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Report: Dodgers focused on Lindor, also want Clevinger


The Los Angeles Dodgers did not land Corey Kluber, who’s on the verge of being traded to the Texas Rangers, but that appears to be just fine with Andrew Friedman and Co.

Although they’ve been heavily linked to Kluber this winter, the Dodgers are instead focused on acquiring two other members of the Cleveland Indians – All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-handed pitcher Mike Clevinger – according to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times.

L.A. has been linked to Lindor – who has two years of arbitration remaining – at various points this winter despite already fielding an All-Star shortstop in Corey Seager.

The Dodgers’ crowded infield also includes third baseman Justin Turner and top prospect Gavin Lux, along with multi-positional talent Max Muncy. Reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger is also in the mix as a first baseman and outfielder.

The prospect of acquiring Lux, who made his MLB debut in September, could be intriguing to Cleveland, but it’s unclear if the Dodgers would be willing to part with the 22-year-old.

Lindor is expected to be dealt by Cleveland – if not this winter, then at some point in the next two years – due to his escalating salary in arbitration and his free agency after the 2021 campaign. Cleveland is not expected to sign Lindor long term, although team president Chris Antonetti said last month he believes the 26-year-old will be with the team in 2020.

Clevinger could appeal to L.A. as a low-cost alternative to Kluber with additional years of team control. He’s projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $4.5 million through arbitration in 2020, his first of three arb-eligible seasons.

The 28-year-old Clevinger just completed a career-best campaign for the Indians, in which he posted a 2.71 ERA and a 2.49 FIP along with a 1.06 WHIP and a career-best 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings. However, back and ankle injuries limited him to just 21 starts in 2019.

The Dodgers are seeking rotation help behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler due to the potential departures of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill in free agency.





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Sources — Rangers agree to trade for Indians ace Corey Kluber


The Texas Rangers have agreed to a trade to acquire two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

In return, the Indians are receiving outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and reliever Emmanuel Clase. News of the players acquired by Cleveland was first reported by The Athletic.

Kluber becomes the ace of a rotation that already includes veterans Mike Minor (14-10, 3.59 ERA last season) and Lance Lynn (16-11, 3.67 ERA). The Rangers also signed starting pitcher Kyle Gibson to a three-year, $30 million contract this offseason. Gibson went 13-7 with a 4.84 ERA for the Minnesota Twins last season.

It’s a homecoming for Kluber, who went to high school in Coppell, Texas — approximately 22 miles from Arlington, Texas, where the Rangers play their games.

The Indians had picked up Kluber’s $17.5 million contract option for the 2020 season on Oct. 31. His contract also includes a club option for the 2021 season that’s worth $18 million.

The Rangers’ World Series odds at Caesars Sportsbook improved from 100-1 to 40-1 after news of the trade broke. The Indians’ World Series odds at Caesar’s went from 18-1 to 30-1.

Kluber didn’t pitch for the Indians after May 1, when the right-hander sustained a broken arm when he was hit by a comebacker. He was nearing a return in the minor leagues before an oblique injury ended his comeback. He was 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts last season.

The 33-year-old Kluber is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

He is 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA in nine major league seasons. In the postseason he is 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA in nine starts.

The three-time All-Star won his Cy Young awards in 2014 and 2017.

DeShields, 27, hit .249 with four home runs, 32 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 118 games last season. Clase, 21, was 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA in 21 appearances in the majors for Texas last season.



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Report: Rays, Brewers, Marlins have eyes on Avisail Garcia


The market for free-agent outfielder Avisail Garcia is heating up.

The Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, and Tampa Bay Rays – Garcia’s most recent club – are all pursuing the veteran, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Garcia, 28, was an All-Star in 2017 with the Chicago White Sox when he hit .330 with a .885 OPS and 18 home runs in 136 games. Injuries have long been the scourge of his career since he debuted as a 21-year-old in 2012.

He became a fixture with the Rays in 2018 after signing a one-year, $3.5-million contract in January. He slashed .282/.332/.464 with a career-high 20 home runs.

The Brewers could be in the market for outfield help alongside Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, or even as a right-handed complement to Ben Gamel.

The Marlins have also been linked to Yasiel Puig in recent days and appear motivated to add an outfielder.

A reunion with the Rays may be trickier with Austin Meadows, Kevin Kiermaier, and the newly added Hunter Renfroe and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo on the roster.





