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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Brewers reportedly in talks with Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned despite the MLB season set to begin in Japan, though there is a chance that could be changing.

Kimbrel is in talks with the Milwaukee Brewers, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray.

Kimbrel went 5-1 with 42 saves, putting up a 2.74 ERA last season for the Red Sox. The belief is that he has not been signed due to his contract demands. It’s unclear whether he would change his contract expectations with no team willing to pay what he was seeking.

The Brewers’ interest in Kimbrel makes sense. Jeremy Jeffress is beginning the season on the injured list due to a shoulder injury. He was brilliant as the team’s closer last season, and they know how crucial it is to have a strong 9th-inning option.

Doc Rivers ends Lakers speculation, affirms commitment to Clippers

Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers didn’t need long to end the rumors of him becoming the next Los Angeles Lakers head coach.

A day after veteran reporter Peter Vecsey sparked speculation about the Lakers potentially hiring Rivers, the Clippers head coach affirmed his commitment to his team.

Doc told reporters on Tuesday that he is “going nowhere,” and added that he has a new contract extension.

Rivers’ original deal apparently called for an opt out after this season, which the coach could have exercised to take another job if he wanted. That was scrapped as the two sides made a more solid commitment to each other.

It’s a smart move from the Clippers. Though Rivers was overwhelmed when he had to serve as both GM and head coach, having his focus limited to just coaching has helped him do an excellent job. He’s proving yet again what a good coach he is.

No, Angels were not trolling Phillies by serving cheesesteaks to media

The press food served by the Los Angeles Angels for their spring training game on Tuesday led to quite a reaction on social media.

The Angels served cheesesteaks in the press box for their game against the Colorado Rockies. Considering the meal was served on the same day the team reportedly signed Mike Trout to a huge contract extension, many thought it was a troll job against the Philadelphia Phillies.

As wonderful of a thought as that is to consider, reporter Jeff Fletcher shot it down, saying it was merely an amusing coincidence.

What had people thinking it was a troll job aimed at the Phillies? Trout is from Millville, New Jersey and grew up rooting for Philly sports teams. The Phillies were expected to make a major effort to sign Trout after the 2020 season, with Bryce Harper leading the recruitment effort.

All that interest from the Phillies probably helped drive up the price for Trout, who is now signed with the Angels for the next 12 seasons.

Clay Mathews signs two-year deal with Rams

Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews will be playing for a team other than the Green Bay Packers for the first time in his career.

Matthews is signing with the Los Angeles Rams, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. The deal is for two years and reportedly pays Matthews up to $16.75 million.

Rapoport had previously said that the Rams were a strong possibility as a landing spot for him.

Playing for the Rams will be a homecoming for Matthews, who grew up in Los Angeles and played college ball at USC. His high school, Agoura, and his offseason training facility in Westlake Village are very close to where the Rams practice, so he is extremely familiar with the surroundings.

Matthews, who turns 33 in May, had 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season. He proved adept at getting to the quarterback, though the league made an example out of him for his hits on the quarterback. Now that they have relaxed those rules, he could still be an effective pass-rusher. The Rams are betting that will be the case.

Vontaze Burfict signs with Raiders

Vontaze Burfict

The Oakland Raiders are going full-on bad-boy football in 2019.

The Raiders are signing Vontaze Burfict to a one-year deal, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport. Rapoport says the deal is worth around $5 million including incentives.

The deal came together quickly after Burfict was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday. Cincinnati had tried to trade him before releasing him, so teams probably knew he might hit the market and were prepared for that possibility.

There are risks for Oakland in making this deal. Not only does Burfict have a reputation for being one of the dirtiest players in the league, but his concussion history is a major concern. The 28-year-old linebacker has seven documented concussions in his career. He has not played in more than 11 games in a season since 2014.

In Oakland, Burfict will reunite with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.

Deontay Wilder chooses to fight Dominic Breazeale on Showtime, rejects DAZN

Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder announced details on Tuesday of his next fight, saying he will be facing WBC mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on May 18. The big revelation to come from his press conference on Tuesday was that the fight will be on Showtime and not on pay-per-view, which is a nice bonus for the fans.

Being able to watch Wilder’s fight without paying more than the price of a Showtime subscription is a plus for the fans. However, the deal is somewhat disappointing in general.

Wilder was in talks to face Tyson Fury in a rematch, but that fell through after Fury signed last month to fight under Top Rank on ESPN. He has gone back-and-forth with Anthony Joshua since last year, with the two sides unable to agree on a deal.

