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Friday, January 18, 2019

Baseball

Kris Bryant: Bryce Harper will not join Cubs

Kris Bryant

While it was not exactly a secret, one of Bryce Harper’s closest friends in baseball made it pretty clear that the two wouldn’t be playing together next season.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said Harper wouldn’t be signing with the Chicago Cubs this offseason despite some rumors during 2018 that such a union was on the table.

Bryant and Harper grew up in Las Vegas together and played on the same Little League team, sparking rumors that the two would like to pair up. That may be true, but Bryant would know if Harper was coming, and he’s ruled it out just as definitively as his manager has. Harper’s ultimate destination remains a mystery, but the Cubs appear to be completely out.

Evan Longoria rips teams for not spending big on free agents again

Evan Longoria

For the second consecutive year, MLB teams seem to be taking somewhat of a stand against shelling out massive contracts for the game’s biggest stars. Evan Longoria is the latest to speak out about the approach teams have been using in free agency.

With Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and other star players seemingly not all those close to signing deals, Longoria took to Instagram on Friday to blast the way teams have used analytical tools to “devalue players.” He included photos of Machado, Harper, Dallas Keuechel and Craig Kimbrel.

“We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame,” Longoria wrote. “It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.”

There have been reports that Harper has been offered somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million, so you can’t really criticize teams for not giving him the $350 million he is seeking. Still, it seems like there are not many legitimate suitors for the game’s top free agents, as teams are opting to trim payroll and remain below the luxury tax. Machado’s market could be evidence of that, as he has reportedly not been offered anything close to the money he is seeking.

The MLB Players Association unloaded on teams last year for their refusal to spend money, but it does not seem like a whole lot has changed. You can understand why players like Longoria are concerned about the trend.

Report: Reds making progress in Sonny Gray trade talks

Sonny Gray

The Cincinnati Reds look to be the strongest suitor for New York Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Reds are “making progress” in discussions to acquire Gray from the Yankees.

Gray trade talks had quieted down a bit before a recent resurgence, with the Reds most prominently linked. A lot of teams have been involved in the discussions, but Cincinnati looks to be the frontrunners. It makes sense, as they’ve been linked to a lot of starting pitchers this offseason.

Once touted as a future star for the Oakland Athletics, a move to New York never really agreed with Gray. He’s coming off a season that saw him post a 4.90 ERA and lose his spot in the rotation, so he’ll be hoping that any trade helps revitalize a once-promising career.

Manny Machado’s father claims these four teams have made offers to slugger

Manny Machado

There has been a lot of information leaking out in recent days about Manny Machado and the offers he has or hasn’t received, and it should come as no surprise that the slugger’s father says numerous teams are trying to sign his son.

In an interview with Dominican reporter Hector Gomez on Friday, Machado’s father Manuel said Manny has outstanding offers from four different teams, and at least one of them will surprise you.

Manuel added that where Manny ends up could surprise people.

Several reports have claimed the White Sox made Machado an offer, though there are plenty of questions about the dollar amount. The Phillies are also said to be intent on signing either Machado or Bryce Harper, so they may have extended a formal offer. However, Jon Heyman of Fancred says neither the Yankees or the Dodgers have made one.

There have been reports that Machado would prefer to sign with the Yankees, so they are probably waiting things out to see how the market unfolds. As for the Dodgers, Machado already seemed to bid farewell to them in a social media post, and there has been zero indication that they are interested in bringing him back.

Of course, anything Machado’s father says about the market for his son can be taken with a grain of salt. We saw by the way Machado’s agent slammed some recent reporting that the All-Star’s camp is not happy with the information floating around, and his father is part of that camp.

Chris Archer: Cheaters don’t deserve to be in Hall of Fame

Chris Archer

With the results of the latest round of Baseball Hall of Fame voting set to be released next week, the annual debate about whether or not performance-enhancing drug users should be allowed in Cooperstown is once again simmering. One starting pitcher wants to make his stance on the subject very clear.

On Thursday, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chris Archer said any player who has been suspended for or admitted to using PEDs should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame since they are proven to have “disgraced the integrity of the game.”

Archer certainly is not alone in that stance. However, the issue is a lot more complicated than he makes it sound. The two biggest names to watch once again this year are Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, both of whom are on their seventh ballot. Both players have strong ties to steroids, but — unlike nominees Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejada — neither has admitted to using them or been suspended for it. Does that mean they should be in the Hall?

We already know how Bonds feels about his own Hall of Fame candidacy, and Clemens once called out the supposed hypocrisy of a fellow star pitcher who urged voters to keep him out of Cooperstown.

Bonds and Clemens both received their highest vote percentage in six years last year, with the former getting 56.4 percent and the latter 57.3 percent. A total of at least 75 percent of the vote is needed to get into the Hall.

10 best bargains remaining in MLB free agency

Even in mid-January, it’s not too late to find a good bargain in Major League Baseball free agency. Plenty of players who have signed late and cheap have become hugely effective pieces of contenders, or turned into valuable trade bait for a non-contender come July. You just have to know where to look and what to look for.

Here are 10 players who could prove to be really good bargains, and are still available for all 30 teams to sign.

10) Mike Moustakas, 3B

Moustakas has a skillset that doesn’t really match the modern times — low average, low on-base percentage, and power. He may not be the poster child for this era, but there are plenty of teams who could use a power-hitting third baseman who plays a competent hot corner. Moustakas is a career .251 hitter who has hit at least 25 home runs in each of his last three seasons, and he has ample postseason experience as well. A team may be able to get nice value on him at this point. A few clubs of note are keeping tabs on him.

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Report: Angels, Cody Allen agree to 1-year deal

Angels logo

The Los Angeles Angels were looking for bullpen help and appear to have found some.

The Angels and relief pitcher Cody Allen have agreed to a 1-year deal, according to Ken Rosenthal.

Allen was one of many top relievers available in a deep market that also included the likes of Andrew Miller, Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton and David Robertson. Rosenthal says he was looking for an opportunity to close, and the Angels should provide that.

The Angels saw multiple relievers close games last year after Keynan Middelton got injured. Blake Parker, who had 14 saves, was non-tendered by the team and signed with the Twins, leaving an opening for who would handle save chances.

Allen, 30, has been the Indians’ closer the past five seasons. He has a career 2.99 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.