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Man wins lottery prize by picking Red Sox jersey numbers



BRAINTREE, Mass. — A Massachusetts great-grandfather has won a $100,000 lottery prize by picking the jersey numbers of five members of the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox.

The lottery said in a statement that 84-year-old Jim Aylward Jr., of Templeton, won the prize in Monday’s Mass Cash drawing using the numbers 11-16-19-22-25. He claimed his prize Wednesday.

Those are the jersey numbers of Red Sox players Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello and World Series MVP Steve Pearce.

The numbers represent “two young stars, a dazzling outfielder, a starting pitcher and the series MVP,” the lottery said in a release.

Aylward has five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Chicago Cubs open to trading 3B Kris Bryant



Kris Bryant won the Rookie of the Year award in 2015, an MVP award the next season, and he will forever be remembered in Chicago for making the last play to clinch Game 7 of the Cubs’ 2016 championship, grinning as he released the throw to first. At that time, it was easy to envision him spending his career with the franchise that had drafted him second overall in 2013.

But it’s possible that the Cubs will trade him, perhaps as soon as this winter. As part of their early offseason discussions, sources say, the Cubs have indicated to other teams they are willing to discuss trade proposals for almost all of the players on their roster, including Bryant, who struggled in 2018, batting .272 with 13 homers in 102 games. Bryant went on the disabled list twice with left shoulder trouble.

Past efforts to reach a long-term agreement with Bryant have not advanced — the Cubs made a significant offer last winter, without a deal being concluded — and the third baseman, who turns 27 in January, is about to get much more expensive as he moves toward free-agency eligibility after the 2021 season.

Theo Epstein, the head of baseball operations, was asked earlier this week at the GM meetings about the availability of Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo in trades.

“We’ve never operated with untouchables,” he said. “It sends the wrong message. Given what we’re trying to accomplish, it would be virtually impossible to envision the deal that would make sense to move them. I just don’t believe in untouchables. Why limit yourself?”

After the 2016 World Series, it seemed that the Cubs might have a chance at a dynasty, with an incredible core of young position players — Bryant, Rizzo, left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber, middle infielders Addison Russell and Javier Baez, and catcher Willson Contreras.

But the Cubs have not played to expectations in the past couple of seasons, and there has been concern within the organization about the clubhouse culture since the 2016 championship season. The team has turned many coaches the last two winters, and after Chili Davis was fired as the Cubs’ hitting coach, he told ESPN Chicago, “I wish the Cubs well. Things didn’t mesh easily or all the time with the players. I have no hard feelings.”

A philosophical disconnect seemed to develop in Davis’s working relationship with Bryant early in the season. Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times that he would not blame himself for his firing, and offered good wishes for the next hitting coach.

“Hopefully, he has better success at this than I did,” said Davis. “But regardless of who’s there, certain players there are going to have to make some adjustments, because the game’s changed, and pitchers are pitching them differently. They’re not pitching to launch angles and fly balls and all that anymore. They’re pitching away from that.

“They’re going to have to make that adjustment whether I’m there or not.”

Rival executives believe the Cubs have little payroll flexibility with which to operate this winter, and Epstein mentioned the need for the organization to bolster the club’s farm system. According to MLBTradeRumors, Bryant will likely get something in the neighborhood of $12.4 million in arbitration.

A trade of Bryant now could theoretically yield young, cost-controlled players that might help the big-league team next season or beyond, and carve out more financial room in the team’s budget to make other moves. David Bote filled in at third base for the Cubs during some of Bryant’s absences, hitting .239 with six homers, and if Bryant was traded, he could be part of any solution at the position for manager Joe Maddon.

Bryant’s career started amid some controversy, and sharp words from his agent, Scott Boras. In 2014, Bryant hit .325 with 43 homers in 138 games in the minors, but he was not on the Cubs’ opening day roster. It is a common practice in Major League Baseball for clubs to keep elite prospects in the minors in order to delay their free-agency or arbitration eligibility. Because Bryant opened 2015 with Class AAA Iowa and didn’t make his big-league debut until April 17, he is eligible for free agency in the fall of 2021, rather than 2020. At that time, Boras said, “Cubs ownership has a choice. Are they going to present to their market that they are trying to win? Tom Ricketts said they were all about winning.”

