Report: Roy Halladay Autopsy Shows Traces of Morphine in System at Time of Death

An autopsy report provided to TMZ Sports on Friday revealed two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay died of blunt trauma and drowning after his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico in November.

The toxicology report also said Halladay had "had zolpidem (the generic name for Ambien), as well as morphine in his system at the time of the crash," per TMZ. 

Citing sources, TMZ wrote that while the "autopsy report notes that morphine can be found in the system as a result of heroin use" there was "no indication Halladay had been using heroin or any other 'clandestine drug.'"

Halladay, who was 40 years old at the time of the crash, spent his 16-year career split between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. 

During his decorated run in the majors, Halladay went 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.178 WHIP en route to eight All-Star nods. He also tossed the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history in October 2010 against the Cincinnati Reds.  

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Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays Agree to Record-Setting Contract to Avoid Arbitration

The Toronto Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson reportedly agreed to a one-year, $23 million contract on Friday that is the richest ever for an arbitration-eligible player, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.  

Bryce Harper set the previous record for an arbitration-eligible player when he signed a $21.65 million deal with the Washington Nationals for the 2018 season. 

Donaldson, 32, didn't appear headed for a historic payday after he was limited to 45 appearances over the first half of the season because of a calf injury. 

However, the 2015 American League MVP rebounded and slashed .276/.386/.606 with 24 home runs and 53 RBI after the All-Star break to finish the year with 33 dingers and 78 RBI. 

According to FanGraphs, Donaldson ranks second behind Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout with 28 wins above replacement over the last four seasons. His 140 home runs also rank first among third basemen during that stretch. 

If Donaldson is able to stay healthy in 2018, he should be in prime position to secure a lucrative long-term deal when he becomes a free agent once his fourth year with the Blue Jays wraps up. 

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Yangervis Solarte Reportedly Traded to Blue Jays from Padres

The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly agreed to acquire infielder Yangervis Solarte from the San Diego Padres on Saturday, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan

Solarte, 30, is scheduled to earn $4 million in 2018. His contract also features a $5.5 million club option for 2019 and an $8 million club option in 2020. 

        

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Rafael Palmeiro Posts Video in Batting Cage, Says ‘The Comeback Is Real’

Apparently, Rafael Palmeiro wasn't joking when he said he wanted to make a comeback.

On Friday, the 53-year-old posted a video taking swings in the batting cage captioned, "Good to be back in the cage again. The comeback is real."

In December, Palmeiro told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal he was serious about trying to carve a path back into the majors. 

"There's no doubt in my mind I can do it," he said. "I've taken care of myself really well. I've been working out out for years. Everything feels better than when I played." 

Palmeiro, who spent 20 years in Major League Baseball as a first baseman and outfielder, finished his career with 3,020 hits and 569 home runs. He's one of five players in league history, along with Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, to reside in both the 3,000 hit and 500 home run clubs. 

Palmeiro last suited up for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005, but that campaign was marred by a 10-game suspension for using steroids. 

However, Palmeiro vehemently denied allegations of steroid use months earlier at a congressional hearing. 

"I have never used steroids. Period," he said, according to the Associated Press. "I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."

Palmeiro became eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011, but he has yet to hit the 75 percent threshold necessary to be enshrined. 

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Derek Jeter Projects Profits, Attendance to Rise Despite Cutting Marlins Payroll

Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has reportedly projected an increase in profits and a rise in attendance despite the new ownership group's decision to cut payroll drastically since assuming control of the franchise.

According to documents obtained by the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, the front office is projecting a profit somewhere in the range of $23 million and $68 million for 2018. The figures vary because, as Jackson notes, the high end of the projection is "based on the internal projection that Fox will give the Marlins a $44.8 million up front payment as part of a renegotiated TV deal."

Jackson added the Marlins' profits could clock in below $23 million "if ambitious revenue targets aren't met." 

Furthermore, Jeter has initially projected $37.5 million in ticket revenue—which is $7.5 million more than the Marlins generated last season. 

In 2017, the Marlins' average home attendance of 20,395 was the lowest in the National League and third-lowest in Major League Baseball. 

