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Garrett Richards, Boston Red Sox reach 1-year, $10 million deal, sources say

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Starting pitcher Garrett Richards and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Saturday.

The deal is pending a physical.

Richards’ biggest success during the pandemic-shortened season was staying healthy. The veteran right-hander made 10 starts for the San Diego Padres in 2020, going 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA, 46 strikeouts and 17 walks. He was moved to the bullpen late in the season and during the playoffs.

The 32-year-old veteran fared much better against right-handed hitters (.589 OPS) than left-handers, who had an .853 OPS against him during the season.

Richards had a long history of arm injuries. He had Tommy John surgery to repair his damaged ulnar collateral ligament after making 16 starts for the Los Angeles Angels in 2018, and he signed with the Padres after that season with the knowledge that he’d be rehabbing for most of the first year of his two-year, $15 million deal. He did get back on the mound for San Diego late in the 2019 season, posting an 8.31 ERA in 8 2/3 innings over three starts.

Another ACL injury, for which he had stem-cell and platelet-rich plasma treatment, limited Richards to just six starts in 2016, and he made only six starts in ’17 because of biceps irritation.

He also tore his left patellar tendon in 2014 while covering first base at Fenway Park, prematurely ending an upstart season

Richards, who was a member of the Angels for his first eight seasons, has a 47-41 career record with a 3.62 ERA and 702 strikeouts and 291 walks.

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Rockies’ Trevor Story focused on his play and ‘being the best teammate I can be,’ not contract

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DENVER — Trevor Story‘s priority list this season includes being a more vocal leader, taking his base stealing to another level, crushing early count fastballs and honing his footwork in the field.

Not near the top of the list: Fretting about his long-term future with the Colorado Rockies. That’s outside his base path.

The hard-swinging, smooth-fielding shortstop is in the last year of his deal and said he hasn’t engaged in talks with the Rockies. He brings star power to a franchise that recently traded its biggest name, eight-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado, to St. Louis.

Story appears in line for a hefty payday, too, after San Diego and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. finalized a $340 million, 14-year contract.

“I’m focused on personally being the best teammate I can be,” Story said Tuesday as the Rockies began full-squad workouts in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I try not to look too far ahead.

“I’m trying to be where my feet are, which is right here in spring training with the Rockies.”

This version of the Rockies will certainly have a different look. In addition to Arenado’s departure, they’re without outfielder David Dahl (now with Texas) and versatile veteran Ian Desmond, who opted out for a second straight season.

“It’s a good vibe, though,” said Story, who’s scheduled to make around $18.5 million this season. “I feel like guys are excited to play ball. It opens up a lot of opportunities for some young guys. I think they’re ready to step into that challenge.”

It wasn’t too long ago that he was the one meeting that challenge. The season after the Rockies traded away disgruntled shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Story stepped in and claimed the position (he hit six homers over his first four games). Story has blossomed into a two-time All-Star.

The 28-year-old is always looking for ways to take his game to an even higher plateau. This season, that includes improving his footwork at shortstop (he was none too pleased with a career-low .961 fielding percentage) and jumping on more fastballs (he’s already an aggressive hitter). He also has an eye on earning a membership in the 30-homer, 30-stolen base club, which he nearly achieved in 2018 (37 homers, 27 stolen bases) and ’19 (35, 23).

Recently, the MLB Network aired the “Top 10 Players Right Now” for each position and Story checked in at No. 1, ahead of Tatis, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets.

“It feels good,” Story said of the ranking. “But I’ve never been motivated by anything other than myself or my own thoughts. I really try to make it about myself and how I can improve my game each year.

“It’s a super-competitive, super-talented (list of) shortstops. I think we all push each other in one way or another, even if we know it or not.”

This will take some getting used to: Arenado not being on the left side of the infield with him. Arenado requested a trade after growing increasingly unhappy with the front office for not improving the roster with an eye toward catching perennial NL West-power the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Sad for sure to lose a guy like that, lose a player like that,” Story said. “Happy for him that he’s going to be in a spot that he’s happy. A lot of whirlwind emotions. It’s tough to lose a guy like that.”

As for how Arenado’s situation may impact Story’s eventual decision, he explained that it’s “separate.”

“Obviously, two different situations. I’m not here to just speak on what happened with Nolan or any type of things that went on with him and the front office or whatever it may be,” said Story, who hit .289 with 11 homers, 28 RBI and 15 stolen bases last year in an abbreviated season due to the pandemic. “It’s a separate situation for sure. … We’ll see where it goes.”

After years of being mentored by the likes of Arenado, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Desmond, Story’s looking to pay the knowledge forward anyway he can.

“That’s something that I’m going to embrace,” Story said. “I’m going to talk to the young guys and let them know that I’m here for them.”

He understands that in light of the Arenado trade, the Rockies are already being dismissed. They’re embracing the underdog role as they try to make it back to the playoffs after missing out the past two seasons.

“I feel like you count a group of competitors out like that at this level, at the major league level, you instantly put a chip on their shoulder,” Story said. “That’s kind of the attitude we’re coming in with.”

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Yankees’ Gerrit Cole calls MLB service-time manipulation exposed in exec’s video blatant, ‘not productive’

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TAMPA — Add Yankees ace Gerrit Cole to the growing list of major leaguers that have sounded off on the way some MLB teams think internally about players in the wake of former Mariners president Kevin Mather’s inflammatory comments about service-time manipulation and free agency.

“Every player should wake up and read the news on the guy in the Mariners,” said Cole, one of eight players on the MLB Players Association’s executive subcommittee. “It’s just tired. It’s tired, man, and I think players are over it. And if they haven’t been awakened to that type of behavior, that’s what goes on.”

Mather, who resigned Monday, apologized for remarks made to a Rotary Club earlier this month, which surfaced when the video was recently posted online. In his wide-ranging comments, Mather not only criticized the English-speaking capabilities of two members of the organization, he also talked about some of the Mariners top prospects not starting the season with the team as a way to manipulate their major-league service time.

“Those conversations are being had, and unfortunately that’s the kind of way a lot of clubs are acting,” Cole said Tuesday afternoon after finishing pitchers and catchers workouts at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa. “That’s just not productive for anyone. It’s not productive for the product. You’re not putting the best players on the field for people to see. This guy’s talking about players that are making him money. The product is the people that he’s talking poorly about.”

The players’ association released a statement in which they described Mather’s comments as offensive and as a “highly disturbing yet critically important window into how players are genuinely viewed by management.”

“Not just because of what was said, but also because it represents an unfiltered look into club thinking,” the statement read. “It is offensive, and it is not surprising that fans and others around the game are offended as well.”

Finding ways to gain a financial advantage is part of the fabric of baseball as much as it is for any other industry. And more control tends to equal more financial return, which is why teams have been known to hold a player back in the minors to manipulate service time and push back his eligibility for free agency.

“I’m fortunate to be in an organization where we don’t do that or play that. When guys are ready, or we feel like they’re ready to impact the club, that’s that. And that’s how we treat things around here,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who spent 12 years in the big leagues. “If somebody is truly being held down, I think that’s terrible. There are certain times where it’s a little more gray, but purposely holding a guy down I don’t think should have a place in our game.”

Yankees All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge, who is two years away from free agency, also spoke out strongly about service time manipulation, one of the topics poised to be front and center as the MLBPA and MLB negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. Their current CBA will expire on Dec. 1, 2021.

“It’s tough to hear because, as a player, I’ve always wanted to have the best product out there on the field. This is about winning this championship. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 40 years old, if you’re 18 years old, if you’re the best player at that position, you should get that opportunity,” said Judge after the Yankees’ first full squad workout of the spring at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

“It’s saddening to hear those comments coming from a guy in that position. It’s sad to see, and I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what comes out of this. It’s tough. It’s your dream to play professional baseball and play in the major leagues, and getting cut out of that based on certain manipulations, I don’t think that’s right.”

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New York Mets’ Taijuan Walker picks number 99 as mascot Mr. Met wears preferred 00

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Taijuan Walker is taking a back seat on his new team — to Mr. Met.

A day after the Mets finalized his $23 million, three-year contract, Walker said he was aced out of his preferred jersey number by the rotund mascot with the baseball-shaped head.

“I was 44 growing up, and I finally got it with the Mariners in 2016,” Walker said Tuesday. “And then I ended up getting traded at the end of the year, and when I got traded to the Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt was No. 44. So I was, OK, I’m never going to get that again.”

So Walker thought: “What number can wear that not a lot of people in the league have it?”

He chose 99.

“And I think the only way I don’t wear 99 is if I get traded to the Yankees,” he said. “So I was, OK, 99 is a safe bet and live with that.”

“And then, of course, last year I got traded to Toronto and (Hyun Jin) Ryu wears 99. So, I was like, OK, well, that didn’t work out. So I’m wearing 00. Something different, again.”

“And, of course, this year, Mr. Met is 00. So I just went back to wearing 99.”

The only previous Mets No. 99 was Turk Wendell from 1997-2001, according to Baseball Reference.

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