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Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa scheduled to change plea in drunken driving case

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PHOENIX — Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa is scheduled to change his plea to misdemeanor charges stemming from his drunken driving arrest nine months ago on a freeway in Phoenix. The Hall of Fame manager, who had previously pleaded not guilty to the two drunken driving charges, is scheduled to change his plea on Dec. 21 in Maricopa County Justice Court.

Authorities say La Russa, who won a World Series with Oakland and two more with St. Louis, blew out a tire on the grey Lexus he was driving when he hit a curb. Tests taken the night of his arrest showed his blood alcohol concentration was .095 — above the legal limit of .08.

The arrest occurred on Feb. 24, but the charges were filed on Oct. 28 — one day before his hiring by Chicago.

La Russa pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Florida in 2007 after police found him asleep inside his running sport utility vehicle at a stop light and smelling of alcohol.

La Russa was hired by Chicago in a surprise move after Rick Renteria was let go in what the team said was a mutual decision.

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George Springer gets paid, but will it pay off for the Toronto Blue Jays?

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In the end, despite all the grumbling and fussing about the slow offseason, George Springer will get his money. All it took was the biggest contract in Toronto Blue Jays history, a six-year, $150 million deal, according to Jeff Passan, just the second $100 million contract the franchise has handed out.

The Blue Jays have been trying to spend money all offseason, but it’s often difficult to lure free agents to Toronto. Kiley McDaniel’s free-agent rankings predicted a four-year, $108 million contract for Springer, so he essentially matched that in annual value, just with a couple more years added on. For the money, the Blue Jays are getting one of the best center fielders in baseball, albeit with some risk involved as the contract takes Springer from his age-31 season through age-36.

First, Springer brings power — 39 home runs in just 122 games in 2019, 14 in 51 games in 2020 — and positive defensive metrics.

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Jose Quintana, Los Angeles Angels agree to 1-year deal, source says

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The Los Angeles Angels, desperate to add starting pitching, agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with veteran left-hander Jose Quintana on Tuesday, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Quintana, who previously pitched under current Angels manager Joe Maddon while with the Chicago Cubs, was limited to only 10 innings in 2020 largely because of thumb surgery. Prior to that, the 31-year-old averaged 32 starts from 2013 to 2019, putting together a 3.72 ERA with a 3.23 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Quintana joins a rotation that includes Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning and potentially Shohei Ohtani, slotting in somewhere near the top.

Quintana stands as the fifth one-year addition made by first-year general manager Perry Minasian, following shortstop Jose Iglesias, closer Raisel Iglesias, catcher Kurt Suzuki and lefty reliever Alex Claudio. They’ll combine to make $23.25 million in 2021.

The Athletic first reported the agreement.

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George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays agree to 6-year, $150M deal, sources say

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Outfielder George Springer and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a six-year, $150 million contract, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The contract would be the largest given out by the Blue Jays in franchise history. Their only other contract that topped $100 million was a $126 million extension to Vernon Wells.

Springer is headed to the Blue Jays’ spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, for a physical. If all goes according to plan, Toronto will get the star it has been looking for all winter.

Springer, the sparkplug for the Houston Astros‘ offense in the leadoff spot for the past four seasons, was one of the most coveted free agents on the market this offseason. He hit a team-high 14 home runs this season and added another four in the postseason, as the Astros lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series.

While several of his teammates struggled offensively this past season amid fallout from the 2017 sign-stealing scandal, Springer, who earned $21 million on a one-year deal after avoiding arbitration, has continued to put up better numbers since then — hitting .265 with 32 RBIs in 51 games in 2020 while lowering his strikeout rate to 17.1%, a career best.

He passed on a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer by the Astros, who will get a compensation draft pick with him signing with a new team.

Prior to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Springer hit 20 home runs in five of the previous six seasons. He earned three straight All-Star nods from 2017-19, and he was named 2017 World Series MVP in 2017, when the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.

Springer has been at his best during big moments, hitting 19 postseason home runs, which is tied for fourth all-time. He also ranks sixth in slugging percentage (.546), seventh in extra-base hits (34) and is tied for 14th in runs scored (43).

Since making his debut in 2014, Springer has been one of the best hitters out of the leadoff spot in all of baseball, ranking second in home runs (136), third in RBIs (352) and fourth in hits (665) and extra-base hits (254), according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also has hit a first-inning leadoff home run 39 times during his career, which ranks fourth in American League history.

In 2019, Springer set career highs with a .292 batting average, a .591 slugging percentage, .383 on-base percentage and 6.2 WAR (wins above replacement).

Defensively, Springer continues to be very solid as the everyday center fielder at age 31 and could easily slide over to either of the corner outfield spots, if needed. Blue Jays center fielders accounted for -7 Defensive Runs Saved in 2020, tied with the New York Yankees for 26th in MLB. Springer accounted for 6 DRS as a center fielder in 2020, tied for fifth best at the position.

Overall, in seven seasons with the Astros, Springer has a .270 career average with 174 home runs and 458 home runs.

Blue Jays Nation first reported the agreement Tuesday night, while MLB Network first had the terms.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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