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2016 MLB roster outlook: Cleveland Indians


2016 MLB roster outlook: Cleveland Indians

2015 record: 81-80, 3rd place in AL Central

Manager: Terry Francona, 4th season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $86 million

Key additions: LF Rajai Davis, 1B Mike Napoli, RP Joe Thatcher, RP Ross Detwiler, RP Joba Chamberlain

Key losses: INF Mike Aviles, 3B Chris Johnson 

Projected lineup

LF Rajai Davis
SS Francisco Lindor
2B Jason Kipnis
DH Carlos Santana
C Yan Gomes
1B Mike Napoli
RF Lonnie Chisenhall
3B Giovanny Urshela
CF Abraham Almonte

Projected rotation
RHP Corey Kluber
RHP Carlos Carrasco
RHP Danny Salazar
RHP Trevor Bauer
RHP Josh Tomlin

Top relievers
CL Cody Allen
RHP Bryan Shaw
RHP Zach McAllister

Biggest questions entering 2016
1. How good can Lindor be? Shortstop Francisco Lindor may be the best young player in baseball who is not a household name. The former eighth overall pick found immediate success as a 21-year-old rookie last season with a .313 average, .835 OPS, 12 homers, 51 RBI and 12 steals in 99 games. He is a potential superstar and many baseball fans are excited to see what he has in store for his sophomore season. If his rookie year was any indication, we could be talking about an All-Star and AL MVP candidate, even at the age of 22.

2. What to expect of Kluber and Brantley? Lindor is the rising star, but the Indians already have two top shelf talents on their roster who are in the middle of their primes in Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley. The problem, however, is that both carry questions into the 2016 season. Kluber won the Cy Young award in 2014, but then saw his ERA go from 2.44 to 3.49 in 2015. Can he return to form as the dominant ace we saw two years ago? For Brantley, it's about his health. He had surgery on his right shoulder in November and is in the middle of a 5-6 month recovery. How long it takes him to get back to full strength will have big implications on the Indians and their chances in 2016.

3. Do they stand a chance in the AL Central? The Indians recorded their third straight winning season in 2015, but it also marked the second straight year they finished with a worse record than the season before. After winning 81 games last year, they may require a jump of at least 10 wins to get back into the playoffs in 2016. What will make that difficult is their presence in one of baseball's toughest divisions. The Royals are an absolute powerhouse, the Twins are on the rise and the Tigers loaded up again this offseason. The Indians appear to be nowhere near as talented as some of their division foes, at least on paper.

[Roster info via]

[RELATED: First pictures of Doug Fister in Astros uniform]

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?


Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.


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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine


Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.


He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.