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Free agent Ian Kinsler agrees to deal with San Diego Padres

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The San Diego Padres have reached an agreement with free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler on a two-year, $8 million deal, according to multiple reports Friday.

The Padres have a club option for a third year, according to The Athletic, which first reported the agreement. The deal is pending a physical.

The smooth-fielding Kinsler joined the Boston Red Sox late in the season, coming in a trade from the Los Angeles Angels on July 30.

Kinsler, 36, is a four-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove in 2016 with the Detroit Tigers. He also is a two-time member of the 30 home run-30 stolen base club, accomplishing the feat with the Texas Rangers in 2009 and 2011.

Kinsler was acquired by Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski when it became clear that second baseman Dustin Pedroia was done for the season. Because of that, Kinsler, who is sure-handed with occasional pop in his bat and has speed, was a good fit for the team. He batted .242 with 16 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 37 games for Boston.

Overall, Kinsler hit .242 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs during the 2018 season for the Tigers and Red Sox. He earned $11 million in 2018.

He had the best career range factor of any active second baseman in baseball. (Range factor, invented by Bill James, is calculated by dividing putouts and assists by number of innings played.)

Dombrowski had a history with Kinsler, having acquired him from the Texas Rangers in a 2014 trade for Prince Fielder when Dombrowski was GM for the Tigers.

Kinsler signed a five-year, $75 million fully guaranteed contract with the Rangers in 2013. For his career, the 13-year veteran is hitting .271 with 248 home runs, 887 RBIs and 241 stolen bases.

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Brian Dozier agrees to deal with Washington Nationals according to sources

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Free-agent second baseman Brian Dozier has reached an agreement with the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $9 million deal, league sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Dozier was an All-Star in 2015 and won a Gold Glove in 2017, the last of a five-year stretch that saw him bat .252/.333/.465 with 145 home runs and 81 stolen bases while appearing in 767 games for the Minnesota Twins.

Dozier got off to a slow start in 2018, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31, struggled initially and hardly played down the stretch. The 31-year-old right-handed hitter finished the season with a .696 OPS, the lowest since his rookie year in 2012. Defensively, Dozier’s minus-6.4 Ultimate Zone Rating ranked 15th among 16 qualified second basemen.

He can still be an effective weapon against lefties, with a career .850 OPS against them.

During the 2016 and ’17 seasons, Dozier finished in the top 13 in voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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Yasmani Grandal, Milwaukee Brewers agree to 1-year, $18.25 million deal

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Free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal agreed to a one-year, $18.25 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, league sources told ESPN, joining the reigning National League Central champions on a short-term deal after passing up longer-term options earlier in the winter.

The 30-year-old Grandal, who turned down a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers and could have pursued a four-year deal worth in excess of $50 million from the New York Mets, instead wound up with the Brewers, who stretched beyond their planned budget to sign him, sources told ESPN.

One of the most consistent catchers in baseball, Grandal has batted .240/.341/.441 with 113 home runs and 339 RBIs in 726 games through seven seasons with the San Diego Padres and Dodgers. His .792 OPS from 2014 to 2018 ranks third among catchers, trailing only Buster Posey and Willson Contreras during that stretch.

Grandal’s hallmark isn’t just his hitting, either. He has ranked within the top four in pitch framing each of the past four seasons, according to Statcorner, which tracks catchers’ abilities to turn pitches outside the strike zone into strikes and prevent those in the zone from being called balls. But Grandal has also committed a major-league-leading 43 passed balls during that same period, a trend that chased him into the 2018 postseason.

Issues catching the ball got Grandal benched in favor of Austin Barnes in the postseason, putting a bitter end on a 2018 season that saw Grandal post an .815 OPS and hit 24 home runs. He was booed by fans throughout Game 3 of the NL Championship Series amid his struggles, causing teammate Enrique Hernandez to lash out at Dodgers fans.

The Mets’ pursuit of Grandal ended with their signing of catcher Wilson Ramos. When Grandal expressed a willingness to sign a shorter-term deal, the Brewers entered the fray, filling a void and giving them their first big move in an offseason where division rival St. Louis added star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and reliever Andrew Miller. The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, have signed one free agent: utilityman Daniel Descalso.

ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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Oakland A’s expect Kyler Murray to declare for 2019 NFL draft

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The Oakland A’s expect Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray to declare for the 2019 NFL draft before Monday’s deadline, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, citing multiple sources.

Murray, a two-sport star, was chosen by the A’s with the ninth pick of the MLB draft in 2018 and signed a $4.66 million contract in June that allowed him to play football for the Sooners for one final year before joining the team.

Murray, 21, complicated things by leading Oklahoma to an 12-2 record and a spot in the College Football Playoff, winning the Heisman Trophy along the way.

ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have noted that Murray could be a first-round pick, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Wednesday that Murray was getting “first-round feedback” about the NFL.

Declaring for the draft would not guarantee that Murray would choose football, and the A’s would retain his professional rights, even if he tried the NFL first.

Last month, on the eve of the Heisman ceremony, it was clear that Murray was torn about which sport he wanted to play.

“I’d like to do both if possible,” he said. “But I don’t know how possible that is.”

The Chronicle reported that one source told the paper Murray is leaning toward football.

After his team lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal, Murray was mum about his future.

But his agent, Scott Boras, told ESPN on Wednesday night that Murray “has a baseball contract.” Boras has been steadfast that Murray will be play baseball now that Oklahoma’s football season is over.

Murray will need to make a decision in the next month. Spring training begins for the A’s on Feb. 15, and it seems unlikely that he would be able to prepare for football’s combine at the same time as he was attending his first major league baseball camp.

A number of former MLB draft picks ultimately chose to pursue football full time, including Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston and Ricky Williams.

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