Through Boras, Bryant filed a grievance with the league that went nowhere, but a tone in the contractual relationship between the two sides may have been set.

In his time running the Red Sox and Cubs, Epstein has aggressively traded big stars when he felt it necessary — most notably dealing Boston icon Nomar Garciaparra in the middle of the 2004 season, before the Red Sox went on to win the World Series, and in 2008 when he swapped Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers just before the trade deadline.

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Buster’s MLB Buzz — A Corey Kluber blockbuster? These teams could be in the mix



Corey Kluber will be 33 years old next April and if he was about to hit free agency, there would be important questions about the high risk of a long-term investment in a pitcher with more than 2,000 innings logged in professional baseball.

But Kluber, the Cy Young award winner in the American League in 2014 and 2017, is not a free agent; rather, he’s under team control for the next three years, but only a year at a time through a series of one-year club options. He’s set to make $17 million next year, and next fall, the front office for which he works can decide whether to pick up a $17.5 million option for 2020, and if so, it can wait through the 2020 season before choosing whether to exercise the $18 million option on 2021.

The contract bears almost no risk whatsoever, and for clubs of every market size, this would help to make him an enormously attractive trade target, now that the Indians are actively listening to offers for their most expensive players.

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NL West offseason preview — Will Arizona Diamondbacks trade Paul Goldschmidt?



With free agency underway, the offseason is going to pick up steam. What are the big questions facing all 30 teams? Next up is the NL West, in which the Dodgers are trying to figure out how to take that last step to a World Series title.

2018 record: 92-71
2019 World Series odds: 7-1

As the celebration from a second consecutive National League pennant was winding down, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told the story about being a Tampa Bay Rays executive who rooted for other teams to sign star players to gargantuan contracts. He vowed to bring the same practicality to the affluent Dodgers.

“We have tried to maintain discipline and put ourselves in the best position to use our resources as a strength,” Friedman said, “and to not have it be something that hamstrings us for years to come.”

That’s great and all, but what about Manny Machado and Bryce Harper?

Under Friedman, the Dodgers haven’t signed anybody to a nine-figure contract. But this is a unique circumstance for two reasons: Machado and Harper are only 26, which means that theoretically a large chunk of their primes remain, and the Dodgers are back under the luxury-tax threshold, resetting the repeater tax. — Alden Gonzalez

2018 record: 91-71
2019 World Series odds: 30-1

Nolan Arenado is entering his walk year, and the team’s preference obviously would be to sign him to a long-term extension. Even if that doesn’t happen, the Rockies don’t have to trade him. After back-to-back playoff appearances, they can play it out with Arenado and maybe win the first division title in franchise history — even if that likely means losing Arenado in free agency after next season (players rarely re-sign with their teams once they become free agents). We’ll no doubt be swimming in Arenado rumors all offseason, but maybe the Rockies should focus on adding some support for him.

The Rockies were second in the NL in runs, but this was not a good offensive team. In the park-adjusted wRC+, they ranked 25th in the majors. They hit .225 on the road. Ian Desmond was a problem at first base, with a .729 OPS, and the corner outfielders weren’t all that productive. Carlos Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu also are free agents.

The first move probably is to transition Charlie Blackmon to a corner outfield position, so the Rockies will need a center fielder unless they think David Dahl can play there. Regardless, assuming they’re locked into Desmond because of his big contract, that means finding a big bat for the outfield and maybe a one-year stopgap for second until prospect Brendan Rodgers is ready in 2020. — David Schoenfield

Arizona Diamondbacks: Is it time for the Snakes to shed their skin?

