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Friday, January 18, 2019

Baseball

Former World Series MVP arrested on suspicion of child sex abuse

Former MLB relief pitcher John Wetteland was arrested on Monday and is facing an extremely disturbing charge.

According to TMZ, Wetteland was booked on suspicion of child sex abuse. While very few details about the incident are known, the charge specifies that the victim is under 14 years of age. Wetteland was released on $25,000 bond.

Wetteland spent time with the Dodgers, Expos, Yankees and Rangers during his MLB career. He was one of the best relievers in baseball in the 1990s and was named the MVP of the 1996 World Series after he allowed just one run in five appearances. The 52-year-old finished with a career ERA of 2.93 and 330 saves, making him one of only 29 pitchers to save 300 or more games.

Tim Tebow invited to Mets’ major league spring training

Tim Tebow Mets

Tim Tebow will have a chance to show what he can do against big leaguers in spring training.

The New York Mets announced on Thursday that they have invited 13 minor leaguers to their Major League spring training. Tebow is part of that group.

Tebow is entering his third season in pro ball. He played 84 games with Double-A Binghampton last season and batted .273 with a .735 OPS. Though his numbers are more than respectable, especially for a player who hadn’t played baseball in around a decade, they’re not the kind of numbers that scream MLB prospect.

Still, Tebow is a former client of new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, who has said that Tebow making the MLB roster is a possibility.

Phillies reportedly confident they will sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado

Bryce Harper

The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to spend big this offseason and have been linked to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and it sounds like they would be greatly disappointed if they somehow came away with neither free agent slugger.

Sources told Matt Gelb of The Athletic that the Phillies are willing to be patient with Harper and Machado and have “gained confidence” they will be able to sign one of the two. They are reportedly comfortable with not being overly aggressive because it has seemingly become clear that there are not many competitors who are set on landing Harper and/or Machado. As Gelb phrased it, there is “increasing skepticism about how this can unfold without the Phillies somehow involved.”

There have been rumblings that the Phillies are higher on Harper than Machado, but they continue to pursue both players so they can maintain leverage with their agents. In other words, they want to be able to tell both Harper and Machado that they are not desperate to sign one of them when they can just as easily end up with the other. However, Gelb reports that they have made it clear during negotiations that they have no intentions of signing both players.

Of course, Philly’s reported approach comes with some risk. If they would consider their offseason a failure without signing Harper or Machado, that means they do not want to miss out on both. Any one or two teams like the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees or Washington Nationals could turn up their pursuit of either star player at any moment, and the Phillies could suddenly be left having to overspend. They could also miss out if one or both players chose to take less money to sign elsewhere, though that seems more likely with Machado and one particular team than it does with Harper, who is a Scott Boras client.

The White Sox are either not legitimately interested in Machado or are opting to slow-play the situation, but things have a tendency to fall into place quickly during the MLB offseason. When one of Harper or Machado signs, the other could be right behind him. That is something the Phillies are undoubtedly taking into consideration.

Giants reportedly in trade mix for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

The New York Yankees are looking to trade Sonny Gray, and a new suitor in the market has emerged.

According to FanCred’s Jon Heyman, the San Francisco Giants are interested in trading for the pitcher.

Gray, 29, agreed to a $7.5 million salary for 2019 with the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers acquired him in a trade in 2017, but he has not performed well for them. Still, plenty of teams believe he can get back to his Oakland A’s form if he finds a new team.

Gray went 44-36 with a 3.42 ERA in parts of five seasons for the A’s. He was 15-16 with a 4.51 ERA in his two seasons with the Yankees.

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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Alex Cora promises even more special season ahead for Red Sox

Alex Cora

The 2018 Boston Red Sox put together one of the best seasons in recent MLB history. Alex Cora is promising even bigger things for an encore.

Cora attended the Boston Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner on Thursday night to accept the Manager of the Year Award. During his speech, he said this year will be even more special than last year.

The 2018 Red Sox won 108 regular season games, then demolished the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers in the playoffs. The former two were both 100-plus win teams, while the Dodgers were buoyed by one of the deepest payrolls and most talented rosters. Yet Boston mowed through them as part of their historic season.

What would an encore look like? 115 wins? Going through the postseason without losing a game? Topping this would not be easy.

Report: Mike Trout contract extension now with Angels is unlikely

Mike Trout

The Los Angeles Angels are not just worried about trying to win, they’re also concerned about the situation surrounding Mike Trout.

Their standout center fielder is signed through the 2020 season and set to become a free agent after that. Talking in the context of the Philadelphia Phillies’ plans, MLB reporter Jon Heyman said on Tuesday that the Phillies will make a big play for Trout when he becomes a free agent. He added a significant note in his tweet, saying an “extension now is unlikely” for Trout.

There was talk during last season that the Angels would try to sign Trout long term, so maybe there is no movement on that front.

You can’t really blame Trout.

The Angels have missed the playoffs four years in a row and have only reached them once in his career. They need to show a major turnaround to convince Trout to stay. Luckily they have some time to do that, though the clock is ticking.