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Cubs, reliever Brandon Morrow agree to minor league deal


CHICAGO — The Cubs are bringing back oft-injured reliever Brandon Morrow on a minor league deal, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Morrow, 35, last pitched in the majors on the final day before the 2018 All-Star break. He has been plagued with elbow issues ever since.

Morrow signed a two-year, $21 million contract with Chicago before the 2018 season after pitching in all seven games of the World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers the previous October.

Morrow was 22-of-24 in save opportunities before going on the injured list. He spent the entirety of last season at the Cubs’ spring facility, attempting to get healthy, but eventually had nerve decompression surgery on Sept. 1. He’s “full go” for spring training, according to the source.

Morrow is a 12-year veteran with a career 3.96 ERA as a starter and then reliever. But he has had nine disabled/injured list stints over the course of his career. His deal pays him $1 million, plus bonuses, if he makes it back to the majors.



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MLB threatens to drop MiLB affiliation as tensions rise in negotiations


Negotiations between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball aren’t going smoothly.

On Friday night, MiLB released a statement criticizing MLB for how it’s handling this round of Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) negotiations, as Josh Norris of Baseball America outlined.

Later on Friday, MLB fired back, threatening to sever ties with MiLB entirely, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

“If the National Association (of Minor League Clubs) has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table,” the statement read.

“Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor-league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

That agreement is set to expire following the 2020 season, and MLB’s proposal to cut 42 teams from the minor leagues is fueling tensions between the two sides.

Rob Manfred recently criticized owners for going public with their concerns, prompting one owner to critique the commissioner further.

“Rob is attempting to decimate the industry, destroy baseball in communities and eliminate thousands of jobs, and he’s upset that the owners of the teams have gone public with that information in an effort to save their teams,” the owner said. “That’s rich.”

In addition to minor-league owners, the proposal has drawn the ire of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In Friday’s statement, MLB said that, unlike the minor leagues, it’s working to improve baseball.

“MLB has assured every public official who has contacted us that MLB will work diligently to preserve organized baseball in a compelling, fan-friendly format in every American city that currently has an affiliate,” the statement read. “MiLB has not made such a commitment.”

MiLB responded with another statement Saturday evening, this time saying that both sides will benefit if the public feuding ends. The minor leagues added that accuracy in the public commentary is “of the utmost importance” and disseminating non-conforming information “serves no proper purpose.”

“We sincerely hope that we can move forward with MiLB in the spirit of the excellent partnership we have enjoyed for so many years and reach an agreement on a new Professional Baseball Agreement that is in the best interests of baseball and its future in communities across America,” the statement read, according to Michael Silverman of The Boston Globe.





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Fire breaks out at Rangers’ new stadium


ARLINGTON, Texas — Fire broke out Saturday at the future home of the Texas Rangers, which is under construction in Arlington.

Arlington Fire Department Lt. Mike Joiner said the blaze was brought under control and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Manhattan Construction, the general contractor for the project, said in a statement that the fire began about 2:30 p.m. in the roof area of the stadium. The contractor said an investigation will determine the cause of the blaze.

Rangers spokesman John Blake said the stadium is more than 200 feet tall and the fire was in an area about 100 feet high.

Blake did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press for comment.

The estimated $1.1 billion Globe Life Field includes a retractable roof and is scheduled to open for the 2020 Major League Baseball season



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Rendon didn’t sign with Dodgers partly due to ‘Hollywood lifestyle’


Anthony Rendon will spend the next seven years of his career in Anaheim with the Los Angeles Angels and, despite liking the Dodgers organization, explained why he didn’t want to play a few miles north.

The star third baseman, who was never tendered an offer from the Dodgers due to their belief he didn’t want to be in L.A., was introduced to the Angels media on Saturday and was asked about the local National League opponent.

“It’s not that we didn’t want to play for them, they’re a great organization that’s built to win,” Rendon told reporters, including Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. “But what we heard about how the organization is, the Hollywood lifestyle, it didn’t seem like it would be a fit for me and my family.”

Rendon, 29, signed a seven-year, $245-million contract with the Angels during last week’s winter meetings. The two-time Silver Slugger has played seven total seasons in the majors, owning a .859 OPS over 916 games. Last year, the All-Star hit .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and an MLB-leading 126 RBIs.

Rendon – a Texas native – will wear No. 6 with the Angels, previously worn by the team’s incumbent third baseman David Fletcher, who will switch to No. 22.





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Anthony Rendon on not choosing Dodgers


ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Dodgers approached this year’s winter meetings with striking aggression but nonetheless whiffed on the two biggest prizes in free agency. They offered Gerrit Cole a contract that reached $300 million but watched him join the New York Yankees on a record deal. They expressed interest in Anthony Rendon but learned that the sentiment wasn’t mutual.