And considering the Marlins have traded reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, outfielder Marcell Ozuna and second baseman Dee Gordon over the course of the offseason in an effort to trim their payroll, fans could be dissuaded from turning out in 2018. 

That much became clear in December, when Jeter appeared at a contentious town hall meeting for season-ticket holders where fans shared their frustrations with the organization. Laurence Leavy, better known as Marlins Man, told Jeter he didn't want to pay to watch a "Triple A team," per Jackson

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Wade Davis, Rockies Reportedly Agree on Record Contract for Relief Pitcher

Wade Davis' time with the Chicago Cubs is over.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Davis and the Colorado Rockies agreed to terms on a free-agent deal Friday.

Per Passan, the deal is for three years and $52 million, and the $17.3 million annual salary is a record for MLB relievers.

Davis spent four seasons (2013-2016) with the Kansas City Royals and won a World Series during that time, but he was shipped out of town in December 2016 in a deal with the Cubs.

In 2017, the 32-year-old made 59 appearances and recorded a career-high 32 saves as the Cubs snared their second straight National League Central crown.

In 58.2 innings, Davis logged 79 strikeouts, good for a mark of 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranked as the second-best of his career. And while Davis' ERA was 2.30—marking the first time since 2013, when he was a starter, that it was above 2.00—he was still lights-out.

Specifically, Davis didn't blow a save until Sept. 23 after he started the year 32-of-32.

"He's a stud," Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist said Oct. 3, according to the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan. "He's a guy who has been through it. He has the postseason experience, and everybody knows he has ice in his veins."

With Davis locked up, the Rockies will hope he can continue to operate as a shutdown savant in high-leverage situations and solidify the back end of a bullpen that already added Bryan Shaw this offseason.

Davis' arrival also increases the likelihood that 2017 closer Greg Holland will depart in free agency.

    

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Buzz on Jacoby Ellsbury and Juan Lagares

Jacoby Ellsbury is the odd man out in the New York Yankees outfield. 

That much is clear now that Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and the ascendant Clint Frazier are all in tow. 

The question, then, is if Ellsbury will languish on the Yankees' bench when the 2018 season opens or if he'll waive his no-trade clause to escape the Bronx and carve out a niche elsewhere. 

According to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, the latter is appearing more and more possible.

Specifically, Heyman reported "word now is that he might consider waiving it for a select few teams, and the San Francisco Giants could be one of them."

In theory, it's a good match. 

The Giants have already proved willing to taking on big contracts—just look to the team's acquisition of third baseman Evan Longoriaand making a play for Ellsbury would seem to fit that mode of operation. 

Although he's generally underwhelmed during his time with the Yankees, Ellsbury was solid at the plate last season. In 356 at-bats, the 2011 All-Star slashed .264/.348/.402, with seven home runs, 39 RBI and 22 stolen bases. 

That's acceptable production, to be sure. 

However, it's hardly worth $21,142,857 annually. And considering that's what Ellsbury is owed each season through 2020, it stands to reason the Yankees will have to eat a sizable chunk of cash to facilitate a deal if one ever comes into view. 

  

Mets Exploring Lagares' Market

The New York Mets aren't close to trading Juan Lagares, but Heyman reported they're "taking calls" on their center fielder in the midst of what figures to be a lengthy rebuild. 

The New York Post's Mike Puma confirmed the Mets  "are listening to inquiries," but he cautioned "there is skepticism within the industry the oft-injured outfielder will be dealt this winter."

Contenders in need of outfield depth should understandably be wary of dealing for the former Gold Glover. 

The 28-year-old has appeared in fewer than 100 games each of the past two seasons, and he's been rather inconsistent at the plate since batting a career-high .281 in 2014. 

To that point, Lagares has posted sub.-300 on-base percentages in two of his last three campaigns. 

Lagares has also mustered 3.0 defensive wins above replacement total the past three seasons after registering 3.5 as a rookie and 3.4 in 2014, per Baseball-Reference.com.  

Given those struggles, the Mets' best hope at this point could be for Lagares to stay healthy during the first half of 2018, boost his numbers and watch his stock surge in advance of the trade deadline. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Buzz on Jacoby Ellsbury and Juan Lagares

Jacoby Ellsbury is the odd man out in the New York Yankees outfield. 

That much is clear now that Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and the ascendant Clint Frazier are all in tow. 

The question, then, is if Ellsbury will languish on the Yankees' bench when the 2018 season opens or if he'll waive his no-trade clause to escape the Bronx and carve out a niche elsewhere. 

According to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, the latter is appearing more and more possible.

Specifically, Heyman reported "word now is that he might consider waiving it for a select few teams, and the San Francisco Giants could be one of them."

In theory, it's a good match. 

The Giants have already proved willing to taking on big contracts—just look to the team's acquisition of third baseman Evan Longoriaand making a play for Ellsbury would seem to fit that mode of operation. 

Although he's generally underwhelmed during his time with the Yankees, Ellsbury was solid at the plate last season. In 356 at-bats, the 2011 All-Star slashed .264/.348/.402, with seven home runs, 39 RBI and 22 stolen bases. 

That's acceptable production, to be sure. 

However, it's hardly worth $21,142,857 annually. And considering that's what Ellsbury is owed each season through 2020, it stands to reason the Yankees will have to eat a sizable chunk of cash to facilitate a deal if one ever comes into view. 

  

Mets Exploring Lagares' Market

The New York Mets aren't close to trading Juan Lagares, but Heyman reported they're "taking calls" on their center fielder in the midst of what figures to be a lengthy rebuild. 

The New York Post's Mike Puma confirmed the Mets  "are listening to inquiries," but he cautioned "there is skepticism within the industry the oft-injured outfielder will be dealt this winter."

Contenders in need of outfield depth should understandably be wary of dealing for the former Gold Glover. 

The 28-year-old has appeared in fewer than 100 games each of the past two seasons, and he's been rather inconsistent at the plate since batting a career-high .281 in 2014. 

To that point, Lagares has posted sub.-300 on-base percentages in two of his last three campaigns. 

Lagares has also mustered 3.0 defensive wins above replacement total the past three seasons after registering 3.5 as a rookie and 3.4 in 2014, per Baseball-Reference.com.  

Given those struggles, the Mets' best hope at this point could be for Lagares to stay healthy during the first half of 2018, boost his numbers and watch his stock surge in advance of the trade deadline. 

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Marlins Fans Rip Derek Jeter During Bizarre Town Hall Meeting

Miami Marlins fans expressed their displeasure with the direction of the franchise Tuesday at an emotional and ultimately bizarre town hall meeting with front office personnel, including chief executive officer Derek Jeter.

Laurence Leavy, better known as Marlins Man, was among the most notable speakers who clashed with Jeter—and he took a hard line with the famed New York Yankees shortstop after the franchise shipped off reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, left fielder Marcell Ozuna and shortstop Dee Gordon in separate trades at the winter meetings. 

According to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, Leavy—who has had season tickets since the franchise's inception—hasn't renewed his ticket plan because he's not satisfied with paying top dollar "for [a] Triple A team."

Leavy added that the new regime's decision to dramatically slash payroll has him missing old owner Jeffrey Loria: 

On top of that, WPLG's Will Manso reported one fan was reduced to tears "while talking to Jeter about Stanton and Ichiro" no longer being with the club. 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Mitch Moreland Re-Signs with Red Sox on 2-Year Contract for Reported $13 Million

The Boston Red Sox and free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland have decided to extend their partnership. 

The team announced Monday the two sides agreed to terms on a two-year deal to keep Moreland in the fold as an infield staple.

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, the total deal is worth $13 million, plus another possible $1 million in incentives. 

Moreland spent the first seven years of his career with the Texas Rangers, but free-agent eligibility following the 2016 season allowed him to pursue a new path elsewhere. 

That opportunity presented itself in the form a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Red Sox. 

In 149 appearances during his first season with the reigning American League East champions, Moreland slashed .246/.326/.443 with a .796 OPS—all numbers that were right in line with or slightly better than his career averages. 

The 32-year-old also cranked 22 home runs and produce 79 RBI to complement a career-high 34 doubles. 

