Ben Cherington, Red Sox Agree to New Contract: Latest Details and Reaction

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has reportedly been given a contract extension that keeps him aboard beyond the 2015 season. 

The Boston Globe's Alex Speier reported the news, noting that exact details of the contract are currently unknown: 

Cherington, 40, was hired to his current role in October 2011. The Red Sox have gone 237-249 during his three seasons as GM, a volatile ride that has included two 90-loss seasons as well as a World Series title in 2013. 

After a last-place finish in the AL East in 2014, Cherington has reloaded in a major way, adding Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Rusney Castillo, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley and Rick Porcello through signings and trades. 

Chairman Tom Werner has expressed confidence in Cherington, via Speier

John and Larry and my faith in Ben is as strong today as it was last October. That doesn’t mean that we don’t all share in the responsibility of the decisions that were made. … [But] I think that stability is really important and I have a lot of confidence that Ben will be extremely successful going forward.

Last season was a miserable one in Boston, but Cherington has already shown the ability to turn things around as quickly as anyone. Now it's up to him to live up to this extension and establish some long-term success in Bean Town. 

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Bruce Bochy Hospitalized: Latest on Giants Manager After Heart Procedure

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy will spend Thursday night in the hospital after undergoing a heart procedure to have two stents inserted. 

The team announced the news Thursday night in a statement, via the Associated Press, noting that the 59-year-old began experiencing discomfort Wednesday. 

"This afternoon, Bruce was admitted to Scottsdale Healthcare Medical Center where doctors performed a medical procedure to insert two stents," read the statement. "He is resting comfortably and will be released tomorrow."

Andrew Baggarly of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area provided information from Bochy, who spoke to Baggarly on Thursday:

Bochy has compiled a 667-629 (.515) record in eight seasons with the Giants, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014. With an astounding run of success over the past five years, he has garnered buzz as a potential future Hall-of-Fame selection. 

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Barry Zito to Athletics: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Barry Zito and the Oakland Athletics are reuniting. 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, the A's have signed their former pitcher to a minor league deal, giving him an invitation to spring training: 

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman added some monetary details: 

Zito, a first-round pick by the A's in 1999, spent seven seasons with the team, compiling 102 wins, a 3.55 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He won the Cy Young Award in 2002 and was named to three All-Star Games, serving as a crucial piece on some very good Athletics ballclubs

Still, expectations will obviously have to be tempered. 

Zito, who failed to live up to a massive contract with the San Francisco Giants, last pitched in 2013, when he went 5-11 with a 5.74 ERA, 1.70 WHIP and a career-worst 11.7 hits allowed per nine innings. 

Perhaps the lefty's year off will help him enjoy a career revival, but ultimately, it's going to be difficult for the 36-year-old to crack a spot in the starting rotation. 

Still, it's a low-risk move for Oakland, and it brings a fan favorite back home. 

 

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

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Barry Zito to Athletics: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Barry Zito and the Oakland Athletics are reuniting. 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, the A's have signed their former pitcher to a minor league deal, giving him an invitation to spring training: 

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman added some monetary details: 

Zito, a first-round pick by the A's in 1999, spent seven seasons with the team, compiling 102 wins, a 3.55 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He won the Cy Young Award in 2002 and was named to three All-Star Games, serving as a crucial piece on some very good Athletics ballclubs

Still, expectations will obviously have to be tempered. 

Zito, who failed to live up to a massive contract with the San Francisco Giants, last pitched in 2013, when he went 5-11 with a 5.74 ERA, 1.70 WHIP and a career-worst 11.7 hits allowed per nine innings. 

Perhaps the lefty's year off will help him enjoy a career revival, but ultimately, it's going to be difficult for the 36-year-old to crack a spot in the starting rotation. 

Still, it's a low-risk move for Oakland, and it brings a fan favorite back home. 

 

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

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Yankees Will Retire Bernie Williams’ No. 51 and Jorge Posada’s No. 20

Two more former New York Yankees are headed to Monument Park.    

