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NAACP calls on athletes not to sign with Texas teams due to recent legislation

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HOUSTON — The NAACP sent a letter to the players’ associations in five professional sports Thursday asking players to reconsider signing with teams in Texas because of recent laws passed in the state.

In a two-page letter signed by NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson that was sent to the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and WNBA players’ associations, the organization pointed to recent laws on abortions, voting rights and mask mandates during the coronavirus pandemic as reasons to avoid joining teams in Texas.

“If you are considering signing in Texas, I ask you to ensure that owners are upholding their responsibility of protecting you, the athlete, and your family,” the letter states. “I ask you to use your influence to help protect the constitutional rights of each individual at risk.”

In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an abortion law that bans procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. In September, Abbott signed a bill that significantly tightened voting laws. Earlier in the month, Abbott also issued an executive order that banned vaccine requirements in Texas.

“Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman’s freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus,” the letter says.

The five leagues mentioned by the NAACP in the letter include nine Texas teams: the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in MLB, the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, the Dallas Stars in the NHL, and the Dallas Wings in the WNBA.

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Atlanta Braves sign reliever Kirby Yates to 2-year, $8.25 million contract

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The Atlanta Braves have signed right-handed reliever Kirby Yates to a two-year, $8.25 million contract, the team announced Monday.

Yates will earn $1 million in 2022 and $6 million in 2023. The contract has a $5.75 million team option for the 2024 season that includes a $1.25 million buyout.

Yates signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in January but did not pitch for the team this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. It was the second time in his career he had the operation.

He led the majors in saves in 2019 when he had 41 for the San Diego Padres. He had a career-best 1.19 ERA that season in 60⅔ innings pitched. He pitched only 4⅓ innings for San Diego during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before undergoing season-ending surgery in August to remove bone chips from his right elbow.

Yates joins a highly effective bullpen that was a big reason for the Braves” surprising run to a championship. Closer Will Smith returns, along with Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter and Luke Jackson.

Yates, 34, is 12-17 with 57 saves and a 3.54 ERA in seven major league seasons for the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Padres.

The Braves also announced Monday that right-hander Yoan Lopez was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies. Lopez was acquired last May from Arizona but spent the rest of the season at Atlanta’s Triple-A club in Gwinnett.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles Dodgers near agreement with reliever Daniel Hudson on 1-year deal, sources say

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Right-handed reliever Daniel Hudson and the Los Angeles Dodgers are nearing an agreement on a one-year deal, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

When completed, it’s expected to be for around $7 million.

Hudson, 34, was acquired by the San Diego Padres in a midseason trade with the Washington Nationals. He was 1-2 with a 5.21 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 23 appearances for the Padres.

Hudson does have a history of injuries, including two Tommy John surgeries between 2012 and 2013 while with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He spent time on the injured list last season with right elbow inflammation.

For his career, Hudson is 57-40 with 27 saves and a 3.86 ERA in 12 major league seasons for the Chicago White Sox, Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Nationals and Padres. He’s also a former member of the Dodgers, having pitched in 40 games for them in 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Rod Carew, Fergie Jenkins, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith on Hall of Fame committee

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Fergie Jenkins, Mike Schmidt and Ozzie Smith are among the 16 voters on the Hall of Fame’s Golden Days Era Committee.

Former commissioner Bud Selig, former Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz and retired manager Joe Torre — all three also in the Hall — are also among the voters scheduled to meet Sunday in Orlando, Florida, to consider candidates whose primary contributions were from 1950 to ’69.

Current executives Al Avila, Bill DeWitt, Ken Kendrick, Kim Ng and Tony Reagins also are on the panel along with media members/historians Adrian Burgos Jr., Steve Hirdt, Jaime Jarrin and Jack O’Connell.

Gil Hodges, Roger Maris and Minnie Miñoso are among 10 men on the ballot along with Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills plus former Pittsburgh manager Danny Murtaugh.

Jenkins, Smith, Torre, Schuerholz, DeWitt, Kendrick and Reagins also are among 16 voters on the Early Baseball Era Committee along with Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven. Media members/historians include Hirdt and Burgos plus Gary Ashwill, Leslie Heaphy, Jim Henneman, Justice Hill, Rick Hummel and John Thorn.

Pre-1950 candidates on the early era ballot include seven players from the Negro Leagues: John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Buck O’Neil, Dick “Cannonball” Redding and George Scales.

They are joined by Bill Dahlen, Lefty O’Doul and Allie Reynolds.

To gain election from either committee, a candidate must appear on at least 75% of ballots.

Anyone elected will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 24 along with any players elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, whose balloting will be announced Jan. 25. First-time BBWAA ballot eligibles include David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum and Alex Rodriguez.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be on the BBWAA ballot for the final time.

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