Moreland also remained quite steady in the field. 

Holding down the fort at first for the Red Sox, the 2016 Gold Glove winner tied for second among all players at his position with 10 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs. Moreland's 4.0 UZR also ranked tied for fourth overall among first basemen with the Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo. 

If there's a knock on Moreland at this stage in his career, it's that he's not going hit for average considering he hasn't batted higher than .250 in either of the past two seasons. 

Moreland's big year at the plate in Boston was also accompanied by a career-high 120 strikeouts, although he did tally an encouraging 57 walks compared to 35 the year prior. 

But considering the Red Sox aren't paying a particularly hefty price for his services, Moreland should continue to suffice as a solid two-way contributor who can offer big pop in spots. 

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Pete Rose Drops Defamation Suit Against John Dowd over Statutory Rape Claims

Pete Rose reportedly dropped his defamation lawsuit against attorney John Dowd on Friday.

According to the Associated Press, the suit was dismissed after the two parties mutually agreed not to proceed in court. 

"Pete Rose and John Dowd have agreed, based on mutual consideration, to the dismissal with prejudice of Mr. Rose's lawsuit against Mr. Dowd. I am not permitted to comment further regarding the resolution of the matter," attorneys for both Rose and Dowd said in a statement, per ESPN.com's William Weinbaum

Rose's initial complaint stemmed from comments Dowd made in 2015 on Pennsylvania radio station WCHE-AM. According to Weinbaum, Dowd alleged an old associate of Rose's, Michael Bertolini, disclosed Rose "ran young girls for him down in spring training, ages 12 to 14."

"Isn't that lovely? So that's statutory rape every time you do that," Dowd added. 

In July, Weinbaum reported a motion filed in Dowd's defense against Rose in the defamation case alleged "that Rose had a sexual relationship with the woman for several years in the 1970s, beginning before she turned 16."

According to the AP, Dowd led MLB's investigation that resulted in Rose being banned from baseball for life after it was discovered that the sport's all-time hits leader bet on games while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.  

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Freddy Galvis Reportedly Traded to Padres; Phillies Receive Enyel De Los Santos

The Philadelphia Phillies reportedly agreed to trade shortstop Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres on Friday, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale

The Phillies will receive right-handed pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos in return. According to MLB.com, De Los Santos is the 13th-ranked player in the Padres' farm system. 

Bleacher Report's Scott Miller first reported the sides were nearing an agreement. 

Galvis, 28, has never been renowned as a particularly potent player at the plate, and the numbers bear that out. 

Dating back to his MLB debut in 2012, Galvis has slashed a cumulative .245/.372/.659. That said, he has shown increased pop each of the past two years. 

After mustering 20 home runs during his first four season, Galvis has gone deep 32 times over the past two years. He's also piled up 128 RBI during that stretch compared to a mark of 105 between 2012-2015.  

      

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Melvin Upton Jr., Indians Reportedly Agree to Minor League Contract

Melvin Upton Jr. will reportedly seek redemption with the Cleveland Indians as he attempts to rebound from an injury-riddled 2017 season. 

According to the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, Upton and the Indians agreed to terms Friday on a minor league contract. 

FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reported Upton Jr. will earn $1.5 million if he makes the club. 

Upton Jr. last hit the professional diamond in 2016 when he suited up for the San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays, and it became clear during the split campaign that he didn't have much gas left in the tank. 

Over the course of 492 at-bats, Upton slashed .238/.291/.402 with 20 home runs and 61 RBI.

Those raw power numbers were a silver lining of sorts, but the fact that they were accompanied by 155 strikeouts compared to just 37 walks dampened optimism that he could continue to log time as an everyday outfielder. 

Come 2017, the 33-year-old simply couldn't stay healthy as thumb surgery and shoulder irritation kept him out of the majors entirely. And while Upton Jr. latched on with the San Francisco Giants on a minor league contract, he opted out of the deal in August amid injury woes. 

