From Comcast SportsNetSAPPORO, Japan (AP) -- Yu Darvish's desire to become the world's best pitcher prompted his decision to leave Japan and sign with the Texas Rangers. "I want to become the kind of pitcher that will make people say 'Darvish is the No. 1 pitcher in the world,'" Darvish said at a news conference on Tuesday. The 25-year-old right-hander agreed last week to a six-year contract with the Rangers guaranteeing him 56 million. Darvish had a 93-38 record with a 1.99 ERA in 167 games in the past seven seasons in Japan, where he was a two-time MVP of the Pacific League and a five-time All-Star. He led the league in strikeouts three times and ERA twice, and averaged 205 innings pitched over the last five seasons. Over 10,000 fans attended Tuesday's event at Sapporo Dome, where Darvish spent his entire professional career playing for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Early in his career, Darvish said he had no desire to go to Major League Baseball, saying it would be bad for Japanese baseball if all of the top players went overseas. But after seven seasons in Japan, Darvish said he needed a new challenge. "I want to feel the thrill of pitching against the world's best hitters," Darvish said. "It was becoming harder to stay motivated in Japan." There is a lot of excitement in Texas, where fans are hoping Darvish is the missing piece that will help lift the Rangers to their first World Series title.
The odds of a Cubs-Nick Castellanos reunion happening have seemed slim all offseason. Although they've been connected to him at various points this winter, bringing back the fan favorite right fielder would require some serious financial gymnastics for the North Siders.
With the Cubs cognizant of the luxury tax, the division rival Reds have emerged as the favorite to sign Castellanos, according to MLB insider Jon Morosi.
The Reds have emerged as the frontrunner to sign free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, one source said Sunday, and there are indications the sides have made progress over the past several days. While Cincinnati is now the favorite to sign Castellanos, the Giants also have negotiated with the 27-year-old in recent weeks.
Because of their desire to stay under the luxury tax in 2020, the Cubs have only made low-cost acquisitions this winter. They were penalized $7.6 million for eclipsing the threshold in 2019; if they do so in 2020, they'll be taxed 30 percent on their overages — and see their 2021 draft pick drop 10 spots, if they go over the figure by $40 million.
At this point, the only realistic scenario where the Cubs re-sign Castellanos is if they shed salary. However, they've reportedly signed outfielder Steven Souza to a one-year deal, giving them five outfielders (along with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward). That might be the biggest indicator of a reunion not being in the cards.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.
According to a report from TMZ Sports, later confirmed by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and ABC 7 News, Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash over Calabasas Sunday morning. This is extremely heartbreaking news that has stunned everyone and the Bulls community weighed in, paying their respects and sharing their emotions on Sunday afternoon:
I’m shook..... idk what to think right now— Zach LaVine (@ZachLaVine) January 26, 2020
You were one of the biggest influences on me and so many others. From your hard work, to your swag, your mindset made you BIGGER than basketball. Unbelievable loss. My condolences to you and your beautiful family.#mambamentality #MambaForever— Zach LaVine (@ZachLaVine) January 26, 2020
No not Kobe... this is unreal...— Thad Young (@yungsmoove21) January 26, 2020
😢😩— Tomas Satoransky (@satoransky) January 26, 2020
I'm so sad right now! Not Kobe and Gigi! This is so tragic! Tomorrow isn't promised by any means! One of the many reasons why I kiss and hug my wife and kids everyday I'm home and before walking out the door. #RIPKobeBryant— Thad Young (@yungsmoove21) January 26, 2020
Ain’t no way bro. 😢— DG 💪🏾 (@Dan_G33) January 26, 2020
This hurts man. Bad💔— whitecoby2 (@CobyWhite) January 26, 2020
Former Bulls also shared their thoughts on the sad news on Sunday:
Nooooooooooo God please No!— DWade (@DwyaneWade) January 26, 2020
I’m stunned. Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day.— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) January 26, 2020
I'm completely in shock & disbelief to hear of the passing of @kobebryant my heart hurts for his wife & 3 young daughters. Like many others around the world that this amazing human being touched not just as a player but as a person I just don't want this to be true. #ripkobe— Stacey King (@Stacey21King) January 26, 2020
Bryant was one of the NBA's greatest players but his impact was wide-reaching throughout all of sports. This was something that was clear on Sunday when members of the media, team owners, as well as athletes from the NFL, MLB, and much more took some time to state how much Bryant meant to his family, sports, and the world at large:
Jeannine & I are absolutely shocked to hear of the loss of one of my favorite people & one of the best basketball minds in the history of the game! Our hearts & prayers to Vanessa & his girls. @kobebryant you were my biggest fan, but I was yours #RIPMAMBA @NBA @espn @SLAMonline pic.twitter.com/Ll0BD6VWgr— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) January 26, 2020
Janet and I have no words to describe our shock and sadness on the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant today. Praying for him and his family. 🙏— Wayne Gretzky (@WayneGretzky) January 26, 2020
Please no.. please do not let this be true. #KobeBryant— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) January 26, 2020
In NYC, at our upfronts, Kobe was backstage and all he wanted to talk about was coaching his daughter’s team. Such pure joy. I keep thinking of that video of he and his daughter at the Lakers game. Those girls....his family. My goodness, man.— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) January 26, 2020
Damn. RIP Mamba. May your memory be a blessing— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 26, 2020
Man... im sick. Rest In Peace to a LEGEND, On & off the court! Prayers to Kobe, his family, and all those lost!— Zach Miller (@ZMiller86) January 26, 2020
This is extremely tragic to society. One of the most influential individuals/athletes to ever live. His legacy in 41 years is insurmountable. I’m beyond sad. Cherish every single second of life man. Every second you’re breathing, be thankful!— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) January 26, 2020
NO NO NO NO KOBE!!!!!!! PLEASE BE A DREAM. KOBE CAN’T BE GONE😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) January 26, 2020
Always and forever https://t.co/K4sedgWZyb— Tarik Cohen (@TarikCohen) January 26, 2020
Man I don’t even know where to start😭😭 I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!!— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) January 26, 2020
"He inspired so many people,"— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 26, 2020
Drew Brees on Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/OYnKAAyS0S
We miss you already Kobe ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 26, 2020
Oh, yes, other hearts were broken, yeah, other dreams ran dry, but our golden ones sail on, sail on to another land beneath another sky.— Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) January 26, 2020
Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
Doc Rivers, fighting back tears in his pregame press conference: “I’m just really, really sad.”— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) January 26, 2020
In a moment of touching tribute, the Raptors and Spurs started their Sunday afternoon matchup with consecutive 24-second shot clock violations, in honor of Bryant:
Remarkable moment to start the Raptors-Spurs game. pic.twitter.com/thmt9ZU1Ra— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 26, 2020
Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar honored Bryant with a "24" salute after scoring a goal:
Neymar throws up the 24 for Kobe 💜 pic.twitter.com/mPUveZpNA2— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant's co-star throughout the Lakers dynasty of the 2000s was Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, who left a heartfelt message on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my neice Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW !
The story appears to still be developing and is truly terrible, terrible news that has shell-shocked the basketball world at large. Bryant was 41-years old at the reported time of his death.
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