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MLB free agency: Justin Verlander re-signs with Astros on one-year, $25 million deal

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Justin Verlander’s first career foray into free agency did not last long. Verlander is returning to the Houston Astros after declining the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer prior to Wednesday’s deadline. His younger brother, Ben, broke the news on Twitter.

Verlander received a one-year contract worth $25 million with a player option for 2023. Because he rejected the qualifying offer this offseason, Verlander will not be eligible to receive it next offseason or any other point in his career moving forward.

The soon-to-be 39-year-old Verlander has not pitched since Opening Day 2020 because of an elbow injury that would later require Tommy John surgery. By all accounts his rehab has gone well and Verlander will be ready to pitch come spring training. The Astros know Verlander’s medicals better than anyone and obviously they felt comfortable re-signing him.

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In 2019, his last full and health season, Verlander won the AL Cy Young and pitched to a 2.58 ERA in a league-leading 223 innings with elite strikeout (12.1 K/9) and walk (1.7 BB/9) numbers. Verlander is a future Hall of Famer and could return to that level right away in 2022, though Tommy John surgery comes with risk, especially at age 39.

With Verlander back in the fold, the Astros are expected to go into next season with Verlander, Luis Garcia, Lance McCullers Jr., José Urquidy, and Framber Valdez in their rotation in some order. Youngster Cristian Javier could slot in as the No. 6 starter or potentially move into a high-leverage bullpen role full-time.

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Verlander the No. 17 free agent on the market. Although he declined the qualifying offer, the Astros will neither receive nor forfeit draft picks as compensation for re-signing Verlander.

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Top Mets Prospect Is Learning From A Key Veteran

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The New York Mets have certainly made sure to prioritize the catching position at all levels.

They signed Omar Narvaez this offseason, who has several years of MLB experience, they have a solid backup in Tomas Nido, and drafted Kevin Parada in the first round last year.

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The most exciting catcher in the Mets organization, however, is Francisco Alvarez.

The young Venezuelan made his MLB debut last year after hitting 18 Double-A home runs and nine at Triple-A.

He didn’t get much playing time in the majors, but sure made his presence and his power known.

With Narvaez and Nido in the fold and several options to be the designated hitter, it’s unclear if Alvarez will open the season on the active roster.

He is, however, preparing like a major leaguer: he started his routine earlier, and he is working on his skills as a catcher with Narvaez, his countryman.

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Most scouts agree on the fact that Alvarez has the bat to be a major leaguer, at any position.

However, there are conflicted reports about his ability to stay behind the plate.

Obviously, he will have more value to the Mets if he can stick as a catcher, and he is working with Narvaez to make sure he is prepared for spring training.

Scouts grade Alvarez’s raw power as a 70 in the 20-80 scale: that’s an incredible grade.

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His catching skills, however, are more like a 40, which would be a hair below-average.

With work, reps, and discipline, he could become an asset behind the plate.

That would be a dream scenario for the Mets.

The post Top Mets Prospect Is Learning From A Key Veteran appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Giannis Antetokounmpo And The Bucks Are On A Roll

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The Milwaukee Bucks easily defeated the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, beating them with a powerful 127-108 final.

The team was led by Brook Lopez, who had yet another dominant game with 24 points and 9 rebounds.

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But Giannis Antetokounmpo, the team’s unquestionable leader, was once again in fine form and playing like the MVP candidate he is.

He scored 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists.

That means that over his last ten games, Antetokounmpo has scored an average of 33 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists on a 57.3% field goal percentage.

Not surprisingly, his team has gone 10-0 during that time.

Are the Bucks once again the most exciting and promising squad in the East?

The last time the Bucks lost was on January 21, when Antetokounmpo sat out and the Cleveland Cavaliers took them down, 114-102.

Since then, they have been on an eight-game winning streak.

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Antetokounmpo has been incredible this season, which is very impressive since he has long been one of the greatest basketball players alive.

But this season, he is playing with a resurgent desire to make it all the way to the NBA Finals.

He has stepped up and is taking his team to new heights but the rest of the team is right behind him and helping out in noticeable ways.

Jrue Holiday is scoring 19.1 points, Bobby Portis was making 14.4, while Brooke Lopez and Khris Middleton are also scoring double digits.

Every team wants someone like Antetokounmpo on the roster but they can only achieve true postseason greatness if the entire team is playing hard.

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The Bucks have a busy week ahead, taking on the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Boston Celtics in the upcoming days.

Will Antetokounmpo’s latest surge continue during that time?

The post Giannis Antetokounmpo And The Bucks Are On A Roll appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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MLB Analyst Reveals A Must-See Realignment Plan

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It’s not a secret that MLB wants to expand from 30 to 32 teams.

Sure, they will have to solve the issues in Oakland and Tampa Bay, but the plans for an expansion are there, and several cities are shaping up as candidates to have an MLB team.

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The Athletic’s Jim Bowden took the time not only to come up with two viable candidates for the expansion, but to re-configure divisions and leagues as we know it.

“When MLB expands to 32 teams, it should forget the AL and NL. Embrace a dramatic geographic realignment,” The Athletic tweeted, with the graph of the new geographic configuration.

Bowden is proposing to eliminate the American and National Leagues and replace them for a more traditional, NBA-like Eastern and Western Conference.

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There are eight divisions with four teams each.

The two expansion teams will be, according to this hypothetical exercise, in Charlotte and Nashville so both will be part of the Eastern Conference.

The four divisions in the Eastern Conference would be East, Mid-Atlantic, North, and Southeast.

The Western Conference would be formed by the West, Pacific Coast, Southwest, and Midwest divisions.

The system follows a geographical logic: for example, the Miami Marlins, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Atlanta Braves, and the new Nashville team would be in the Southeast division.

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Will this work?

Would MLB be open to adopting a similar scheme?

Something will have to change with the two new teams.

On several levels, the proposal makes sense.

It may still need some work (Colorado on the coast instead of San Diego doesn’t feel right, for example), but it’s a fun idea to think about.

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The post MLB Analyst Reveals A Must-See Realignment Plan appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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