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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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Yasiel Puig is a logical trade candidate for Dodgers

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig seems like a logical trade candidate for the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason.

The Dodgers are aiming to stay below the luxury tax in 2019 and beyond, according to a report based on financial documents intended for investors that the Los Angeles Times published about last week. The same document said the Dodgers were aiming to have their payroll at $185 million for 2019.

The Dodgers’ 2019 payroll is projected as $180.5 million by Baseball-Reference.com. That figure is now bumped up to over $198 million after Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted his $17.9 million qualifying offer. The move leaves the Dodgers with very little payroll flexibility to add players if the team is intending to stick to the reported budget. One way to create some space would be by trading away players set to make good chunks of money this season. And that’s where Puig comes in.

Puig is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn around $11 million in his final year of arbitration. When you combine the Dodgers’ surplus of outfielders with their need to add other players, such as bullpen help and possibly a catcher to replace Yasmani Grandal, a trade of Puig would make sense.

The Dodgers have Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Matt Kemp, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor who can all play the outfield, in addition to Puig. Pederson, Hernandez and Taylor are all arbitration players who are projected to make around $10 million combined next year, while Bellinger is not even arbitration eligible yet and will be making even less. Kemp’s salary is $21.75 million, so he wouldn’t be attractive as a trade piece. But Puig at $11 million would be.

The Dodgers seem to have already shown a willingness to part with Puig after offering him for Bryce Harper twice last season. Don’t be surprised if they decide to trade him this offseason, despite his status as a fan favorite.

Report: Kevin Durant’s free agency is ‘simmering’ issue with Warriors

Kevin Durant Warriors

Kevin Durant’s impending free agency is an issue that has been “simmering” among the Golden State Warriors, according to a report.

Draymond Green and Durant got into a heated locker room exchange after Monday night’s overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant, and others, were upset with Green for not passing the ball on the final play of regulation, which sent the game to overtime.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Green challenged Durant about his impending free agency. Charania says Durant’s free agency has been a “simmering” issue for the team.

Durant signed a one-year deal with the Warriors that gave them financial flexibility for the season. However, that also means he is not committed to the team beyond the season, despite having a $31.5 million player option for next year.

There has been speculation that Durant could leave for another team and new challenge after the season, especially since he’s already won two championships with Golden State and could get a third this year. There was talk about him potentially joining LeBron in Los Angeles. There has even been talk of another seemingly even more improbable team.

Urban Meyer responds to latest disturbing allegations against Ohio State

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer has once again found himself on the defensive in the wake of a report that includes disturbing allegations against the Ohio State football program, and he is responding in familiar fashion.

LeBron Grimes, the father of former Ohio State wide receiver Trevon Grimes, told Brett McMurphy of WatchStadium that his son transferred to Florida following an altercation with former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith, during which LeBron says Smith called his son the N-word. Ohio State confirmed that there was an “interaction” between Smith and Grimes but said there was no racist language used. Both Meyer and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith have vehemently denied that the incident took place.

McMurphy’s report also outlines how Grimes was declared eligible to play immediately at Florida, which was by way of a hardship waiver because his mother, Leah, was diagnosed with an illness. Details were shared about how Meyer and some Ohio State players and staffers flew to Florida last year to meet with Grimes and his mother. LeBron said the meeting had to do with Ohio State trying to keep Trevon quiet about the incident with Smith, telling him they would allow him to transfer anywhere if he did not come forward about it. An Ohio State spokesman said Meyer flew to Florida because Trevon was struggling after his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

Both Leah and Trevon declined to comment on the visit, but McMurphy’s report went on to share some information about Leah’s troubled past. Meyer indicated he felt that was unethical of McMurphy and said legal action could be taken.

McMurphy was the same reporter who broke the story about Meyer keeping Smith on his staff despite multiple domestic violence allegations against the former Ohio State assistant. Meyer was defiant in responding to the original report but later ended up being suspended for his knowledge of the incidents.