On Sunday, it was revealed that Andy Pettitte would have his No. 46 retired this summer. Now the team has announced that Bernie Williams' No. 51 and Jorge Posada's No. 20 will also be off limits for future players in pinstripes:

Williams spent his entire 16-year MLB career with the Yankees, hitting .297/.381/.477 with 287 home runs, 147 stolen bases and four Golden Glove awards in center field. A five-time All-Star, he led the league in hitting in 1998 and was a part of four World Series-winning squads. 

Posada, another Yankee for life (17 seasons), hit .273/.374/.474 with 275 home runs, serving as one of the best hitting catchers in the league for several years. 

Williams is 10th in team history in WAR (49.4), while Posada (42.7) isn't far behind, per baseball-reference.com

Former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch, who blasted the team for its decision to retire Pettitte's number, offered his congratulations for Williams and Posada, two of the long-standing cornerstones to one of the franchise's best runs of success: 

With these newest honors, the Yankees will be up to 20 retired numbers. Once Derek Jeter's No. 2 is retired, there will be only 78 numbers left.

New York may have to start using double zeros or fractions here pretty soon, but that's something to worry about in the future. For now, these franchise legends, who have proven so crucial to some of the best teams over the past couple of decades, deserve the recognition. 

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Victor Sanchez Injury: Updates on Mariners Prospect’s Head After Boat Accident

Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez is in critical, but stable, condition in a Venezuelan hospital after being struck by a boat while swimming at a beach on Friday, the team confirmed.     

MLB.com's Greg Johns cited a report from Venezuelan sports website Lavinotinto.com, which reported Sanchez suffered a fractured skull. He was unconscious after suffering the accident and underwent surgery. As Johns noted, he remains in intensive care at a hospital in Carupano

According to Johns' report, "The Mariners learned of the accident from Sanchez's agency in Venezuela on Saturday and are sending one of their Venezuela employees to the hospital in Carupano to help monitor the situation."

Sanchez, 20, was signed by the Mariners in 2011. Rated by MLB.com as the team's 11th-best prospect, he compiled a 4.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 97 strikeouts in 124.2 innings for Double-A Jackson in 2014. 

The rising star was expected to report to minor league camp in a couple of weeks, per Johns.      

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Andy Pettitte’s No. 46 Reportedly to Be Retired by New York Yankees on Aug. 23

The New York Yankees reportedly will retire the No. 46 jersey in honor of former starting pitcher Andy Pettitte.     

Andy's son Josh revealed the news on Twitter: 

Pettitte, who spent 15 of his 18 MLB seasons with the Yanks, finished his career in 2013 with a 3.94 ERA and 1.37 WHIP while wearing the pinstripes. He has the most strikeouts in team history (2,020), is tied with Whitey Ford in starts (438) and is third in wins (219), innings pitched (2,796.1) and WAR (51.6), per Baseball-Reference.

An integral part of the team's late-1990s and early-2000s run of success, Pettitte won five World Series rings. He also won the 2001 ALCS MVP after earning two victories against the 116-win Seattle Mariners, finished second in Cy Young voting in 1996 and was elected to three All-Star games. 

Pettitte becomes the 19th Yankee to have his number retired, with Mariano Rivera serving as the most recent.

The Yankees are starting to run out of numbers—as CBS Sports' Mike Axisa noted, there will be no more single-digit numbers left after Derek Jeter's No. 2 is ultimately retired—but that's a testament to the success of the franchise. 

As the MLB's all-time leader in postseason wins, Pettitte has certainly done enough to be part of such an illustrious group.   

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Yoan Moncada Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation on Cuban Star

Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada is close to becoming a free agent after it was determined he no longer needs a specific unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Asset Controls.    

