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Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow to likely miss time at start of season due to elbow surgery

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CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs are likely to be without closer Brandon Morrow for the early portion of 2019 after the righty had minor surgery on his elbow last month. Morrow, 34, missed the second half of last season with a bone bruise and won’t begin throwing again until around Feb. 6.

“This was a cleanup of some cartilage, done arthroscopically,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday.

The procedure was similar to the one starter Yu Darvish underwent late in the year after missing most of 2018. Darvish is on time in his recovery.

“Doing well,” Epstein said. “Progressing without limitations.”

Morrow appeared in just 35 games for the Cubs in 2018 because of back and arm injuries. Morrow had 22 saves while posting a 1.47 ERA in 30 2/3 innings. He did not pitch after July 15.

Epstein admitted that Morrow’s health will impact their offseason needs, as they were looking for relief help anyway. Pedro Strop was the predominant fill-in after Morrow went down last year, but they’ll need more, especially from the left side.

“It underscores the need for depth and late-game options early in the year,” Epstein said.

The team has been in contact with lefty free agent Zach Britton, according to sources, but nothing is imminent. Epstein confirmed the Cubs aren’t on the verge of making any deals in advance of the winter meetings next week.

The team also announced coaching moves as 37-year-old Tommy Hottovoy was promoted from run prevention coordinator to pitching coach after Jim Hickey left the team for personal reasons. The team also hired former big league player Terrmel Sledge as assistant hitting coach and Chris Denorfia as quality assurance coach. Catching coordinator and game planner Mike Borzello was promoted to associate pitching coach.

“We felt there was great risk going outside and losing what we had,” Epstein said of promoting from within.

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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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