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Cain, Verlander named All-Star starters

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Cain, Verlander named All-Star starters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are going to pitch in tomorrow night's All-Star Game, they'll have to do so out of the bullpen.

National League manager Tony La Russa named Giants right-hander Matt Cain his starter today, with American League skipper Ron Washington selecting Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

Strasburg and Gonzalez appeared to be candidates for the honor earlier this summer, but each faded a bit over the last month. Strasburg was 9-1 with a 2.48 ERA after his June 20 victory over the Rays, but he's 0-3 with a 4.80 ERA over his last three starts. Gonzalez is tied with the Mets' R.A. Dickey for the NL lead with 12 wins, but his ERA over his last seven starts is 4.28.

La Russa's selection of Cain (9-3, 2.62) over Dickey (12-1, 2.40) stirred up some controversy, particularly in New York. The retired Cardinals skipper (who was given permission to return to manage this exhibition game) cited the familiarity between Cain and Giants catcher Buster Posey as rationale for Cain's selection. He also said he'd rather have St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina catch Dickey's knuckleball later in the game.

Strasburg and Gonzalez are joined here by Bryce Harper, who was the last player added to the NL roster after Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton succumbed to injury over the weekend.

La Russa said his toughest decisions in assembling this All-Star roster involved the NL's deep and talented outfield. Ultimately, he cited the allure of including Harper (who at 19 is the youngest position player in All-Star history) in an event that also boasts 20-year-old outfielder Mike Trout on the AL side.

"It would be nice to put our National League young phenom against our American League phenom, because they've been exciting our baseball world," La Russa said. "It's been really good for our game to see Trout and Harper come into the game."

Here are the full starting lineups for both All-Star squads...

NL LINEUP
DH Carlos Gonzalez
CF Melky Cabrera
LF Ryan Braun
1B Joey Votto
RF Carlos Beltran
C Buster Posey
3B Pablo Sandoval
2B Dan Uggla
SS Rafael Furcal
(P Matt Cain)

AL LINEUP
SS Derek Jeter
2B Robinson Cano
LF Josh Hamilton
RF Jose Bautista
1B Prince Fielder
3B Adrian Beltre
DH David Ortiz
C Mike Napoli
CF Curtis Granderson
(P Justin Verlander)

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Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

$500 million.

That number is so hard to wrap your brain around, but it's a number a lot of professional baseball players may soon start seeing on their contracts.

One player who could be the first to see that amount within the next year is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper will become a free agent in 2018 and people are already projecting his market value at close to $500 million, if not more.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed a contract back in 2014 for 13 years, $325 million, holding the league record.

For Fancy Stats writer Neil Greenberg, $500 million is a bargain for someone of Harper's caliber.

"Harper is every bit as good [as Stanton] but he's also young," Greenberg told the Sports Junkies Friday.

"I mean, we don't see a player that's as good as Harper, that's as young a Harper, hit the market almost ever I want to say. You look at how many years of his prime he has left and then even if you start to give him just the typical aging curb off of that prime, he's probably worth close to 570 million dollars starting from 2019 and going forward ten years. And that includes also the price of free agency going up and other factors."

Harper, who is only 25 years-old, brings more to a team than just talent. He's one of the most recognizable figures in baseball, bringing tremendous marketing opportunities to an organization. Greenberg dove deeper into how that will increase his market value.

"And that's just for the on-the-field product. You talk about all the marketing that's done around Bryce Harper [and] what he does for the game. In my opinion, and based on the numbers that I saw, he's a bargain at $500 million."

Don't we all wish someone would say $500 million is a bargain for us?

After crunching the numbers, the biggest takeaway for Greenberg is the return on investment the Nationals have gotten out of Harper.

"Like if you look at his wins above replacement throughout his career, he's given you 200 million dollars in value for 21 million dollars in cash and he's due what another 26 or 27 million this year. I mean he's already given you an amazing return on investment."

"So, if you're the Nationals having - benefited from that - you know you have a little bit of, I guess, wiggle room in terms of maybe you're paying a little bit for past performance 'cause, you know, when a player is on arbitration in their early years they don't really get paid that much."

The Nationals still have Harper for one more season and many feel they need to make him an offer sooner than later. Whenever and whoever he gets an offer from, it's going to be a nice pay day for him.

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Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

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Nats' Max Scherzer wins second straight NL Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals has coasted to his third Cy Young Award and second straight in the National League.

Scherzer breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The honor was announced Wednesday on MLB Network.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit. He became the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs.

RELATED: WIETERS WILL RETURN TO NATS IN 2018 

Scherzer was 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA and a league-leading 268 strikeouts for the NL East champion Nationals.

Kershaw has already won three NL Cy Youngs, and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts.

Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians easily won his second AL Cy Young Award earlier in the day. He got 28 of the 30 first-place votes, with Boston's Chris Sale second and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees third.

Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball.