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Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Gio Gonzalez says offer from Yankees was only one he received

Gio Gonzalez Max Scherzer

Gio Gonzalez made a somewhat surprising decision to sign a minor league contract with the New York Yankees earlier this week, but the left-hander really didn’t have another option. As in, there were no other offers.

Gonzalez told reporters on Wednesday that the only offer he received this offseason came from the Yankees.

That explains why Gonzalez waited until there was less than two weeks until Opening Day to sign with a team. The original belief was that the 33-year-old did not receive any offers that were to his liking, but apparently he received no offers at all.

Gonzalez went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.44 WHIP last season, though he seemed revitalized by a late-season trade from the Washington Nationals to Milwaukee. He posted a 2.13 ERA in five starts with the Brewers to close out the year. Gonzalez’s deal with the Yankees includes an opt out on April 20, but he may find a spot on the major league roster if he can get up to speed quickly, as Luis Severino is recovering from an injury.

Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Mike Trout’s massive extension

Bryce Harper Phillies

You would think Bryce Harper might be jealous of the fact that Mike Trout has agreed to an extension with the Angels that will pay him a whopping $100 million more than what Harper got from the Phillies, but the man who had a record contract for less than a month insists that is not the case.

Harper told reporters on Wednesday that he is “very happy” for Trout and told him previously that he hoped his contract blew Harper’s away. He also said he is excited to see what Trout’s $430 million deal means for future star free agents like Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge.

If teams felt Harper was worth as much as Trout, he would have gotten offers that were a lot higher than the 13-year, $330 million deal he signed with Philadelphia. In reality, the Angels probably overpaid to keep Trout, as they were clearly willing to do whatever was necessary to keep him in LA.

By the numbers, Betts can make the argument that he is closer to Trout than he is to Harper. He has already turned down at least one extension offer from the Red Sox, and he said this week that he fully expects to become a free agent after the 2020 season.

Folks on Twitter had quite a bit of fun at Harper’s expense after news of Trout’s contract broke, but you can only be so upset when you just inked a deal that will pay you $330 million guaranteed. Even if Harper is feeling sorry for himself, he’s smart not to say it.

Report: Robert Kraft will not accept plea deal offered in prostitution case

Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft and other defendants who were charged as part of a prostitution sting in Florida were offered a deal this week that would allow them to avoid being prosecuted, but the New England Patriots owner is reportedly not planning to accept it.

According to Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal, prosecutors offered to drop the charges against Kraft and the other defendants in the case if they admit guilt and meet some other conditions. A source told CNN on Wednesday that Kraft is not taking the deal.

Kraft has already pleaded not guilty to two charges of solicitation of prostitution. An admission of guilt would almost certainly result in the NFL taking disciplinary action against the 77-year-old, but that seems likely to happen regardless of how the case turns out.

While Kraft’s reputation has already taken a hit, his arrest came as part of an investigation into sex trafficking. All indications at this point have been that he had nothing to do with that aspect of the case, so he may feel his powerful legal team can fight the charges and win. Prosecutors say they have strong video evidence that will be difficult to dispute, but Kraft’s lawyers will likely look to exploit any loophole or procedural error they can in an attempt to have the charges thrown out.

Mookie Betts does not expect extension with Red Sox before free agency

Mookie Betts

The massive contract extension Mike Trout agreed to with the Los Angeles Angels this week should be outstanding news for Mookie Betts, but Boston Red Sox fans are right to be concerned that it will make keeping their MVP that much more difficult.

It seemed like the market for Betts was set when Bryce Harper signed his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but Trout’s $430 million contract blows that out of the water. Betts is eligible to become a free agent after the 2020 season, and he said Wednesday that he does not envision signing an extension with the Red Sox prior to that.

Betts added that he is not concerned about the “economics of the game” and is only focused on winning another World Series, but the comments are telling. The star outfielder is more than a year younger than Trout and has a career average of .303. He’s coming off an MVP season in which he hit .346 with 32 home runs, 80 RBI, a 1.078 OPS and 30 stolen bases. Betts also won his second Gold Glove.

Like Trout, Betts is the whole package. While a $430 million contract may not be realistic, there’s no reason he can’t aim for a deal that falls somewhere between the one Harper got and the one Trout has agreed to. While Betts doesn’t quite have the body of work that Trout has, he accomplished an incredibly rare feat last season and is getting better by the day. The Red Sox might regret not signing him to a long-term deal sooner.

Watch: Yasiel Puig makes most casual catch ever

It may only be spring training, but Yasiel Puig appears to have his defensive alignment exactly where it needs to be for Opening Day.

During Tuesday’s exhibition game between the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, Puig made one of the most casual catches you will ever see in the outfield. He happened to be positioned perfectly on a fly ball to right, and he literally didn’t move a muscle until just before the ball was in his glove.

Puig had some forgettable moments in the outfield over the years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and some will say his catch on Tuesday was another example of his lack of focus and nonchalant attitude. We say if you’re standing in exactly the right spot, why bother moving? Sometimes things just work out perfectly.

10 March Madness players who can carry their team to a championship

Zion Williamson

An NCAA Tournament winner oftentimes gets to the promised land because one star player takes over their March run. Sometimes it’s an unlikely candidate — we see you, Donte DiVincenzo — but usually it’s a star player carrying the team.

Every title contender has a player who can, and perhaps needs to, do it for them. Here is a look at ten of those players.

10) Jordan Poole, Michigan

Michigan profiles as a strong defensive team that doesn’t rely on one primary scorer. While they’re not bad offensively, they’re not elite either. When Poole performs, however, they go from a decent offensive team to a very good one. When he’s hitting consistently from deep, the Wolverines are exceptionally difficult to beat, and it opens up the floor for his teammates. Last March, Poole hit one of the most memorable shots of the tournament. If he can hit a few more from deep, Michigan bears watching.


Shaka Smart acknowledges he is on hot seat at Texas

It has been nearly four years since Texas hired Shaka Smart in hopes of returning the program to the level of success it enjoyed early in the Rick Barnes era, but that simply has not happened. With the Longhorns having missed the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, Smart seems to understand his days at Texas could be numbered.

While speaking with reporters on Tuesday evening, Smart admitted the seat underneath him feels rather warm these days.

Texas has not won 20 or more games in a season since Smart took over in 2015. He has an overall record of 66-66 with the team and has not advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Those obviously aren’t the results administrators were hoping for when they hired Smart away from VCU.

Smart’s contract at Texas runs through the 2022-23 season, and it sounds like it would cost the school a lot of money to fire him. He has reportedly turned away interest from other top programs in recent years, but a 16-16 season isn’t going to impress anyone. That includes Smart’s bosses.

10 best remaining NFL free agents

Ndamukong Suh

After the initial rush of NFL free agency, it turns out there are still plenty of good players available. Sure, they all have flaws, be it age, a part of their game that’s not quite as prominent as teams would like it to be, or an extensive injury history that has teams questioning whether they can stay on the field. But all of these players have had success at the NFL level and can be key contributors in the right situation if they stay healthy and find the right fit.

Here are ten NFL free agents who rank as the best still available.

10) Darqueze Dennard, CB

A slot corner turned starter for Cincinnati last season, Dennard grew into his role in the Bengals’ secondary during his time with the team. Ultimately, his financial demands forced the pair to go their separate ways this offseason. The slot corner market has been robust, and Dennard figures to play heavily into it. There are injury concerns here — Dennard has just one 16-game season to his name in his NFL career thus far — but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a worthwhile investment for someone.


Capitals’ Brett Connolly declining visit to White House

Washington Capitals logo

Brett Connolly will not be joining his Washington Capitals teammates when they visit the White House on Monday.

The Caps are set to visit the White House to be honored for winning the Stanley Cup last year. When the subject first arose last year, Connolly and teammate Devante Smith-Pelly said they would not be going. Smith-Pelly, who is black, is now in the AHL, but Connolly is maintaining his position.

Russian-born Caps star Alex Ovechkin said he would be going. He is a big supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of helping Donald Trump win the presidential election in the US.

The Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history by beating Vegas in the finals last year. Their visit will continue the tradition of Stanley Cup champs being honored by the current president. The Philadelphia Eagles and Golden State Warriors are recent champions that did not visit the White House.

Alex Bregman, Astros agree to 6-year, $100 million contract

Alex Bregman

Alex Bregman is receiving some well-deserved financial security from the Houston Astros.

Bregman has agreed to a six-year, $100 million deal with Houston, as first reported by FOX 26’s Mark Berman.

The six-year deal covers the current season, Bregman’s three arbitration years, and two free agency seasons. The benefits for the Astros are that they get Bregman for his first two free agency seasons and will not have to go to arbitration with him. The benefit for Bregman is locking up financial security at a time when the team only had to pay him around $600,000 for the upcoming season.

Bregman, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2015, is on an excellent trajectory. He played well in 49 games in 2016, even better during his first full season in 2017, where he won the World Series, and he continued his improvement last season. He led the league with 51 doubles, added 31 homers, posted a .926 OPS, and continued to play excellent defense.