(USA TODAY Sports)The deal sending Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers is official now, meaning he's no longer the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia.

Rollins was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2nd round of the 1996 amateur draft. He went on to spend his first 15 major league seasons in a Phillies uniform, accumulating 2,306 hits, 1,325 runs scored, 216 home runs, 887 RBIs, 453 stolen bases and 111 triples. He also earned three All-Star selections and one MVP award in 2007, while helping the Phillies win five division championships and a World Series championship in 2009. 

A lot of great numbers. A lot of memories. But now it's time to say goodbye, at least for now. 

Jimmy Rollins did just that on Saturday, taking out a full-page ad in the Philadelphia Enquirer. 

Jimmy Rollins bought a full-page ad in Saturday’s @PhillyInquirer: pic.twitter.com/ct2rRiw2sU

— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) December 20, 2014

The print is a little small so here's the full text:

To the City of Philadelphia,

Words cannot begin to describe what these past 18 years as a Phillie have meant to me. Starting as a teenager from Northern California, becoming a husband and now a father of two beautiful children, I’ve spent nearly half of my life growing up in front of all of you.

We’ve shared a lot of great memories that I’ll cherish forever. From being the “team to beat,” to our great postseason run and raising that World Championship banner, it has been an honor playing in front of the most passionate fans in the world. You let us hear it when things got tough and you rocked “The Bank” when we needed you most.

It’d like to thank the countless staff members throughout the organization that have supported me and the Rollins Family Foundation over the years. We wouldn’t be where we are today without all of you.

To my teammates, you guys are family and always will be. There have been many to come and go over the years and I’ve enjoyed taking the field with each and every one of you. Chase, Hollywood, Chooch, Big Piece … brothers for life.

Lee Thomas, Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro and the managers that I’ve played for over the years, Tito, Larry, Charlie and Ryno; thank you for giving me the opportunity and making a kid from Alameda’s dream come true. Mr. Montgomery, thank you for everything.

Love you all! Peace.

Jimmy, Johari, Cam & Lolo

Rollins had the option to veto the trade but elected to move on with the Phillies finally moving forward with a rebuilding effort. It's a tough business like that, but Rollins is ready to create new memories and maybe even win another World Series with the Dodgers.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 20, 2014, 5:27 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)Three days after designating veteran reliever Brian Wilson for assignment, the Los Angeles Dodgers have officially released the 32-year-old, allowing him to pursue a free agent contract with another team.

In doing so, the Dodgers will be on the hook for the balance of Wilson's $9.5 million salary in 2015 if and when he signs elsewhere. But that would seem like a small price to pay for a new front office focused on eliminating liabilities.

And a liability Wilson truly was in 2014, posting a 4.66 ERA with a disappointing 29 walks 48 1/3 innings. Wilson's command issues were compounded by a dip in velocity, which raises flags about a bulky elbow. Wilson missed two weeks in April with ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow, which is alarming considering he was two years removed from Tommy John surgery. 

It's entirely possible he was never near one-hundred percent. Just how much that arm has left is the Dodgers main concern, and those questions may make it difficult for Wilson to find anything other a minor-league deal. The Dodgers, who had 10 days to trade or release Wilson after his designation, obviously didn't find much interest on that front.

Given Wilson's experience and past success as a closer with the San Francisco Giants, someone will undoubtedly take a flier hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Bullpen depth is something every team needs heading into a 162-game season. But it will be most interesting to see which teams step forward, and even more so how Wilson's arm bounces back. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 20, 2014, 3:49 am

(USA TODAY Sports)According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami-Sun Sentinel, the San Francisco Giants reportedly have a deal in place to acquire veteran third baseman Casey McGehee from the Miami Marlins. Rodriguez adds the Marlins will receive minor league pitchers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo. Both are considered lower level prospects.

It's not exactly the big name many anticipated the Giants would land to fill the sizable gap created by Pablo Sandoval's departure. The Giants were also in on but eventually lost out on free agents Chase Headley and Yasmany Tomas, who were viewed as the best bets available at third base in the short and long term. McGehee is more of a short term, fall-back option, but he fills the need nonetheless.

McGehee, 32, is a .264./.324/.400 career hitter over six big league seasons. He actually spent the 2013 season in Japan, before returning to MLB with the Miami Marlins. In the first half of 2014, he came out strong, hitting .321 and knocking in 53 runs, but the power upside shown in his previous MLB run — he averaged 17 from 2009-11 — was non-existent. McGehee finished with a .287/.355/.357 slash line, only four home runs and 76 RBIs in 691 plate appearances. 

By comparison, Sandoval has averaged 17 home runs and 73 RBIs with a .292/.345/.464 slash line over his six full seasons. That's a small from McGehee's career slash and peak production, but obviously McGehee is on the downside of those numbers while Sandoval may just be reaching his peak. The Giants will likely have to pursue an upgrade elsewhere in their lineup to offset the expected future loss in production. 

As for the Marlins, McGehee became expendable on Friday after they acquired Martion Prado in a five-player deal with the New York Yankees. It's not a huge return, but Miami is probably most happy about getting out from under McGehee's arbitration salary, which MLB Trade Rumors projects at $3.5 million

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 20, 2014, 1:43 am

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will officially retire from his position on Jan 25, ending his 22-year run in baseball's most powerful position. But by no means is he going away. On Friday, it was announced by incoming commissioner Rob Manfred that Selig will still have a prominent voice as an adviser under his regime.

Selig's official title will be commissioner emeritus. It's both a respectful way to honor his service and a fancy way to essentially label him an adviser or mentor. It's also a title that apparently pays well. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Selig will earn an annual pension of around $6 million once he officially steps down.

Here's more on his new role. 

Major League Baseball Commissioner-Elect Rob Manfred today announced that he has given the sport's longtime leader, Allan H. (Bud) Selig, the title of Commissioner Emeritus, which will be effective on January 25th, when he officially retires as Commissioner. As Commissioner Emeritus, Selig will be available to advise Manfred and to assist with special projects as Manfred begins his term as Commissioner.

Manfred said: "Commissioner Selig has had an unparalleled career of decorated service to the National Pastime, and this role will allow the game to benefit from his unmatched institutional knowledge, experience and relationships. I could not ask for a finer mentor during this transition process, and I am grateful that Commissioner Selig will continue to be available to me as a resource."

Manfred was viewed as Selig's hand-picked successor, so there's obviously a strong relationship based in respect and trust between the two men. Given that relationship and Selig's firmly established working relationship with the owners, it does make sense to keep him nearby in case a crisis breaks out or an opinion is needed. However, in some ways it may prevent Manfred from making his own mark, at least initially, knowing that Selig will retain a great deal of influence. 

In that regard, it may not go over too well with people seeking immediate changes to the game, but at this point there really aren't too many changes that are noticeably required. Manfred seems to be mainly focused on making as smooth as of a transition as possible. The feather-ruffling will come later, if need be. 

As for Selig's thoughts on his new position. 

Selig said: "I greatly appreciate the opportunity to stay connected to the game in this new capacity. I will be proud to stand behind Rob's vision for the future and to assist in any ways that he asks. Baseball is the greatest game in the world, and I look forward to seeing our sport flourish under Rob's leadership."

It's a nice gig if you can get it. Respect him or not though, Selig undeniably put in the work required

As for Selig's pension, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney told ESPN that the league will not reveal compensation but said the $6 million a year figure is inaccurate. At this point, we're only left to guess what the figure truly is, but we're assuming Olney didn't just pull that number out of nowhere. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 20, 2014, 12:04 am
(USA TODAY Sports)

The Miami Marlins have reportedly added another everyday player to the lineup they're overhauling, while the New York Yankees added a young pitcher who they're hoping has his best days ahead of him.

The Yankees sent the versatile Martin Prado to the Marlins, where he's likely to play third base, in a five-player swap. The Yankees are getting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, a 24-year-old with a big arm; Garrett Jones, who might have enough pop in his lefty bat to hit some longballs in the Bronx; and 22-year-old pitching prospect Domingo German.

The Marlins are also getting pitcher David Phelps, who had a 4.38 ERA in 2014, pitching as both a starter and a reliever. Jack Curry of the YES Network was first to report the trade. 

Speculating that Yankees love Eovaldi's big arm and think Jones can hit for power at Stadium, but losing Prado's versatility hurts.

— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 19, 2014

The Yankees are obviously hoping that Eovaldi matures into a nice starting rotation piece. He was 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA last season, but he's still young enough to turn that around. We've seen many young pitchers start the same way only to get better as they've entered their primes.

For the Marlins, this is another win-now move to add to an offseason haul that include Mat Latos, Dee Gordon and Michael Morse, in addition to Giancarlo Stanton's new mega contract. Prado, 31, can play all over the infield and outfield. He's a former All-Star who is a .291 lifetime hitter. 

Possible MIA lineup: 2B Gordon, LF Yelich, RF Stanton, 3B Prado, CF Ozuna, 1B Morse, C Saltalamacchia, SS Hechavarria.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 19, 2014

Casey McGehee played third base for the Marlins last season and won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award. He could get some work at first base with Morse since Jones is gone, but McGehee might also be a trade chip for the Marlins now.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 19, 2014, 7:01 pm

Without a playoff appearance since 2006 and mired in also-ran status behind the powers of the National League West, the San Diego Padres are going all-in in 2015.

Friday was another day of frantic dealing for Padres general manager A.J. Preller, capping off a week of bold moves. On Friday Preller landed outfielder Justin Upton in a deal with the Atlanta Braves. That was quickly followed by acquiring third baseman Will Middlebrooks from the Boston Red Sox.

With the dust settled (for now) the Padres have completely overhauled their offense that ranked 30th in the majors last year. While some of the deals are still not finalized, if everything goes according to plan the Padres will have this week acquired Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, Upton, and Middlebrooks.

Here’s a look at what their potential revamped 2015 batting order might look like, compared to what their 2014 lineup often looked like on a typical summer day after third baseman Chase Headley was traded in July:

2015

2014

1. Alexi Amarista, SS

1. Everth Cabrera, SS

2. Jedd Gyorko, 2B

2. Yangervis Solarte, 3B

3. Justin Upton, OF

3. Seth Smith, OF

4. Matt Kemp, OF

4. Yasmani Grandal, C

5. Wil Myers, OF

5. Jedd Gyorko, 2B

6. Derek Norris, C

6. Will Venable, OF

7. Will Middlebrooks, 3B

7. Cameron Maybin, OF

8. Yonder Alonso, 1B

8. Yonder Alonso, 1B

9. Pitcher

9. Pitcher

 

In addition to the offensive upgrades, the Padres also added reclamation projects to their pitching staff in Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson. If one or both can turn back the clock they could bolster the backend of the starting rotation which already includes stalwarts Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy. Just as remarkably, the Padres made these deals without losing their top prospects. Catcher Austin Hedges, pitcher Matt Wisler, and outfielder Hunter Renfroe – three of San Diego’s top four prospects according to Baseball America – remain in the organization.

A roster overhaul of this nature is not always a recipe for success (just ask the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays, among many other teams). But Preller has put the Padres in a position to make some noise in the tough NL West in 2015, and if nothing else a team worth watching. Some of his players are already excited:

Christmas has come early for the @padres this year

— Tyson Ross (@TysonRoss) December 19, 2014

Since winning the division in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006 the Padres have had to watch the other California teams dominate. The San Francisco Giants have won three World Series, and the Los Angeles Dodgers throw seemingly endless amounts of cash around in pursuit of a title of their own. The Padres are now poised to make the division a three-horse race.

Author: Ian Denomme
Posted: December 19, 2014, 5:19 pm

It's becoming increasingly obvious that general managers around Major League Baseball don't place sleep high on their list of priorities. When they're closing in on a deal? Forget about it.

The latest late night/early morning deal is brought to us by Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, who reports the San Francisco Giants and GM Brian Sabean have reached an agreement to bring back veteran right-hander Jake Peavy on a two-year deal.

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick later confirmed the overnight agreement and the financials, which come in at $24 million guaranteed.

Peavy will make $7M in 2015 and $13M in 2016. $4M signing bonus and full no trade clause.

— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 19, 2014

While the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres aggressively move furniture around in hopes of surpassing the Giants in the NL West, the defending World Series champions have yet to make an addition of note this winter. That's significant on its own accord, but it becomes more glaring when you consider they've also lost a cornerstone in Pablo Sandoval, who last month inked a five-year, $95 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.

While necessary reinforcements haven't come in just yet, the Giants are at least keeping other notable pieces on board. On Wednesday, they re-signed reliever Sergio Romo to a potentially steep two-year, $15 million deal. Steep because they're counting on a bounce-back season from a former closer, which is far from a sure thing. But perhaps not as risky in their mind because of familiarity and comfort on both sides.

Now they've agreed to bring back the 33-year-old Peavy as well with a multi-year deal, which at least one scout told Yahoo's Jeff Passan he wasn't sure he'd be willing to do. Again, though, familiarity and comfort may have won out, and it's not difficult to understand why considering Peavy's contributions down the stretch.

After being acquired from Boston ahead of the trade deadline, Peavy posted a 2.12 ERA in 12 regular season starts. He was less effective in the postseason, posting a 6.19 ERA in 16 innings, but he'd done his part to help get them there, much like he'd done with Boston one year earlier, and he's a guy you know Bruce Bochy will be comfortable running out there every fifth day.

The price matches what the Giants will need him to be, which is an experienced starter who soaks up innings in the middle of the rotation. But the bigger question may end up being how this will effect their pursuit of free-agent James Shields, who's similar to Peavy in some ways but provides a higher ceiling and therefore a higher price tag. Will he still be in play for San Francisco, or is this a sign the Giants will focus more on staying the course with pieces they already have rather than making a splash? 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 19, 2014, 12:25 pm

Vin Scully lost his World Series ring Thursday while doing some holiday shopping. We know this, because the Dodgers sent out an APB via Twitter that Scully's ring was missing. Exactly nine minutes later, the Dodgers called the whole thing off, saying Scully's ring had been found.

Crisis averted.

The mystery might not be gripping enough for "Serial" to investigate, but the details of Scully's sort-of missing ring are plenty amusing. He lost it at Costco while grabbing ribs, putting them in plastic bags and loading them into his cart at the behest of his wife, Sandi. The Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke talked to Scully and got the scoop — and, in the process, proved that Scully, 87, can even make a trip to Costco sound magical. 

"There's so much stuff there, stuff everywhere, the first couple of times I was a little intimidated," he said. "But it's become my home away from home."

The story goes like this: The Scullys were prepping for the holidays, stocking up on food and everything else they sell at Costco. They paid for their haul (presumably it was $100 more than they expected, just like every Costco trip ever) then went to their car. That's when Vin noticed his ring was gone. As Plaschke notes, it's the ring from 1988, the only one of Scully's six that he still has. He's given the others to his children. Scully first alerted the Costco manager and he also called the Dodgers, who in turn put the Twitter detectives on the case.

We'll let Plaschke finish the story from here:

Then Vin and Sandi drove home while Vin continued to remind himself it was only jewelry and paled in comparison to the large and loving family that awaited his 88th holiday celebration.

"You know, maybe God heard me say that," he said.

Sure enough, while Vin was unloading the stacks of items, he heard a cry from inside the house. While emptying the ribs, Sandi found the ring at the bottom of the bag.

"I'm still laughing about it," said Vin. "But you know, I think I've been laughing about things all winter."

If he were a lesser person, we'd probably tsk-tsk him for not checking his bags first. But he's Vin Scully, so we'll just say, "Aw, shucks, Vin, you're still the best." 

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 19, 2014, 8:25 am
(AP)

Billy Beane's rebuilding plan collided with A.J. Preller's rebuilding plan Thursday, as the Oakland Athletics traded another of their 2014 All-Stars while the San Diego Padres added another guy capable of hitting baseballs pretty far.

The A's traded catcher Derek Norris to the Padres, getting two young pitchers — Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez — in return. Norris, 25, enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, particularly in the first half when he had an OPS of .879 with eight homers and 37 RBIs. It was enough to get Norris on the AL All-Star team. His second half wasn't as good, but he was hit in the head by backswings a couple times, which certainly didn't help things.

As Beane, the always-bold A's general manager, remakes his roster, Norris is just the latest All-Star on the move. Oakland had seven All-Stars last July. Only two remain. Norris, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija have all been traded. Sean Doolittle and Scott Kazmir, the other two All-Stars, may not want to get an A's tattoo or anything.

Jesse Hahn is going to Oakland now. (AP)Preller, the new and ambitious Padres GM, has added another piece to the league-worst offense he's trying to turn around. In the matter of a week, he swung trades to add Norris, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers. Each comes with injury concern — Kemp's hips, Myers' wrist and Norris' concussion worries.