2018 record: 82-80
2019 World Series odds: 60-1

The Diamondbacks’ all-time leader in WAR is Randy Johnson, with 52.6. Ranking second and first among position players is Paul Goldschmidt, with 40.1. Goldy, as they call him, is very much the face of the Arizona franchise. He has been an All-Star for six seasons running, in which time he has hit .301/.406/.541 with per-season averages of 30 homers and 100 RBIs. He’s also 31 and about to enter the last year of his contract.

Thus is the dilemma of the Diamondbacks. After advancing to the NLCS in 2017, Arizona led the NL West for much of the 2018 season. The last date Arizona sat atop its division was Sept. 1. From that date on, the D-backs collapsed in spectacular fashion, going 8-19 to finish a disappointing campaign.

Now what? Two of Arizona’s eight top performers from last season — lefty starter Patrick Corbin and center fielder A.J. Pollock — are hitting free agency, and the Diamondbacks don’t have any particularly strong possibilities to replace either of them. The farm system was ranked 26th by ESPN’s Keith Law before the season.

The payroll, which last season was a stretch at $131 million, per Cot’s Contracts, would be up to an estimated $146 million with the same roster back, sans the two foundation free agents. Does any of this add up to future contention to you? Well, what really matters is how the Diamondbacks assess their own system, their ability to spend and whether they can scratch back into contention for Goldschmidt’s likely swan song.

If Goldschmidt is traded, that would tell us all we need to know. — Bradford Doolittle

2018 record: 73-89
2019 World Series odds: 100-1

After a 73-89 season in which they scored just 603 runs and hit .239, the Giants and new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi have to face a difficult decision. Whichever way they turn, it should make them one of the focal teams of the offseason.

The reasons to rebuild are obvious: They had the oldest lineup in the NL in 2018, and it wasn’t good. Buster Posey had hip surgery after the season, and his power game might be extinct. Brandon Belt has missed 108 games the past two seasons. Brandon Crawford will be 32. Evan Longoria will be 33 and had a .281 OBP. The farm system doesn’t offer a lot of hope. On the pitching side, Johnny Cueto is out for the season. Derek Holland, who actually had a solid season, is a free agent. Who knows what Jeff Samardzija can provide?

On the other hand, it’s a team with money to spend, an 85-year-old owner who wants to win and a fan base that still packed AT&T Park, with 3.1 million in attendance. Odds are the Giants try to compete, which means they won’t trade Madison Bumgarner and they’ll make a big push for Bryce Harper. — Schoenfield

San Diego Padres: What can they expect from the youngsters?

2018 record: 66-96
2019 World Series odds: 100-1

The Padres won 66 games in 2018, their fewest since they won 63 in 2008. Not a banner year but also not far off what was expected — especially with the Dodgers as reigning pennant winners and the Rockies and Diamondbacks showing strength in 2017. But 2019 could be a true preview of the future for the Padres.

We’ve heard a bunch about the impending youth movement of the Toronto Blue Jays, but they aren’t the only team with an influx of young talent on the way. The Padres have a bunch of exciting prospects who could be in San Diego uniforms at some point in 2019. What production will the club get from them? Which prospects will play in the majors next season?

There’s Fernando Tatis Jr., whose 2018 season ended in July due to a thumb injury. The son of former major leaguer Fernando Tatis, who will be 20 on Opening Day, was a shortstop at Double-A at the time of his injury and seems likely to play in the majors at some point in 2019, at least by the end of the year. And he isn’t the only one.

There’s catcher Francisco Mejia, who was acquired from the Indians in July and played in 20 games for the Padres, hitting three homers with a .185 batting average. Moving him to the outfield is a possibility, too. Then there’s MacKenzie Gore, the 19-year-old pitching prospect. Like Tatis Jr., Gore dealt with injuries in 2018, primarily blister issues. He made 16 starts at Class A last season. He is considered one of San Diego’s top prospects along with Tatis Jr. There are others too, including pitcher Adrian Morejon, infielder Luis Urias, who played in 12 games for the big club in 2018, and pitcher Chris Paddack. — Langs

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