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Philadelphia Phillies lost $145M during 2020 season, report says

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PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies lost $145 million during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season played without fans, a source told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The Phillies are searching for a general manager to replace Matt Klentak and face important decisions regarding catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius. Both players are free agents, and Phillies managing partner John Middleton said last month the league’s economic climate will impact the team’s ability to spend money in the offseason.

The Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a $330 million, 13-year deal in 2019.

Philadelphia finished 28-32 last season, one game shy of ending a nine-year postseason drought. The Phillies haven’t had a winning season since taking five straight division titles, two pennants and one World Series between 2007-11.

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Francisco Lindor says he’s open to discussing long-term deal with New York Mets

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The New York Mets have been searching for years for a superstar position player. They now have one in Francisco Lindor, and the big question on everyone’s mind: Will he sign a long-term deal with the Mets?

Lindor, eligible for free agency after the 2021 season, said during a video call Monday that he’s certainly open to discussing a deal.

“To all of those fans out there, I live life day by day. I’m extremely happy and excited about what’s happening right now, but I haven’t really sat down and talked to anybody,” he said. “Yeah, I had the welcoming conversations and I can’t wait. I’ve never been against an extension. I’ve never been against signing long-term. I’m sure my agent along with the Mets group, they’ll have conversations.”

Lindor, 27, has already talked with owner Steve Cohen, team president Sandy Alderson and general manager Jared Porter. If the two sides do work out an extension, it will likely have to come before Opening Day.

“I have never negotiated a contract during a season,” he said. “Never. I’ve always said before spring training, but once it gets to a point in spring training, it’s time to enjoy the ride and focus on winning and that’s the only thing I should be focusing on, not how much money I’m going to get.”

Alderson said last week that the Mets had not yet spoken to Lindor’s agent, David Meter, but said keeping Lindor in a Mets uniform is the goal. “We acquired Francisco because of his present ability and the possibility that he could be a Met long-term,” Alderson said. “There’s no guarantee of that. It’s something we will approach in the next few weeks.”

Lindor arguably gives the Mets their first franchise position player since David Wright’s prime a decade ago. He has three top-10 MVP finishes in his career — as many as all Mets position players combined over the past 12 seasons (Pete Alonso seventh in 2019, Yoenis Cespedes eighth in 2016 and Wright sixth in 2012). The last position player with back-to-back top-10 MVP finishes was Wright in 2007 and 2008. He improves the defense up the middle — a key offseason objective for Alderson and Porter. Over the past three seasons, the Mets ranked 28th in the majors in defensive runs saved at shortstop; Lindor ranked fifth among shortstops in that span.

The largest contract the Mets have ever given out was the $138 million extension Wright signed after 2012. Jacob deGrom is entering the third season of his five-year, $137.5 million extension. It will cost a lot more than that to sign Lindor, but the Mets now have a deep-pocketed owner in Cohen. A comparable deal might be the 12-year, $365 million contract Mookie Betts signed last summer with the Dodgers, forgoing his own free agency in the process.

“Mookie fell into a great situation and felt comfortable with the L.A. Dodgers and made a decision that was best for him and his family,” Lindor said. “Like I said, I’m not against a long-term [contract]. It just has to make sense for both sides. We’ll see what happens.”

Aside from the contract, Lindor said he’s excited what the Mets are doing and has already talked to several players on the team, including Marcus Stroman, James McCann, Edwin Diaz and Tomas Nido (a childhood friend in Puerto Rico). He’s ready to take on the challenge of the spotlight that comes with playing in New York.

“They say there is a lot of pressure in New York,” he said. “It’s a big market, there are lot of people on top of you. But I’m blessed to play the game. I’m Francisco Lindor. I’m going to do me, and hopefully people like that. Hopefully people embrace me. I’ll embrace them.”

Mets fans shouldn’t have any problem doing that for the player nicknamed Mr. Smile. When asked about the first thing he’ll do when he gets to New York, Lindor smiled and said, “I love pizza, so I’ll probably eat some pizza.”

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Should the Chicago Cubs trade Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant — and who should deal for them?

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Yu Darvish is gone and many predict the next player the Chicago Cubs will trade is catcher Willson Contreras, even though president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer denied a report that the Cubs were extensively shopping Contreras, calling it “fiction.”

“I think he’s one of the top handful of catchers in baseball,” Hoyer said during a video call following the Darvish trade. “We control him for two more years. I think that catching is a strength of this team as a result of having him on the roster.”

Despite the strong denial, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers tweeted that the Cubs have indeed talked with teams about Contreras:

In trading Darvish, the Cubs clearly sent the message that 2021 is a reload, restart or retool, depending on your preferred description. While Hoyer indicated the Cubs aren’t going to go down the same road they did back in 2011 and 2012, when they tore everything down — “That would be foolish,” he said — as Buster Olney wrote on Sunday, “Every team knows the Cubs are motivated sellers this winter.” The problem is third baseman Kris Bryant is all but untradeable because of his bad 2020 and projected $19 million salary. Outfielder Jason Heyward is still under contract for three more seasons at more than $20 million per year. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks is now the staff ace and signed to a reasonable contract through 2024 so it doesn’t make sense to trade him. Shortstop Javier Baez and first baseman Anthony Rizzo are free agents after 2021, but the Cubs would like to re-sign both players. That leaves Contreras, who is under team control for two more seasons and projects to make about $5.5 million in 2021, as the player who has some real trade value the Cubs might deal.



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ABL’s Sydney Blue Sox release Manny Ramirez amid disjointed season

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SYDNEY — Manny Ramirez has been released by the Sydney Blue Sox because of uncertainty over the Australian Baseball League season during the COVID-19 pandemic and a medical issue that is preventing him from playing or training with the club.

Blue Sox chief executive Adam Dobb issued a statement Monday announcing the decision, saying it was extremely disappointing to cut the 48-year-old former Boston Red Sox player and 12-time major league All-Star, “but we owe it to our fans and the other teams to make a decision now.”

“The level of investment to get him here meant this was never a PR stunt,” Cobb said. “It was never was our intention to have him NOT participate in the ABL this season.”

Ramirez did not make an appearance with the Blue Sox, who played just two games — on Dec. 17 and 18 — before a coronavirus outbreak in Sydney and subsequent border and travel restrictions prevented the club from competing.

Cobb said he was unable to comment further on Ramirez or the undisclosed medical condition, adding that the club was “doing everything we can to get restarted.”

Ramirez, who was the World Series MVP when the Red Sox broke their 86-year title drought in 2004, had played in the American minor leagues, as well as in China and Japan, since his Major League Baseball career ended.

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