The Padres are assuming risk, sure, but Preller isn't cleaning up a mansion. He's trying to flip a foreclosed home.

Norris fills the gap created when the Padres dealt their catcher, Yasmani Grandal, to the Dodgers in the Kemp trade. San Diego also acquired Ryan Hanigan, 34, in the Myers trade, but Norris figures to be their main catcher, thanks mostly to his superior bat. (On Friday morning, the Padres were close to sending Hanigan to Boston for Will Middlebrooks.) The Padres are also getting right-handed pitcher Seth Streich, who earned praise in the Oakland prospect ranks after a strong 2014. He'll likely start 2015 in Double-A.

For the A's, this trade makes more sense than some of the others. They're selling high on Norris (Maybe he's never an All-Star again, who knows? His second half wasn't nearly as good as his first.), and they're getting two pitchers in return who project well.

Hahn, 25, was a rookie in 2014, going 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 12 starts. Alvarez, 23, came to the Padres when they traded Huston Street to the Angels. He was dominant in the minors and made 10 relief appearances for the Padres last season, striking out nine batters in eight innings and allowing one run. He's a back-end bullpen guy, who throws hard and could be groomed as a closer. 

There's some thought out there that the A's are gearing up for another big trade, moving some of their young arms for a bigger bat. Troy Tulowitzki's name has been thrown around. We don't know if that'll happen, but we do know that Beane's always swinging deals.

And, apparently, so is Preller.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 19, 2014, 7:22 am

(USA TODAY Sports)With ace James Shields ready to move on this winter, the Kansas City Royals are ramping up efforts to add depth to their starting rotation. On Wednesday, they announced a two-year, $20 million deal with veteran right-hander Edinson Volquez. On Thusday, they stayed busy, announcing a two-year, $8.5 million deal with former Atlanta Braves starter Kris Medlen.

Both deals definitely carry some risk and reward for Kansas City. As the Stew noted on Wednesday, in Volquez's case it's performance based following a somewhat surprising and possibly unsustainable bounce-back season in 2014. In Medlen's case, it centers almost entirely around health. In March, the 29-year-old right-hander underwent his second Tommy John surgery in four years.

It's an interesting "tale of two deals" if you will. Though it's very clear the Royals have applied lower expectations and therefore greater logic to Medlen signing. According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, Medlen's contract is backloaded — he'll earn $2 million in 2015 and $5.5 million in 2016 — and loaded with incentives — he can earn up to $10 million over two seasons — almost assuring they'll get value. They also have a mutual $10 million option for 2017. 

What they're hoping for, obviously, is a return to the field at some point in 2015 and more impactful contribution in 2016 and perhaps beyond. That's consistent with the usual recovery time from Tommy John surgery, though obviously things can be different when it's a second Tommy John. 

It's not a bad gamble to take. After undergoing the procedure in 2010, Medlen bounced back to produce a 2.47 ERA over 84 appearances between 2011-13. Of his last 44 appearances, 43 have been starts, including a 12-start stretch to end 2012 where Medlen allowed only nine earned runs and the Braves never lost. His ERA as a starter was a consistent 2.46.  

The Royals won't need or expect Medlen to be that good since he's being paid like a backend starter in today's market. With guys like Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas around, in addition to Volquez, they'll be fine if he tops out as such. But the upside is obviously enticing. If it's reached, the Royals are a deeper better team, and general manager Dayton Moore will have some added flexibility for down the road. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 19, 2014, 2:57 am

An agreement between the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman that would have allowed the team to search for new stadium sites within Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, has been rejected by the St. Petersburg City Council

If approved, the agreement would have served as the first significant breakthrough for the Rays as they attempt to move on from Tropicana Field. The Rays would have been free to survey sites within the Tampa area. If they found something to their liking and elected to opt out of their lease at Tropicana Field before it expired in 2027, they would have been on the hook to make yearly payments to the City of St. Petersburg.

It was appealing to the Rays, simply because they finally had a chance to explore new possibilities. It was appealing to mayor Kriseman because it would keep the Rays in the area, possibly even in St. Pete, and payments would still be coming in.

At the end of the day though, there were too many questions and concerns surrounding the agreement to get the support necessary from the Council.

No comment from #Rays president Brian Auld. It was five "no" votes, three "yes."

— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) December 18, 2014

So the #Rays do not have permission to look for stadium sites in Hillsborough County. Council just had too many questions about the MOU.

— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) December 18, 2014

Brian Auld eventually released a statement expressing his disappointment. 

Statement from #Rays President Brian Auld on today's decision by the St. Petersburg City Council: pic.twitter.com/mKDRV1kZIE

— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) December 18, 2014

So what's next for the Rays?

Perhaps a little more haggling with the City of St. Pete in the short term.

St. Pete council looking to renegotiate deal with Rays. Question is if/how much club would bend in new set of talks.

— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) December 18, 2014

Long term could be another story. In fact, just last week principal owner Stuart Sternberg spelled out a scenario that doesn't bode well for baseball's future in the Tampa area

But he also said that if the agreement is not approved and there is no deal in place within the next few years for a new stadium to be built, he likely will sell the team and would expect it to be moved out of the Tampa Bay area when the Trop lease runs out in 2027.

"I'm not moving this team. I'm not taking this team out of the area. But that's me,'' Sternberg said at baseball's winter meetings in San Diego. "The chances of me owning this team in 2023 if we don't have a new stadium are probably nil. Somebody else will take it and move it. It's not a threat, just the reality. I won't be sitting here 10 years from now waiting it out to move the team.''

If Sternberg was attempting to inject some urgency into the vote, it obviously didn't work.

Though time is not up yet, it remains the enemy. With no resolution in sight, Sternberg will be forced to consider all options, which could ultimately result in the team leaving the Tampa area. 

Of course, that immediately leads to speculation that the Rays will eventually relocate to Montreal. It's natural. It's expected. And honestly, it's entirely possible. But there are obviously a lot of hurdles still standing in the way of that as well, beginning with who actually owns the team five or ten years down the road. 

It's a waiting game, still, and patience is obviously wearing thin. But you almost get the feeling that whatever happens next will be the most telling sign yet on what the Rays future will be. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 19, 2014, 12:53 am

(First Day Issue)In a tragic end to a baseball life that once showed promise, Ryan Bolden, a former first-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels, was shot and killed Wednesday night.

Bolden was just 23, and hadn't played baseball since 2013. He was drafted out of Madison Central High School in Mississippi by the Angels as the 40th overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft. His life ended after an argument broke out in an apartment complex in College Park, Ga.

The altercation started — unfortunately enough — because of candy. From Fox 5 Atlanta:

Investigators tell FOX 5's Marc Teichner that children, around 10- and 11-years-old, were arguing about the candy at an apartment complex in the 4000 block of Lakemont Drive. Police say some adults got involved and things turned violent around 8:30 p.m. That's when a 23-year-old man was shot and killed.

Investigators say they have a suspect, but haven't released a name at this time. Detectives are interviewing a number of witnesses, and they could have more on the case by day's end.

Bolden's baseball career, by all accounts, was a bust. He played in parts of four seasons, never advancing past rookie ball and never hitting above .200. In 2013, he played just seven games with the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League, before retiring because of back issues.

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The Angels chose Bolden in the supplemental portion of the 2010 first round, a few picks before the Mariners selected Taijuan Walker and the Tigers picked Nick Castellanos. The draft pick was compensation for the Angels losing John Lackey in free agency.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 18, 2014, 9:51 pm
(Getty Images)

We saw Japanese ace Kenta Maeda recently, when he shut down a team of MLB stars in the Japan Series, allowing just two hits in five scoreless innings. Maeda's start was watched more closely than other parts of the Japan Series because there was a belief that he could be pitching in MLB next season.

That won't be happening, not for 2015, as we've learned that Maeda's team, the Hiroshima Carp, won't post him for MLB teams to bid on — despite his wishes to come to the U.S.. Per Jim Allen at Kyodo News:

Hiroshima Carp tell Kenta Maeda they will not post him this season. Maeda will not be an unrestricted free agent until after 2017 season.

— Jim Allen (@JballAllen) December 18, 2014

Last year in Japan, Maeda went 11-9 with a 2.60 ERA, and that was actually a down year comparatively. He was 15-7 with a 2.10 ERA in 2013 and 14-7 with a 1.53 ERA. Those aren't quite as impressive as Yu Darvish's or Masahiro Tanaka's pre-MLB number, but they're still good enough to make Maeda, 26, the next Japanese pitcher MLB teams are waiting for.

As our Jeff Passan noted in his Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker, Maeda doesn't have the velocity of Tanaka or Darvish, relying on breaking pitches to complement his low-90s fastball. Still, Maeda was ranked between Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano on Yahoo Sports' free-agent rankings (had he been posted, of course).

The Arizona Diamondbacks were among the teams interested in Maeda.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 18, 2014, 8:22 pm
(AP)

If you've been wondering why the heck the agreed-upon trade sending Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres hasn't been made official yet, you're not alone. It's been a week since news broke that the Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers had a deal in place to send Kemp farther down the California coastline.

The two sides have until the end of Thursday to wrap up their deal. The rumor mill has indicated there were concerns about the physical Kemp took Tuesday with the Padres, and now we're learning that's not just gossip. According to Bob Nightengale at USA Today, Kemp's physical revealed he has "severe arthritis" in his hips.

The San Diego Padres are trying to decide whether to finalize or void their celebrated trade for Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp after his physical revealed severe arthritis in both hips, a person familiar with the diagnosis told USA TODAY Sports ... Yet, Kemp's physical that was taken Tuesday revealed the arthritis, which caught him by surprise. The Padres' physicians now are discussing whether the arthritis would impact his career.

(Getty Images)Keep in mind that there are varying degrees of arthritis, but if it's been classified as "severe," then this is serious. Kemp is 30 and is owed $107 million over the next five seasons. As part of the trade, the Dodgers were reportedly giving the Padres $32 million toward Kemp's salaries.

There were injury concerns before this news too. In the past three years, Kemp has had ankle and shoulder surgeries, plus hamstring issues. But he was healthy and productive in the second half of 2014, which made him an alluring trade chip this winter. He hit .287/.346/.506 with 25 homers and 89 RBIs for the season. Some of that had to come with the hip trouble, unless it just arrived last month.

There's more than just this trade in limbo for the Dodgers too. They have another deal in place to acquire shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies would get back one of the prospects the Dodgers are acquiring from the Padres. So if the Kemp deal falls apart, the Rollins deal would need re-examination too.

Our own Jeff Passan noted Wednesday — before the arthritis news went public — that the Padres could have been stalling to get money from the Dodgers:

Whether the $32 million the Dodgers are offering will suffice is the question, because Texas, where [Padres general manager A.J.] Preller grew his executive chops, has in the past used medical concerns as a way to rework deals at the last minute. And with Kemp’s physical the holdup, 11th-hour haggling remains a roadblock.

If the Padres leaked the info on Kemp's physical to further leverage the Dodgers, then things could get even messier. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes, that's a violation of HIPAA rules:

Information damages Kemp in public realm. Gives appearance of #Padres trying to leverage medical information. And is a violation of HIPAA.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 18, 2014

If deal falls apart, #Dodgers almost certainly would respond in strongest possible fashion.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 18, 2014

After Matt Kemp's tumultuous past three seasons in L.A., it figures that even his exit from the Dodgers wouldn't go according to plan.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 18, 2014, 6:08 pm

As children, we're often encouraged to dream big and work hard to make those big dreams come true. Of course, as life goes along, sometimes those dreams change or life leads us in a new direction. but for Michael Kohn, a native of Charleston, SC and a lifelong Braves fan, his path has taken him right where he always wanted to be.

We have proof of that too, because MLB.com's Mark Bowman posted a mission statement on Twitter that the now 28-year-old reliever wrote as a contract to his parents when he was only 10. 

New #Braves reliever @MichaelKohn58 wrote this when he was 10-years-old. pic.twitter.com/NuSFqa1Zq5

— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 17, 2014

As presented, the message reads:

The life I imagine.
I Michael Thomas Kohn will make pro baseball for the Altanta (sic) Braves and make all my goal. Shortstop. Bat third.

(Getty Images)Kohn has a real shot to see that dream through, though it won't be exactly as he envisioned. He won't be playing shortstop. Barring a mid-game double switch, batting third is out of the question as well. But the most important thing is there's no guarantee he ever wears the Braves uniform in a meaningful game at all. He was inked to a minor league deal, meaning he'll have to show well enough to knock another name off Atlanta's 40-man roster.  

Still, he's plenty motivated coming off a four-year stint with the Los Angeles Angels. In 126 games, he posted a 3.67 ERA over 110.1 innings, and even notched a pair of saves. Overall though he wasn't thrust into too many critical situations, which is something he'll aim to change in Atlanta. 

As Bowman writes, there's another interesting twist to this story that led Kohn to slightly altering his mission statement as a teenager.  

A few years later, Kohn got Derek Jeter's book "The Life You Imagine" and quickly grew excited about the fact that he shares the same birth date as the former Yankees shortstop. When he learned that Jeter had also written a contract to his parents, Kohn found his contract and topped it with the title of this book.

"The day after I got the book, I think I went to school the next day and told everybody, 'Me and Derek Jeter are shortstops and we were born on June 26 and I'm going to bat third in front of Chipper Jones."

It's amazing the number of different ways Derek Jeter has been able to connect with the next generation of ballplayers. Through his play or through his words, he's been a go-to guy for players seeking that extra bit of motivation. If we're smart, we'll make sure that trend continues for generations to come.

BLS H/N: Cut 4

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 18, 2014, 6:22 am

After receiving a 25-game suspension on Sept. 12 for unauthorized use of the drug Adderall,
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has requested and  been granted a theraputic use exemption from the league in order to continue using it in 2015.

This according to Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who made the revelation during a team-related event on Tuesday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday that he was told by Davis that the first baseman has received a therapeutic use exemption for Adderall next season.

“It's a good thing,” Showalter said during the 36th annual OriolesREACH Holiday Party for Kids at Dave & Buster’s in Arundel Mills. “Yeah, he told me he was approved for it.”

Despite a disappointing season that saw his average drop to .196 and his home run total drop from 53 to 26, the loss of Davis was obviously a big blow to Baltimore's offense at the worst possible time. The suspension ended up costing Davis the final 17 games of the regular season and all seven of the Orioles' postseason games (they were swept by Kansas City in the ALCS), meaning he'll also be forced to miss opening day in 2015.

The timing was awful, and the circumstances surrounding his suspension were puzzling to say the least. Prior to the 2013 season, Davis was said to have a therapeutic use exemption for Adderall to treat his diagnosed ADHD. He stopped applying or was denied in 2013 but obviously kept taking Adderall, which led to two failed tests in two years. The first got him a warning. The second a suspension.

The league reportedly issued 113 therapeutic use exemptions for the 2014 season, including 112 for attention deficit disorder or ADHD. The option was there for him then, just as it was before and just as it is now. But for whatever reason Davis wasn't among those with an exemption. Davis has not spoken publicly about the circumstances surrounding his suspension. Per the rules of the joint drug prevention and treatment program, MLB isn't allowed to comment either. So it's possible we'll never know the whole story. 

Of course, what matters now for Davis and the Orioles is that it appears he'll be covered in 2015, allowing him to use Adderall without the threat of a larger suspension. But it would have been interesting to see how Baltimore would have fared against the Kansas City Royals with Davis in the lineup. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 18, 2014, 4:49 am

Credit where it's due, the Miami Marlins are doing some serious work this winter and seem to be on track to field a very competitive team in 2015. 

It would also appear they're on top of their social media game. On Wednesday, the team announced its most recent acquisition on Twitter, that of free-agent slugger Michael Morse on a two-year, $16 million contract, in a way that would only truly make sense under the circumstances: Morse code. 

You'll want to make sure the Vine is unmuted for full effect.

If you're in a spot where that's not possible, like say a work cubicle or a school play, the Marlins provided the code in text form.  

Sorry, that was confusing. Translation: -- .- .-. .-.. .. -. ... / ... .. --. -. / -- --- .-. ... .

— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) December 17, 2014

Impressive, but Big League Stew would a little further with the Morse code in reporting his trade from the Seattle Mariners to the Baltimore Orioles back in 2013. Check that out here

Now, here's the full translation of the Morse signing by Miami

And now the real translation... OFFICIAL: The #Marlins have signed Michael Morse! Welcome home, @MCode38! #MorseCode pic.twitter.com/LXBiIVQm4o

— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) December 17, 2014

Translating further, the Miami Marlins are serious about contending in 2015. That's the clear message they've been sending through their series of aggressive moves, which of course started by signing Giancarlo Stanton to a monumental contract in November. They've also been aggressive in trading for pieces like Dee Gordon and Mat Latos. Now they've added Morse, which they believe will help solidify their offenses new look. 

As always though, one can't help but wonder if the tone will be completely different a year or two down the road. Mixed signals always seemed to be more of their thing, so the fact we're getting clear positive signals will understandably be greeted with a pessimistic response. 

BLS H/N: Cut 4

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 18, 2014, 3:39 am

The unpredictable nature of baseball's offseason struck again on Wednesday, resulting in what would best be described as an awkward tweet from veteran catcher Rene Rivera.

Like any good teammate, Rivera went out of his way to welcome free-agent pitcher Brandon Morrow to the San Diego Padres after he inked a deal with team on Tuesday

@2Morrow23 good to have you in the team! Excited to work with you! Welcome to the @Padres

— Rene Rivera (@ReneRivera13) December 17, 2014

The awkward part? Just as Rivera was welcoming his new teammate to town, he became a new teammate himself. New Padres general manager A.J. Preller continued his aggressive offseason, shipping Rene Rivera to the Tampa Bay Rays as a part of the three-team, 11-player deal that included the Washington Nationals and was highlighted by Wil Myers going to the Padres.

#Rays deal in place, per medicals, players being notified. Keys: Myers + Hanigan to #Padres, get Souza from #Nats, Rivera plus from #Padres

— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 17, 2014

Hello, good-bye and...

@ReneRivera13: @2Morrow23 good to have you in the team! Excited to work with you! Welcome to the @Padres” Awkward...

— Ryan Cohen (@RyanCohen24) December 17, 2014

That about covers it.

San Diego also agreed to trade catcher Yasmani Grandal to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Matt Kemp deal, so they're essentially starting over at the position in 2015. Veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan was brought over from Tampa, so he figures to get a crack at catching Morrow and San Diego's other pitchers. Top prospect Austin Hedges should be in the mix as well.

As for Rivera, he's moving on to his seventh organization in 13 professional seasons, but the memories of his extremely short partnership with Morrow will live forever in the hearts of baseball fans. 

@realericsachs fastest work relationship in history, lol

— Rich Keen (@rich_keen) December 17, 2014

@ReneRivera13 @2Morrow23 @Padres You two worked very well together!

— Eric Sachs (@realericsachs) December 17, 2014

Quick, somebody please welcome Rivera to Tampa before this gets out of hand!

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 18, 2014, 2:28 am

(USA TODAY Sports)For the first time in a long time, the San Diego Padres resemble an organization with a sense of urgency.

On Wednesday, new general manager A.J. Preller agreed to his second blockbuster trade in eight days, acquiring 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team, 11-player trade that also includes the Washington Nationals. At last week's Winter Meetings, he agreed to a major trade with the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers, acquiring outfielder Matt Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal and a pair of pitching prospects. 

Both deals are pending physicals and perhaps other seemingly minor hangups, but once completed would immediately give San Diego two middle-of-the-order bats with which to rebuild their 30th ranked offense around. 

At this point, it's an almost essential path for San Diego to take in a loaded NL West. With the San Francisco Giants and their three championships in this decade alone setting the pace, along with the financially loaded Los Angeles Dodgers rebuilding their front office and going all in to make up necessary ground, the Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies stand little chance of competing without being aggressive and taking risks. 

Enter Preller, who is neither shy nor apprehensive when it comes to being aggressive and taking risks. 

Since officially being named San Diego's GM on Aug. 6, Preller has helped establish the Padres desire to transform from afterthought to immediate contender in the NL West. Of course, that desire requires a certain commitment from ownership to spend money, which apparently has been granted. But there also has to be a relentless and fearless approach from the person in charge of spending, which Preller has so far exemplified. 

An agent told me #Padres GM A.J. Preller is like a "terrier.'' He's relentless in trying to make moves. Never stops.

— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 16, 2014

The trades for Kemp and especially Myers cement Preller's aggressive nature, though the injury history of both certainly bring risks as well. 

In Kemp's case, it was long known the Dodgers were looking to deal from their outfield depth, with Kemp being the preferred guy to move because of his price tag — he's still owed $107 million over five years, some of which Los Angeles will pay — and past leg injuries that have changed his style. Preller seemingly isn't concerned following a healthy 2014 for Kemp. Still, it's surprising and impressive that Preller moved aggressively to strike a blockbuster within the division. Often times those deals aren't approached let alone considered. 

(USA TODAY Sports)
In landing Myers, Preller pulled off a bigger shocker. Until recently, there were few rumblings that Tampa Bay would even consider moving the 24-year-old outfielder, but Preller stepped up, got a third team involved and will now part with three of his top 13 prospects — including No. 2 prospect Trea Turner, who goes to Washington — to add a young, affordable player he obviously believes will make a difference. The risk with Myers is that he missed 75 games last season with a broken wrist, and only managed a .222 average with a .294 on-base percentage overall. 

Both are bold moves that could quickly veer off course. Before those trades, Preller made very bold and aggressive bids for free agent hitters Yasmany Tomas and Pablo Sandoval, but ultimately fell short when those players preferred other destinations.

With all of that put together, the message from San Diego is clear: Preller and the Padres mean business. But the questions now are, what's next, and will it be enough to make the Padres relevant in 2015?

Just the fact we're asking those questions with a straight face should be enough to make Padres' fans smile, at least for a little while. 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 18, 2014, 1:04 am
(Getty Images)

In baseball, more so than any other major pro sport, trades are a long game. While we certainly break down winners and losers right away when a big trade happens, it usually takes years before we learn who's actually the winner and who's actually the loser.

No trade chip proves this better than Wil Myers, the uber-prospect who was traded from the Royals on Dec. 10, 2012, to the Tampa Bay Rays, then traded again Wednesday to the San Diego Padres in an 11-player blockbuster deal.

When the Royals traded Myers to the Rays, they were crucified. Top prospects like Myers didn't just get traded like that, even if James Shields and Wade Davis were the return. And small-market, cash-strapped clubs like the Royals certainly don't trade their top prospects.

On this very blog, we listed off eight reasons it was a bad deal for the Royals. Most baseball pundits agreed. The Rays were bandits while the Royals made a bold move that wasn't going to pay off. The trade was called "bone-headed" and "a Royal blunder."

James Shields was the return for Wil Myers the first time he was traded. (USA TODAY Sports)Here we stand, two years and a week later. The Royals, with Shields as their No. 1 pitcher and Davis as an important part of their bullpen, went to the World Series last season. Myers won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2013, but had a rough 2014, both because of a wrist injury and a .222 batting average.

The Rays didn't think Myers was as untouchable as the 2012 trade fallout made him out to be, since they shipped him off to San Diego in a three-team, 11-player trade that gave Tampa Bay a haul of young players. They'll restock their farm system with promising youngsters, while the Padres get a potential middle-of-the-order bat to pair with Matt Kemp, assuming they're both healthy.

The Padres did well in the trade. They wanted to upgrade their offense, and they've certainly done that. The Washington Nationals, the third team in the deal, did nice for themselves too, getting a pair of alluring prospects that could help them for years to come. And the Rays, well, their judgment depends on how Myers rebounds.

But what about the Royals? They weren't technically involved in this trade, but they're definitely a part of it.

Myers going from how-can-you-trade-that-guy status to a traded-twice-in-three-years player absolves some of the guilt that might have been levied at the Royals in the future. The World Series run helped the Royals look better too. You can still argue they shouldn't have traded Myers, but you can't call them "bone-headed" anymore.

Baseball trades are a long game, remember that, so we could still feel aftershocks of Myers-for-Shields for years to come. Myers could go to San Diego, become an MVP and lead them to a World Series. He's 24. It's totally plausible.

If that happens, it won't just be the Royals who will regret trading Wil Myers, it'll be the Rays too.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 18, 2014, 12:46 am

(Getty Images)What a world we live in. Edinson Volquez, who was released by the San Diego Padres 16 months ago, and then had a decent bounce-back season in Pittsburgh in 2014, is set to make $20 million over the next two seasons.

The Kansas City Royals have reportedly signed Volquez, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, sticking him in their starting rotation along with Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie.

Aside from two possible imports — Chihiro Kaneko and Kenta Maeda — and one possible retiree in Hiroki Kuroda, Volquez was the best starting pitcher available on Jeff Passan's Ultimate Free-Agent tracker.

Volquez, 31, won't be James Shields, that's for sure. He may not even be the 2014 version of himself. With the Pirates, Volquez rebounded from a dreadful 2013 (hello, 5.71 ERA!) and managed a 13-7 record with a 3.04 ERA. He hadn't had an ERA under 4.00 since his rookie season in 2008.

Volquez's FIP, though, was more than a run higher than his ERA, an indication that he's a strong regression candidate. In other words: If Volquez's ERA balloons up past 5.00 like it was in 2011 and 2013, don't say we say we didn't warn you, Kansas City.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 17, 2014, 11:21 pm

(AP)The Boston Red Sox are OK with players having gluten in their diets, right? Because starting pitcher Wade Miley, who they acquired last week in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, says he clashed with the D-backs about his diet.

Specifically about not being gluten-free.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic talked to Miley about the trade out of Arizona. Miley compared leaving the D-backs to a break-up. Those often come with after-the-fact complaints. Here's the one that's leaked out about Miley: The D-backs weren't happy with his diet.

Miley seemed reluctant to bad-mouth the D-backs' staff, but he did admit the complaints about his diet angered him, then he further explained his clash with the club

Miley says his diet was something he and the organization "head-butted" about at some point in the year.

"After a while, they left me alone," he said. "But it was always that elephant in the room."

Miley said he didn't want to go into specifics about his diet but did make a passing reference about not being gluten free. He said he wished the team were more willing to tailor its approach toward individuals rather than having everyone doing the same things.

"It might work for some people, but I didn't feel like it worked for me," he said. "I did what I felt like I needed to do to pitch every five days."

Going on a gluten-free diet is a necessity for people with celiac disease, who need to avoid wheat, barley, rye and other grains. For other people, being gluten-free is more of a health trend that's become increasingly popular in the past few years. Many experts, however, believe cutting out gluten doesn't actually help a person lose weight.

The Diamondbacks said Miley's diet wasn't why they traded him, rather they wanted to get younger and add pitching depth. They got Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in return. Said D-backs GM Dave Stewart:

“Wade Miley’s diet was never once discussed in our internal decision-making process prior to the trade or since. We made a baseball decision that we felt was in the best interest of the D-backs and we wish Wade nothing but the best.”

(Getty Images)

The 6-foot-tall Miley weighed 220 pounds each of the last three seasons. His ERA fluctuated — from 3.33 in 2012 to 4.34 in 2014 — but not his weight. He told Piecoro:

"I might not have a six-pack and be shredded and this and that, but I feel like I eat healthy enough. I've made it through three full seasons. I feel fine. My body feels great. I don't understand why they'd make such a big emphasis on the health part of it."

Miley's durability is one of the reasons the Red Sox wanted him. He's pitched 200 innings each of the past two seasons and 194 the season before that. If he can give the Red Sox 200 innings in 2015 with a sub-4.00, they probably won't care too much about whether he eats grains.

As long it's not fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse. 

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:23 pm

(AP)The San Francisco Giants haven't done much this offseason beyond getting sized for their World Series rings. They earned the bronze medal in the Jon Lester sweepstakes. They haven't addressed their need in left field. They watched Pablo Sandoval leave for Boston, leaving another hole at third base. 

At the very least, the Giants aren't letting another fan favorite leave.

The Giants have reportedly re-signed relief pitcher Sergio Romo, their former closer, to a two-year, $15 million deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. It's pending a physical. It's not an earth-shattering move, but for antsy Giants fans who are watching plenty of moves happen around them, it's something.

Romo, who'll be 32 during the 2015 season, is a lifelong Giant. He was drafted and developed by San Francisco, a 28th-round draft pick who would eventually become its closer. He lost that job in 2014 after a rough spell, but served as a setup man afterward. 

He's not a flame-thrower by any means. Romo depends on his slider and it's served him well throughout his career. He has a 2.51 ERA in 251 career innings dating back to 2008. 

The Giants' next move? Many think they're a good fit for free-agent pitcher James Shields, which would be a much bigger signing than two more years of Romo.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 17, 2014, 8:47 pm

(AP)"So I have a splendid idea. Do you remember how great Josh Hamilton was in a Rangers uniform? I heard y'all down there in Texas are interested in trading for an outfielder. Well, I got just the guy — Josh Hamilton. And he's still playing baseball, so it seems like an ideal fit. Whaddya say? We'll throw in a pair of Mike Trout's cleats!"

We imagine the Los Angeles Angels calling the Texas Rangers, asking if they'd like to get Josh Hamilton back in a trade, sounded something like that. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Angels tried to shop Hamilton recently to the Rangers, for whom he played from 2008-12 and had that 2010 MVP season.

The Rangers' response probably went something like this:

"Sorry, we've got our share of overpaid injured dudes down here in Texas. But we'll be sure to laugh about this later."

The Rangers — for as many things as they might need — certainly don't need Hamilton again. He signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels before the 2013 season and has largely been a bust. He hit .250 in 2013. He was pretty good to start 2014, but then was injured for a stretch, and returned with zero mojo at the end of the season. Meanwhile in Texas, fans hated him when he left but now are probably happy he's gone.

"What to do with Josh Hamilton?" is a legitimate question for the Angels, since he's owed $83 million over the next three seasons. Rosenthal reports the Angels shopped him to two teams so far this offseason — the Rangers and the San Diego Padres. There were no significant talks after that. The Padres would have to be insane to take on both Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp. 

But Rosenthal and at least one of his sources think Hamilton isn't long for the Angels, at least not for those remaining three seasons. He wrote:

A scout with whom I speak regularly predicted Tuesday that Josh Hamilton would not open the season as a member of the Angels. I would not go that far. But I would bet that Hamilton does not complete the final three years of his contract with the club.

(USA TODAY Sports)

Publicly at least, the Angels are saying they think Hamilton can bounce back in 2015. But anybody who watched him in the ALDS last year — in which he was hitless in 13 at-bats and looked very overmatched — will have doubts about Hamilton, 33, moving forward.

Angels GM Jerry Dipoto gave Hamilton a public endorsement, for what that's worth:

“We do believe in Josh,” Dipoto said. “We’ve seen it every day when he takes batting practice. We’ve seen him hit balls that humans shouldn’t hit. What he does, 99 percent of the players can’t do. We are absolutely of the belief that the ability is there for him to do the things that he has done in the past. Now we have to help him turn the key to bring the ability out.”

Teams have tried to unlock Hamilton before, to varying results. The Rangers got the best of it. But that's not what you want to do with a player whom you're paying $23 million in 2015 and $30 million each of the next two years. 

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 17, 2014, 8:17 pm

(Getty Images)
Baseball's Hot Stove has been swirling with rumors the past 24 hours — juicy rumors too. Wil Myers is possibly getting traded in a three-team deal. Matt Kemp might have failed his physical with the Padres, and that's why the trade hasn't been completed yet. The Mariners were close to trading for another outfield bat.

Nothing's come to fruition yet on the first two. But the last one, well, that happened but the hype didn't match the outcome. It's a lesson in how wild our imaginations get this time of year.

The Mariners on Wednesday acquired platoon outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs, in a mostly ho-hum deal that's not going to make the Hot Stove burst into flames. Ruggiano is a nice enough player — he should help the Mariners against lefty pitchers — but he's not what people were hoping for when the rumor mill starting spinning. 

It started with this tweet from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, totally innocent, but a jolt that awoke our imaginations.

Hearing rumblings that the #mariners are closing in on a trade for a hitter.

— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 16, 2014

The Mariners do need an outfield bat and they've been rumored in trade talks for Kemp and Justin Upton. They were said to be pursuing Melky Cabrera before he signed with the Chicago White Sox. Maybe they were after Marlon Byrd? They could use an upgrade at shortstop too. Maybe Ian Desmond? Then the Twitter pundits started to wonder if the rumored Myers trade could be a three-way deal and he could be going to Seattle. 

Strong indications that Seattle is the third team in Rays-Padres Wil Myers trade scenario. Walker may end up in SD. Myers to SEA.

— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) December 17, 2014

Hey now, that's some sexy trade talk right there. Reality, of course, often isn't as good as fantasy. Especially when you're playing MLB trade matchmaker this time of year. Sometimes a team — in this case, the Mariners — is looking for a role player and we, the Hot Stove gawkers, get carried away with our theories.

