the two recently, he can’t be happy about that.

Brown has reportedly agreed to meet with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, but it still seems unlikely that he will remain with the team in 2019. The tweet he sent earlier in the week was fairly straightforward, and subtly calling out Roethlisberger is just further evidence that he’s not on good terms with his teammates.

Antonio Brown reportedly agrees to meet with Steelers owner

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown publicly said farewell to Pittsburgh Steelers fans on social media earlier this week, but there seems to be at least a small chance he could remain with the team in 2019.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Friday that Steelers owner Art Rooney II has been hoping to meet with Brown in an attempt to clear the air. While Rooney initially had no luck getting Brown to agree to have a conversation, the star wide receiver is now apparently planning to sit down with him.

While that does not necessarily mean Brown and the Steelers will be able to smooth things over, it is certainly a start.

Some comments Rooney made earlier this offseason seemed to indicate he did not want Brown back in 2019, but those were made immediately after Brown went AWOL on the team in the final week of the season. Things may have changed with the parties having time to cool down.

If nothing else, the Steelers don’t want to appear desperate to trade Brown. That decreases the Pro Bowler’s value, as interested teams know it is only a matter of time before Pittsburgh is forced to pull the trigger on a deal. Things can change in a hurry in the NFL, but Las Vegas odds on where Brown is likely to end up at the start of the 2019 season say an awful lot. Brown could just be taking the meeting with Rooney out of respect for the owner.

Report: Ex-Cavs GM David Griffin among candidates for Pelicans

David Griffin

The New Orleans Pelicans are searching for a new general manager in the wake of their decision to move on from Dell Demps on Friday, and one name that has already emerged as a possible replacement is David Griffin.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Griffin is one of the “preliminary possible candidates” that Gayle Benson and the Pelicans’ ownership group is considering.

Griffin served as the GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014 to 2017 and helped build a championship team around LeBron James in 2016. He has been linked to some other GM vacancies since the Cavs let him go, but he has yet to take another job.

Wojnarowski was told by sources that Benson wants to “take back control from outside forces,” feeling that there has been an effort from the outside to push Anthony Davis to one of his preferred trade destinations. The Pelicans are looking for a top basketball executive who can take control of what has become an ugly situation since Davis publicly requested a trade.

Davis left the arena during Thursday night’s game after suffering an injury, and it sounds like that was a contributing factor in the Pelicans making a major organizational change.

Steelers owner reportedly wants to meet with Antonio Brown to clear air

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown made it clear earlier this week that he has no intention of playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers next season, but the team may not be giving up hope that the ugly situation can be sorted out.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Steelers owner Art Rooney II has been hoping to meet with Brown at some point in an attempt to clear the air. However, the star wide receiver has not shown a willingness to have such a conversation.

Brown remains under contract with the Steelers, but he wants to be traded. While Rooney all but confirmed earlier this offseason that it would be difficult to envision Brown remaining in Pittsburgh next season, it appears he has changed his mind.

If nothing else, the Steelers don’t want to appear desperate to trade Brown. That decreases the Pro Bowler’s value, as interested teams know it is only a matter of time before Pittsburgh is forced to pull the trigger on a deal. Things can change in a hurry in the NFL, but Las Vegas odds on where Brown is likely to end up at the start of the 2019 season say an awful lot. Brown seems like he has made up his mind.

Report: Pelicans were ‘livid’ with Anthony Davis for leaving arena after injury

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis was spotted leaving the Smoothie King Arena on Thursday night after he suffered a shoulder injury in the team’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that may have indirectly contributed to general manager Dell Demps losing his job.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that the Pelicans’ ownership group was “livid” over Davis walking out. They feel the situation with the star big man has gotten out of hand, and they want a new general manager who can take back control.

Interestingly enough, Wojnarowski added that Gayle Benson and the Pelicans’ owners have been pleased with the way head coach Alvin Gentry and his staff have handled the team in the wake of Davis’ public trade request.

Davis appeared to suffer the shoulder injury just before halftime while attempting to block a Nerlens Noel shot. The Pelicans quickly announced him as out for the remainder of the game. Davis also recently suffered a finger injury and wanted to play through it, and the Pelicans reportedly wanted to sit him but faced fines from the NBA if they went that route. Since he returned from the finger injury, Davis has not played his usual amount of minutes or been as effective.

It’s no surprise that the Pelicans are trying to make organizational changes, especially when you consider the way Gentry described the team’s current situation on Thursday.

Pelicans reportedly part ways with GM Dell Demps

new orleans pelicans logo

The New Orleans Pelicans have a huge offseason coming up as they try to find a way to sort out the Anthony Davis situation, and they will not be asking general manager Dell Demps to help with that anymore.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that the Pelicans have decided to part ways with Demps.

Davis publicly requested a trade prior to the deadline earlier this month, and the Pelicans ended up not fulfilling his request. It makes sense for them to wait until the offseason when the Boston Celtics can get in on the bidding, but perhaps they feel Demps has not done a great job of handling the situation.

We know Lakers executive Magic Johnson was critical of the way the Pelicans handled trade talks surrounding Davis, and New Orleans’ ownership might agree with him.

Luis Severino, Yankees avoid arbitration with new four-year contract

Luis Severino

The New York Yankees and Luis Severino had an arbitration hearing scheduled for later this month to determine the star pitcher’s salary for 2019, but that will no longer be necessary.

According to numerous reports, the Yankees have signed Severino to a four-year, $40 million extension. The deal includes a team option for a fifth season.

Severino has been the Yankees’ best pitcher over the past two seasons and is poised to be the ace of their staff for years to come. He went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA last year. The deal he signed with New York is very similar to the one Aaron Nola got from the Philadelphia Phillies this week that also allowed him to avoid arbitration.

While he faded down the stretch a bit last year following the All-Star break, Severino has reportedly taken steps this offseason to assure that does not happen again in 2019.