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The State of Baseball – MLB’s biggest challenges for 2021 and far beyond

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The state of baseball has never been more in flux.

The players on the field are more talented than ever before, but increased velocity from pitchers has led to record strikeout totals and low batting averages. There is new generation of exciting young stars emerging, but with every bat flip comes another conversation about whether it violates the unwritten rules.

Major League Baseball is exploring new rules that could help solve its pace-of-play issues but is also balancing ways to appeal to traditionalists hesitant to embrace change. Meanwhile, labor issues loom that could threaten to put a stop to any potential progress.

As MLB faces these challenges, we are embarking on a season-long look exploration of the storylines that will determine how the game looks in 2021 and far beyond.

Are games too long? How can baseball maximize its new stars? We dig into the topics that will shape the game far beyond 2021. The State of Baseball »

Watch: An in-depth look into the state of baseball


Pitchers are chasing K’s. Hitters are OK striking out. So what’s the big deal? It’s destroying the sport. Tim Kurkjian »


From discrimination to harassment, firsthand accounts from women working in front offices illustrate deep issues in the league. Joon Lee »


Seemingly overnight, bat flips and flair have gone from baseball taboos to big league marketing material. How did that happen? Joon Lee »


As a former player with an Ivy League degree, Doug Glanville checks all the boxes. But as a Black father in 2021, he’s not comfortable taking a job in the dugout. Doug Glanville »

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San Diego Padres finalizing deal to acquire RHP Daniel Hudson from Washington Nationals, sources say

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The San Diego Padres are finalizing a deal to acquire right-handed reliever Daniel Hudson from the Washington Nationals, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Hudson is currently on the COVID-19 injured list. He’s 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 31 appearances this season.

He was activated earlier this month from the injured list after recovering from right elbow inflammation.

The 34-year-old Hudson does have a history of injuries, including two Tommy John surgeries between 2012 and 2013 while with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He joined the Nationals in a midseason trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019 and recorded the final three outs in Game 7 of the World Series a few months later.

The news about the trade was first reported by FanSided.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Blue Jays roll Boston Red Sox before heading back to Toronto for first time in two seasons

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BOSTON — The Toronto Blue Jays are finally heading home — and they’re doing it on a high note.

Toronto crushed the Boston Red Sox 13-1 on Thursday night in what will be their last game as a team without a home.

The coronavirus pandemic and health protocols have kept the Blue Jays south of the Canadian border the past two seasons as they played “home” games in Buffalo, New York, and Dunedin, Florida, but the club was headed back to Toronto after the game and are scheduled to host the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre on Friday night.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led the way in Thursday’s romp, hitting a three-run homer all the way out of Fenway Park. As a team, the Blue Jays tagged the Red Sox for 16 hits and scored in six of the first seven innings while building a 12-0 lead.

Every Toronto starter had at least one hit and drove in at least one run as the Blue Jays went 9 for 20 with runners in scoring position. Cavan Biggio was the only Toronto starter who didn’t score a run.

Hyun Jin Ryu (10-5) held Boston to two hits over six innings, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.

The Blue Jays split the four-game series at first-place Boston, which still leads the AL East heading to second-place Tampa Bay for a weekend series.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Boston Red Sox acquire All-Star outfielder Kyle Schwarber from Washington Nationals

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The AL East-leading Boston Red Sox acquired All-Star outfielder Kyle Schwarber from the Washington Nationals on Thursday, it was announced.

Schwarber, 28, is on the injured list with a right hamstring strain but is expected to be back within a week or so. He had a monster June before getting hurt, hitting 16 home runs contributing to a 1.122 OPS for the month.

Schwarber was named an All-Star this year; he’s batting .253 with 25 home runs and 53 RBIs in 2021.

The Nationals are getting minor league right-handed pitcher Aldo Ramirez in return for Schwarber. Ramirez, 20, had a 2.03 ERA in eight games for Class A Salem and is currently on the 7-day injured list.

Schwarber signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Nationals after being non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs last season.

He has an $11.5 million mutual option for 2022 which includes a $3 million buyout. Schwarber should see time at designated hitter, as well as the outfield for the Red Sox.

To make room for Schwarber on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated right-hander Brandon Workman for assignment.

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