Joshua is signed to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and fights exclusively on DAZN. According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, DAZN made two multi-million dollar contract offers to Wilder to create a bout with Joshua, which Wilder rejected. The offers would have required three or four fight commitments.

Wilder says not locking himself into a deal so that he could maintain flexibility, and also fighting on networks with greater visibility than DAZN factored into his decision-making.

“The thing about having freedom is that it allows you to dictate your career,” Wilder said Tuesday. “When you sign with people, now they’re in control. We’ve seen many fighters get into situations with promoters and get put on the shelf. They have families they need to feed but they aren’t in control. You don’t want to be tied up for a long time.

“The more eyeballs, the better, especially because I give you your money’s worth. I’m the people’s champion. Some fail to realize that we have our own money, our own networks with a big audience, and a big stable of heavyweights. They always saying I’m stuck, what is my next move, but the question is, what are these other guys going to do? I’ve got a lot of options here with heavyweights at PBC.”

PBC is promoting Wilder’s fight with Breazeale, and their relationships are with Showtime and FOX. Breazeale is 20-1, with his lone loss coming against Joshua. Wilder really should be fighting Fury or Joshua.

Angels announce surprising Opening Day starter

Angels logo

If you’re wondering how the Los Angeles Angels have only made the playoffs once since Mike Trout’s been on the team, look no further than this.

The Angels’ Opening Day starter for the season was announced on Tuesday, and it will be Trevor Cahill.

Cahill was signed by the team in December to a one-year, $9 million deal. The 31-year-old is coming off a season where he went 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 110 innings for the Oakland A’s.

Though Cahill is a solid enough pitcher, your roster is in bad shape if he’s your No. 1 guy, and that’s where the Angels are.

Shohei Ohtani is recovering from Tommy John surgery, otherwise he’d be their best pitcher. Tyler Skaggs is dealing with a forearm injury, though he’s still expected to begin the season in the rotation. Andrew Heaney also has an arm injury and will begin the season on the injured list. New signing Matt Harvey, Felix Pena, and Jamie Baria are their other starters.

The team’s pitching has not been solid — let alone good — since 2015. Locking up Mike Trout is great news that brings relief to the franchise over concerns he would leave. Putting together a much better team around him remains the real challenge.

Stephen A. Smith goofs again, thinks Mike Scioscia still manages Angels

Stephen A Smith

Stephen A. Smith was at it again making yet another mistake that brings his credibility into question.

Smith was interviewing ESPN baseball reporter Jeff Passan for his radio show on Tuesday and talked about the Mike Trout contract. Smith asked Passan whether the big deal for Trout puts more pressure on manager Mike Scioscia.

There’s only one issue: the Angels parted ways with Scioscia and replaced him with Brad Ausmus. Passan had to gently break that to Smith.

That’s a bad look for Smith. Yes, there are plenty of managerial changes that happen each offseason and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with them, but it shows a lack of preparation.

To me, this is a manifestation of someone who is spread too thin being asked to cover subject matters where they’re weak. That’s how we had the embarrassing mistake with Smith and the Chargers during the fall.

Yu Darvish exits spring training start with blister on finger

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish has encountered a minor injury issue as the season emerges.

Darvish left his spring training start on Tuesday with a blister on his right ring finger, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales.

Darvish had gone 4.2 innings allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits, two walks and six strikeouts prior to exiting the Cubs’ split squad game against the Mariners. The 32-year-old has been mostly solid this spring, posting a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings.

Darvish is entering the second season of a 6-year, $125 million contract with the Cubs. He only pitched 40 disappointing innings last season due to arm injuries and is looking to make up for it this year. Dealing with a blister will not be an easy way to begin the season.

Cowboys overspend for name value with WR Randall Cobb

The Dallas Cowboys are signing wide receiver Randall Cobb, and they appear to be overpaying for him.

Cobb is getting a one-year, $5 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He should fit in as Dallas’ slot receiver, replacing Cole Beasley.

Though Cobb has a big name, we’re not overwhelmed by this deal for Dallas.

Cobb is 28 and well removed from his best seasons. His 91-catch, 1,287-yard season with 12 touchdowns came in 2014. He hasn’t really come close to duplicating that since. In fact, he hasn’t topped 653 yards and 4 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

The Cowboys’ receiver corps include Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Tavon Austin, in addition to Cobb. They should be productive now that they have a legitimate No. 1 in Cooper. Cobb just doesn’t seem to be worth the big money.