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Padres get Tommy Pham, Jake Cronenworth from Rays for Hunter Renfroe

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The San Diego Padres, intent on winning in 2020, have finalized a trade for outfielder Tommy Pham and two-way prospect Jake Cronenworth from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and prized second-base prospect Xavier Edwards.

The Rays also received a player to be named later.

The trade, which the sides officially announced Friday upon the completion of medical reviews, sends Pham, who turns 32 in March, to a Padres team in need of an offensive catalyst who gets on base. The Padres, who had the fifth-lowest on-base percentage in the majors last season, already acquired outfielder Trent Grisham and second baseman Jurickson Profar in trades this winter and are expected to continue dealing to alleviate an outfield glut as the winter meetings approach this week, sources said.

“We tried to address every area of our ball club, and we feel we’re improved at this point,” Padres manager A.J. Preller said.

Tampa Bay, which bowed out to the Houston Astros in a tight five-game division series this season, will get Renfroe and Edwards, an athletic middle infielder with excellent bat-to-ball skills who is a favorite among evaluators.

For the better part of a year, Renfroe, 27, has been part of Padres trade talks, with his sub-.300 career on-base percentage a red flag for teams. But his prodigious power, well-above-average defense, elite throwing arm and four years of club control were strong selling points for the Rays.

After buying low on Pham in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Rays sold relatively high, as he will earn more than $8 million in arbitration this season and become a free agent after 2021. Still, the Padres, in win-now mode, see Pham as a strong enough upgrade to warrant giving up a high-floor, higher-ceiling prospect such as Edwards.

Preller said the Padres have had their eyes on Pham and Cronenworth for a few seasons. He said he likes Pham’s “fire” and “pitch-to-pitch grind.”

Pham told the Tampa Bay Times via text message that he was “a little sad” to be leaving the Rays.

“I enjoyed my time as a Ray,” Pham said. “My teammates helped me open up and have fun as a professional. I’m gonna miss going to battle with that group of guys.”

Edwards was No. 46 on ESPN insider Keith Law’s midseason top 50 prospects list. Although he hasn’t developed power in his first two minor league seasons, Edwards has top-end speed and will play almost all of the 2020 season at 20 years old. The Rays could play him at shortstop, though a scout who saw Edwards multiple times this season says he believes he could be a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman.

To complete the deal, the Padres and Rays both dipped into their farm systems, which are considered the two best in baseball. Cronenworth, who turns 26 in January, is one of the more interesting prospects in baseball, even if he is not as highly regarded as Edwards. He can play second base, shortstop and third, though he spent most of 2019 at shortstop in Triple-A, where he hit .334/.429/.520. Cronenworth also pitched in seven games, six of them as an opener, and finished the year with a 0.00 ERA, though he walked eight in 7⅓ innings.

He could break camp with San Diego as a versatile back-of-the-roster player for a team in need of a turnaround.

After a frustrating 2019 in which they finished 70-92 and were in last place in the National League West, the Padres fired manager Andy Green, hired Jayce Tingler and have taken an aggressive tack to reflect owner Ron Fowler’s mandate to win next season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Atlanta Braves’ Max Fried leaves after 1 inning with ankle injury

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ATLANTA — NL Cy Young Award contender Max Fried lasted only one inning in his final start of the regular season, leaving the Atlanta Braves‘ game against the Miami Marlins after tweaking his ankle fielding a bunt Wednesday night.

Fried (7-0) retired the first two hitters, including Starling Marte who dropped a bunt down the third-base line. The left-hander bounded off the mound, planted his left foot, grabbed the ball bare-handed, spun and threw to first just ahead of Marte.

Fried didn’t appear hurt but wasn’t the same pitcher after that play. After not having given up a homer all season, Fried grooved a fastball that Jesus Aguilar drove off the facade of the second deck. Brian Anderson sent a drive into the center-field seats and Garrett Cooper just missed a third straight homer, doubling off the wall.

Fried got out of the inning trailing 2-0, but he did not return in the second. He sat solemnly in the dugout chatting with manager Brian Snitker and getting what appeared to be a pep talk from teammate Freddie Freeman.

Luke Jackson took over in the second after the Braves scored three runs in the bottom of the first, at least ensuring Fried wouldn’t take his first loss of the season. But his ERA climbed from 1.96 to 2.25, which could hurt his Cy Young chances.

Fried is expected to start Game 1 of the NL wild-card series next Wednesday. The Braves clinched the NL East title on Tuesday night and earned the right to host the entire best-of-three series.

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Mike Clevinger’s start cut short by San Diego Padres after just one inning vs. Los Angeles Angels

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SAN DIEGO — Right-hander Mike Clevinger of the playoff-bound San Diego Padres lasted only one inning in his start against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

The team said the right-hander’s departure was unplanned but didn’t provide any other information.

Clevinger’s start had been pushed back from Saturday night because of tightness in his right biceps.

Manager Jayce Tingler said on Tuesday that the right-hander threw a bullpen session on Monday and seemed good to go for Wednesday afternoon’s start. A few days earlier, Tingler held out hope that Clevinger might even be able to make two more starts before the regular season ended, if even if the second one was brief.

Clevinger, obtained in a blockbuster trade with Cleveland on Aug. 31, breezed through the first inning on 12 pitches, including striking out Mike Trout and David Fletcher.

Rookie Adrian Morejon began warming up in the bullpen while the Padres batted in the bottom of the inning and came out to start the second. Morejon allowed a two-run home run to Shohei Ohtani and solo shots to Justin Upton and Anthony Bemboom that gave the Angels a 4-2 lead.

The Padres have clinched their first playoff berth in 14 seasons and their magic number remains at two for clinching homefield advantage in the wild-card round next week.

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MLB makes independent Atlantic League its first ‘partner league’

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Major League Baseball is making the independent Atlantic League its first “partner league,” a distinction awarded as the expiration nears for MLB’s agreement with the affiliated National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

On Wednesday, MLB said it will meet regularly with the Atlantic League to discuss joint marketing and promotional opportunities. The sides extended their agreement through 2023 to stage experiments in the Atlantic League, which tested an automated ball-strike system to call pitches in 2019 and has used other innovations such as limits on defensive shifts and mound visits, larger bases and shorter breaks between half-innings.

“The Atlantic League clubs and players have been great partners to us as we jointly test ways to make our game even more interesting and engaging to fans,” Morgan Sword, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball economics and operations, said in a statement.

MLB and the National Association have spent much of the past year in acrimonious negotiations for a new Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the deal that expires late this year. MLB proposed cutting guaranteed minor league affiliations from 160 to 120 and eliminating the National Association office in Florida in favor of operating the minors out of the commissioner’s office in New York.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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