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Shelby Miller, Texas Rangers reach 1-year deal – WSAIGO Sports
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Shelby Miller, Texas Rangers reach 1-year deal



Free-agent starter Shelby Miller has agreed to a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers that is worth $2 million with performance bonuses that can take it to $5 million, league sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Wednesday.

The Athletic was first to report the deal.

Miller, 28, made an impressive debut in the St. Louis Cardinals rotation in 2013, going 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 173 1/3 innings. The right-hander finished third that year in NL Rookie of the Year voting, behind Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

Miller followed that up with a 10-9 mark and 3.74 ERA in 2014 before the Cardinals — who’d drafted Miller in the first round in 2009 — dealt him in the offseason to the Braves in a package for outfielder Jason Heyward.

His one year in Atlanta featured career bests in ERA (3.02), innings pitched (205 1/3), strikeouts (171) and losses, as he finished 6-17 in a hard-luck season that saw Atlanta hitters get him two or fewer runs in 18 of his 33 starts. But he still was named to his only All-Star team.

Miller was then packaged with a prospect and sent to Arizona for three players, including outfielder Ender Inciarte and highly touted shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson.

But he was plagued by injuries — including Tommy John surgery — in his three seasons with the Diamondbacks, who chose to non-tender Miller and make him a free agent. He has thrown a total of just 139 innings since 2016, going 5-18 with a 6.35 ERA with Arizona.

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Chicago Cubs ownership says giving second chance to Addison Russell ‘was the right thing to do’



CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs ownership on Thursday reasserted its stance that having suspended shortstop Addison Russell under contract for 2019 is not an endorsement of his having violated the league’s domestic abuse policy, but rather is the right thing to do for all parties.

“The fact that we have decided — after talking to lots of experts, after talking to Addison multiple times, talking to the league — that we’d rather support him through the process than just cut him and let him go, that doesn’t mean it’s in conflict with support for victims of domestic violence,” owner Tom Ricketts said on ESPN 1000. “I think that it’s not an easy decision and not a decision that anyone takes lightly.”

Ricketts spoke publicly on the matter for the first time since signing Russell — who was suspended for 40 games last September when his actions came to light via his ex-wife — to a $3.4 million contract for 2019. He won’t be eligible to play until May, and the terms of his contract are well below what he would have received if he was in good standing with the league and the club.

Nevertheless, some fans have been vocal in their opposition to Russell ever wearing a Cubs uniform again.

“We knew that it would be unpopular in some ways,” general manager Jed Hoyer told ESPN 1000. “People have a visceral reaction to reading about what happened. So did we. The more that we worked and talked to experts and worked through it … we felt like having a conditional second chance was the right thing to do. It was recommended by experts.”

Independent domestic abuse experts interviewed by ESPN also agreed a second chance was warranted if Russell was following through with counseling and therapy. The Cubs also expressed concern for his ex-wife and have stayed in contact with her throughout the process.

“It’s something that every team has to decide for themselves, but I do give a lot of credit to Major League Baseball for having good protocols and policies on this,” Ricketts stated. “There was a process for him. He’s already begun doing some of the things that the league requests, and he’s doing things beyond what the league requests. So, we’ll see where it goes.

“I think he knows the gravity of the situation. I think he knows what he has to do. Let’s just hope that he follows through on promises he made to himself and the promises he made to the team.”

The Cubs can cut Russell for one-sixth of his salary or he could be traded, even while under suspension. He won’t attend the annual fan convention this weekend, but he is slated to be with the team for spring training next month.

Manager Joe Maddon recently spoke with Russell and indicated he’s on the right path.

“He seems to be in a good place,” Maddon said. “He’s really working to get things behind him and make sure he does and says the right things moving forward. It’s a maturation process on his part.”

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Free-agent relief pitcher Adam Ottavino to sign with New York Yankees



The New York Yankees have agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with free-agent relief pitcher Adam Ottavino, league sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Thursday.

The 33-year-old Ottavino was a big piece of Colorado’s bullpen last season, going 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA as the Rockies reached the NL Division Series as the wild card before losing to Milwaukee. His 112 strikeouts ranked fourth among all major league relievers, and he held opposing hitters to a .158 batting average.

Ottavino, who earned $7 million while serving as the setup man for closer Wade Davis, has always been a great matchup option facing right-handed hitters but has continued to flash the right pitches to get lefty hitters out, too. He’s prized for great control of his two-seamer and slider, which lends to his durability.

“He turned himself into one of the best relievers in the game,” Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon told The Athletic last season.

Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in May 2015 soon after he was promoted to be the closer. He returned to action in July 2016.

A first-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 amateur draft, the right-handed Ottavino made his major league debut four years later before being acquired off waivers by Colorado in 2012. He just finished his eighth season in the big leagues and seventh with the Rockies.

For his career, Ottavino is 17-20 with 17 saves, a 3.68 ERA and 464 strikeouts.

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Will Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign before Super Bowl Sunday and other burning questions



When the offseason began two-and-a-half months ago, the baseball world waited breathlessly to see where marquee free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado would sign.

We’re still waiting.

As the saga drags on, we ask three of our baseball writers the burning (smoldering?) questions about where — and when — Harper and Machado will finally sign, and for how much.

Are you surprised that neither Harper nor Machado has signed yet?

Eddie Matz: Nope. The Machado bone is connected to the Harper bone, and the Harper bone is connected to the Boras bone, and the Boras bone is connected to waiting as long as humanly possible.

