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A's avoid arbitration with Jaso, Smith

A's avoid arbitration with Jaso, Smith

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Athletics have agreed to one-year contracts with new catcher John Jaso and outfielder Seth Smith, avoiding salary arbitration with both players.

The team announced the deals Thursday, one day after Jaso was acquired from Seattle in a three-team trade that also included the Washington Nationals.

Jaso gets $1.8 million after hitting .276 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs in 108 games with the Mariners last season, when he earned $495,200. He had a .394 on-base percentage and batted .378 with runners in scoring position.

Smith's deal is for $3,675,000. He batted .240 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs for the AL West champions last year, when he made $2,415,000.

The A's have two players left in arbitration: reliever Jerry Blevins and first baseman-outfielder Brandon Moss.

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Scott Brooks isn't sure if Rui Hachimura will return before February

Scott Brooks isn't sure if Rui Hachimura will return before February

Rui Hachimura is set to miss his 16th straight game with a groin injury, and his return to the court doesn't seem close. 

Before the Wizards took on the Raptors Friday night, head coach Scott Brooks said he wasn't sure if Hachimura would return before the start of February. 

Previously, Hachimura was set scheduled to be reevaluated in mid-January, so it appears after that checkpoint, the Wizards aren't ready to bring back their promising young forward. 

Hachimura originally sustained the injury by accidentally getting kicked in the groin by teammate Isaac Bonga on December 16. Before going down, Hachimura was flashing plenty of promise as a versatile offensive weapon at the power forward spot. 

As one of the top rookies in the game before the injury, Hachimura seemed like a lock to play in the NBA's Rookie-Sophomore game at All-Star weekend. That's about a month away, so this new timeline would put Hachimura's availability for that game in doubt. 

Davis Bertans, Isaac Bonga and Ian Mahinmi have helped fill in for the rookie, but in a season where development was arguably more important than winning, the Wizards and Hachimura caught a really tough break with this injury. 

In the meantime, Washington will have their hands full with Pascal Siakam and the defending champion Raptors on the road. 

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Davey Martinez says top prospect Carter Kieboom will have chance to start at third base

Davey Martinez says top prospect Carter Kieboom will have chance to start at third base

WASHINGTON -- Carter Kieboom will be provided every chance to be Washington’s starting third baseman next season. At least according to his manager.

Davey Martinez met with a small group of reporters Friday after a “Town Hall” event at SiriusXM’s downtown studios ( which airs Jan. 23 at 5 p.m. on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio Channel). Third base was the prime topic afterward.

“He deserves a shot to make the team,” Martinez said. “We need to fill a void at third base, and we think he's appropriate. He can do the job. I wasn't at Winterfest, but the guys there said he put on about 15-20 pounds of muscle, so I'm looking forward to watching him play there.

"What I want to do, and I'm going to talk to him in the next few days, is just let him play third base and not move him all over the place and let him get used to playing third base and get him over there and see what we got.”

Washington was cornered into this gamble when Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson signed elsewhere. Asdrúbal Cabrera is the secondary option at third, Martinez said. Starlin Castro will remain at second base. Howie Kendrick could also play third base from time to time.

The Nationals will go from an MVP finalist and a top-3 defender at third base to a 22-year-old rookie, if Kieboom ends up the starter. He made nine starts at the position for Triple-A Fresno in 2019. Overall, he made 10 appearances at third and committed four errors. It’s a drastic shift in baseline for the defending World Series champions.

He's young, and I talked to [infield coach Tim Bogar] about getting him out there every day early and teaching him,” Martinez said. “The biggest thing about that is positioning, and I think once he learns how to play that position, and where to position himself, I think he's going to be OK. ... I want him to focus on defense. I think he's going to hit, but I think he really needs to focus on defense in spring training and then we'll go from there.”

Mike Rizzo recently called the position a “strength” despite their being no viable evidence for that claim. Kieboom is the organization’s top prospect, so he graces everyone with the intrigue attached to his potential -- his short-lived flop in the majors last season notwithstanding. Cabrera is a 34-year-old utility player who finished 2019 with a solid year after splurging at the plate when he joined the Nationals. The former could fail because of youth, the latter because of age. In the Nationals view, a prospect could blossom and a solid veteran is available for insurance.

“Asdrúbal’s going to play, and I talked to him,” Martinez said. “He's going to play third, some second, he'll play some first. He'll pinch-hit off the bench, which is kind of nice having a switch-hitter like him. What I like is we got options.”

The main one at third, in the middle of January, is Kieboom.

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