Mark Townsend

  • Red Sox offer Pablo Sandoval five years, $95M — report

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 9 hrs ago

    Free-agent Pablo Sandoval is reportedly fielding offers from his top remaining suitors and could be set to make a final decision before Thanksgiving.

    According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, a major league source indicates the Boston Red Sox turned in their offer on Friday, setting the numbers at five years, $95 million. That's believed to be the highest bid on the table at this late stage in negotiations.

    Of course, a lot has changed since then. What Sandoval and his agent once saw as a fair offer might be closer to a hometown discount after Sandoval once again excelled in the postseason, helping the Giants to their third World Series championship in five years. Sandoval's 26 postseason hits — including three in the Series clincher — were an MLB record. Though none of them were homers, just about all of them meant something in the Giants journey. He also reached base safely in 16 of their 17 postseason games.

    As our own Mike Oz put it. 

    Dang, $95M will buy A LOT of panda hats.

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  • UCLA honors Jackie Robinson, renames sports facilities in tribute

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 12 hrs ago

    On the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's enrollment at UCLA, athletic director Dan Guerrero announced that the university's 22 athletic facilities will be renamed the Jackie Robinson Athletics and Recreation Complex, in lasting tribute to the man who broke baseball's color barrier.  

    The announcement was made at a special ceremony on Friday that celebrated the life and legacy of the four-sport standout.  Robinson played baseball, football and basketball and ran track at UCLA from 1939-41.

    Robinson’s No.42, will be placed in-ground at the entrance of each facility to remind students of his courage. That includes Pauley Pavilion, the John Wooden Center, and the J.D. Morgan Center, among others. UCLA's baseball stadium was already named after Robinson.

    From The Daily Bruin: 

    Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s wife, shares that love of UCLA. It was at the university where she first met Jackie Robinson and their life together began. She, too, was on hand to help with the unveiling. 

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  • White Sox reform 1-2 punch in signing Adam LaRoche to two-year, $25 million deal

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 15 hrs ago

    The Chicago White Sox stayed active in free agency on Friday, inking first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25 million deal, according to a report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale

    LaRoche, 35, fills a couple of big needs that Sox general manager Rick Hahn was looking to address this winter. First and foremost, LaRoche brings left-handed power, having averaged 26 homers over his last three seasons with the Washington Nationals. His .256/.346/.458 batting line over that time frame  isn't eye-popping, but that would suffice as a complementary player to offensive centerpiece Jose Abreu.

    Abreu, of course, also factors into this deal in many ways. Not only does he have another proven run producer to help carry the offense, as a plus defender at first base, LaRoche also gives manager Robin Ventura options and opportunities to keep both guys fresh by limiting time in the field.  

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  • Red Sox prospect Cody Kukuk arrested and charged with robbery

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Boston Red Sox prospect Cody Kukuk was arrested in Long Beach Calif., on Wednesday on an outstanding warrant in connection with a home-invasion robbery that took place in Lawrence, Kansas on Nov. 8.

    Kukuk, 21, is a native of Lawrence. Another man, 20-year-old Gabriel Patterson, was also arrested in Long Beach in connection with the same robbery. Both men have been charged and will remain jailed without bail.

    Two other men, 21-year-old Zachary John Pence and 19-year-old Driskell Alan Johnson, were charged in the same robbery last week in Kansas.

    Here are a few more details from the Lawrence Journal-World report:

    Police alleged that the men entered the Arkansas Street apartment with handguns, battered residents and took their belongings, McKinley said last week.

    Court documents allege that cash, two cellphones, an Xbox 360 and the contents of a safe were taken during the incident.

    The Red Sox have yet to comment on Kukuk's latest arrest, but the details are obviously disturbing.

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  • Jordan Zimmermann gives Steven Souza gift card after no-hitter-saving catch

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

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    Washington Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann made history on the final day of the regular season, pitching the first no-hitter in Expos/Nationals history since Dennis Martinez hurled a perfect game on July 28, 1991.

    In order to complete his feat, Zimmerman needed an extraordinary defensive effort from left fielder Steven Souza, who robbed Christian Yelich of sure extra bases with a full out diving grab as his momentum carried him away from home plate. It was, to put it mildly, one of the best defensive plays of the season. And with the added significance of preserving history, the catch was immediately vaulted to one of the most memorable regular season plays in recent history.