If there's hope for Upton and the Indians now, it's that in addition to his pop at the plate, he can still be a plus on the basepaths and in the field. To that point, Upton finished 2016 with 27 steals and 10 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs

Expectations should understandably be tempered given Upton's recent history of disappointment. But at the price the Indians nabbed him at, Upton is a low-risk, high-upside flier who could have the ability to pay dividends in select situations off the bench in 2018. 

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Manny Machado Reportedly Receiving Trade Interest from White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly been "the most aggressive suitor" for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, as trade discussions have ramped up at Major League Baseball's winter meetings, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale confirmed Wednesday evening that the White Sox "have made strong bid" for Machado's services.

However, Rosenthal cautioned there is currently "no indication that a deal is close, or that Orioles owner Peter Angelos would give final approval to a trade of his team's best player."

As far as compensation is concerned, Rosenthal reported the White Sox have shown an inclination to part with either right-handed pitching prospect Michael Kopech or 2017 call-up Lucas Giolito but are reluctant to package the two together. 

According to MLB.com, Kopech is the second-ranked prospect in Chicago's farm system and 10th-ranked prospect overall on MLB's Top 100 list. 

The Orioles, according to Rosenthal, are known to be targeting "two young, controllable starting pitchers" in any deal. 

If the White Sox were able to finalize a deal with the Orioles, Rosenthal added they would like to ink Machado to a new long-term contract since the hot corner patrolman is currently scheduled to become a free agent in 2018. 

One other scenario, according to Rosenthal, could see the White Sox "flip Machado to another club—most likely the New York Yankees—and secure additional prospects."

MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli first reported Wednesday that the Orioles were making "good progress" on a potential Machado deal, with more than five teams involved in trade discussions. 

As things stand, Rosenthal noted the White Sox, Yankees, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals have all expressed interest in the 25-year-old. 

A three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, Machado ranks eighth among all players with 105 home runs since the start of the 2015 season. 

In 2017, Machado slashed .259/.310/.471 with 33 homers, 95 RBI and 33 doubles. 

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Report: Ian Kinsler Traded from Tigers to Angels After 4 Seasons in Detroit

Ian Kinsler has been a staple of the Detroit Tigers' lineup for the past four seasons, but the team reportedly decided to part ways with the veteran second baseman on Wednesday. 

According to Fox's Ken Rosenthal, Kinsler has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels. However, ESPN's Buster Olney says a deal is not in place yet.

Kinsler was in a relative slump in 2017 when he slashed .236/.313/.412 with 22 home runs and 52 RBI, but his production over the past few seasons suggests he can still operate as one of the league's more reliable second basemen even at 35 years old. 

The 12-year veteran was particularly effective throughout the 2016 campaign when he batted .288 with a .348 on-base percentage and .484 slugging percentage. Kinsler also recorded 28 home runs—his highest total since 2011—and drove in 83 runs while recording 4.9 offensive wins above replacement

Kinsler's fielding also made him invaluable to the Tigers. 

The 2016 Gold Glove winner finished with a mark of 1.7 defensive wins above replacement during his hardware-laden campaign, and he continued to flash the leather in a big way this past season. 

Specifically, Kinsler ranked second among all players at his position with a 6.1 UZR and six defensive runs saved while patrolling the middle of the infield in the Motor City. 

Beyond his on-field contributions, Kinsler was also an attractive trade target because he's owed $10 million in the final year of his contract before he becomes a free agent in 2019. 

Not only should the Angels be pleased with that reasonable payout, but they should be ecstatic about their new double-play combination that touts Kinsler and three-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons. 

Furthermore, the move helps bolster an Angels lineup that already received a big boost following Shohei Ohtani's commitment at the start of the Winter Meetings. 

While Kinsler was uncharacteristically shaky at the plate last season, the better part of the decade suggests he could easily return to form as a .270-.280 hitter in the year ahead. 

Plus, Kinsler has enjoyed plenty of success at Angel Stadium over the course of his career. 

Dating back to his MLB debut, Kinsler has pieced together a .291/.370/.379 slash line with 10 home runs and 41 RBI in 322 plate appearances at his new home park. 

  

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless noted otherwise. 