As for the particulars of the actual trade that was consummated: The Cubs are getting back Matt Brazis, a pitching prospect who spent last season between Single-A and Double-A, with a 2.36 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. Ruggiano, 32, is versatile and can play all over the outfield, which is something the Mariners say they like about him. With the Cubs last year, he hit .281/.337/.429 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 82 games.

So yeah, he's not Justin Upton. Sorry, Mariners fans. But he'll probably help your team. He has a career .836 OPS against left-handed pitching, so a platoon could very well be in Ruggiano's future and be to Seattle's benefit.

ESPN's Crasnick, who you'll recall started this entire conversation, must have been hearing it from Mariners fans who had dreamed a little too big. Shortly after the Ruggiano trade was official, he tweeted this:

Yep, it's Justin Ruggiano to #mariners. I said they were about to trade for a bat. Did not say it was a "big'' bat. (Sorry).

— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 17, 2014

Don't worry, Hot Stove rumormongers and rumor digesters, there's plenty more to rampantly speculate about. What if the Mariners are STILL trading for another outfielder? What if Matt Kemp DID fail his physical? What if the supposed Wil Myers trade is a FIVE-team trade now?

We've still got months of this ahead. Go crazy.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 17, 2014, 6:42 pm

The feel-good story about Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Little League team is a sham, says a rival Little League coach, who is alleging the team recruited ringers from outside its boundaries to advance to the Little League World Series and win the U.S. championship. But so far, Little League International doesn't agree.

The Jackie Robinson West team — which was made up of black players supposedly from inner city Chicago — was the toast of the pre-teen baseball world this summer along with Mo'Ne Davis. The Chicago kids won the U.S. championship before losing in the international title game. But they were still celebrated near and far, from hanging out with the Cubs, to showing up at the actual MLB World Series. They even traveled to the White House to meet President Obama.

Four months after the Little League World Series ended, officials in Evergreen Park, a suburb that's right next to Chicago, are still upset. Chris Janes, who is the vice president of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, says many of the Jackie Robinson West players were recruited from the suburbs, thus violating Little League rules. He told CBS Chicago that the team should be stripped of its title:

“If the team’s comprised of players that shouldn’t have been on there in the first place, then absolutely,” he said. “Little League has very specific rules. Those rules need to be followed. If they’re not, there’s consequences, and Little League outlines those in their rules. If Jackie Robinson broke these rules, they need to be held accountable.”

Janes thinks he has a pretty good case, and he's spelled it all out for officials at Little League's national office, using a variety of media reports and social media posts that tie the Jackie Robinson West players to neighborhoods and schools outside of Chicago. Little League International, however, has said it doesn't find merit in Janes' complaint.

Mark Konkol of Chicago's DNA Info wrote a 5,000-word deep dive into Janes' allegations against Jackie Robinson West, and found that many players do have roots in the suburbs. Coaches and parents from the team explained it away, saying they'd done nothing wrong. One parent reached by DNA Info said he has homes in both the city and the suburbs. Another parent said her family used to live in the suburbs, but now lives in the city.

(AP)

Little League International issued a statement Tuesday saying the Jackie Robinson West team met its eligibility requirements. From the Chicago Tribune:

"Little League International confirmed documentation at the beginning of the tournament play in June. In October, a neighboring league contacted Little League International with information with questions about players' residency on the Jackie Robinson West team that participated in the 2014 Little League Baseball World Series. Little League again reviewed the Jackie Robinson West documents and required the league to provide further information on each player to confirm residency eligibility. Following this additional review, our initial determination that the Jackie Robinson West players meet eligibility requirements still stands. Little League considers the issue closed at this time."

Just because Little League won't act on the Janes' claims doesn't mean the Jackie Robinson West coaches and parents didn't keenly maneuver around the rules to build a winning team. That happens every year in cities all across the country, those teams just don't get the media attention of Jackie Robinson West.

DNA Chicago's story describes a number of the Jackie Robinson West players being on the same traveling team before joining the Jackie Robinson West team that surged to national attention. Janes calls Jackie Robinson West, "a travel ball team masquerading as a Little League team."

Little League International saying the complaint is "closed at this time" doesn't mean Janes will give up. In a letter he wrote to Little League officials that was shown to DNA Chicago, Janes said:

“In the event we do not receive a detailed response explaining how these players were eligible to play for JRW we are strongly considering obtaining outside representation to see this matter through to the end.”

He sounds like he means business. But Evergreen Park has lost to Jackie Robinson West before. In its Little League World Series run, Jackie Robinson West played Evergreen Park in the sectional playoffs and won 43-2. 

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 16, 2014, 9:06 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)The Miami Marlins gave Giancarlo Stanton the richest contract in MLB history, and that was only the start of their offseason maneuvering.

They've traded for Dee Gordon and Mat Latos, two players who immediately make them better, and Tuesday the Marlins reportedly signed slugger Michael Morse to a two-year contract.

Morse is expected to play first base for the Marlins, adding another power bat to a lineup that's already centered around Stanton. Word hasn't trickled out yet about how much Morse will make for his two seasons. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was the first to report the signing.

Morse is a Florida native, so this is a "going home" move for him. Morse could split time with Garrett Jones at first, or if he's healthy and hitting well, the job could be all his. That second scenario would make Marlins brass happy. Morse has mostly played outfield in his career, and he could play there if needed, but the Marlins already have a young, talented outfield with Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.

After an up-and-down career, Morse and his power are still romanticized around baseball. His 2011 season — in which he hit 31 homers with 65 RBIs and an OPS of .910 for the Washington Nationals — is a past that so many teams are hopeful he can revive. But he didn't with the Mariners or Orioles.

The best Morse has been in recent memory was with the Giants last season. He missed a good chunk of time because of an oblique injury, but finished the season with 16 homers, 61 RBIs and an .811 OPS. Since it's still fresh in our minds, people will also remember his thrilling pinch-hit homer in the NLCS, then his four RBIs in the World Series. 

Giancarlo Stanton signs his deal with the Marlins. (AP)

The Marlins haven't been the darlings of the offseason. Chicago leads the league in that category. But the Marlins have improved their roster enough to make them contenders in the NL East next season. The Phillies are breaking down. The Braves are retooling. The Mets have the pitching, but the offense is a question mark. The Nats are clearly the class of the NL East, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Marlins challenging for second place in 2015.

The Marlins improved by 15 wins last season and they're looking for more of that in 2015 by adding power and speed. One of their weak spots after last year was second base, so the addition of Gordon, a speedy All-Star last year with the Dodgers, is an obvious improvement. Latos helps the young pitching rotation, which should have ace Jose Fernandez returning by midseason. And Morse gives them more power potential.

The Marlins could use another quality starting pitcher, but as they sit now, these aren't the Marlins we've used as a punchline. These made-over, more mature Marlins can contend.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 16, 2014, 6:35 pm

After back-to-back seasons in which he made just a combined 16 starts for the Toronto Blue Jays, right-handed pitcher Brandon Morrow is set to try to revive his career with the San Diego Padres.

The 30-year-old with a history of oblique, forearm, and finger issues agreed Tuesday to join the Padres on a low risk, high reward one-year deal worth $2.5 million plus incentives. MLB.com Padres reporter Corey Brock was first to report the news and has the contract details:

Morrow's deal with the #Padres: $2.5 million guarantee + chance to earn $5 million in bonuses for starting and $1 million for relieving.

— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) December 16, 2014

Morrow is the second oft-injured Blue Jays pitcher in two years to attempt a fresh start with the Padres. Josh Johnson had a disastrous 2013 season in Toronto after being acquired in the mega-trade with the Miami Marlins. Johnson went 2-8 with a 6.20 earned-run average and pitched just 81.1 innings. In November 2013, Johnson signed a one-year deal worth $8 million with the Padres – but never saw the field. In April, he underwent his second Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season. The Padres did not pick up his option and he remains a free agent.

Morrow, who in addition to his injury woes suffers from diabetes, can only hope to do better in San Diego than Johnson did. Morrow was reportedly offered an opportunity to fight for a spot in the Blue Jays bullpen, but his preference is to start.

Despite 2015 being his age-31 season, Morrow has the pedigree to get back on track. He was a first-round pick, fifth overall, of the Seattle Mariners in 2006. He arrived in Toronto via trade in late 2009 in exchange for reliever Brandon League. The Blue Jays moved him from the bullpen to the starting rotation and for a while it looked like they had a budding ace. Morrow made 26 starts and won 10 games in 2010. On Aug. 8 of that year, he threw a memorable one-hit shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out 17 and losing his no-hit bid with two out in the ninth. He followed that up with a breakout 2011 season, making 30 starts, winning 11 games, and striking out 203 batters in 179.1 innings.

But soon after, his injuries woes began and he’s been unable to stay on the field since. He missed 64 games in 2012 with an oblique injury, 107 games with a strained right forearm in 2013, and another 107 games last year due to a finger injury.

When he’s healthy and at his best Morrow possesses a mid-90s fastball and a great slider he uses for his outpitch. In his breakout 2011 season he had an AL-best 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings rate.

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Author: Ian Denomme
Posted: December 16, 2014, 5:09 pm

(Getty Images)Ahhh, the wonders of the one-year veteran contract. The best recent example one-year magic is Nelson Cruz, who signed an $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles before the start of the 2014 season, then led the league with 40 homers and drove in 108 runs.

For players with baggage or players trying to get over a subpar season, the ol' one-year deal is a way to prove themselves and get back on the open market. It's also a way for teams to buy low and cross their fingers for the best. The Orioles got one of Cruz's best seasons, won the AL East, then waved goodbye when he signed a four-year, $57 million deal with the Mariners.

To the point here: The Kansas City Royals and Alex Rios would both pretty happy if they produced the sequel to Cruz's one-year magic.

On Monday, Rios reportedly agreed to an $11 million contract with the Royals that will put him in Kansas City for a year. That's according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. The Royals haven't confirmed the deal yet. 

Rios, who will be 34 by opening day, is coming off one of the worst years of his career. He hit just four homers and drove in 54 runs with the Texas Rangers in 2014, where, coincidentally, he replaced Cruz after his 2013 PED suspension. For his career, Rios has a 162-game average of his 17 homers and 78 RBIs with a .278/.323/.439 slash and a .762 OPS. His 2014 OPS (.709) was well below that. 

The Royals are expected to put Rios in right field, where free-agent Nori Aoki played last season. Manager Ned Yost will likely spell Rios in the late innings for Jarrod Dyson, whose speed and defense helped the Royals down the stretch in 2014. 

Royals have committed $17.5M in '15 to two potential bouncebacks: Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales. Season could well hinge on their fortunes.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 16, 2014

He's got "bounce back" potential written all over him. And even if he doesn't bounce back, at least the Royals are only committed to Rios for one year.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 16, 2014, 6:22 am
(AP)

The Chicago Cubs gave Jon Lester $155 million to be their new ace, but they couldn't give him the number he previously wore on his jersey. In Cubs history, No. 31 is retired in honor of both Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

So instead, Lester chose No. 34 — another number that sports fan in Chicago are used to rooting for.

Lester was officially introduced as a member of the Cubs on Monday, putting on his new No. 34 and saying it's a tribute to three people, two of whom Chicago loved: Kerry Wood and Walter Payton. The third No. 34 is Nolan Ryan, and if the Lester can throw a few no-hitters, Chicago would dig that too.

Kerry Wood told #Cubs it would be an honor if Jon Lester wore 34, so he took it

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 15, 2014

Back in Boston, where the Red Sox finished as runners-up in the race to sign Lester, No. 34 belongs to David Ortiz. And Big Papi had a lovely Twitter response to the news of Lester's jersey number change.

Hey @JLester31 if you wanted my number all you had to do was ask jajajaja.....best of luck in chicago bro!!! pic.twitter.com/pjkTSzmxij

— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) December 15, 2014

Too little, too late, Big Papi.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 16, 2014, 12:21 am
(Getty Images)

If any team has the money to spend $10 million on oft-injured, high-potential pitcher, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers. So it makes sense that free-agent pitcher Brett Anderson is reportedly headed for Hollywood.

ESPN's Buster Olney reported Monday that a deal had been struck between the two sides, giving Anderson — who has started just 30 games the past three seasons — a chance for reinvention in Dodger blue.

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan confirmed the details, which include additional incentives that kick in if Anderson reaches 150 innings pitched. Only once in his six-year career has he pitched more than 150 innings, and that was as a rookie in 2009.

Yankees, Braves and Royals were runners-up for Brett Anderson, who goes to the Dodgers for one year and $10M. Incentives start at 150 IP.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 15, 2014

Dodgers rotation now Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, McCarthy and Anderson. Could take 'em out of Hamels sweepstakes. @Buster_ESPN had signing first.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 15, 2014

Giving $10 million to pitcher you're hoping can stay healthy enough to be your No. 5 starter is the type of luxury a team like the Dodgers can afford. If he overcomes his injury history and rekindles his mojo — which is entirely possible as he enters his age-27 season — Anderson could look like a genius buy. If he turns to brittle again, eh, the Dodgers have wasted $10 million before and they will again.

Anderson looked poised to be a frontline pitcher early in his career with Oakland. He cracked the rotation at 21 and pitched well his first two seasons. But then injuries derailed him and he hasn't pitched more than 80 innings in each of the past four seasons. Just look at Anderson's injury history, via Chad Moriyama of Dodgers Digest:

Sup. pic.twitter.com/Zxq0hnEmkh

— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) December 15, 2014

Anderson has a fan in new Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi, who worked for the A's when Anderson was there. Zaidi and the Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy last week, another free-agent pitcher who played for the A's and is pals with Anderson.

Anderson and McCarthy are two of the most entertaining baseball players on Twitter. They've definitely raised the Dodgers' Twitter game. If these moves boosts Dodgers' starting rotation by the same quotient, they'll be worth every dollar.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 15, 2014, 11:59 pm
(USA TODAY Sports)

Jed Lowrie is headed back to Houston.

The free-agent infielder has agreed to a three-year deal with the Astros that'll have him playing shortstop in Houston again, which he did in 2012. Lowrie is making $23 million guaranteed, and could make more in a fourth year. Per Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle:

Source: $23 million over three years for Jed Lowrie, with a team option that could bring it to $28 million.

— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 15, 2014

As we've learned in recent weeks, the shortstop market is very thin and Lowrie was the tops remaining at the position on Jeff Passan's Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker. The Yankees and Dodgers have both solved their shortstop gaps through trades recently, because the market is so rough. The top free agents now are Asdrubal Cabrera and Jung-Ho Kang from Korea, who was supposed to be posted Monday. The New York Mets, for one, still have a need at shortstop.

Lowrie, 30, could have fit a number of teams because he's versatile in the infield. The Giants, for instance, were considering him for third base. Last year in Oakland, he hit .249 with six homers and 50 RBIs. It was a down year for Lowrie, as his OPS plummeted from .791 to .676.

The A's traded for Lowrie before the 2013 season, sending slugger Chris Carter, pitcher Brad Peacock and catcher Max Strassi back to Houston. Now Lowrie's returning to Houston, where he makes his offseason home, with things on the way up the Astros. 

Carter hit 37 homers in 2014. Second baseman Jose Altuve led the league in hitting. George Springer brought excitement to the outfield. The Astros didn't finish in the cellar either. They've already strengthened their bullpen by signing Pat Neshek and Luke Gregorson. 

The Astros should be fun to watch in 2015, unlike when Lowrie was last playing there.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 15, 2014, 8:54 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)We've avoided a salary war between the Washington Nationals, their young star Bryce Harper and his super-agent Scott Boras.

The two sides have agreed to a new two-year contract that will pay Harper a total of $7.5 million for 2015 and 2016, according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post.

There was a dispute about the language in Harper's original contract, signed after he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft and whether he'd be eligible for salary arbitration. 

With a grievance hearing scheduled for this week, Harper no-showed at the team's annual NatsFest over the weekend. It wasn't *officially* because of the contract dispute — no one admitted that — but that's an easy connection to make. Here's more on the dispute, via Kilgore's Washington Post story:

Harper and the Nationals had been at odds over how his salary would be determined because of a rare dispute over the contract he signed as a first-round draft pick in 2010. If the sides had not settled, the Nationals and their most recognizable player would have engaged in a potentially contentious hearing Tuesday.

Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, believed Harper had the right to opt out of his prescribed 2015 salary ($1.5 million) and into baseball’s lucrative arbitration system. The Nationals contended his contract did not include the ability to opt out because such language had never been included in the deal.