    It's certainly a play Zimmermann will never forget. Thinking his entire performance had gone for naught, he immediately put his head down after contact, only to react with the same amazement as the Nationals Park when Souza secured the baseball.

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  • Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte may finally get chance after signing with A's

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    It wasn't a headline grabber like the signing of Billy Butler on Tuesday night, but the Oakland A's signing switch-pitcher Pat Venditte could prove to be one of the more interesting under-the-radar moves that takes places all winter. The A's added Venditte on a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training,according to his agent Marc Klingman.

    For those who might not be familiar with Venditte's story, the 29-year-old is a true switch-pitcher capable of retiring professional hitters with his right or left arm. Like a switch-hitter, he determines which arm he's throwing with depending on who he's facing. In the instance he faces off against a switch-hitter, he has to declare which arm he's throwing with before the at-bat begins. That's to avoid a repeat of the comical moment in the video above from a minor league game in 2008.

    That rule has actually been dubbed the Pat Venditte rule. So if nothing else, he'll always have that distinction. 

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  • Hector Santiago accepts dare, surprises Terry Francona with kiss

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

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    The MLB All-Stars are in the home stretch of a nearly two-week tour in Japan. All that remains is one final exhibition game against Team Japan to be played early Thursday morning in Okinawa. After that game, the MLB All-Stars will board a plane to make the long flight back across the pond to the United States, and one can only assume assistant coach — and Cleveland Indians skipper — Terry Francona will be on high alert.

    That's because on the team's flight to Okinawa, Francona was the subject of a dare that Los Angeles Angels reliever Hector Santiago fearlessly accepted and carried out in front on his teammates.

    The mission: Kiss Terry Francona's bald head while he's catching a few zzz's and face the potential consequences.

    Here's the result, as captured and posted to Santiago's Instagram account.

    It's tremendous. All of it. It shows once again that there really is nothing better than team bonding on long baseball road trips.   

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  • Fans recreate Jayson Werth gnome with seafood cans

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    Ten fans of the Washington Nationals showed off their display building techniques while also helping out a great cause over the weekend. According to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, the fans were participating in Canstruction, a competition where groups create large sculptures made out of full cans of food, which are later donated to local hunger relief groups.

    Their contribution? A nine-foot replica of the Jayson Werth 'rally' gnome that served as motivation for the team in 2014

    Progress shot. 4 hours in. #gnomemorehunger @AFACtweets @CanstructNOVA

    We're hoping he keeps his words on that one. 

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  • Seeking offensive upgrade, A's land Billy Butler on three-year, $30M deal

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    Billy Butler didn't sound like a guy ready to leave the Kansas City Royals despite the team declining his $12.5 million option for 2015. Of course, that was before the Oakland A's called offering a three-year, $30 million deal, plus a $5 million signing bonus.

    According to Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors, Butler has agreed to accept Oakland's offer and will likely become their full-time designated hitter in 2015.

    Source: Billy Butler agrees to three-year, $30M deal with the #Athletics. $5 million signing bonus.

    The A's have not yet made the signing official, though ESPN's Buster Olney confirms an agreement has been reached and the deal will be finalized pending a physical. 

    During that four-year span, Butler averaged 21 home runs and 93 RBIs per season to go with a .306/.371.483 line. 

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  • Reinvented as reliever, Zach Duke cashes in

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    As a once highly rated starting pitching prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, left-hander Zach Duke likely had visions of what his first big money contract would look like. Chances are, it looked nothing like the one he signed with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

    The 31-year-old starter-turned-reliever inked a three-year, $15 million deal. That's obviously far from the big money he would have made as a top flight starter, but it does set the bar high for this winter's free agent relievers. Considering where Duke's career seemed to be headed after flaming out in Pittsburgh, he'll absolutely take that distinction. 

    "It's a blow to the ego a bit when you get fired from a position," Duke said of his transition to the 'pen. "I felt like I was asked to no longer be a starter. That was a tough pill to swallow for a while. But once I kind of embraced the role of being a reliever, I had to take a step back and figure some things out and figure out how I was going to get an opportunity as a reliever."