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Shohei Ohtani Reportedly Dealing with Elbow Injury

Shohei Ohtani, who recently committed to the Los Angeles Angeles following a lengthy recruitment process, is reportedly nursing an elbow injury that could wind up having serious long-term ramifications if it's aggravated further.

According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, a physical obtained Tuesday shows Ohtani was previously diagnosed with a first-degree UCL sprain in his right (throwing) elbow.

Passan added that while the injury is not particularly serious, "further damage could lead to Tommy John surgery, a reconstructive procedure that sidelines pitchers for a year."

The news comes one day after Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci reported Ohtani "underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection on his right elbow in October" that was described as "a preventative measure" by his agent, Nez Balelo.

"Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists...he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program," the physical says, according to Passan.

On top of that, Ohtani underwent arthroscopic right ankle surgery in October. However, his recovery is reportedly expected to be complete before the start of spring training.

Ohtani, who committed to the Angels on Friday, is expected to contribute on the mound and at the plate as a true two-way player.

During his final season with Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani recorded 29 strikeouts and 19 walks in a small 25.1-inning sample because of a hamstring issue. He also slashed .332/.403/.540 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in 231 plate appearances during the truncated campaign.

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Report: Pat Neshek, Phillies Agree to Contract After July Trade to Rockies

Free-agent reliever Pat Neshek and the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly agreed to terms on a new deal Monday, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. 

The deal is reportedly worth about $16 million over two years, with Heyman previously noting the pitcher had two similar offers.

After making several moves around the league over the past few years, Neshek now returns to a squad where he had significant success.

The 37-year-old was traded from the Houston Astros to Philadelphia last November, and he was one of the few bright spots for the National League East cellar dwellers before he was shipped to the Colorado Rockies

Prior to getting dealt at the trade deadline, Neshek sported a 1.12 ERA, 0.818 WHIP and 9.00 strikeout-to-walk rate over 40.1 innings. Thanks to those numbers, Neshek earned his second All-Star nod and boosted his trade value to the point where he was able to land with a postseason contender. 

During his half-season stint in Colorado, Neshek recorded a 2.45 ERA, 0.955 WHIP, 24 strikeouts and one walk through 22.0 innings. 

According to FanGraphs, those efforts propelled him to a career-high 2.5 wins above replacement.  

It also can't be overlooked that Neshek posted year-over-year improvements in left on base percentage (82.3%), ground ball percentage (36.4%) and home run-to-fly ball rate (4.2%). 

And while Neshek isn't going to blow away batters with velocity—his fastball averaged 90.3 mph last season—a bread-and-butter slider allows him to baffle opposing hitters on a regular basis. 

Look for the Phillies to implement Neshek as part of their revised bridge to closer Hector Neris in the months ahead as they continue to fortify their bullpen in advance of the 2018 season. 

 

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless noted otherwise. 

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Giancarlo Stanton Reportedly Traded to Yankees

In a move that will shake up Major League Baseball, the Miami Marlins reportedly agreed to trade right fielder Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees on Saturday.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported the Marlins found a suitable deal that allowed them to part ways with the reigning National League MVP, who waived his full no-trade clause. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Yankees were likely sending second baseman Starlin Castro to the Marlins as part of the deal, but he noted none of the Yankees' top prospects were among the players dealt.

On Thursday, Sirius XM's Craig Mish reported Stanton had whittled down his list of preferred trade destinations to the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.

One of MLB's premier power hitters, Stanton ranks fourth among all players with 267 home runs and a slugging percentage of .554 dating back to his debut in 2010. Stanton also tops right fielders with 34.1 wins above replacement during that stretch.

In 2017, the 28-year-old slashed .281/.376/.631 with an MLB-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI, along with a whopping 1.007 OPS.

However, a massive monetary burden accompanies that top-end production.

Signed to a 13-year, $325 million deal in 2014, Stanton will make $77 million guaranteed from 2018 through 2020. Once the 2020 season comes to a close, Stanton has a player option every year from 2021 to 2027, with payouts that reach as much as $32 million from 2023 to 2025.

That's a tough pill the Yankees will have to swallow.

But for the Marlins, trading that contract will allow them to explore new team-building strategies.