Instead, Rendon joined the Los Angeles Angels, who play 30 miles south in Anaheim, located outside of Los Angeles County.

Rendon, speaking during his introductory news conference on Saturday, spoke highly of the Dodgers organizationally but said from the podium that “the Hollywood lifestyle” of L.A. “didn’t seem like it would be a fit for us as a family.” Later, in a smaller scrum, Rendon, who was born and raised in Houston, was asked about his general hesitancy toward the state of California at the onset of the offseason, and he joked about the high tax rate.

“I just think environment itself,” Rendon continued. “I think when people think about California, they think about straight Hollywood, that Hollywood glamour, whole bunch of flashes, so much paparazzi. But everyone said it’s just the complete opposite here.”

Rendon, also pursued by the Texas Rangers, agreed on a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Angels on Wednesday, putting him on the same roster as Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton and Albert Pujols.

The Angels had — and still have — a desperate need for frontline starting pitching and joined the Yankees and Dodgers in an aggressive pursuit of Cole. Angels owner Arte Moreno met with Cole along with Cole’s agent, Scott Boras, and some of Boras’ representatives at Angel Stadium on Sunday, before the start of the winter meetings from the San Diego. When the meeting concluded, Moreno asked Boras to stay for a one-on-one conversation. Moreno told Boras, also Rendon’s agent, that Rendon was his prime target. He wanted Rendon to know he was wanted and that he embodied what Moreno considered emblematic of the Angels’ brand.

“When I told Anthony that,” Boras said, “I think it had a large impact on his decision-making.”

Moreno is an ardent baseball fan. Angels general manager Billy Eppler recalled often calling him in the middle of the afternoon to notify Moreno about a roster move and being asked, with particular excitement, “Are you watching this game?” Eppler never knew which one.

Asked when he learned about Moreno’s affinity for Rendon, Eppler chuckled.

“I don’t know,” he said, “four years ago?”

Actually, it was longer than that. Moreno had been hearing about Rendon since his days at Rice University and had followed his path through the majors as he established himself among the game’s best all-around players. When Cole agreed to a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees on Tuesday night, the Angels immediately shifted their focus to Rendon. By late Wednesday morning, they basically had a deal in place. Later that night, it was done.

Trout reached out to Rendon shortly thereafter.

“Based on the exclamation points in his texts,” Rendon said, “he seemed really excited.”

Trout is one of only three position players who have accumulated more FanGraphs wins above replacement than Rendon over the past four years, along with Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich. During that stretch, from 2016 to 2019, Rendon batted .299/.384/.528, averaging 26 home runs and 101 RBIs. Last season, which ended in World Series triumph, he broke out, finishing third in National League MVP voting after batting .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and 26 RBIs for the Washington Nationals, who basically lost their chance of re-signing him when they gave Stephen Strasburg the same seven-year, $245 million contract.

The Angels have informed Rendon they will add to their starting rotation and are major players in both the trade and free-agent markets, eyeing names such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel and Corey Kluber. Rendon didn’t necessarily play a position of need, but the Angels wanted to remain flexible with regard to adding impact talent.

“That’s one of the primary elements of roster construction: If you’re not flexible, you can find yourself left out in the cold,” Eppler said. “We identified a few players that we felt brought a lot of certainty and impact in this free-agent market. Anthony was clearly one of those players.”

Rendon’s deal came nine months after Moreno signed Trout to a nine-year, $426.5 million extension, which made the Angels the first team with two players averaging $35 million in annual earnings. The Angels are coming off a 90-loss season and are 10 years removed from their last postseason victory. But their moves this offseason — adding Joe Maddon as their manager, signing Rendon and staying aggressive on pitching — make it clear they’re eyeing contention.

“I think he made a commitment to Mike,” Boras said of Moreno, “and Anthony was a big part of fulfilling that commitment.”



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Report: Rangers in, Angels out on Indians’ Kluber


The Texas Rangers are among the teams pursuing a trade for Cleveland Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The Los Angeles Angels, who’d been linked to the three-time All-Star and his Cleveland teammate Carlos Carrasco since missing out on Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg in free agency, are no longer in the running for Kluber, a source told Rosenthal.

The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers are also among the teams that have checked in on the veteran, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

It’s the second consecutive offseason that Kluber’s name has surfaced in trade rumors, and the Padres and Dodgers were also connected to him last winter.

The 33-year-old is set to earn $13.5 million in 2020, and he holds a $14-million club option for 2021. The two-time AL Cy Young winner is coming off a season when he didn’t take the mound after his May 1 start due to a forearm injury. He went 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 35 2/3 innings before the premature end to his campaign.

Prior to 2019, Kluber had thrown 200-plus innings in five straight seasons, and he finished top five in Cy Young voting four times.





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Rendon on not choosing Dodgers


ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Dodgers approached this year’s winter meetings with striking aggression but nonetheless whiffed on the two biggest prizes in free agency. They offered Gerrit Cole a contract that reached $300 million but watched him join the New York Yankees on a record deal. They expressed interest in Anthony Rendon but learned that the sentiment was not mutual.

Instead, Rendon joined the Los Angeles Angels, who play 30 miles south in Anaheim, located outside of Los Angeles County.

Rendon, speaking during his introductory news conference on Saturday, spoke highly of the Dodgers organizationally but said from the podium that “the Hollywood lifestyle” of L.A. “didn’t seem like it would be a fit for us as a family.” Later, in a smaller scrum, Rendon, who was born and raised in Houston, was asked about his general hesitancy toward the state of California at the onset of the offseason, and he joked about the high tax rate.

“I just think environment itself,” Rendon continued. “I think when people think about California, they think about straight Hollywood, that Hollywood glamour, whole bunch of flashes, so much paparazzi. But everyone said it’s just the complete opposite here.”

Rendon, also pursued by the Texas Rangers, agreed on a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Angels on Wednesday, putting him on the same roster as Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton and Albert Pujols.

The Angels had — and still have — a desperate need for frontline starting pitching and joined the Yankees and Dodgers in an aggressive pursuit of Cole. Angels owner Arte Moreno met with Cole, Cole’s agent, Scott Boras, and some of Boras’ representatives at Angel Stadium on Sunday, before the start of the winter meetings from the San Diego. When the meeting concluded, Moreno asked Boras to stay for a one-on-one conversation. Moreno told Boras, also Rendon’s agent, that Rendon was his prime target. He wanted Rendon to know he was wanted; that he embodied what Moreno considered emblematic of the Angels’ brand.

“When I told Anthony that,” Boras said, “I think it had a large impact on his decision-making.”

Moreno is an ardent baseball fan. Angels general manager Billy Eppler recalled often calling him in the middle of the afternoon to notify Moreno about a roster move and being asked, with particular excitement, “Are you watching this game?” Eppler never knew which one. Asked when he learned about Moreno’s affinity for Rendon, Eppler chuckled.

“I don’t know,” he said, “four years ago?”

Actually, it was longer than that. Moreno had been hearing about Rendon since his days at Rice University and followed his path through the majors as he established himself among the game’s best all-around players. When Cole agreed to a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees on Tuesday night, the Angels immediately shifted their focus to Rendon. By late Wednesday morning, they basically had a deal in place. Later that night, it was done.

Trout reached out to Rendon shortly thereafter.

“Based on the exclamation points in his texts,” Rendon said, “he seemed really excited.”

Trout is one of only three position players who have accumulated more FanGraphs wins above replacement than Rendon over the past four years, along with Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich. In that stretch, from 2016 to 2019, Rendon batted .299/.384/.528, averaging 26 home runs and 101 RBIs. Last season, which ended in World Series triumph, he broke out, finishing third in National League MVP voting after batting .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and 26 RBIs for the Washington Nationals, who basically lost their chance of re-signing him when they gave Stephen Strasburg the same seven-year, $245 million contract.

The Angels have informed Rendon they will add to their starting rotation and are major players in both the trade and free-agent markets, eyeing names such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel and Corey Kluber. Rendon didn’t necessarily play a position of need, but the Angels wanted to remain flexible with regards to adding impact talent.

“That’s one of the primary elements of roster construction — if you’re not flexible, you can find yourself left out in the cold,” Eppler said. “We identified a few players that we felt brought a lot of certainty and impact in this free-agent market. Anthony was clearly one of those players.”

Rendon’s deal came nine months after Moreno signed Trout to a nine-year, $426.5 million extension, which made the Angels the first team with two players averaging $35 million in annual earnings. The Angels are coming off a 90-loss season and are 10 years removed from their last postseason victory. But their moves this offseason — adding Joe Maddon as their manager, signing Rendon and staying aggressive on pitching — make it clear they’re eyeing contention.

“I think he made a commitment to Mike,” Boras said of Moreno, “and Anthony was a big part of fulfilling that commitment.”



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