Both sides win here, mostly because coming to a settlement doesn't put a strain on their relationship like a hearing would have. The situation could have been blown up and carried on into the regular season. Now, there's enough time for everybody for get over the contract clash before baseball starts again.

On the money side of things: The Nats could very well get a bargain. They're paying Harper $2.5 million for 2015, which is about what he would have gotten through arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, which is usually good at such forecasts. Paying Harper $5 million in 2016 could be cheap. If he has a great third season, he would have likely gotten more in arbitration. 

Harper's bigger paydays are still to come. He's 22 and will be a free agent in 2019. In other words: The Nats and Boras have many more years in which they can argue about money.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 15, 2014, 7:59 pm

(AP)Alex Rodriguez might have been the only person expecting Alex Rodriguez to be the starting third baseman for the New York Yankees in 2015.

But after the Yankees' latest move, even the ever-proud A-Rod has to see the writing on the wall.

With the team committing upward of $50 million to sign third baseman Chase Headley for four years, it proves the Yankees aren't saving a spot for A-Rod or counting on him to contribute after his yearlong suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. 

A-Rod, 39, hasn't played since Sept. 25, 2013, when he finished out a 44-game, injury-shortened season with the Yankees in which he hit .244 with seven homers and 14 RBIs while the Biogenesis scandal consumed him.

There's little reason to expect the Yankees are getting back anything resembling the A-Rod that was once an All-Star. Nor should they expect a player who's worth the $21 million they'll pay him in 2015. Just how A-Rod is used, where he plays and how he performs will be hot topics as we approach Opening Day, bet on that. It's also a long-term question, considering A-Rod's under contract for $20 million in both 2016 and 2017.

At the moment, it looks like he's the Yankees' DH, though either Carlos Beltran or Chris Young could also take that spot in the lineup (with the other in the outfield). The Yankees have talked about A-Rod backing up Mark Teixeira at first base too. 

A-Rod could back up Mark Teixeira, right, at first base. (AP)

"We've just got to go through spring training and see where he's at," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said last week at the MLB Winter Meetings. "He hasn't played a lot in two years. Third, DH, or whatever, depending on the makeup of the club, we have to see where he's at. 

"I talked to him about first base," Girardi said. "And I said, 'We'll talk about it in spring training because let's see the makeup of our club. If we have another first baseman, if I want to give Teix a day off, then we can put the other one in there. If we don't, we could possibly move you over there.' I'll see if he's comfortable and go from there." 

Get ready, world, we're only a few months away from Alex Rodriguez — $21 million DH and possible part-time first baseman.  

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 15, 2014, 6:10 pm

Since it was annouced that Phil "CM Punk" Brooks had signed a multi-fight deal with UFC, fighters ranging from rookies to mixed martial arts legends have been coming out of the woodwork looking to be his first opponent.

A few celebrities with fighting experience have joined that parade as well. Most notably. "Power Ranger" Jason David Frank, who has five professional fights under his belt, called out Brooks earlier this week.

He wasn't the last though. Predictably, and perhaps even sadly, we can officially add the name of Jose Canseco to that growing list.

I can beat the crap out of @cmpunk. I am ready @ufc

— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) December 12, 2014

Yeah, those definitely qualify as fighting words.

As UFC President Dana White has stated in the days following the signing, he'd prefer to match the former WWE champion with an opponent with limited experience. Oddly enough, in that regard, Canseco does qualify. Back in 2009, he fought K-1 veteran Hong-man Choi in Japan and actually fared well for a stretch, before submitting in the first round.

Seeing as Brooks has yet to step inside the octagon, it's impossible to say who might have the advantage if Brooks and Canseco squared off. At 36, Brooks has youth on his side. But he's obviously an older 36 than most because of his near 20-year career in the professional wrestling business. Perhaps Canseco's biggest disadvantage would be the fact he has one less finger with which to gouge Brooks' eyes.

That's probably more analysis than you needed to read. It's certainly more analysis than we're comfortable giving. But we can't help but be a little bit intrigued. Perhaps if the whole UFC doesn't work out for Brooks, we can pitch this fight to Vince McMahon for a future Wrestlemania. You know he's always willing to welcome back former stars that fall on hard times. In fact, he's probably printing the posters as we speak.

BLS H/N: Fox Sports

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 14, 2014, 9:09 pm

(AP)New Atlanta Braves president John Hart has been around the block a few times.

As the general manager of the Cleveland Indians throughout the entire 1990s and later the Texas Rangers from 2002-05, Hart has shown he's not afraid to take on a challenge head-on, and his track record with both clubs suggests he'll find a way to overcome it.

His new challenge with the Braves is a little different though. Hart is taking over a team that topped 85 wins five years running before dropping to a disappointing 79-83 in 2014. They've tasted regular season success on a regular basis, but they also haven't won a playoff series since 2001, and now flaws are showing on an offense that finished near dead last in MLB, and in a starting rotation that thinned out even further with Ervin Santana leaving for Minnesota. 

It's a roster that's in obvious need of retooling, which is why John Schuerholz took the keys away from former general manager Frank Wren and handed them over to Hart. But before fans get too crazy in accusing the front office of breaking up a contender, Hart has this honest assessment of the task at hand.

“Let’s be honest: This team finished 29th in offense,” Hart said. “It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees.”

And to that we proclaim: Well played, Mr. Hart.

Perhaps there's a subtle shot at Wren in there too. But the truth always lies in the numbers, and the numbers say Atlanta's offense stunk in 2014. The numbers also say the Braves have a lot of money invested in that offense. Between Justin and B.J. Upton alone, that's $27.7 million due in 2015. They also have $13.2 million in dead money tied up in Dan Uggla, who was released and at this point remains unemployed.

Justin will be a free agent after the 2015 season, which makes him an obvious trade candidate. B.J. has an extra two years and an additional $28 million plus left on his albatross contract, which makes him impossible to give away. It all adds up to Hart having to be creative to rebuild on the fly, which is exactly what he intends to do.

“We had a tough year, and I know there was a lot of speculation about us going into this winter,” Hart said. “We had the 29th-ranked farm system in baseball. We had some bad contracts. Everybody felt there would be some players we would definitely unload — become a seller, if you will. But we’ve never felt like there was something we had to do. Obviously we’re contractually obligated to some players who aren’t performing well. But just because 2017 is coming, it doesn’t mean we’re going to throw a hand grenade on the club and blow it up. That wouldn’t guarantee success for 2017, either.”

Hart has already put his stamp on this offseason, trading 25-year-old outfielder Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals in a deal that brought back an excellent young starter in Shelby Miller. Remember, they need pitching, too. The 24-year-old right-hander slots in nicely behind Julio Teheran and Mike Minor. Most importantly, he's under team control until 2019. 

He also recently inked Nick Markakis to a four-year, $44 million deal, which could prove more cost effective than extending Heyward would have.

Hart is a man with a plan, and it has nothing to do with rebuilding the team for 2017 when the new stadium opens in Cobb County. It's just a complicated plan, because the Braves roster presents several complications.

While his quote may not endear him to Braves fans, it's not without merit. John Hart has taken the pulse of your team, Braves' fans. Now sit back, relax and let the man do work.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 14, 2014, 8:24 pm

How are the Boston Red Sox feeling after losing the Jon Lester sweepstakes to Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs? Not very good, according to team president Larry Lucchino.

Speaking at the team’s Christmas at Fenway event on Saturday, Lucchino was forthright and honest in sharing his disappointment with the team's efforts, stating that they "failed" in their pursuit and that he "had regrets" with how the process played out.

From The Boston Herald: 

“We didn’t succeed, so I don’t give us a very good grade,” Lucchino said. “We were trying, sincerely, to get him signed, and wanted him to come back here, but free agency is a special opportunity for a player, and it only comes up once or twice if you’re lucky in your career.

“We’re disappointed, certainly have regrets here and there as to how it all went down, but right now I’m trying to focus on the future and want to express a sense of gratitude to Jon Lester for all he did for us, for the horse that he was for us so many years, a successful pitcher and person. I wish him luck. I’m glad it’s in the other league and not our league. That’s cold comfort, but some comfort.”

The biggest regret, of course, would be their initial lowball offer that led to Lester pursuing free agency in the first place. The Red Sox were positioned to extend Lester at any point prior to the 2014 season and seemed to have a good shot with Lester admitting he'd take less money to stay there. However, Boston only offered a four-year deal in the $70-$80 million range, which obviously bypassed "hometown discount" into "we're done talking" territory.

After shipping Lester to the Oakland A's at the July 31 trade deadline, Boston had a chance to right their wrong in free agency. With the Cubs and San Francisco Giants also in hot pursuit, the Red Sox entered a final bid at six-years, $135 million. A deal that's probably comfortably above what Lester would have agreed to in the spring, but it wasn't enough to top either Chicago or San Francisco's best bid. The Giants ended up offering the best package, but Lester took Chicago's six years at $155 million.

“I don’t want to get into a step-by-step dissection through the negotiating process,” he said. “Just look at the end result. We failed to get done what was our goal. So we are subject to criticism, and rightly so, for that. There were so many steps along the way that could’ve gone differently. I’d rather look forward and say, ‘How about that Red Sox starting rotation, how about lineup for next year, how about that offense?’ Let’s accentuate some of the positives that came out of this offseason.”

In the days that followed, Boston did get to work, signing Justin Masterson to a one-year deal worth $9.5 million. They've also acquired Wade Miley in a trade with the Diamondbacks and Rick Porcello in a deal with the Detroit Tigers that saw them give up Yoenis Cespedes. The quantity will certainly be there, but it's fair to question whether they'll have the quality to keep up in the AL East.

It's a question we might be pondering right up until opening day. But hey, like Lucchino said, at least Jon Lester didn't end up in the American League. Which, actually, is probably his way of saying thank goodness the Yankees didn't dive into the fray. Oh, the regrets he'd have then.

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 14, 2014, 5:55 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)If it wasn't official before, it's official now: The Chicago White Sox mean business.

After taking the Winter Meetings by storm, acquiring Jeff Samardzija in a six-player trade with the Oakland A's and signing free-agent reliever David Robertson to a massive four-year, $46 million deal, general manager Rick Hahn has struck again, agreeing to a three-year deal with outfielder Melky Cabrera. 

Bruce Levine of The Score 670 in Chicago was the first to report a deal was in place. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com later confirmed the money will land between $42-$43.5 million, which seems like a fair deal for both sides. It was believed Cabrera would seek out a fourth year in the $12-$13 million range, but the consolation here will be the opportunity to enter free agency again at age 33. 

Regarded as the best free-agent hitter left on the market, Cabrera joins a lineup that already featured reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu, and earlier in the offseason added veteran Adam LaRoche on a two-year $35 million deal. Though Cabrera doesn't offer the same power upside as those two centerpieces, he'll likely be along for the ride pretty frequently when they do connect. In 2014, he batted .301/.351/.458 and scored 81 runs for the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Of course, an underlying storyline here is that Cabrera is another in the line of players recently suspended for PEDs to cash in with a nice little contract. Cabrera's deal actually comes two full years after he was banned 50 games after he tested positive for testosterone. In wake of their 2013 suspensions during the Biogensis scandal, both Jhonny Peralta (four-years, $52 million with the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 2014 season) and Nelson Cruz (four-years, $57 million with the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 1) landed on their feet despite the obvious baggage.

For what it's worth, the Mariners were also believed to be in on Cabrera, if not the favorite to land him before Saturday. So obviously the concerns they had doing business with Cruz  stemming from his suspension last offseason have completely disappeared. 

The White Sox don't seem too concerned either. Since Cabrera rejected the Blue Jays’ qualifying offer last month, they're also giving away a draft pick with the signing. Chicago's first-round pick comes in at No. 8, so that will be protected. However, they'll end up forfeiting their third-round pick for Cabrera after losing their second-round pick to sign Robertson. The Blue Jays will receive an extra pick at the end of the first round of the 2015 draft. 

Indeed, Chicago is looking to get in the hunt right here and right now. Given their aggressive action so far, they look like the team most likely to take a notable step forward in 2015. But will it be enough in a crowded AL Central? Or perhaps the better question is, will the wheelin' and dealin' continue? 

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 14, 2014, 6:32 am

It turns out being chosen as the successor to Derek Jeter as shortstop of the New York Yankees is only the second greatest honor of Didi Gregorius' baseball career. During a conference call with the New York media on Friday, the slick fielding star from the Netherlands confirmed what many had suspected based on his Sir Didi Gregorius Twitter handle.

He's officially been knighted.

We're not kidding. It's not a reference to a nickname from his childhood. It's a real title Gregorius earned while representing his country in the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com notes, the Netherlands won that tournament, and rather than rewarding the players with money, each member of the team was knighted.

Sir Didi it is if we're being proper, though Gregorius says he's not too concerned about how people acknowledge him.

"Some people actually call me Sir Didi and everything," Gregorius said Friday. "I don't really mind if they just call me Didi. It doesn't really matter."

We're guessing Sir Didi will stick in New York, as long as he's producing that is. The one nickname that's definitely off limits though is 'The Captain.' And that's fine with Gregorius as well. As we saw in a recent drawing, he has nothing but appreciation for the legacy Jeter has left behind and believes that title belongs to No. 2.

Re2pect to the captain..... Had to draw it superstar with @MonsterProducts to keep the mind right .... pic.twitter.com/eLcqRh0nDB

— Sir Didi Gregorius (@DidiG18) October 6, 2014

"For me, he's the captain," Gregorius said. "He's always been the captain, with a lot of respect for the game. So when he said he was going to retire, I decided to draw a picture of him -- just for me. And for me, drawing is for fun, relaxing and everything, so I decided to draw him since he was going to retire."

Whether it's Sir Didi or just plain Didi, as long as manager Joe Girardi feels comfortable writing Gregorius on the lineup card, then he's likely performing up to the team's expectations. Of course, those expectations may differ a bit from the fans' expectations, but Jeter himself offered some advice on that front.

"What does he have to do? Enjoy himself. Work hard. Play hard. He'll be just fine."

Yes sir, "Captain."

BLS H/N: Cut 4

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 14, 2014, 3:42 am

(KBO)The free agent market for middle infielders should get a little more interesting next week. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang will be posted on Monday by the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), meaning all 30 teams will have an opportunity to bid for his services.

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported during the Winter Meetings that interest in Kang was going to be high once this news became official. The Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets were the teams Heyman mentioned specifically, though he expects the final list to be much longer. 

What will be most interesting to see though is just how deep that interest runs. 

At 27 years old, Kang is coming off an MVP season in the KBO. In 116 games, he hit .354/.457/.733 to go along with 39 home runs and 115 RBIs. Remarkable numbers, but the KBO is well known as an offensive league.

As Yahoo's Jeff Passan pointed out in his Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker, in which he ranked Kang No. 33 among all free agents, there's not a long history of Korean position players having success in MLB. In fact, he noted both Shin-Shoo Choo and Hee-Seop Choi, and really only the former has been able to sustain consistency. 

In an article written last month, Joel Sherman of the New York Post echoed the sentiment that there are concerns over how Kang's offensive game will translate against major league pitching. He added that Kang remains a wild card because there are also questions about whether his defense at shortstop will be up to MLB standards. He'd obviously be much more valuable as a reliable option at a premium position like shortstop. If he's forced to move to second base or even a corner infield spot, his impact would be lessened considerably. 

It's a unique case in that there's plenty of interest and intrigue, but nobody truly knows what to expect or how Kang will project. Will teams end up biting on potential, or will the unknown scare them away from a significant bid? We'll find out in the weeks ahead.

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 13, 2014, 11:34 pm

(Getty Images)Fans of the Washington Nationals were disappointed on Saturday when the team's biggest star, outfielder Bryce Harper, elected to skip the team's annual NatsFest fan festival.

Harper, who's currently at odds with the team over a contract dispute, was welcomed by the team and expected to attend, but with his grievance scheduled to be heard on Tuesday he decided to avoid the scene altogether.

From Nats Insider: 

Harper, on the other hand, appears to have decided himself not to attend. (General manager) Mike Rizzo said he’s “disappointed” by that development, but acknowledged it’s due to Tuesday’s salary grievance hearing in New York. Earlier in the week, Rizzo was asked if he thought there was a chance the two sides could come to an agreement and avoid the hearing, and he suggested there was some hope of that. Today, I asked him the same question, and he gave a “no comment” response. Reading between the lines, sounds like Tuesday’s hearing is all but certain to take place.