"Anyone who knows anything knows you sell high on him," a league source familiar with the trade talks told Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan. "You can relieve yourself of that burden."

Financial considerations aside, acquiring Stanton was a coup for the Yankees.

While their payroll is set to explode in the coming years, the Yankees now boast the most dynamic one-two power combination in the league with Stanton and reigning American League home run king Aaron Judge slotted into the middle of the order.

That's not to mention catcher Gary Sanchez, who has smashed 53 home runs in 177 career games.

Needless to say, that's an impressive collection of talent in one lineup, and it could flirt with power-packed performances of historic proportion in the hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.

Plus, the Yankees tout what's arguably MLB's strongest bullpen and veteran talent that includes shortstop Didi Gregorius, left fielder Brett Gardner and backup outfielder Aaron Hicks.

Toss in ascendant prospects such as Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, and it's clear the Yankees have the pieces necessary to be a force in the American League well through the end of the decade.

              

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Contract information retrieved from Spotrac.

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Report: Shohei Ohtani Investigation Expected After Star Chooses MLB Team

Executives throughout Major League Baseball are reportedly expecting a "layers-deep review" of Shohei Ohtani's recruitment once he signs with a team this winter. 

According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, that expectation has been fueled by a belief that clubs could be breaking a rule MLB outlined in its posting agreement with the Nippon Baseball League that explicitly outlawed financial discussions beyond the scope of Ohtani's entry-level contract. 

Specifically, Olney reported teams were told they "could attempt to persuade Ohtani to join based on the merits of their respective organizations and their cities, but they were warned against discussing future contracts and business relationships, and against third-party machinationspaying off someone who might have influence with Ohtani, for example, or making quid-pro-quo promises outside of the rules."

An anonymous team executive also told Olney commissioner Rob Manfred has given the subject of cheating "unprecedented" attention. 

Ohtani, 23, is expected to make a decision about his future soon. 

According to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, that announcement "could possibly come by early next week" after the two-way Japanese standout met with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres earlier this week. 

Financially speaking, Ohtani will be subject to the terms of a minor-league contract and an international pool signing bonus since he's not yet 25 years old. 

As things stand, the Rangers ($3.5 million) and Mariners ($2.5 million) have the biggest signing bonuses to offer, per MLB.com's Manny Randhawa

The Angels clock in a shade lower at $2.3 million, while the other four club have just $300,000 at their disposal. 

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Aaron Boone Reportedly Named Yankees Manager over Hensley Meulens

The New York Yankees will reportedly hire Aaron Boone as their new manager after Joe Girardi and the team parted ways in October following a trip to the American League Championship Series. 

The New York Daily News' Bill Madden first relayed word of the Bronx Bombers' decision to hire the former ESPN analyst and Yankee third baseman, who became a pinstriped folk hero when he hit an 11th-inning, walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox

ESPN's Buster Olney confirmed the hire.

Boone was one of six people who interviewed for the job along with former Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran, former bench coach Rob Thomson—who is now the new bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, according to MLB.com's Todd ZoleckiSan Francisco Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens, former Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge and Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Meulens was the other finalist for the job. 

"I would say in a way I've been preparing for this job for the last 44 years," Boone said after interviewing for the job in mid-November, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). 

Boone added that while he doesn't have any previous experience as a manager, his status as a baseball lifer and son of former MLB catcher and manager Bob Boone helped prepare him for the gig. 

"I've been going to the ballpark since I was 3 and 4 years old, and in a way managing the game from a very young age. And then growing up where my dad was in the big leagues from the time I was born to the time I was in a senior in high school and being around great teams, great players, I've kind of lived this game as a kid," he said.

Boone will now get the opportunity to pick up where Girardi left off and lead one of MLB's most talented clubs back into World Series contention. 

With reigning AL home run king Aaron Judge, power-hitting catcher Gary Sanchez, ace Luis Severino, a top-notch bullpen and ascendant young infielder Gleyber Torres all at his disposal, Boone should have the resources necessary to morph the Yankees into a perennial powerhouse once he gets acclimated to life on the bench. 

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