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan first reported the news, noting that the highly coveted 19-year-old infielder could potentially start negotiations with MLB teams in two weeks. Because teams will have to essentially pay double for the already expensive youngster, Passan believes the big-money clubs are the favorites:

The New York YankeesBoston Red SoxLos Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs remain the favorites for Moncada, major league sources said, particularly because the team that signs him will need to pay nearly a dollar-for-dollar penalty on his bonus. For every dollar a team spends over its allotted international bonus pool between July 2, 2014, and June 15, 2015, it is taxed an equal amount.

According to Passan, there is more hype surrounding Moncada than there was for talented compatriots such as Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes. Baseball America's Ben Badler added that he has more upside than Rusney Castillo and is better than Yasmany Tomas, suggesting that he would be in contention for the No. 1 overall pick if eligible for the 2015 draft. 

All of that is incredibly high praise, but by all indications, Moncada is worth it. Standing at 6'1" and 210 pounds at the age of the 19, the switch-hitting infielder is a legitimate five-tool talent. 

ESPN the Magazine's Molly Knight puts the Los Angeles Dodgers as her favorite to acquire the young prospect:

You can expect a handful of teams to be equally aggressive, as Moncada will almost assuredly break the signing-bonus record recently set by Yoan Lopez. 

As Passan discussed, there are still some details to be worked out that could delay this process. But Moncada's free agency appears imminent, and that means one team is close to adding a potential future superstar.      

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Francisco Rodriguez Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Pitcher

With the Milwaukee Brewers' pursuit of closer Jonathan Papelbon dying down, the team is turning its attention back to Francisco Rodriguez

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt has the most recent report:

K-Rod enjoyed a tremendous season in his return to the permanent closer role in 2014, compiling a 3.04 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, 73 strikeouts and 44 saves for the Brewers. 

His ERA and WHIP were both lower than Papelbon's, but Rotoworld's Matthew Pouliot suggested it may not be that simple: 

Of course, the 13-year veteran is one of the best players remaining on the free-agent market, and CoverThoseBases.com's Devan Fink reported there may be some competition for his services from the Los Angeles Dodgers:

Although agent Scott Boras is notorious for driving up prices, Rodriguez doesn't likely have much bargaining power this late in the offseason. 

Because of that, there's a good chance the 33-year-old could be had for minimal risk. 

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Francisco Rodriguez Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Pitcher

With the Milwaukee Brewers' pursuit of closer Jonathan Papelbon dying down, the team is turning its attention back to Francisco Rodriguez

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt has the most recent report:

K-Rod enjoyed a tremendous season in his return to the permanent closer role in 2014, compiling a 3.04 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, 73 strikeouts and 44 saves for the Brewers. 

His ERA and WHIP were both higher than Papelbon's, but Rotoworld's Matthew Pouliot suggested it may not be that simple: 

Of course, the 13-year veteran is one of the best players remaining on the free-agent market, and CoverThoseBases.com's Devan Fink reported there may be some competition for his services from the Los Angeles Dodgers:

Although agent Scott Boras is notorious for driving up prices, Rodriguez doesn't likely have much bargaining power this late in the offseason. 

Because of that, there's a good chance the 33-year-old could be had for minimal risk. 

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Jonny Gomes Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Free Agent OF

After splitting time between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics in 2014, free agent Jonny Gomes is reportedly attracting interest from the Atlanta Braves.      

MLB.com's Mark Bowman provided the news:

Gomes hit a combined .234/.327/.330 with six home runs and 37 RBI in 112 games between the Red Sox and A's last season.

It was a decidedly underwhelming campaign, but he still has some power and he hits left-handed pitching very well. For his career, he has a .277/.376/.485 slash line against lefties, compared to just .222/.307/.415 vs. right-handers, per Baseball-Reference.com.

As Bowman noted, that makes him a logical platoon partner with the switch-hitting Zoilo Almonte, whose two career home runs have both come against right-handed hitters.

Moreover, Gomes is a known positive presence in the clubhouse. In 2013, Will Middlebrooks talked about the 34-year-old's effect on the team, via MLB.com's Ian Browne:

He's fun guy who brings a lot of intensity, a lot of confidence, and he's just a sparkplug that kind of rubs off on everybody. He's not a guy that's always going to speak up and be a vocal leader, but he's going to show you through his actions. He's a very confident guy. He plays 110 percentevery play. That rubs off on all of us. We all want to play like that.