For those unaware, Harper and agent Scott Boras are contending the terms of Harper's rookie contract signed in 2010. After allegedly orally agreeing to an opt-out clause that would allow Harper to seek arbitration following the 2014 season, the contract Washington sent to Harper didn't include the opt-out clause. Initially, Harper refused to sign the deal. However, the MLBPA suggested a compromise, saying that if Harper earned enough service time to qualify for arbitration during the deal, there would be a grievance hearing regarding the opt-out clause.

That brings us to where we are now. Though Harper will remain under Nationals control through 2018, he's seeking the right to forego his $1.5 million salary in 2015 in order to begin arbitration now. That would almost certainly result in a decent pay raise, which would then start his pay scale higher heading in to arbitration next winter.

It's a complicated and messy situation that doesn't reflect well on either side, but it's disappointing the dark cloud has to hover over an event like NatsFest, which is supposed to be about the fans.

Obviously, the grievance would have been a major topic of discussion among the media and the fans as well, but a quick "no comment" or "we'll talk after Tuesday" would have sufficed from both sides. Instead, Harper isn't there, and for their part the Nationals seem to be going out of their way to point out the reasons why Harper isn't there. 

It's a story worth keeping an eye on. The grievance will sort out the contractual situation. But with each passing day it seems like the relationship between team and player fractures a little bit more. Will they be able to bridge that gap as well, or are they moving too far apart too quickly?  

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 13, 2014, 8:46 pm

(AP)The name Mark Gilbert may not be familiar to most baseball fans, but the former Chicago White Sox outfielder is primed to do something no other former player has done before.

On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted to approve Gilbert's nomination to serve as a U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, which will make him the first major league veteran to serve in that capacity, according to State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf's research.

Gilbert, who earned a finance degree from Florida State University, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1978. He also spent time in the Cincinnati Reds' system before moving on to the White Sox, where he debuted under Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa in 1985.

Gilbert played all of seven games, hitting .273 with three runs scored and three RBIs. The following season, he required knee surgery and elected to walk away from the game and move on to a career in finance. But that cup of coffee with Chicago moves Gilbert into a category of his own.

Here's more from the Associated Press report, including La Russa's reaction to Gilbert first being nominated:

The 58-year-old Gilbert was nominated by President Barack Obama in October 2013. At the time, La Russa was told that ambassadors are mostly addressed as ''His Excellency'' or ''Your Excellency.''

''I think if Mark walks into a clubhouse with his old teammates, I don't think they're going to call him 'Your Excellency,''' La Russa said then, laughing.

Based on his short stint, many of those former teammates may not recognize Gilbert. One guy who knows him quite well, though, is President Obama, who also happens to be one of the biggest White Sox fans around. The two men have been close since 2007, when Gilbert was a fundraiser for the then-Senator of Illinois. He went on to serve as a fundraiser for both of Obama's presidential campaigns, helping him raise $3.26 million.

The report also notes that ex-big leaguers like Cal Ripken Jr. and Barry Larkin have previously served the State Department as goodwill ambassadors and sports envoys. Former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer was the U.S. ambassador to Australia from 2001-05.

If confirmed, which seems like a formality, Gilbert will officially become the first former player to be credentialed in that honorable position.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 13, 2014, 6:29 pm

Your browser does not support iframes. LaTroy Hawkins' 21st major league season will also be his last, the soon-to-be 42-year-old pitcher revealed Friday during an interview on MLB Network's Hot Stove talk show. 

"Next Sunday, I'll be 42 and 2015 will be my last year playing professional baseball," Hawkins told Harold Reynolds and Fran Charles. "Hopefully not my last year of professional baseball, but it'll be my last year playing professional baseball."

Hawkins, who served as the Colorado Rockies closer in 2014, will enter his final season with exactly 1,000 appearances under his belt. He became only the 16th pitcher in MLB history to reach that milestone on Sept. 27 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which speaks to his remarkable durability and dependability over the years.

Hawkins actually began as a starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins all the way back in 1995. In his first five seasons, 98 of Hawkins' 99 appearances were starts. The most notable, as MLB.com's Cut 4 points out, came on May 17, 1998, when he opposed David Wells during Wells' perfect game at Yankee Stadium. Hawkins never approached such success himself, posting a 26-44 record and 6.16 during that time period.

Despite those struggles, it was obvious Hawkins had a major league caliber arm. He just needed to find a niche that best suited him. For the 2000 season, legendary manager Tom Kelly shifted Hawkins to the bullpen, and he never looked back. Each of his last 901 appearances have come in relief, and the majority of those have come as a closer or set-up man. 

In 20 seasons, Hawkins has suited up for 10 teams, winning at least one game with each. Overall, he has 72 wins and 124 saves.  

There was some thought that Hawkins, who signed a two-year contract with Colorado prior to the 2014 season, might be a decent trade chip this winter or even at next season's trade deadline. This announcement could make that a little more difficult for Colorado, though as we've seen in the recent past, the Rockies are rarely motivated to move veteran players regardless of circumstances or the team's outlook.

Perhaps if Hawkins aspires to go out on top, that will change. But for now, it looks like he's going out a Rockie. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 13, 2014, 3:29 am

Back on Nov. 28, the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics were involved in a stunning trade that saw Brett Lawrie and three minor leaguers moved to the Oakland in exchange for All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson. The deal caught nearly everyone off guard, including many of Donaldson's now former A's teammates, who were understandably confused and annoyed that a team leader was moving on.

However, as we learned soon after the deal, A's players weren't the only ones struggling to understand and accept it. No one took the trade harder than a 6-year-old Blue Jays fan named Amelia, who was nearly inconsolable after learning Brett Lawrie was leaving Toronto.

Her father recorded her tearful reaction and posted it on YouTube, which we understand not everyone is comfortable with. But the video went viral anyway, and it caught the attention of Lawrie himself.

To show his appreciation, while back home in British Columbia, which is also where Amelia and her family reside, Lawrie took time from a busy schedule on Friday to pay Amelia a surpise visit and say thank you.

I'm sure u guys all remember seeing this little girl on YouTube about me leaving the jays so I thot I'd surprise her😁 pic.twitter.com/AUNyRloTgi

— Brett Lawrie (@blawrie13) December 12, 2014

He even stuck around for lunch at Boston Pizza, which we're guessing was on him. 

very very cool pick of me and Ameilia :):) pic.twitter.com/W4FyEZRjoW

— Brett Lawrie (@blawrie13) December 12, 2014

It looks like Amelia got a new Blue Jays jersey out of the meeting as well, which is certainly notable. It looks like her loyalty will remain with Toronto, though there should be no doubt Lawrie has cemented his status as her favorite. 

It should be noted that Lawrie's busy day also included a visit to the local Boys and Girls Club, where he helped hand out presents to young children. 

had a fantastic day at the @helpBGC today presenting a bunch of holiday gifts for all of the kids today ! amazing to see their faces 🙌✌️🙌✌️🙌

— Brett Lawrie (@blawrie13) December 12, 2014

Hey Amelia, you may not understand all of the reasons why, but you definitely picked a good favorite player.

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 13, 2014, 12:25 am

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson is a defendant in Sylvia Lind's lawsuit. (Getty Images)Sylvia Lind has worked for Major League Baseball since 1995, most recently as its director of baseball operations initiatives, making her the top-ranking female Hispanic executive in the game.

During a recent performance review, however, Lind was allegedly told by her boss, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, that "there are places women can't go," which is when her career at MLB took a drastic turn.

Lind, in a lawsuit filed Thursday in New York City, came out blazing against the Commissioner's Office. Among her allegations: gender discrimination, a lack of opportunities for Hispanic females and that Robinson, the executive vice president of baseball development, isn't qualified for his job. MLB has denied all the claims in the suit.

The lawsuit names Robinson, MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig as defendants. It seeks monetary damages, but the amount is unspecified. The New York Post has more specifics on Lind's lawsuit:

While working for Robinson, Lind claims the 79-year-old — who played 20 years and became the first player to win MVP awards in both the National and American leagues, before becoming a manager — subjected her to unfair performance reviews and refused to promote her because she’s a woman.

“Sometimes you have to hire a man because there are places women can’t go,” Robinson told Lind during a 2014 performance review, the suit claims. “Well, I guess they can go most places now, but sometimes it’s easier to hire a man because of what it is they’ll be dealing with.”

Lind also says she was never considered for Robinson’s current job, which pays over $1 million annually.

“Robinson had only earned a high school diploma and did not maintain the skill set to qualify him as an executive vice president in a business oriented department in [the Baseball Office of the Commissioner],” the suit says.

Sylvia Lind

The suit also points out that baseball — a sport with many Hispanic players — doesn't have any Hispanic females who rank as vice presidents or higher.

There are 52 people in those roles, the suit says, with 12 women and two Hispanic men, but no Hispanic women. Lind is Cuban-American and, according to her bio, has a law degree from Fordham University.

As director of baseball operations initiatives, Lind, 48, works on things such as the Futures Game and the annual Civil Rights Game. That comes up in the suit too:

"While plaintiff has always maintained a professional demeanor to the public and endeavored to do what is in the best interest for MLB, it has been extremely disheartening, utterly demoralizing and extraordinarily taxing on her, both emotionally and psychologically, to almost singlehandedly perpetuate what she has known to be the diversity and equal employment opportunity falsehood," the lawsuit said.

For its part, MLB isn't saying too much, it being an active lawsuit and all, but the Commissioner's Office did issue a standard denial:

“The claims in this suit are absolutely without merit. Since this is ongoing litigation we cannot comment further."

Rob Manfred, baseball's next commissioner, is set to take over for Selig in January. Sounds like he'll already have one tough situation on his hands.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 12, 2014, 9:45 pm

(Getty Images)

This is The Stew's running list of trades and signings that happen during baseball's Winter Meetings. We'll keep updating this post as the news happens. For more chatter and rumors, be sure to check out our Winter Meetings tracker.

THURSDAY
Justin Masterson gets one-year deal from Red Sox
The Red Sox, still intent on adding starting pitching, have reportedly added Justin Masterson on a one-year contract worth $9 million. ESPN's Buster Olney broke the news.

The Red Sox have an agreement with Justin Masterson.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 11, 2014

BLS Take: The Red Sox are buying low on Masterson, who had a tough 2014 season with the Indians and Cardinals, accumulating a 5.88 ERA and a 7-9 record. The Red Sox have been trying to add workhorse type pitchers in their quest to rebuild their starting rotation. They traded for Rick Porcello and are reportedly getting Wade Miley in a trade. The Red Sox have said they're looking for pitchers capable of throwing 200 innings. From 2011-2013, Masterson's inning-count by year: 216, 206, 193. He was 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 2013. Anything close to that and the Red Sox would be absolutely thrilled. Then Masterson could get a bigger payday next year at this time.

* * *

(AP)

Royals sign Kendrys Morales
The Kansas City Royals have their new DH now that Billy Butler is gone, agreeing to a two-year deal with Kendrys Morales. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan has the particulars.

Source: Royals agree with Kendrys Morales on a two-year deal worth $17M. Performance bonuses could take it up to $18.5M.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2014

BLS Take: Morales never could get right in 2014 after sitting out part of the year, but in 2013 he had a .785 OPS with 23 homers and 80 RBIs. He seems like he's been around forever, but Morales is still just 31, so there's a good chance he'll be productive again for Kansas City, surrounded by the younger hitters in their lineup. 

* * *

(USA TODAY Sports)
Cardinals sign Mark Reynolds
The St. Louis Cardinals added some veteran depth to their Major League roster on Thursday, signing Mark Reynolds to a one-year deal. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he'll earn a $2 million base salary and there are incentives included.

Reynolds' base salary with the #Cardinals on his one-year deal is $2 million, and there are incentives based on playing time, per source.

— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) December 11, 2014

BLS Take: Reynolds, 31, is still a good source for power. He hit 22 home runs for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014, but coupled that with an ugly .196/.287/.394 batting line. He should serve as the right-handed compliment to every day first baseman Matt Adams, while giving Mike Matheny a good choice off the bench when the team needs a big swing.

* * *

(USA TODAY Sports)
Nationals trade Ross Detwiler to Rangers
The Washington Nationals have been in the middle of multiple interesting rumors at the Winter Meetings, but had yet to make a deal. According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, that changed on Thursday afternoon when they agreed to trade left-hander Ross Detwiler to the Texas Rangers for a pair of minor leaguers.

Source: Texas gets Ross Detwiler from Washington for two minor leaguers, one an infielder and another a reliever.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2014

BLS Take: The Rangers view Detwiler as a starter, which will reportedly make him very happy. The 29-year-old lefty spent 2014 in the Nationals bullpen, posting a 4.00 ERA in 47 appearances. Prior to that, Detwiler made 69 starts between 2009-2013, posting a 4.02 in 375.2 innings. As it stands now, he'll compete for a spot behind Yu Darvish and Derek Holland in a Rangers rotation that obviously needs more retooling.

* * *

(AP)

Ervin Santana finalizing four-year contract with the Twins
As Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reports, the Twins are giving free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana a four-year deal worth around $54 million.

BLS Take: Oh, Minnesota, home of the mid-range starting pitcher. They got Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco last winter (Hughes worked out well, Nolasco meh) and now they're getting Santana. If he's more Hughes than Nolasco, the Twins will be happy. But there's a chance, given Santana's inconsistency, that this is the 2014 Ubaldo Jimenez deal. And that's not a good thing.

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(AP)

Mat Latos traded to Marlins
The Reds traded two starting pitchers Thursday, the bigger name being Mat Latos, who went to the Miami Marlins in exchange for two prospects — pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Chad Wallach.

BLS Take: You can find our full rundown of the trade here.

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Alfredo Simon is going to the Tigers. (AP)

Reds send Alfredo Simon to the Tigers
The Tigers grabbed Simon from the Reds to fill the gap in their rotation once they traded Rick Porcello. In return, the Reds get minor-league pitcher Jonathon Crawford and 2014 rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez.

BLS Take: You can find our full rundown of the trade here.

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(USA TODAY Sports)

Red Sox trade Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers for Rick Porcello
Yoenis Cespedes is joining Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez is the Tigers' lineup, after sending Rick Porcello to the Red Sox. The Tigers also get pitchers Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier.

BLS Take: You can find our full rundown of the trade here.

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(AP)

Dodgers (finally) trade Matt Kemp to the Padres
Matt Kemp's finally on the move, but he's not going too far. The Dodgers reportedly swung a trade with the Padres that sends Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz to San Diego and returns Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.

BLS Take: You can find our full rundown of the trade here.

 

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(Getty Images)

WEDNESDAY 
Angels trade for Josh Rutledge from Rockies
Needing to replace Howie Kendrick, the Los Angeles Angels struck a deal with the Colorado Rockies to acquire infielder Josh Rutledge. The Rockies gets prospect Jairo Diaz, a right-handed pitcher who last threw in Double-A.

BLS Take: Rutledge has shown promise at various points in his young career, but hasn't put together a stellar season yet for the Rockies. He hit .269 in 2014, which was up from .235 the year prior. Rutledge, 25, hit four homers with 33 RBIs, and that's with the bonus of playing Colorado. He's not a direct replacement for what the Angels got from Kendrick, but they didn't too much to get him either. Diaz, meanwhile, is the big loser here, because he faces a future of pitching at Coors Field. He had a 3.48 ERA in 2014 between Single-A and Double-A as a relief pitcher.

* * *

(USA TODAY Sports)

Dodgers acquire Howie Kendrick from the Angels
The free-wheeling Dodgers didn't keep Andrew Heaney too, flipping him to the Angels in exchange for second baseman Howie Kendrick.

BLS Take: More on the trade right here.

* * *


Diamondbacks trade Wade Miley to the Red Sox
After losing out on Jon Lester, the Boston Red Sox added a different left-hander on Wednesday, acquired 28-year-old Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Two starters who appeared for Boston in 2014, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, will be headed back to Arizona.

BLS Take: For more on this deal click right here

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(AP)

Dodgers trade Dee Gordon to the Marlins in seven-player deal
The dominos fell quickly for the Dodgers on Wednesday. Shortly after acquiring Jimmy Rollins from Philadelphia, they moved Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas to the Miami Marlins in exchange for top prospect Andrew Heaney, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Hatcher and Austin Barnes.

Deal that sends Dee Gordon from the #Dodgers to the #Marlins is done, according to a source.

— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) December 11, 2014

BLS Take: A more in-depth look at this trade can be found right here

* * *

(USA TODAY Sports)

Pirates acquire Antonio Bastardo in trade with Phillies
The Pittsburgh Pirates accomplished one big goal at the Winter Meetings by re-signing Francisco Liriano to a three-year deal. Now they can check left-handed reliever off the to-do list as well after acquiring Antonio Bastardo from the Philadephia Phillies. Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors was the first to report a deal was done. According to multiple reports, the Phillies will receive minor league left-hander Joely Rodriguez.