Browns CB has interesting theory on why Bengals hired Hue Jackson

Hue Jackson

The Cincinnati Bengals announced on Tuesday that Hue Jackson will join the team for the remainder of the season as a special assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis, and at least one Cleveland Browns player finds the move quite entertaining.

Browns cornerback Damarious Randall, who played under Jackson for less than a season, shared an interesting theory on Twitter about why the Bengals may have decided to bring back Jackson. He thinks it might have something to do with Jackson providing information on his former team.

The 3-6-1 Browns are much better this season than they were in years past, but Randall may be flattering himself a bit if he thinks a division rival is making coaching hires just to get information about Cleveland. They’re not that good yet, are they?

Jackson coached under Lewis in Cincinnati from 2004-2006 and 2012-2015, so there’s a history between the two. Given what teams have done to Cincy’s defense over the past three weeks, they probably have much bigger concerns than trying to find out as much information as possible on the Browns.

Oddsmakers show how badly they believe Alabama would beat UCF

Nick Saban

UCF is once again enjoying an undefeated football season, but the rankings indicate that they will not be considered for the College Football Playoff even if that trend continues. That means the Knights won’t have an opportunity to face Alabama, and Las Vegas oddsmakers believe that is good news for them.

As Christopher Smith of AL.com pointed out, gambling website BetOnline.ag released odds recently for a potential matchup between UCF and Alabama — one that is not going to happen. But in the event that it did, their oddsmakers have Nick Saban’s team listed as a whopping 31-point favorite.

Considering this year’s Alabama team is arguably one of the best in college football history, that is not a huge surprise. Both Alabama and UCF have two of the best offenses in the country, but the gap defensively is massive. The Crimson Tide are in the top 10, while UCF allows over 400 yards per game and gave up 670 and 40 points to Temple recently.

If UCF runs the table, their fans will once again be angry over them not receiving playoff consideration. They simply don’t have a tough enough schedule, and Alabama players didn’t appreciate the way the Knights tried to crown themselves national champions last season. Saban’s team could probably cover a 31-point spread against UCF.

Report: Markelle Fultz parts with trainer; two are no longer on speaking terms

Markelle Fultz

The bizarre start to Markelle Fultz’s NBA career has apparently taken another strange twist.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reported on Monday that the Philadelphia 76ers guard has parted ways trainer Drew Hanlen, who worked extensively with him over the summer and was credited with helping re-work Fultz’s shot. Kennedy also adds that the relationship deteriorated roughly three weeks ago and that the two are no longer on speaking terms.

For Fultz, who is averaging 9.3 points per game on 42.2 percent from the field this season, his hideous shooting mechanics have been the great mystery of his pro career. If a free throw that he shot on Monday against the Miami Heat is any indication, the problem is still far from being solved too.

Signs of strife between Fultz and Hanlen did emerge last week, and it now appears that someone else will be tasked with fixing the 20-year-old’s jumper.

Mariners respond to ‘false’ claims of racism by fired staffer

Seattle Mariners logo

The Seattle Mariners have issued a statement in response to a fired staff member, who accused the team of racism.

Dr. Lorena Martin was hired a year ago and given the created position of director of high performance for the Mariners. According to the Seattle Times, Martin was hired to improve the team’s training, conditioning and injury prevention.

The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish reports that Martin was fired last month and the Mariners were trying to avoid paying the remaining two years left on her contract. She hired a lawyer, and things got ugly when she hurled accusations of racism at the team on social media Monday.

Seattle responded with a statement shortly after Martin’s accusations.

“Lorena Martin was relieved of her duties with the Mariners on Oct. 10, 2018.

“While it is our policy to not comment on personnel issues, we do feel it is important to respond to the outrageous, false claims made by her today on social media. And to note that Martin did not make any of these false allegations until after she was relieved of her duties.

“The Mariners categorically deny that any member of our management or coaching staff made racist remarks regarding any of our players or staff. Additionally, we have not terminated (or threatened to terminate) any trainers during the off-season.”

The Mariners were apparently considering reducing Martin’s role before dismissing her. Now that she’s been fired and the Mariners are trying to avoid paying her, things have gotten ugly.