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Japanese star lefty Yusei Kikuchi available to MLB teams

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NEW YORK — Star Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi will be available to major league teams starting Tuesday, with the New York Yankees expected to be among those interested.

The 27-year-old Seibu Lions ace will have until Jan. 2 to sign a contract with a big league club. The Lions would then receive a posting fee based on the dollar amount of the pitcher’s contract.

If Kikuchi doesn’t reach a deal with an MLB team, he remains with Seibu.

Kikuchi was 14-4 with 3.08 ERA this season, and was 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA the previous year.

Kikuchi, who played for the same high school as two-way star Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, is 73-46 with a 2.77 ERA in eight seasons in Japan.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said last month that he was aware of Kikuchi’s ability.

“I saw film on him during the pro scouting meetings,” Steinbrenner said. “We talked about that individual. We’ve always been paying attention to that area of the world — some unbelievably great players came out of there. So it won’t be any different this year.”

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MLB

Matt Adams returning to Washington Nationals on one-year deal

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First baseman Matt Adams is returning to the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $4 million deal, according to multiple reports.

The left-handed slugger finished last season with the St. Louis Cardinals after being waived by the Nationals in a salary dump in August.

Adams, 30, hit .239 with 21 home runs for the season, averaging .257 with 18 home runs in 94 games with the Nationals.

He gives the Nationals some left-handed power off the bench and relief for Ryan Zimmerman at first.

In seven seasons with the Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and Nationals, he has 96 home runs, 332 RBIs and a .266 average.

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Top spenders Red Sox owe nearly $12 million in luxury tax

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NEW YORK — The World Series champion Boston Red Sox owe $11.95 million in luxury tax for having baseball’s top payroll.

That’s according to final calculations by the commissioner’s office obtained by The Associated Press. The only other team that owes is the Washington Nationals, who must pay $2.39 million.

Because Boston was more than $40 million over the tax threshold, it also became the first team to incur a new penalty put in place for the 2018 season: the top Red Sox selection in next June’s amateur draft will be dropped 10 places.

Boston’s top pick had been projected to be No. 33 overall before the penalty.

The New York Yankees dropped under the threshold for the first time, and the Los Angeles Dodgers fell below for the first time since 2012.

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White Sox have limits on Manny Machado, Bryce Harper

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The White Sox slashed their payroll in recent seasons as they traded away players such as Chris Sale and Adam Eaton and went about the business of stockpiling prospects. This leaves them in perfect position to grow their payroll now, to make moves like the transaction they executed Friday, when they agreed to take on first baseman Yonder Alonso, a $9 million salary dump of the Cleveland Indians.

Alonso happens to be the brother-in-law of superstar free agent Manny Machado, and both players are represented by agent Dan Lozano. This move will feed industry theory that the White Sox are laying the groundwork for a significant, aggressive strike on either Machado or Bryce Harper, the two most prominent players available.

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