BLS Take: Essentially a nuts-and-bolts deal as the Pirtates fill a need without having to give up a notable prospect or spend a lot of money. Bastardo has been up and down over the past four seasons, alternating sub 2.64 ERAs in 2011 and 2013 with ERAs near 4.00 in 2012 and 2014. Bastardo did hold all batters to a .188/.295/.319 line in 2014, so he's not a guy manager Clint Hurdle has to shy away from in any situation. Rodriguez, 22, posted a 4.84 ERA in 30 games at Double-A this season. He doesn't look like he'll be a factor in the near future.  

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(USA TODAY Sports)

Phillies trade Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers found their replacement for Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, acquiring 15-year veteran Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies for two pitching prospects.

BLS Take: You can read analysis of what this means for the Phillies right here.

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Luke Gregerson has signed with the Astros. (USA TODAY Sports)

Astros add Gregerson, Neshek for bullpen relief
We'd heard for a couple weeks now that the Houston Astros were prioritizing their bullpen, they started Wednesday by landing two relievers that should them tremendously. According to multiple reports, Houston has signed Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek.

Gregerson pitched with the A's last year, with a 2.12 ERA in 72.1 innings. He's getting $18.5 million over three years from Houston, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Neshek, meanwhile, thrived in St. Louis last year, becoming an All-Star. He had a 1.87 ERA in 67.1 innings. Neshek is getting $12.5 million for two years, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

BLS Take: Two strong moves for Houston, who had the worst bullpen ERA in baseball in 2014. They were undoubtedly watching what the Royals did on their World Series run, and learned just how valuable a top-notch bullpen can be. Chad Qualls was their closer in 2014, and he's still around, so he could keep the job, or the Astros could give Gregerson a chance there. He's primarily been a setup man. The Astros had offered Andrew Miller $40 million, but he chose to do with the Yankees instead. Getting two good relievers and saving $9 million leaves the Astros looking good.

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(USA TODAY Sports)

TUESDAY
Angels acquire Drew Butera in trade with Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels hadn't made a trade in 38 years, but they did Tuesday, forever rattling the L.A. baseball landscape by sending backup catcher Drew Butera to Anaheim. OK, so maybe it's not rattling any landscape. In return, the Dodgers are getting a player to be named later or cash.

BLS Take: Unless the PTBN is Mike Trout, this is mostly a snoozer. Butera had been designated for assignment by the Dodgers recently, so he was on his way out. He's only caught 65 games for them the past two season. For the Angels, Butera will fill the spot vacated by second catcher Hank Conger, who was traded to Houston.

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(USA TODAY Sports)

Diamondbacks trade Miguel Montero to the Cubs
The Chicago Cubs got the catcher they've been looking for, getting Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for two prospects.

OFFICIAL: #Dbacks acquire right-handed pitchers Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia from the Cubs for catcher Miguel Montero.

— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) December 9, 2014

BLS Take: We discuss the trade in detail right here.

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(USA TODAY Sports)

Braves add Alberto Callaspo for infield depth
The Atlanta Braves dipped into the free-agent pool and are close to signing versatile veteran Alberto Callaspo, who last played with the Oakland Athletics. Callaspo, 31, played 127 games last season for Oakland at first, second and third bases. The deal is all but done. It's just awaiting a physical, per David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Callaspo is getting $3 million on a one-year deal, plus incentives.

BLS Take: Callaspo hit .223 with four homers and 39 RBIs, so he's not anybody's long-term solution in the infield. But he's a nice plug-and-play guy who can help your team in many places on the diamond when you need him. The Braves have struggled finding a second baseman in recent years, He'll bridge the gap for Atlanta until second-base prospect Jose Peraza is ready to play.

A's and White Sox finalize Jeff Samardzija trade
The Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox finalized their six-player trade involving Jeff Samardzija. 

The @WhiteSox acquire RHPs Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa from @Athletics in 6-player deal. #WinterMeetings

— MLBRosterMoves (@MLBRosterMoves) December 9, 2014

The @Athletics acquire RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley, 1B Rangel Ravelo and INF Marcus Semien from @WhiteSox. #WinterMeetings

— MLBRosterMoves (@MLBRosterMoves) December 9, 2014

BLS Take: You can read more about it right here.

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(Carolina Vilches)

MONDAY
Braves sign Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano
The Atlanta Braves added another outfielder to their roster in Dian Toscano, a 25-year-old international free agent from Cuba who could be a left field option down the road. Toscano isn't one of the big-name Cuban imports — i.e., he's not the Yasmany Tomas consolulation prize.

Ben Badler at Baseball America has more on Toscano:

Toscano, who is around 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, is a lefthanded hitter with good bat control and strike-zone awareness. He never played on the Cuban national team, so he wasn’t a player scouts saw much of before he left the island.

Playing for Villa Clara in Serie Nacional, Toscano batted .356/.400/.452 in 86 plate appearances with eight walks and eight strikeouts in 2012-13, his last season in Cuba. The year before, Toscano hit .287/.438/.380 with 35 walks and 16 strikeouts. He hit just three home runs that year and never showed much power in Cuba, though he’s in significantly better shape and has increased his strength since leaving Cuba.

BLS Take: Naturally, when you hear "Cuban outfielder" these days, excitement and intrigue are not reactions, but Toscano doesn't have nearly as much hype as the high-profile Cubans we've seen land in MLB the last few years. As Badler writes, less is known about Toscano because he didn't play on the Cuban national team, so there's a chance the Braves found a diamond in the rough. But based on what we know, you shouldn't expect Toscano to be an Opening Day starter or anything.

(Getty Images)

A's trade Brandon Moss to the Indians
Our first trade of the Winter Meetings is in the books. The Oakland Athletics continue their roster shuffling, sending All-Star Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan was first to report that the deal was done, though the two sides have been working on this since last week. The return for Moss — who hit 25 homers with 81 RBIs in 2015 — is second baseman Joey Wendle, 24, a former sixth-round pick who hit .253 in Double-A last season.

Sources: Brandon Moss deal to the Indians is done.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2014

Joey Wendle, as anticipated, goes back to Oakland for Brandon Moss. Final deal. Done.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2014

BLS Take: The Oakland A's of 2015: No Moss, no Yoenis Cespedes, no Josh Donaldson. Where's all the power going to come from? It's another typical Billy Beane move. The A's GM has to figure he's gotten the most out of Moss, who had hip surgery in October. But Moss has hit 76 homers the past three seasons, and that's desirable for a club like the Indians looking to leapfrog the competition in the AL Central. Overall, it's a good deal for the Indians, as they get Moss for their ninth best prospect according to MLB.com. The risk for the Indians is that Moss, 31, could end up being another Nick Swisher-type and they're already burdened with one of those. Moss' OPS plummeted from .954 in 2012 to .772 in 2014. If the Indians think they can trade Swisher (as has been rumored), Moss is a much cheaper first base/DH option.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 12, 2014, 3:11 am

Your browser does not support iframes. The sound of a ringing phone provides the sound track to the four-day event known as baseball's Winter Meetings. With deals seemingly always in the works, staying in touch with team executives, other general managers, agents and the players themselves is an essential and never-ending responsibility. And even though the baseball world converges in one spot, it covers a lot of ground, meaning phone conversations are often the quickest way to connect.

The point we're making is that phones are ringing so frequently, those on hand will probably hear several different ringtones in their sleep for weeks to come. With that in mind though, the one time you're almost assured to escape it is at a press conference announcing an already completed trade.

That wasn't the case on Thursday. As Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty and his Detroit Tigers counterpart Dave Drombrowski came together to announce a deal sending starting pitcher Alfredo Simon to the Motor City, they were interrupted by the tones of Jocketty's cell phone.   

It was actually a comical scene. Both general managers instinctively reached for their phone at the same time like it was some sort of parody, with a clearly relieved Dombrowski exclaiming, "It's you" when he realized his screen was clear.

Jocketty blamed the call on his wife, who he said was probably wondering when he was coming home. True or not, we're not sure how that will go over when he does get home.

Others have speculated that Jocketty was already on to the next deal, given that Mat Latos was traded to the Miami Marlins a short time later. 

Whatever the case is, we're guessing both guys will remember to put the phone on vibrate before the next press conference. In the meantime, we thank them for giving us a light moment to wrap up what turned out to be a wild week in San Diego. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 12, 2014, 2:37 am
(USA TODAY Sports)

SAN DIEGO — It's time to say goodbye to the Winter Meetings. 

It was a wild four days: the Dodgers reworked everything, the Cubs and White Sox made baseball in Chicago a lot more interesting this year, the Marlins made some interesting moves and the Red Sox tried to rebounded after missing out on Jon Lester. 

Hit up our Done Deals post for the full rundown of everything that happened. There are still more moves to come, obviously. I'll leave you with five things to watch in the next few weeks, plus the usual assortment of sights, sounds and beer talk you've found in the Winter Meetings journal. 

(USA TODAY Sports)

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR AFTER THE WINTER MEETINGS
• What else are the Dodgers doing? Are they done? Can they be? Some folks still believe they're ultimately going after Cole Hamels and they're loading up with prospects to do so. Hmmmm. We'll see.

• The pitching corps thinned up quick, so what's next? After Lester signed, most of the mid-range guys agreed to deals. James Shields and Max Scherezer are still out there, but their market is limited to the big-spending clubs. Does that mean we'll see some trades for pitching? We could.

• That Wade Miley-to-the-Red Sox trade still hasn't been finalized, so it's worth keeping an eye on whether that actually happens. And speaking of the Red Sox, they still need an ace. Can't wait to see their next move.

• What the heck are the Giants going to do? Aside from stare at their newest World Series trophy, obviously. They didn't make a move in San Diego and have been quiet this offseason despite obvious needs. When are they going to move? People are getting antsy. 

• Where's Melky Cabrera going? He's now the best bat still available according to Jeff Passan's Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker, and a few teams are interested. Let's see if he decides soon or waits for the demand to build even more. 

VIEW OF THE DAY
Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Miami Marlins, net worth ~$500 million, flip phone owner, photo wizard. 

Supermillionaire and resident @Marlins photog Jeff Loria shoots with a flip phone: pic.twitter.com/vGNrmditgr

— Alex Tavlian (@tavlian) December 11, 2014

WINTER MEETINGS DAILY OBSERVATION
As a Winter Meetings first-timer, I'm proud to say I survived my first media scrum with super agent Scott Boras, who on Wednesday had the biggest crowd circled around him that I saw during my time in San Diego. Getting in the middle of it wasn't all the different than being in a mosh pit — it got hot, it made you tired and you knew you were witnessing a performance.

(Big League Stew)

Boras does this every year at the Winter Meetings, gathering all the media that listen to him (and it's a lot) and answering whatever questions you toss at him. Of course, it's all a game of salesmanship. He's there to hype up his clients — from Max Scherzer to Stephen Drew — in hopes of bigger paydays. He even talked about how in-demand Barry Zito supposedly is after a year off.

You take it all with a grain of salt, because he's an agent and this is his job. You take it all in too, because it's a rite of passage at the Winter Meetings. You wouldn't go to Disneyland and skip the Matterhorn, would you? You don't go to the Winter Meetings for the first time and miss Scott Boras.

BEER OF THE DAY
San Diego is a hotbed for craft beer, so expect plenty of MLB writers going on about which local brews they tried during the Winter Meetings. Count us among the samplers. 

(Big League Stew)

Here's the jewel of my trip to San Diego. It's the beer I most wanted to try — the Pale Ale 394 by AleSmith, which pays tribute to Tony Gwynn. He actually helped AleSmith formulate it before his death. I wrote a lot more about it on The Stew last month. It was just as delicious as I had hoped.

WHERE'S JEFF PASSAN?
Yahoo Sports' MLB columnist Jeff Passan has been on the go during the Winter Meetings, chasing rumors, talking to important people and writing stories. He doesn't stay in one place too long. So, in the spirit of "Where's Waldo?" we're playing a Winter Meetings game called "Where's Passan?" 

(Big League Stew)

Spoiler: He's not there. He went home, just like everybody else. Including me. See you on the other side, guys.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 12, 2014, 1:17 am

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As the Winter Meetings in San Diego move into our rearview mirror, our primary focus shifts away from the 2014 season that was and moves to the 2015 season ahead. With that in mind though, there's no harm in taking a few glimpses back, particularly to the exciting seven-game World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals. 

On Friday night at 9 p.m. ET, MLB Network will give an opportunity to do just that, although with a unique twist. It's the second installment of the network-produced "The Third Time," a documentary style program that gives us rare access and a behind-the-scenes look at the umpires who were selected to call the World Series. 

From MLB Network:

For MLB Network’s second installment of The Third Team, the 90-minute show includes highlights from more than 80 hours of footage and live audio both on and off the field, giving a glimpse at umpires’ personalities and their interactions with members of the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals, including during the outburst between Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Giants reliever Hunter Strickland in Game Two. With expanded replay used for the first time in 2014, The Third Team also gives viewers an exclusive look inside the MLB Replay Operations Center during each of the two World Series replay reviews, including the pivotal overturned call at first base during Game Seven.

During the filming of The Third Team, MLB Network spent 11 straight days with the 2014 World Series umpire crew, including veteran World Series umpires Ted Barrett, Jeff Nelson and crew chief Jeff Kellogg, plus four umpires working their first World Series: Eric Cooper, Jerry Meals, Jim Reynolds and second-generation MLB umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. For the first time, MLB Network’s cameras captured exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre calling each umpire to let them know of their World Series assignment.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy asks umpire Eric Cooper for a replay challenge. (USA TODAY Sports)

The program will include Joe Torre's call to Eric Cooper, who told the media in October that he nearly drove off the road when learning of his first World Series assignment. The story sounded unbelieveable, but it's all right here, including Torre advising Cooper to put the car in park and change seats with his wife.

Real moments. Real emotions. The real story of what goes into umpiring the biggest Series at the highest level will all be captured and covered in 90 minutes. Be sure to check it out or set your DVR. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 12, 2014, 12:45 am

(USA TODAY Sports)We've seen multiple examples this week of just how wild and unpredictable the life of a baseball player can be while the Winter Meetings are on-going. We've also seen how it can impact their families and the communities they play in, which leads to reactions ranging from shock and awe to just plain awkward. 

Perhaps the craziest example though was the day 23-year-old left-hander Andrew Heaney had on Wednesday. 

Heaney began the day as the No. 1 rated prospect in the Miami Marlins organization. A position he figured to carry into spring training where he would compete for a spot in Miami's starting rotation. However, by the time he went to bed, he'd been traded twice, including what amounted to a five-hour layover with the Los Angeles Dodgers before he was shipped south to the Los Angeles Angels. 

If  Heaney's head was spinning after all this activity, he didn't let it show when he took to Twitter late on Wednesday night. In fact, he was actually level-headed about it and showed off a pretty good sense of humor in the process.  

Well, @Dodgers we had a good run! Great to be a part of such a storied franchise. #thanksforthememories

— Andrew Heaney (@Heandog8) December 11, 2014

Of course, all of the memories created were in his head, but we imagine they were pretty good. It probably started with him thinking he landed in a good spot. He could move to Los Angeles and learn from the best pitcher in the game, three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are there too. Brandon McCarthy is coming. That's a wealth of knowledge. 

Going to the Angels won't be all that bad either. The weather is the same, and they have a pretty good ace in Jered Weaver who sets the standard there. 

Most importantly, though, in addition to being level-headed, Heaney sounds like a motivated pitcher chomping at the bit for his opportunity. 

Can't wait to join the @Angels and get started with an amazing Org. Thank you for this opportunity and lets go Halos!!!

— Andrew Heaney (@Heandog8) December 11, 2014

Something tells us wherever Andrew Heaney goes, he's going to make a lasting impression.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 11, 2014, 11:49 pm
(USA TODAY Sports)

Matt Kemp is gone now, traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a move that's been looming for a year. He's headed to the San Diego Padres with a chance to start fresh as the face-of-the-franchise star he once was in L.A.

As our Tim Brown explained in his latest column, Kemp had more trade value than outfielders Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, so that's why he's (finally) heading south. The Dodgers will continue to pay some of Kemp's salary, and since the Padres are a division foe, that could be particularly tough if he's knocking in runs against them.

