Phillies

MLB Notes: Royals and Kevin Herrera agree to a one-year deal

MLB Notes: Royals and Kevin Herrera agree to a one-year deal

The Royals and closer Kelvin Herrera have agreed to a $5,325,000, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration with one of the top relievers in baseball.

Herrera can also earn $50,000 for making the All-Star Game, which he has done the past two seasons.

The 27-year-old right-hander is assuming the closer job after the Royals traded Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs this offseason. But Herrera has plenty of experience in the role, saving 12 games last season when Davis was dealing with some lingering injuries.

Herrera has a 2.63 ERA over parts of six seasons, and has appeared in at least 70 games each of the past three. His strikeout-to-walk ratio last season was also the best of his career.

Kansas City has signed all of its arbitration-eligible players for this season.

Twins: Byung Ho Park taken off 40-man roster
The Minnesota Twins have designated Korean slugger Byung Ho Park for assignment following a disappointing major league debut as a designated hitter.

The move was made on Friday to clear space on the 40-man roster for right-handed reliever Matt Belisle, who finalized a $2.05 million, one-year contract after posting a career-best 1.76 ERA last season for Washington.

The 30-year-old Park batted .191 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs in 62 games last season. The Twins paid his South Korean club, the Nexen Heroes, $12.85 million for negotiating rights to Park, who signed a $12 million, four-year contract with Minnesota.

Belisle pitched 46 innings in 2016 for the Nationals, missing seven weeks in the first half of the season with a strained calf muscle in his right leg.

Rays: Weeks, Carpenter, Rasmus agree to deals
Infielder Rickie Weeks and right-handed relievers Cory Rasmus and David Carpenter have agreed to minor league contracts with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The deals announced Friday include invitations to major league spring training.

The 34-year-old Weeks was the second overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft and is a .247 career hitter over parts of 13 big league seasons with Milwaukee, Seattle and Arizona. He batted .239 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 108 games with the Diamondbacks last year.

Rasmus is the brother of outfielder Colby Rasmus, who also joined the Rays this offseason. In 2016, he went 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA in 19 appearances with the Los Angeles Angels.

Carpenter, 31, last pitched in the majors in 2015 with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals.

Mets: Flores is team's first arbitration hearing since 2008
Infielder Wilmer Flores has become the first New York Mets player to go to salary arbitration since Oliver Perez in 2008.

Flores asked for a $2.2 million salary, and the Mets argued for $1.8 million during Friday's hearing. A decision is expected Saturday from arbitrators Mark Irvings, Sylvia Skratek and Robert Herzog.

Originally slated to serve as a backup last season to second baseman Neil Walker, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, third baseman David Wright , Flores appeared in 103 games, had 335 plate appearances and saw time at all four infield positions. He hit .267, matched his career high with 16 homers and had 49 RBIs.

Flores made $526,014 last year and was eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Perez won his hearing in 2008 and made $6.5 million instead of the team's offer of $4,725,000.

Cardinals: No more smokeless tobacco
Baseball players with big wads of chewing tobacco in their cheek are now a thing of the past at Busch Stadium.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted Friday to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco, dip and snuff at all sports venues, including Cardinals games at Busch Stadium. The measure provides no exemption for players or anyone else on the field or in the dugouts.

The bill's sponsor, Alderwoman Dionne Flowers, says it sends a message that tobacco shouldn't be associated with sports.

Busch Stadium becomes the 14th Major League Baseball venue where smokeless tobacco is banned. Last month, the city council in St. Petersburg, Florida, banned smokeless tobacco products at all organized sporting events, including Tampa Bay Rays games.

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

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Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

WASHINGTON -- Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 -- also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended (see full story).

Turner, Taylor repay Dodgers' patience by sharing NLCS MVP
CHICAGO -- Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner's case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor's case, it was Los Angeles' willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner's head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

"He's a dynamic player and a table setter," said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. "When he goes, we usually go as a team."

"I talk to him as much as I can. He's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did," said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster (see full story).

Rare Jackie Robinson rookie jersey up for auction
NEW YORK -- A rare jersey from Jackie Robinson's historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago could be available for someone with a few spare millions.

The jersey, part of a Heroes of Sports offering by Heritage Auctions, has been certified by Mears, one of the top memorabilia authentication companies. It is accompanied by a letter from Robinson's widow, Rachel, saying it is the one brought home by the Hall of Famer at the end of the 1947 season, when he became the first black player in the majors and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

"This is the only one known from the `47 season, the only one that survived," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It stayed in his closet for five decades plus until it was eventually sold to a private collector in the early 2000s."

The online auction opened Friday and closes at 11 p.m. on Nov. 19. The entire collection is from one owner and can be viewed on Heritage's website. Other items available for bidding include Babe Ruth's pants from the Hall of Fame induction in 1939, Keith Hernandez's 1978 Gold Glove award, a Wilt Chamberlain jersey from 1966, Bill Vukovich's Indianapolis 500 trophy from 1953 and Muhammad Ali's shoes from his fight against Ken Norton in 1973.

Ivy said the Robinson jersey has been valued at more than $3 million. He wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed that.

"It's tough to estimate a piece like this -- it's a one of a kind," he said. "As far as collectibles a rookie (jersey) is always sought after, something that's significant."