Ultimately, Gomes' eventual signing won't have a huge effect on the league. But he's a veteran presence who can be beneficial for a young team, which the Braves have, and he's a solid situational player who can serve as a decent fourth or fifth outfielder, which the Braves need with Nick Markakis recovering from offseason neck surgery. 

Perhaps most importantly, he'll come with a low price tag. 

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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Max Scherzer, Yovani Gallardo and More

Spring training is only a month away, but the MLB offseason is still in full swing. 

The free-agent market still features a handful of game-changing names, while several teams continue to be very active in the trade market. 

Let's take a look at the latest gossip from around the league. 

 

Washington Nationals Close on Max Scherzer?

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was the director of scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they drafted Max Scherzer, so it would make sense that he wants to sign the 30-year-old free agent. 

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman has the rumor: 

According to Heyman, the Nats and "at least one other club" have discussed a seven-year deal with Scherzer, who turned down a six-year extension offer from the Detroit Tigers during the regular season. A deal is expected to be made in the "coming days."

Sources cited by The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore seem to back up those assertions:

Scherzer, who won the AL Cy Young award in 2013, was nearly as dominant in 2014, finishing 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 252 strikeouts in 220.1 innings. He has been one of the best starters over the last three seasons, averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

If the Nationals landed him, they would have a rotation of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. Gonzalez was the worst of those in 2014, and he still averaged over a strikeout per inning with a solid ERA+ of 105, per Baseball-Reference.com

That would be some unbelievable depth. 

 

Nats Shopping Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg?

Maybe even a little too much depth. Washington also has Tanner Roark, who was tremendous in 2014, so they may opt to trade someone if they are able to sign Scherzer

According to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, both Zimmermann and Strasburg would be placed on the block:

Statistically, Zimmermann was better than Strasburg in 2014. But he's also a little more than two years older and has just one season left on his contract, while Strasburg is under team control through the 2016 season, per Cot's Baseball Contracts

Strasburg, one of the most exciting pitchers in the league, led the NL in strikeouts last season and is a more valuable long-term asset than Zimmermann. Trading the 26-year-old would likely only be a final-resort, avoid-at-all-costs kind of move. 

 

Yovani Gallardo Returning to Texas?

In 2004, the Milwaukee Brewers spent a second-round draft pick on Yovani Gallardo, a high school pitcher out of Forth Worth, Texas. 

Now, more than a decade later, it sounds like the 28-year-old is headed back to the Lone Star State. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal passes along the report:

Milwaukee Brewers manager Doug Melvin simply said "nothing to report" when asked about the deal by the Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt.

In his eighth season with the Brewers, Gallardo went 8-11 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 146 strikeouts in 192.1 innings in 2014. There is some slight concern, though, as the 28-year-old's strikeout rate has decreased the last two seasons, while his batting average against has been at a career-worst .261 both of those years. 

Still, he's a solid veteran pitcher, he has history with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and he has just one year left on his contract, minimizing the risk involved for Texas, which needs rotation help. 

For Milwaukee, it may clear room for a run at free agent James Shields, as RotoJunkie.net's Jason Collette suggested:

This makes plenty of sense from both sides. 

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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Max Scherzer, Yovani Gallardo and More

Spring training is only a month away, but the MLB offseason is still in full swing. 

The free-agent market still features a handful of game-changing names, while several teams continue to be very active in the trade market. 

Let's take a look at the latest gossip from around the league. 

 

Washington Nationals Close on Max Scherzer?

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was the director of scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they drafted Max Scherzer, so it would make sense that he wants to sign the 30-year-old free agent. 

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman has the rumor: 

According to Heyman, the Nats and "at least one other club" have discussed a seven-year deal with Scherzer, who turned down a six-year extension offer from the Detroit Tigers during the regular season. A deal is expected to be made in the "coming days."

