Capitals

Japan's HR king accepts Ichiro may not play in WBC

Japan's HR king accepts Ichiro may not play in WBC

TOKYO (AP) Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh, a special adviser to the national team, says he accepts that Japan may have to defend its title at next year's World Baseball Classic without star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Suzuki, who was instrumental in helping Japan win the WBC in 2006 and 2009, is reportedly considering sitting out the 2013 event, joining fellow Japanese major leaguers Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki.

``It's out of our hands,'' Oh was quoted saying Friday after Japan beat WBC first-round opponent Cuba 2-0 in an exhibition game. ``He played a huge part in the first two tournaments. Nothing is decided yet but I want him to be able to clearly decide the next step in his career.''

Oh managed the Japanese squad that won the inaugural WBC in 2006.

Japanese baseball officials invited the 39-year-old Suzuki to join the 2013 team, but don't expect a response until he knows where he will play in the majors next season. Suzuki, a free agent, was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the New York Yankees in July.

Suzuki hit .322 in 67 games for the Yankees and was one of the team's most consistent hitters.

In the final of the 2009 WBC, Suzuki drove in the winning run with a line drive to center in the 10th inning as Japan beat South Korea 5-3 to claim its second straight title.

If he stays in New York, Suzuki may opt to prepare for the 2013 season with the Yankees over taking part in the March 2-19 WBC, which will involve travel between Japan and the United States.

The Nikkansports newspaper reported after Friday's game that people close to Suzuki say he will inform Japan soon of his decision not to take part.

The team that beat Cuba on Friday was made up exclusively of players from Japanese professional baseball and is facing the prospect of having to defend its WBC title without many of its top players from Major League Baseball.

Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners has already said he won't take part in order to prepare for the 2013 season. Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, also a free agent, is also doubtful for the WBC.

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

alex_smith_otas_2_ap.png
Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler