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MLB rumors: Yankees showing interest in Freddie Freeman; Seiya Suzuki to be posted soon

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As we count down the days until the CBA expires, there’s still some action on the MLB rumor mill. We’ll get to that in a second. 

First, there was a big signing that happened Monday morning. Left-handed starter Eduardo Rodríguez inked a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers as the club looks to turn the corner and put the rebuild in the rearview mirror. 

As for the rumors of the day, let’s get to it. 

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Yankees showing interest in Freeman

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The most obvious conclusion to Freddie Freeman‘s free agency is him re-signing with the Braves, possibly for the rest of his career. With him hitting free agency before signing an extension, however, the Braves are certainly risking another team swooping in and grabbing Freeman. We’ve heard about the Dodgers being a possibility, and now the Yankees have been thrown into the mix. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Yankees met with Freeman’s representatives recently. 

Of course, Heyman also reports that Anthony Rizzo (free agent) or Matt Olson (via trade) are probably more realistic options for the Yankees, as the Braves remain the favorites for Freeman. 

Still, it’s at least interesting to see the teams outside Atlanta peeking in on Freeman. His lefty bat in Yankee Stadium would be a huge plus in that lineup, too. 

Correa and Tigers continue to look like a fit

The Tigers landing Rodríguez on a relatively hefty deal this early in the offseason shows how serious they are about spending money to supplement their young, in-house talent. They need a shortstop and current manager A.J. Hinch was the Astros‘ manager for the first five years of Carlos Correa‘s career. Tigers general manager Alex Avila has publicly said that, yes, shortstop is a need, too. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean the Tigers are favorites for Correa or anything, but they absolutely seem like a great fit. Sure enough, Robert Murray of Fansided reports that the Tigers met this Correa’s representatives at the general manager meetings last week. 

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Correa recently declined the Astros’ qualifying offer. Speaking of, here’s our updated QO tracker

Carp expected to post Suzuki soon

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan’s NPB are expected to announce this week they’ll be submitting outfielder Seiya Suzuki to the posting system. Suzuki is expected to draw a lot of interest from MLB teams, to the extent that CBS Sports ranked him as the 15th-best free agent available this winter:

Seiya Suzuki is expected to be submitted through the posting system by the Hiroshima Carp once the Japan Series concludes in late November. He’s a five-time All-Star in Nippon Professional Baseball with a career .315/.415/.571 slash line who boasts a well-rounded game. In addition to posting above-average exit velocities, he’s walked more than he’s struck out in two of the past three years. (In 2020, the exception, he finished with one fewer walk than strikeout.) Suzuki also has a high-grade arm that should allow him to make an impact on defense. The one blemish in his game is that he’s not a particularly skilled basestealer. Teams will gladly overlook that.

Once Suzuki is officially posted — likely after the Japan Series ends in late November — teams will have 30 days to reach an agreement with him. From there, the Carp will receive a financial payout based on the sum of his contract. 

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Richard Petty likes the progression of Petty GMS Racing

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Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 car, has run well this year, and Noah Gragson will join the team next season, Bob Pockrass writes.



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How Field of Dreams gets to the heart of its small-town home

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When Jeff Jacque was mulling a move into politics last summer, it was baseball that gave him the final push he needed.

Having recently retired from the family business — a furniture and floor covering store — the Dyersville, Iowa, resident was looking for something to occupy his time. Jacque had some conversations about potentially running for mayor of the city with a population of just over 4,300, but wasn’t immediately sold.

Dyersville is famously known as the location of the 1989 film Field of Dreams, a seminal baseball classic starring Kevin Costner and the late Ray Liotta. Last year, Major League Baseball commemorated the film and city with its first MLB at Field of Dreams game, a regular-season contest held at a baseball field built in a cornfield next to the movie location. Jacque didn’t have tickets to the inaugural game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, so he decided to stroll down to a massive viewing area that was set up by city officials just a block away from his house.

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When Jacque arrived, he began to chat with fellow Dyersville residents and noticed a palpable excitement as everyone gathered around the big screen. It was the first MLB game played in the state of Iowa and brought with it a wave of joy, positivity and tourism to the city.

Jacque saw all he needed that night and his decision was made.

Today, the 66-year-old is officially Mayor of Dyersville after winning an election last November. He is set to preside over the second Field of Dreams game, which takes place Thursday when the Chicago Cubs take on the Cincinnati Reds.

“There’s a lot going on,” Jacque says with a laugh.

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Born and raised in Dyersville, the mayor remembers what the city was like before it was made famous by the movie. And according to Jacque, there’s no difference: it’s the same place, only with more tourists.

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“Our community hasn’t really changed and the city itself hasn’t really changed,” he says. “We’ve grown a little bit in population — by a few hundred people — but that’s it.”

Jacque compares the town to Mayberry, the fictional, tranquil community from the popular 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. It’s a place where nearly everybody knows each other, and residents exude trademark Midwestern values — humility and a strong work ethic.   

While Field of Dreams didn’t fundamentally change the small city, it did serve as an accurate snapshot of its history, says Jacque, noting that many of his friends appeared in the film as extras.

“I don’t think I ever get tired of watching the movie,” he says. “There are scenes from the local spots and we’ll watch it and say, ‘Oh, I remember where that road is,’ and, ‘They filmed that over here.’

“Some of the original ghost players [in the movie] are still friends of mine,” he adds.

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As the film gained worldwide popularity, Jacque had a firsthand look at how his city has transformed into a magnet for tourists. He often makes a point to speak to visitors and has come across people from as a far as the United Kingdom and Japan, all seeking to make a baseball pilgrimage and play catch or run the bases on the original diamond from the film. He is proud that Field of Dreams offered the world a glimpse of life in Dyersville.

Last year, Costner returned to the city and was part of a beautiful ode to the film when he led the Yankees and White Sox onto the diamond, emerging from the cornfield just behind the outfield wall.  

This year, MLB says it has planned new ceremonies that will “celebrate baseball’s ability to link generations.” The Cubs and Reds will wear custom uniforms inspired by those worn in the early 20th century. There is also a minor-league game and a softball game, along with some parties and events scheduled throughout the week.

Once the hoopla is over and the baseball world turns its focus away from Dyersville, changes will commence in the city. There are plans to build a training complex for youth teams on the movie site, as well as a new stadium and hotel. Jacque says once all of that is complete, the city projects to generate about $32 million per year in direct spending.

Some of that revenue will potentially be used to build a new splash pad, renovate the city square and upgrade the fire station and police equipment. Baseball is responsible for giving the city all that and more, while it’s also responsible for helping guide Jacque on his new journey in life.

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“I tell you what, I’m absorbing all this right now because I never imagined a year ago I would be in this position,” he says. “So, it’s so rewarding for me.”



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Batting Around: What other venues should MLB use for a Field of Dreams-style game?

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Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we looked at contenders that needed to do more at the trade deadline. This week we’re going to discuss baseball in unusual places.

Where would you like to see MLB play a Field of Dreams style game in the future?

Matt Snyder: I actually went through five options for this last year. I would love to see MLB do all five, as it has the bandwidth to pull off such special series. If I had to pick one, though, in sticking closest to the theme here, it’s a Sandlot game. From the idea a year ago: 

Could we possibly build an 8,000-seat stadium that somehow resembles the sandlot diamond from the movie, with the fence in left field mirroring the one from the movie? Of course! Let’s even throw a treehouse out there overlooking a lot with a large dog hanging out in it. 

Yes, let’s please do that, MLB. 

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Mike Axisa: I love love love when MLB takes the game to different places. The Field of Dreams Game was a blast last year. The Fort Bragg game a few years ago was fun. The London Series was epic. I have so many answers for this question: Curacao, Italy, South Korea, Taiwan, on and on I could go. Did you know the Italian Baseball League has been around since 1948? Let’s send some big leaguers over there. MLB games in New Orleans or on Cape Cod would be a blast too. Bringing major-league baseball places where people don’t have access to it is a worthwhile endeavor, and it doesn’t hurt that it breaks up the monotony of the long season.

To pick just one, I’ll go with Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey. It is one of the few Negro Leagues parks still standing and it is currently undergoing a $94 million renovation (expected to be completed this month). There’s a lot of history there. Larry Doby, who grew up in Paterson and broke the color barrier in the American League with Cleveland in 1947, played at Hinchliffe Stadium with the Newark Eagles. The ballpark was also home to the New York Black Yankees. Guardians vs. Yankees with Negro Leagues uniforms at Hinchliffe Stadium on July 5 (the anniversary of Doby’s MLB debut) is a no-brainer. Get it done, MLB.

Dayn Perry: Let’s have a baseball version of the old Chicago College All-Star Game, in which the NFL champs would face a team of college football All-Stars in an exhibition. In this version, the reigning World Series champs would face a team of college All-Stars. Obviously, the MLB entrant would be massive favorites, but baseball has a great deal of built-in parity, so perhaps we’d see an upset from time to time. This would also be a good way to promote the under-appreciated college game. 

R.J. Anderson: It depends on the parameters. If we’re talking about a setting that played a prominent role in a film, then Durham Bulls Athletic Park is right there. If we’re talking more of a “this would be a dream setting” situation, then you have more varied options. In theory, MLB has the means to build a sandlot field just about anywhere. 

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