Sources cited by The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore seem to back up those assertions:

Scherzer, who won the AL Cy Young award in 2013, was nearly as dominant in 2014, finishing 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 252 strikeouts in 220.1 innings. He has been one of the best starters over the last three seasons, averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

If the Nationals landed him, they would have a rotation of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. Gonzalez was the worst of those in 2014, and he still averaged over a strikeout per inning with a solid ERA+ of 105, per Baseball-Reference.com

That would be some unbelievable depth. 

 

Nats Shopping Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg?

Maybe even a little too much depth. Washington also has Tanner Roark, who was tremendous in 2014, so they may opt to trade someone if they are able to sign Scherzer

According to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, both Zimmermann and Strasburg would be placed on the block:

Statistically, Zimmermann was better than Strasburg in 2014. But he's also a little more than two years older and has just one season left on his contract, while Strasburg is under team control through the 2016 season, per Cot's Baseball Contracts

Strasburg, one of the most exciting pitchers in the league, led the NL in strikeouts last season and is a more valuable long-term asset than Zimmermann. Trading the 26-year-old would likely only be a final-resort, avoid-at-all-costs kind of move. 

 

Yovani Gallardo Returning to Texas?

In 2004, the Milwaukee Brewers spent a second-round draft pick on Yovani Gallardo, a high school pitcher out of Forth Worth, Texas. 

Now, more than a decade later, it sounds like the 28-year-old is headed back to the Lone Star State. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal passes along the report:

Milwaukee Brewers manager Doug Melvin simply said "nothing to report" when asked about the deal by the Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt.

In his eighth season with the Brewers, Gallardo went 8-11 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 146 strikeouts in 192.1 innings in 2014. There is some slight concern, though, as the 28-year-old's strikeout rate has decreased the last two seasons, while his batting average against has been at a career-worst .261 both of those years. 

Still, he's a solid veteran pitcher, he has history with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and he has just one year left on his contract, minimizing the risk involved for Texas, which needs rotation help. 

For Milwaukee, it may clear room for a run at free agent James Shields, as RotoJunkie.net's Jason Collette suggested:

This makes plenty of sense from both sides. 

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Stephen Strasburg Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation on Nationals Star

If the Washington Nationals sign free agent Max Scherzer—CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported the sides are discussing a seven-year deal—then they are going to have a wealth of riches in the starting rotation.    

That means Stephen Strasburg could potentially be expendable, per Fox Sports' Jon Morosi:

Still only 26 years old, the former No. 1 overall pick already has five seasons of major league experience under his belt. After Tommy John surgery forced him to miss a large portion of the first two, he has been remarkably consistent in the last three, compiling at least 28 starts and an ERA of 3.16 or lower in all of them. 

In 2014, he tied for the major league lead in starts (34), finishing with a 3.14 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a brilliant strikeout-to-walk ratio of 242-to-43. The fireballer has developed into a dominant top-of-the-rotation starter. 

He just avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $7.4 million.

Should the Nats end up signing Scherzer, they will have an interesting decision to make. If they were to stay put, they would boast a rotation with unreal depth and talent, as FanGraphs' Mike Petriello noted:

On the other hand, Strasburg is one of the best young pitchers in the game, and he's still under team control through the 2016 MLB season, per Cot's Baseball Contracts. He would bring a massive package in return, helping the Nats improve in other areas. 

Obviously, this is still all a hypothetical, as Scherzer remains unsigned. But either way, if a team misses out on the 2013 AL Cy Young winner, it sounds like another ace could quickly be made available. 

 

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Mike Foltynewicz to Braves: Latest Trade Details, Scouting Report and Reaction

In an effort to continue the rebuilding process, the Atlanta Braves added a handful of future assets Wednesday, dealing slugger Evan Gattis to the Houston Astros in exchange for three minor league prospects. 

