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Francisco Lindor says he felt comfortable with New York Mets before signing $341 million deal



Francisco Lindor has yet to play a game in New York City, but the comfort the 27-year-old shortstop felt in the New York Mets clubhouse during spring training gave him the confidence to commit to the team in the long term.

“The group of guys and girls that we have in the clubhouse, they are committed to winning. They want to win. They want to improve,” Lindor told reporters Tuesday. “They want to get better every single day, and that says a lot that we are in a position that we have a good team. They want to get better and want to continue to get better and improve to bring that championship and to continue to carry on and improve. That, to me, that’s what I look for in a franchise.”

When Lindor signed his 10-year, $341 million contract — the largest ever for a major league shortstop — on Wednesday night, he wanted to scream with joy. But given that he was sitting in a hotel room and didn’t want to bother the neighbors, he kept the noise to himself before calling his loved ones.

“I screamed a little bit, but I wish I was at my house where I could’ve jumped in the pool, hugged everybody, kissed everybody,” Lindor said.

The mega-contract makes Lindor the face of the franchise in one of the most scrutinized media markets in the America. Since he debuted in 2015, Lindor has posted the third-most fWAR (29.2) among active players behind only Mike Trout (46.4) and Mookie Betts (38.4). The star shortstop downplayed the pressure that comes with the contract and said he planned to play with “a lot of pride.”

“I’m very proud of my game, and this logo right here. I’ve got to go out every single day and defend it. Play with a lot of pride,” Lindor said. “Play for what I have in my chest. The number next to me, there’s 341 million reasons for me to go out there and play the game the right way.”

With a self-imposed extension deadline of Opening Day, Lindor and the Mets went down to the wire before coming to terms on the agreement. After a dinner with owner Steve Cohen in Florida, both Lindor and the team gathered a sense of the middle ground the two sides needed to reach in order to come to an agreement.

“[The dinner] helped a lot because we got a sense of where we both were. The offer that was out there, we threw out a number, but that wasn’t a line in the sand.,” Lindor said. “It gave a sense of where we were to Steve and it gave a sense of where he was. He’s all about winning, and we won with this. Both sides are happy. I can’t wait to be stuck to his hip for the next 11 years.”

In the past 24 hours, Lindor said, he has heard from many friends around the game such as fellow shortstops Carlos Correa and Javier Baez, former teammates like Michael Brantley, and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who is a Mets fan and celebrated the signing on Twitter. While Lindor called the extension “a dream,” he also indicated that he’s immediately ready to get back to work.

“Whether it was my rookie season or sophomore season or third or fourth year and on, I want to put up good numbers to win. I want to win,” Lindor said. “If I put up good numbers, I give my team a chance to win. It was going to be another year. It was obviously a big year because I was going to end up with no contract at the end of the year. There’s a sense of urgency of putting the best numbers I can to help my team win, and it’s still going to happen, and it’s going to happen next year and the following year and the following year. It’s not going to stop.”

Lindor will be 38 years old when his contract expires. When asked what kind of player he will be in 2032, he kept his answer simple.

“I’ll be a bad mother F’er,” he said.

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Oakland Athletics continue stadium negotiations to stay in town, still considering Las Vegas option



Oakland Athletics president Dave Kaval stood somewhere near the south side of the Las Vegas Strip on Wednesday morning, with the Cosmopolitan and Planet Hollywood within eyesight. Kaval will be there alongside his architect over the next two days, he said, sitting in on a series of meetings and analyzing where a prospective new stadium could someday reside. Meanwhile, negotiations with the city of Oakland regarding a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark at the Howard Terminal site are in what Kaval described as “the bottom of the ninth inning.”

Oakland City Council officials voted Tuesday in favor of a non-binding term sheet for the ballpark and its surrounding development, a project that will cost up to $12 billion. But Kaval pushed back because the city voted in favor of a term sheet that differed from the one the A’s proposed three months earlier and included amendments that the team was seeing for the first time. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred followed with a statement expressing disappointment in the outcome and promising to “immediately begin conversations with the A’s to chart a path forward for the Club.”

What, exactly, does that mean?

“I think we need to unpack what was passed and what it means,” Kaval said in a phone interview with ESPN. “The fact that the city did not vote on our proposal — I mean it’s unusual to have that positioning. We do appreciate some of the concessions that were made. I think the party had been negotiating in good faith to try to get to a mutually agreeable solution. Obviously we didn’t get there before the vote. And so we have to balance that progress with some of the stark realities of, ‘How do we move this project into an implementation phase?’ We can’t let the process be the product.”