Fans in L.A. have had an up and down relationship with Kemp the last few years. It's like Jay-Z once said: "First they love me, then they hate me, then they love me again." Right now, many fans are mourning the end of Kemp's days in Dodger blue, and with them in mind, Kemp sent out the following goodbye message via his Instagram account:

It is with a lot of emotion that I say goodbye to the city and the fans who have been there since the beginning of my career. You have given me so much. Your faith and support for the last 9 years through good times and bad, homestands and home runs was showcased through the volume of your cheers and the love for your team. I'm thankful to the Dodgers organization for taking a chance on an Oklahoma kid. I believe we control our paths. The paths we take, control our destiny. I'm excited for the future. God Bless

The Dodgers corner of the Internet, meanwhile, has countered with some memes about the Kemp trade. The "La Bamba" ones get two thumbs up. 

As always Bob from La Bamba knows how Dodgers fans feel cc @Esai_Morales pic.twitter.com/pP99Xfb0VR

— Beto Duran (@DuranSports) December 11, 2014

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 11:49 pm

(Getty Images)Mat Latos has been traded to the Miami Marlins, we know that now. The deal has been confirmed, announced and sent all around the Internet as fact. But like most trades in the Twitter age, this one started with rumors and whispers.

You think keeping up with all that stuff is tough for fans? Imagine being the wife of the player in question. Dallas Latos, Mat's wife, who blogs and is very open on Twitter, gave us a frantic glimpse Thursday into what it's like being on her end of trade rumors.

As the talk ramped up and the Cincinnati Reds swung a deal to send Mat to Miami, Dallas was watching it all play out just like thousands of baseball fans.

Her tweets tell the story:

WHAT! “@jonmorosi: Sources: #Marlins, #Reds making progress on Mat Latos trade.”

— Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) December 11, 2014

Oh god Mat’s phone just rang. Heart attack.

— Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) December 11, 2014

Listen, the last time Mat was traded we found out on SportsCenter. You guys might know before I do.

— Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) December 11, 2014

JON, ARE YOU SURE?!?! “@JonHeymanCBS: mat latos will be going to the marlins in trade. #reds

— Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) December 11, 2014

Literally just refreshing my Twitter feed to see if Mat is really REALLY traded. Hahahahahaha

— Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) December 11, 2014

You guys… I am not mad about going to Miami. I am not complaining. These things are just surreal. Especially when it all unfolds on Twitter.

— Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) December 11, 2014

And then the trade was confirmed:

Huge thank you to the @Reds organization and fans for being amazing. This was a great chapter in our baseball life. On to the next!

— Dallas Latos (@DallasLatos) December 11, 2014

Well, on the plus side, Dallas, you're moving to Miami and it's beautiful there. Now, if you could just persuade Twitter to pack all your things for you.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 6:11 pm

(AP)SAN DIEGO — The Cincinnati Reds decided it was time for a few changes, dismantling their starting rotation Thursday, as the MLB Winter Meetings came to a close.

In separate deals, the Reds traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, acquiring a handful of young players in return from the Marlins and Tigers.

• Latos, the bigger coup of the two, is headed to the Miami Marlins, in a deal that was first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The return to the Reds is Anthony DeSclafini and Chad Wallach. DeSclafini, a pitcher, is the Marlins' sixth-ranked prospect heading into 2015, according to Baseball Prospectus. Chad Wallach, a catcher, is the son of Tim Wallach. He's 23 and played in Single-A last season.

• Simon, 33, is going to the Tigers, filling the gap left when they traded Rick Porcello to the Red Sox on Thursday. The Reds get shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who played 85 games in 2014 as a rookie, and pitcher Jonathon Crawford, who pitched in Single-A last season. 

The Reds reportedly needed to shed payroll, as they hope to lock up their ace, Johnny Cueto, to a long-term deal. He'll be a free agent after the 2015 season (as will Latos). Many teams tried to get Cueto from the Reds this week, but Cincinnati wasn't interested in that.

Alfredo Simon is going to the Tigers. (AP)

Latos, though, is a solid pickup for the Marlins. At age 27, he has a career 3.34 ERA and is coming off a down year because of injuries. He'll help bridge the gap until ace Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery, and Latos gives the Marlins an experienced starter to go along with their youngsters.

On the other hand, Simon might not be what he was in 2014 — at least, according to the numbers. He was an All-Star and finished the season with 15 wins and a 3.44 ERA. However, he had a rough second half, with a 4.52 ERA after the All-Star break, compared to 2.70 before it. He'll be a fourth or fifth starter in Detroit.

The Reds were one of those teams that needed to figure out if it was going to reshuffle and get younger. As we've seen from the Phillies, waiting around and not pulling the trigger can only hurt you in the long run. So, in that respect, it's good that the Reds figured out their plan.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 5:41 pm

SAN DIEGO —It's the last day of the MLB Winter Meetings, and a half day at that. But the teams have already been busy this morning. The Dodgers traded Matt Kemp to the Padres. The Red Sox and Tigers swapped Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello. And there are even more deals being talked about before everybody heads home this afternoon.

The best way to keep track over every done deal, every whisper of a free-agent signing and every trade rumor is The Stew's Winter Meetings tracker. Just follow our Twitter tracker for up-to-the-minute info from the Yahoo Sports MLB crew and some of baseball's most plugged-in insiders. It updates live, so you'll know everything that's being said from San Diego.

If you'd like to directly follow our guys on the ground at the Winter Meetings, find @JeffPassan, @TBrownYahoo and me, @MikeOz, on Twitter. Be sure to keep an eye on Big League Stew throughout the week for more news and features from the scene.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 4:55 pm

(AP)SAN DIEGO — With a wild Winter Meetings cruising toward its conclusion, the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers made a trade Thursday that makes sense for both sides — the Red Sox sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers in exchange for pitcher Rick Porcello.

The two sides matched up, with Boston needing starting pitching and having a surplus of outfielders while Detroit needed a replacement for Torii Hunter and could trade a starter for the right return.

The trade was first reported by CJ Nitkowski of Fox Sports. Per Alex Speier of WEEI in Boston, the Red Sox are also sending relief pitcher Alex Wilson and pitching prospect Gabe Speier to Detroit.

After their efforts to re-sign Jon Lester were shot down, the Red Sox have prioritized getting workhorse starting pitchers who can throw 200 innings a year. They reportedly swung a trade for Wade Miley on Wednesday, and now for Porcello, who threw 204 innings in 2014 for Detroit. He was 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA.

(USA TODAY Sports)

Porcello is 25, and like Cespedes, will be a free agent after this season. So it's a rental agreement that helps both sides. The Tigers lost Hunter in free agency, so Cespedes fits immediately into their outfield. He also adds another electric bat to a lineup that features Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Cespedes hit 22 homers with 100 RBIs last season between Oakland and Boston. But his batting average was only .260 and his OPS was .751, down more than 100 points from his 2012 rookie season. 

Despite Max Scherzer's free agency and Porcello getting shipped to Boston, the Tigers still have a solid pitching rotation with David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and the recently acquired Shane Greene. They've added Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon in another trade Thursday morning, filling the space left by the Porcello move.

The Tigers are now saying they won't try to re-sign Scherzer, which will hurt them. But having Cespedes next to Cabrera in the batting order won't.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 4:11 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)SAN DIEGO — The Los Angeles Dodgers were determined to trade an outfielder this winter. The San Diego Padres really wanted to improve their offense.

Well, they've done it. Matt Kemp has been traded to the Padres, according to multiple reports, a deal that's been talked about for a few days at the MLB Winter Meetings but finally raced toward the finish line in the wee hours of Thursday morning. For Kemp specifically, a trade out of Dodger blue has been a year in the making.

U-T San Diego's Dennis Lin and Kirk Keeney reported at 3 a.m. local time that the long rumored deal was finally agreed upon after a past-midnight rumor from CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that things were actually getting close.

From U-T San Diego:

The Padres have reached an agreement with the Dodgers that would send outfielder Matt Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz to San Diego in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal and a pair of pitching prospects, sources told the U-T.

The Padres would also receive roughly $30 million to help offset the cost of the remaining five years and $107 million on Kemp’s eight-year, $160 million contract. According to sources, the Padres are packaging Grandal with right-hander Joe Wieland and another arm, likely right-hander Zach Eflin. 

New Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal. (AP)

It's a big deal for San Diego, adding a sort of star power that its lineup hasn't had in a while. Kemp has been up and down in recent years because of injuries, but nonetheless he's a face-of-the-franchise-type player, the kind who models for Gap when he's not playing baseball.

Kemp, 30, finished 2014 with 25 homers and 89 RBIs plus a .289 batting average. It was a good rebound year after two seasons of injury woes. He was especially good in the second half, signaling to the Padres and other teams that he was a worthwhile trade chip again.

Trade rumors have been swirling around Kemp since last year at this time, with a number of suitors having come up during the past 365 days, but the Padres, with a need for an offensive upgrade, finally made it happen.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, continue to remake their roster. Their new front office was busy Wednesday, snagging Howie Kendrick in two connected trades with the Angels and Marlins, reportedly trading for Jimmy Rollins to play shortstop and reportedly signing pitcher Brandon McCarthy.

They still needed a catcher, and Grandal, who hit 15 homers with 49 RBIs last season with a .225 batting average, solves that. He's 26 and under team control until 2019. Without Kemp, the Dodgers still have Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and rookie Joc Pederson in their outfield.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 3:34 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)SAN DIEGO — How do you remake your roster between lunch and bedtime? The Los Angeles Dodgers just showed us.

Making their fourth deal of the day, the Dodgers reportedly acquired second baseman Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Angels, adding a little more pop to their lineup and filling the gap they made in their infield by trading Dee Gordon earlier in the day. MLB.com's Ken Gurnick broke the news.

The Angels are getting back Andrew Heaney, who started the day as the Miami Marlins' No. 1 prospect for the 2015 season. He was sent to the Dodgers in a seven-player trade that returned Gordon, Miguel Rojas and Dan Haren for the Marlins. The Dodgers then flipped Heaney to the Angels.

Outside of those two deals, the Dodgers also traded for Jimmy Rollins and were close to signing free agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy. What a day for new Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. He figured out a way to make us stop talking about Chicago.

Kendrick is an upgrade over Gordon at second — he hit .293 with seven homers and 75 RBIs in 2014 — but he's a free agent after this season, as is Rollins. But the Dodgers' goal is to win the World Series right away, so free agency isn't their worry at the moment. 

If the Dodgers can make that happen after a few disappointing postseasons, we'll look back to their wild Winter Meetings on Wednesday as a catalyst.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 5:51 am

Change is inevitable. Although for Nick Markakis, it didn't seem likely in terms of where his baseball career was headed. Coming into the offseason, it was considered a foregone conclusion he would re-sign with the Baltimore Orioles, continuing a nine-year run that has seen him develop into a consistently productive major leaguer and one of the team's most popular players.  

Ultimately, the inevitable won out. After the Orioles seemed to sour on Markakis' medical outlook — he could undergo surgery for a herniated disk in his neck — he moved on to the Atlanta Braves on a four-year deal. 

With such a career and life-altering change often comes the need for closure. However, Markakis is by no means ready to say goodbye to the City of Baltimore or Orioles fans. Instead, on Wednesday, Markakis took out a two-page ad in the Baltimore Sun thanking the Orioles organization for the opportunity and Orioles for their support, while making it clear that Baltimore will remain home to his family.  

ICYMI: "This isn't a goodbye," Nick Markakis says in two-page ad in The Sun. http://t.co/5y94azryAS pic.twitter.com/kAnnlVsfoj

— The Baltimore Sun (@baltimoresun) December 11, 2014

The message begins:

By now most of you know that I am a man of few words. So putting my thoughts in writing is hard for me. But I owe the City of Baltimore, the Orioles' organization and most especially, the Baltimore Orioles' fans, a large Thank You.

For a man with few words, Markakis managed to say a lot. Not wanting to leave anyone out, he broke it down into sections, thanking owner Peter Angelos, manager Buck Showalter, his coaches, his teammates and Orioles fans with their own special messages.

To Angelos, Markakis wrote:

I owe Peter Angelos and his family a Thank You for bringing me to this organization and City and for the friendship you have shown my family and me over the years.

To Showalter, he wrote:

I want to personally thank Buck for his relentless leadership. I truly believe that it is your love and respect for the game that has brought winning back to Baltimore. You are, and will continue to be, my mentor and friend.

To the fans, he wrote:

It’s because of this community that I have been able to grow into the player that I am. It’s because of your passion, dedication, and heart that make me proud to say that my career will always be rooted in the bricks of Eutaw Street. Having fans is a truly humbling experience. Knowing that people wear your jersey, identify with you and look up to you without knowing you has always been hard for me to grasp, but I've learned to accept and embrace it. I know that it's easy for someone who doesn't know me to make assumptions on my thoughts and actions. That's the price of being a professional athlete and I accept it. I sincerely hope you understand how difficult this is for my family and me.
And it's because of the great memories that you have given Christina, the boys and me that makes it easy for us to continue to call Baltimore our home.
With gratitude,
Nick, Christina, Taylor, Tucker and Toby

Indeed, this wasn't a goodbye. It was simply a well-deserved and well-delivered acknowledgement of a city and fanbase that has been nothing but supportive, while also serving as a reminder that opening one chapter in life doesn't necessarily mean another must be closed.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: December 11, 2014, 5:38 am

(Getty Images)SAN DIEGO — The Los Angeles Dodgers' busy Wednesday at the Winter Meetings continued with news that they're signing one of the more interesting free-agent starting pitchers on the market.

Brandon McCarthy is going Hollywood, reportedly.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says that McCarthy and the Dodgers have agreed to a four-year deal worth $48 million. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports seconds the report.

Already Wednesday the Dodgers struck a trade with the Phillies to acquire Jimmy Rollins, then sent Dee Gordon to the Marlins and received top-prospect Andrew Heaney, a left-handed pitcher, in return. Then they reportedly flipped Heaney to the Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.

The Dodgers' new front office, which had been relatively quiet since its change-over, was quite busy. And now there's McCarthy, who ranked as the fourth-best free-agent starting pitcher on Jeff Passan's Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker. The three ahead of him you know well, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields.

McCarthy split his 2014 pitching for the Arizona Diamondback and New York Yankees. He had a rough time in Arizona at the start of the year, but was great once he was traded to the Yankees. He had a 2.89 ERA, going 7-5. He's also the most entertaining MLB player on Twitter. It oughta be fun to see how that translates to life with the Dodgers.

McCarthy strengthens the Dodgers' rotation, becoming the fourth guy behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers have been pursuing pitching help to support their core three starters, and McCarthy is an upgrade over the likes of Dan Haren.

Before Arizona, McCarthy pitched for the Oakland Athletics, where he knew Farhan Zaidi, the new Dodgers GM, who was the director of baseball operations at the time. In fact, McCarthy defended Zaidi last month when ex-MLB player Ryan Theriot scrutinized him for not being a former ballplayer.

In this case, loyalty pays off.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 5:21 am

(AP)SAN DIEGO — The Boston Red Sox need starting pitching to complement what looks like a potent lineup, so they reportedly went out Wednesday and acquired Wade Miley in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But, oddly, they gave up two young starting pitchers to get him.

The Red Sox have a surplus of bats, which most of us thought they'd look to unload in their quest for pitching. Well, not yet.

The trade, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi, sends Rubby De La Rosa, 25, and Allen Webster, 24, to the D-backs.

The deal isn't official yet, and Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe says it likely won't be made official Wednesday. He also says the Red Sox will be giving up one more player.

Miley isn't a front-of-the-rotation pitcher, but he has given the D-backs more than 200 innings the past two seasons, and 194 the season before that. The Red Sox need that dependability. In 2012, Miley was an All-Star and Rookie of the Year runner-up, going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA. But since then, his numbers have gotten worse each year. In 2014, he was 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA. He's 28 and has two more years of club control left after 2015.

Miley joins Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly in the rotation, but the Red Sox still need an ace because they couldn't convince Jon Lester to come back. Whether that means they go all-in for Max Scherzer or put together a huge package to pry away Cole Hamels from the Phillies, that's Boston's No. 1 priority now.

Rubby De La Rosa is joining the D-backs now. (AP)

For Arizona, they save a little money, as Miley was projected to make about $4.3 million, based on MLB Trade Rumor's arbitration projections. They also get back two players that their new front office is familiar with.  

Both De La Rosa and Webster were with the Dodgers when De Jon Watson was their head of player development. Watson recently joined the D-backs as the senior vice president of baseball operations under new GM Dave Stewart.

Both pitchers split time between Triple-A and the big leagues in 2014. De La Rosa made 18 starts for Boston last season with a 4.43 ERA, while Watson had a 5.03 ERA in 11 starts.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: December 11, 2014, 3:37 am

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