The Astros' official Twitter feed provided details of the trade:

Mike Foltynewicz, a 23-year-old hard-throwing righty, is the centerpiece of the incoming package for Atlanta. Drafted No. 19 overall out of high school in the 2010 draft, Foltynewicz entered the 2014 season as Baseball America's No. 59 prospect (h/t Baseball-Reference.com). Prior to this upcoming season, he was rated No. 3 in the Astros' organization

What immediately stands out is the 6'4" youngster's electric fastball. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal touched more on that:

Of course, unless your name is Rick Vaughn, becoming an effective pitcher in the majors is typically about more than just a fastball. Foltynewicz talked about the importance of becoming a more complete pitcher back in March, via the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich:

The last couple years I’ve been just trying to huck the ball by people. Sometimes I just wanted to rear back and throw it by people. I realize—everyone in baseball right now can hit a fastball. Don’t matter how hard, don’t matter where location is.

Foltynewicz experienced the hardships of evolving as a pitcher in 2014. In 21 appearances (18 starts) at Triple-A Oklahoma City, he went 7-7 with a 5.08 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Things didn't go any better in the majors either, as he got the call-up in August and finished with a 5.30 ERA, 1.61 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 18.2 relief innings.

His upside clear. “This kid might be special," Astros pitching coach Brent Strom once said, via Drellich. "Very very special."

And even if he doesn't pan out as a starter—at 23, there's still plenty of time—his ability to reach triple digits on the radar gun makes him a potential weapon in late-inning, high-leverage situations. 

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Yunel Escobar to Nationals: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Just days after acquiring Yunel Escobar, the Oakland Athletics have flipped the veteran shortstop to the Washington Nationals. 

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman first reported the news, and the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin confirmed it:

William Ladsen of MLB.com reveals another player who is reportedly involved in the deal:

While details of the trade are still not fully available, Heyman notes that Washington could be sending reliever Tyler Cliippard back to Oakland:

Escobar, 32, hit .258/.324/.340 with seven home runs and 33 runs scored with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. He is more known for his defensive prowess, although he took an unexpected step back in that area last season, finishing with negative-24 defensive runs saved after averaging 8.2 the previous six years, per FanGraphs.com

Still, he's a solid veteran who is under club control through the 2017 season. His acquisition will heat up the Ian Desmond trade rumors, but it's also likely he makes the move to second base to help replace Asdrubal Cabrera and push Danny Espinosa into a backup role.  

For the A's, Clippard, who has been one of the best relievers in the game for the last several seasons, would be a really nice return. He compiled a 2.18 ERA, 0.995 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 70.1 innings last season, earning his second All-Star appearance. 

As FanGraphs.com's David Cameron noted, he would fit well inside the spacious O.co Coliseum:

Moving Escobar also re-opens the full-time shortstop position for Marcus Semien, who was acquired in the Jeff Samardzija deal. Semien, 24, hit just .234/.300/.372 in 255 plate appearances last season, but the former top-100 prospect still has a high ceiling. 

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Ned Yost, Royals Agree to New Contract: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

After managing the Kansas City Royals to their first American League pennant in nearly three decades, Ned Yost has been rewarded with a one-year contract extension.    

The team announced the news on Twitter:

Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star provided further information about the 60-year-old's long-term future with the team:

Yost has long been criticized for his questionable in-game decisions and strategies, but the results he got from a young club in 2014 were undeniably impressive. Taking a team that was 19th in the majors in Opening Day payroll, Yost led the Royals to an 89-73 record and the team's first postseason appearance since 1985. 

Once in the playoffs, he utilized his team's speed with aggressive calls on the basepaths to defeat the Oakland A's in the AL Wild Card Game, sweep the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles before falling in seven games to San Francisco Giants in the Fall Classic. 

He finished third AL Manager of the Year voting. 

Yost's managing style—his propensity to have his team lay down sacrifice bunts, in particularwill likely continue to draw criticism.

For now, though, that doesn't matter. He has the job security to keep managing however he wants.