The A’s made a public proposal in April stating they would privately finance the ballpark, which will cost an estimated $1 billion, while also providing $450 million in community benefits and arranging for an additional $11 billion in private investment to eventually build up the surrounding neighborhood with 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, 270,000 square feet for retail, an indoor 3,500-seat performance center, 400 hotel rooms and up to 18 acres available for public parks.

The city countered with a plan that includes three key differences: a new financial structure that depends on only one infrastructure financing district, preventing the A’s from creating an additional one at Jack London Square; an increase in affordable housing demands to 35% of residential units; and an additional community benefits fund that isn’t solely committed to capital investments.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and other community leaders hosted a news conference near the Howard Terminal site on Wednesday morning in which they touted the city’s proposal and urged the A’s to continue negotiating. Schaaf said she’s noticing an “openness” from the A’s, adding that the city “provided the primary things that they asked for, that they have said they need to keep going on this process.”

“I respect that they’re trying to keep the heat on,” Schaaf said, “and what better place to go than Vegas for heat.”

Kaval, on the other hand, painted the Vegas trips as due diligence to cover for a project that might not materialize and provide a parallel path for a team playing in an outdated facility. Kaval said he wants more specifics about how the A’s would be reimbursed for a $352 million infrastructure payment and more specificity around when environmental clearances will be given and when a final binding vote can occur, ideally by the end of the current baseball season.

Oakland city officials see their counterproposal from Friday, and the amendments that were introduced on Tuesday, as the natural evolution of a negotiation.

A’s officials basically see it as a new agreement entirely.

“We need to know what was passed, how it relates to our original proposal,” Kaval said. “We need to understand the timeline to get the definitive vote. And we need to work really closely with the league, because they have a strong point of view on this. They wanna make sure the A’s have a home. We really are running out of time. We’re under a lot of pressure because our current facility is 10 years past its useful life. Let’s not forget that going sideways is really no longer an option.”

The A’s have spent the better part of the past two decades hoping to secure a new stadium in the Bay Area, a pursuit that took them through San Jose, Fremont and multiple sites in Oakland, most notably around Laney College. Renovations of the current Coliseum site, where the A’s have played since 1968, have been deemed nonviable largely because of the team’s stated desire for a downtown location.

Manfred said before last week’s All-Star Game that it would be a “mistake” to refer to the Las Vegas option as a bluff, calling it “a viable alternative for a major league club.” Other relocation options — including Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Montreal — could materialize if the team’s deal with the city falls through.

That is not necessarily the case just yet.

“We’re focused on the two parallel paths — Oakland and southern Nevada,” Kaval said. “That’s by the direction of the league, and that will remain our focus until they give us additional direction.”

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New York Mets trade OF Billy McKinney to Los Angeles Dodgers for minor leaguer, cash



CINCINNATI — The New York Mets traded outfielder Billy McKinney to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday for minor league outfielder Carlos Rincon and cash.

The NL East-leading Mets also claimed right-hander Roel Ramírez off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Mets acquired McKinney from Milwaukee on May 25. In 39 games with New York, the 26-year-old batted .220 (20 for 91) with six doubles, a triple, five home runs and 14 RBI. He was designated for assignment on July 16.

The 23-year-old Rincon hit .263 with 12 homers and 48 RBI in 63 games at Double-A Tulsa. He will report to Double-A Binghamton.

The 26-year-old Ramirez will be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. He pitched in one game for St. Louis this year and one game last season.

Ramirez was 0-1 with one save and a 4.34 ERA in 20 games with Triple-A Memphis this year.

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Baltimore Orioles pitcher Keegan Akin and outfielder Anthony Santander on COVID injured list



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles placed left-hander Keegan Akin and outfielder Anthony Santander on the COVID-19 injured list before Wednesday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Akin had been scheduled to start against the Rays.

Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde learned about the situation late Tuesday night.

“We’re following the protocols,” Hyde said. “There’s going to be more information. This is pretty last-minute news, so there’s going to be more information as we go along, but right now we’re putting two guys on the injured list because of COVID protocols and then we’ll go from there.”

Alexander Wells, who was on the taxi squad, replaced Akin as Wednesday’s starter. Outfielder Ryan McKenna, who had been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, rejoined the team.

“You’ve seen it a few times here with the league with other clubs,” Hyde said. “It’s really the first time this has happened with us and it’s unfortunate, but I saw that a couple other teams had same sort of issue recently and ready for it to be over.”

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