Wednesday's Sports in Brief

BASEBALL

PHOENIX (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals struck gold in their search for a big hitter, acquiring slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Eager to push for the playoffs after a three-year absence, St. Louis sent pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, minor league infielder Andy Young and a 2019 draft pick to Arizona.

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A six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner at 31, Goldschmidt was among the top players available in the trade market. He hit .290 with 33 home runs and 83 RBIs last season.

Goldschmidt has a $14.5 million salary next year, receives a $1 million assignment bonus for the trade and will be eligible for free agency after next season. The Cardinals have a history of acquiring top hitters and then signing them to long-term deals, including Mark McGwire and Matt Holliday.

St. Louis went 88-74 last season and felt it needed a boost in the middle of a lineup that includes Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina to compete with the likes of Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. The Cardinals' postseason drought is their longest since 1997-99.

NEW YORK (AP) - Baseball players are concerned the Seattle Mariners have become yet another rebuilding team and may be joined by others following a season of steep attendance drops among clubs that faded early and never contended for the playoffs.

Union head Tony Clark and new collective bargaining director Bruce Meyer said Wednesday their members also are concerned about rapid change in the way games are played, such as the increased use of relief pitchers, and are willing to speak with management this offseason about whether counteracting changes are needed.

Altering the amateur draft to include an NBA-style lottery for the top picks, the 10-day disabled list and the 10-day minimum for the recall of players optioned to the minors are among the topics the union is prepared to talk about as part of a wider discussion. So are possible rules to counter offense-suffocating defensive shifts.

And the union maintains its agreement is necessary for any changes in anti-gambling rules in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision that allows more widespread legal betting.

GYMNASTICS

USA Gymnastics is turning to bankruptcy in an attempt to ensure its survival.

The embattled organization filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in an effort to reach settlements in the dozens of sex-abuse lawsuits it faces and to avoid its potential demise at the hands of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

USA Gymnastics filed the petition in Indianapolis, where it is based. It faces 100 lawsuits representing over 350 athletes in various courts across the country who blame the group for failing to supervise Larry Nassar, a team doctor accused of molesting them. Nassar, 55, worked at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University for decades. He is serving effective life sentences for child porn possession and molesting young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

Kathryn Carson, the recently elected chairwoman of USA Gymnastics' board of directors, said the organization's goal is to speed things up after mediation attempts failed to gain traction.

HOCKEY

SEATTLE (AP) - The celebration outside the building Seattle's NHL team will eventually call home came with all the formality of a groundbreaking event with the principals taking turns giving remarks and ceremonially shoveling dirt.

It also came with a new price tag even higher than what was stated a day earlier when Seattle was awarded the NHL's 32nd franchise.

The cost now is $850 million for the new arena at Seattle Center, according to Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, with construction expected to get started almost immediately. That's an increase of $200 million from the initial projections for the privately financed project, but the principals involved believe the increased investment is part of making the new building one of the top arenas in the country.

The ceremonial event - complete with heavy construction equipment sitting nearby the stage waiting - concluded a whirlwind 36 hours for hockey fans in the region. While it seemed a foregone conclusion, the unanimous vote from the NHL Board of Governors on Tuesday ended a lengthy dance between the league and the city and solved Seattle's winter sports void created when the SuperSonics departed in 2008.

PRO FOOTBALL

The NFL Referees Association is questioning why the league isn't focusing more attention on Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes for threatening umpire Roy Ellison following Buffalo's game at Miami last weekend.

Ellison has been placed on administrative leave while the NFL investigates Hughes' accusation that Ellison called him a vulgar name during the game.

In a statement released Wednesday, NFLRA executive director Scott Green says the association expects the NFL's investigation to clear Ellison while turning the focus on Hughes.

Green says Hughes has a history of being flagged for personal misconduct and arguing with officials.

''While we are disappointed that the NFL has yet to address that aspect of the incident, we look forward to working with the league during its review, and will ensure that Roy's rights are protected during this process,'' Green said.

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