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Twitter Reacts to 2015 BBWAA Hall of Fame Election Results

The 2015 MLB Hall of Fame class is complete, and it's one of the most unique in history. 

Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were all granted admission to Cooperstown by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday afternoon, making it the largest class in 60 years, per Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan:

Here's a look at the full results, via BaseballHall.org:

 

This year's class is unsurprisingly led by Johnson and Martinez, two of the most dominant, over-powering pitchers of all-time. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted their place in history in terms of strikeout efficiency:

Johnson, forever intimidating with his 6'10" frame, mullet haircut and eagerness to back hitters off the plate, is second all-time in strikeouts (4,875) behind only Nolan Ryan. He led the league nine times, including a staggering 423 (counting regular season and playoffs) punchouts during the Arizona Diamondbacks' magical 2001 World Series run. 

Although he came up just short of Tom Seaver's record 98.84 percent of the vote, he still finished in the top 10 historically, via MLB.com's Greg Johns:

Pedro wasn't as effective for as long, but when he was at the top of his game, there was no one else in the same stratosphere. During his back-to-back Cy Young seasons in 1999 and 2000, he compiled a 41-10 record, 1.90 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 597 strikeouts. Per ESPN's Mark Simon, the only other players to hit those milestones (40 wins, 500 K, sub-2.00 ERA) in a two-year stretch are Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, who both did it in the 60's. 

As Passan noted, the fact he was left off nine percent of the ballots was baffling:

Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy put it simply, while Sports Illustrated's Michael Beller pointed to the frustrating inconsistencies in the voting process:

John Smoltz wasn't quite as much of a lock as Johnson and Pedro, but there was never really a doubt that he would get in. One of the most versatile pitchers in history, he owns both a Cy Young Award as a starter and a season with 55 saves. 

ESPN Stats & Info illustrated his unmatched production:

Craig Biggio rounds out the class after coming up just two votes shy in 2014. It was a long time coming for the former Houston Astros star, who finished his career with a remarkable 3,060 hits, 291 home runs, 414 stolen bases and 1,844 runs scored.

SportsCenter's Twitter feed noted his status among elite company:

Mike Piazza (69.9 percent), Jeff Bagwell (55.7) and Tim Raines (55.0) were closest to the cut line. The stats for all three are obviously impressive, but endorsements from fellow players often speak even louder. Former "Nasty Boy" and 1990 NLCS MVP Rob Dibble gave just that for the former two:

Fortunately, with Ken Griffey Jr. serving as the only lock to enter next year's ballot, each player has a good chance to enter the Hall very soon. 

Passan offered a very early outlook at the next couple of years:

Seattle Mariners fans would like to see Edgar Martinez join that list. One of the best pure hitters of all time, Martinez got just 27.0 percent of the vote, but he did get a ringing endorsement from the newest Hall of Famer, via the M's Twitter feed:

Of course, the biggest debate will continue to surround the players from the Steroids Era. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who would have been easy first-ballot inductees on merit, each received under 40 percent of the vote. 

They both saw an increase from last year, but as the YES Network's Jack Curry noted, the change in the voting process makes it a steep hill for them to climb to Cooperstown:

It's an unfortunate controversy that will continue to serve as a dark cloud over the Hall of Fame voting process in coming years, and it's going to be interesting to see if voters eventually soften on their stance. 

But that's a question to worry about down the road. For now, it's time to celebrate one of the most impressive Hall of Fame classes in history. 

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Emilio Bonifacio to White Sox: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Journeyman Emilio Bonifacio has a new home.  

According to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the 29-year-old, who has played with seven different teams during his eight-year MLB career, has signed with the Chicago White Sox:

Heyman noted the deal was pending a physical, but also stated this has been a "brilliant Winter" for Chicago.

Although he has moved around quite a bit in the last couple of years, Bonifacio's role is clear. He's a versatile utility man who provide speed on the basepaths and play a multitude of different positions. 

As MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo noted back in November, he had lots of suitors:

Spending time between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves last season, he hit .259/.305/.345 with three home runs, 17 doubles, four triples and 26 stolen bases. Over the last three campaigns, he has swiped an average of 44 bags per 162 games. 

“He’s always a pain to play against,” Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons said when the team acquired Bonifacio last trade deadline, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien. “It’s going to be fun having him on the team and not have to worry about him stealing bases (against the Braves). He’s going to steal bases for us.”

Defensively, he's a Swiss Army knife. While he spent most of the 2014 season at center field, he played every outfield position, third base, second base and shortstop. 

This isn't a signing that is going to alter the landscape of the league, but players like Bonifacio often play significant roles on winning teams. The switch-hitter can give almost any starter a day off here or there. He can come on as a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement. He's a veteran presence in the clubhouse. 

If he does those things for the White Sox, this will prove to be a valuable signing. 

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2015 BBWAA Hall of Fame: Date, Start Time and Full List of Nominees

On Tuesday afternoon, a handful of former MLB players' lives may change forever. 

When the 2015 MLB Hall of Fame voting results are announced on Tuesday, Jan. 6, at 2 p.m. ET, a lucky few will go from great players to legends. From "I remember that guy" to, "I'll never forget that guy." From star to Hall of Famer

For the uninitiated, there are 34 players on the ballot, including 17 from years previous and 17 newcomers. Voters can choose up to 10 players. It takes 75 percent of the vote to be elected into the Hall and at least 5 percent to stay on the ballot for next year. 

Here's a look at everything else you need to know.

 

Voting Results Announcement: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015

Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

 

Nominees

According to Baseball Think Factory, 148 full ballots have already been made public (thank you, Internet). That is approximately 25.9 percent of the vote. While it's not a perfect sample size, a quarter of the ballots will provide a very good indication of what the 2015 class will look like. 

And if that indeed turns out to be accurate, we're in line for a historically large class, as Randy Johnson (99.3 percent), Pedro Martinez (98.0), John Smoltz (87.1), Craig Biggio (82.4) and Mike Piazza (77.0) are all currently above the necessary threshold. 

Per BaseballHall.org, five inductees would tie the record set by the inaugural 1936 class, which featured a decent quintet of names: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. 

Johnson and Martinez are going to be the headliners. 

The Big Unit, known for his intimidating 6'10" frame, blazing fastball and devastating slider, finished his career with 303 wins, five Cy Young Awards and 4,875 strikeouts, which is second all-time behind Nolan Ryan. There's a good chance he still haunts the dreams of any left-handed hitter who faced him during his 22-year career. 

In addition to his rare physical traits, he was undeniably competitive.

"We knew that every fifth day, we were going to get one of the most competitive efforts in the history of the game," said former manager Bob Brenly, according to The Associated Press' Bob Baum (via The Seattle Times). "He pitched every game like it was the most important of his life."

Martinez, who stood about a foot shorter, wasn't around as long as Johnson, but his highs were the stuff of legend. In the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Pedro went a combined 41-10 with a 1.90 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 597 strikeouts, 69 walks and an ERA+ of 265, per Baseball-Reference.com

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona discussed Martinez's greatness, via the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.

He didn't have one great pitch. He had four. I think if he wanted to have a fifth or sixth he probably could have. He had that ability. I think 'electric' is probably the best word I could come up with.

John Smoltz's resume looks different than most thanks to splitting time as a starter and a reliever. But it doesn't appear as though he'll have much trouble getting in on his first ballot. 

Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, who came up just short on last year's ballot (Biggio especially at 74.8 percent), are also looking good on the early returns. 

Players just below the cut line include Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell (66.4 percent of the early votes each). Raines is arguably the second-best leadoff hitter of all-time while Bagwell is a career .297 hitter with 449 home runs and an MVP award. 

The Houston Astros attempted to make the case for their former player:

Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are a few more players who will likely come up short and stir up a debate or 100. 

But either way, with two of the most overpowering, dominant pitchers of all-time at the top and a potentially record number of inductees, this class looks to be one for the ages. 

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