David Schoenfield: After what happened last offseason, with J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer signing after spring training had already started, not surprised at all. If anything, the only surprise is how few teams have been mentioned as possible suitors. It’s not often 26-year-old star players hit free agency, yet most teams apparently aren’t interested.

Sam Miller: I think back to last year, when many of us were speculating that the slow offseason was due to teams hoarding their money for this offseason. GMs must have laughed when they read that.

Who do you think will sign Harper?

Matz: In less than a month, the Dodgers have quietly slid from front-runner to borderline “mystery team” status, thanks largely to their deafening radio silence. I’m not buying it. I still think Harper lands in La La Land.

Schoenfield: I thought he was headed to the Dodgers after they traded away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to open up right field — and maybe that will still happen — but it’s looking like Phillies versus Nationals and I’m going to bet on a return to D.C. at this point.

Miller: The Dodgers, but it doesn’t really feel like we’ve yet read any Bryce Harper rumor — with any team — that feels like a true prelude to the final signing.

Who do you think will sign Machado?

Matz: All the talk about the Phillies flirting heavily with Harper in Vegas this past weekend could be legit. Or it could be a ploy to make Machado flinch and take whatever Philly is offering. Feels like the latter to me. I still see Manny donning red pinstripes.

Schoenfield: The funny thing, it’s to the advantage of both players to wait for the other to sign first — especially if the first one to sign doesn’t go with the Phillies. We know the Phillies want one of these guys, and if they miss out on the first one to sign, they may feel forced to increase their offer to the other to make sure they don’t get shut out. But who signs first? If Harper ends up choosing the Nationals and that happens first, maybe it will push Machado to the Phillies.

Miller: The Phillies. Again, though, given the tone of what’s been publicly reported, this feels like trying to forecast the weather nine days out. Feels like the significant steps in the process are still undeveloped.

Who do you think will get more total money, Machado or Harper?

Matz: Harper’s contract will have the higher average annual value, but Machado gets more total dollars. Neither one of them tops Giancarlo Stanton‘s $325 million deal.

Schoenfield: Harper.

Miller: Harper, though with some of the more complicated contracts superstars get these days — with opt-outs especially — the total money might not perfectly reflect each player’s total earning potential.

How surprised would you be if the Phillies ended up signing NEITHER Machado nor Harper?

Matz: About as surprised as I’d be if Machado or Harper ended up hosting this year’s Academy Awards.

Schoenfield: Not that surprised. Harper to the Nationals seems like a real possibility. Something deep inside could still see the Yankees swooping in at the last second for Harper or Machado, or maybe Machado goes to the White Sox or the “mystery” team that is supposedly out there (the Padres need a third baseman …).

Miller: A little bit, but if they were really committed to signing one of them, it would have happened by now.

How surprised would you be if the Yankees ended up signing EITHER Machado or Harper?

Matz: About as surprised as I’d be if the Phillies ended up signing neither Machado nor Harper.

Schoenfield: The rumors from the Bronx are pretty quiet, but the Yankees are standing on mountains of revenue and while they traded for Stanton last season, they haven’t signed a $100 million free agent since Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury before the 2014 season. That’s five offseasons ago. Old man Steinbrenner is yelling from his grave, telling the kids to spend some money and win a World Series. Maybe the Yankees are shying away from Machado for another reason: They want Nolan Arenado next offseason. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence they’ve signed former Rockies teammates DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki.

Miller: A little bit, but the Yankees obviously can spend a lot of money on either player, and would be better with either player, so it’s a logical outcome.

Which team are you most surprised hasn’t been linked to either Machado or Harper this winter?

Matz: The Golden State Warriors.

Schoenfield: The Stanton acquisition and his huge contract definitely muddied the picture, but certainly a year ago we would have expected the Yankees to land Harper or Machado (heck, maybe both). The Rangers are bad right now, but that’s a big-market franchise and they’re moving into a new park in 2020. They need a franchise player and Harper in particular would give them a marquee name to get the attention of even football-crazed fans in the Metroplex.

Miller: The Angels. If we take some of these rumored offers seriously — $175 million for Machado, for instance — it’s surprising that there aren’t 27 teams bidding for him. Every team in baseball — or, if you want to be really conservative, at least two-thirds of them — can afford $200 million for Manny Machado and have intentions of being competitive for many of the next eight seasons.

If Machado surprises by signing with a team not considered one of the primary suitors, who do you think it could be?

Matz: The Mets. There isn’t a whole lot of data on New York’s new regime under GM Brodie Van Wagenen, but what data there is suggests this: The Amazins are in the running for anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Schoenfield: The Padres. Or maybe the Angels surprise, like they did with Albert Pujols.

Miller: The Padres.

If Harper surprises by signing with a team not considered one of the primary suitors, who do you think it could be?

Matz: The Braves are ready to contend, need outfield help (Adam Duvall? Really?), and have oodles of payroll flexibility. The only thing that differentiates them from the Phillies is an owner who talks about spending “stupid money.” But that doesn’t mean Atlanta won’t do it.

Schoenfield: The Cardinals. They actually have a lot of payroll flexibility in upcoming years and will need a big bat in 2020 and beyond if Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna depart as free agents.

Miller: The Angels.

In what order will these events take place? Bryce Harper signs, Manny Machado signs, Super Bowl Sunday.

Matz: Machado, Harper, Super Bowl.

Schoenfield: Harper, Super Bowl, Machado.

Miller: Machado, then Super Bowl Sunday, then Harper. Or else they all happen at exactly the same time.

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