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Mariners officially announce Raul Ibanez deal

Mariners officially announce Raul Ibanez deal

SEATTLE (AP) The Seattle Mariners officially announced their $2.75 million, one-year deal with outfielder Raul Ibanez on Wednesday, returning the veteran to where he began his major league career in 1996.

Seattle confirmed an agreement with Ibanez over the weekend but needed to clear a roster spot before making the transaction official. That took place when the Mariners designated for assignment right-handed pitcher D.J. Mitchell, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Mitchell was acquired from the New York Yankees in the trade last July for Ichiro Suzuki.

The deal allows Ibanez to earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses. This will be his third stint with the Mariners, after rejoining them from 2004-08.

``Raul is the ultimate professional both on and off the field,'' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said in a statement. ``His veteran presence will be invaluable to our younger group of players.''

Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik has said the team wanted to add veteran leadership in the offseason. The 40-year-old Ibanez hit .240 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 384 at-bats for the Yankees last season.

Including the playoffs, Ibanez hit five home runs that tied the score for the Yankees and eight that put New York ahead, according to STATS. He homered twice after entering as a pinch hitter on Sept. 22 in a 10-9, 14-inning win over Oakland. And with New York fighting for the AL East title, he delivered a tying, pinch-hit homer against Boston in the ninth Oct. 2 and then singled in the winning run in the 12th.

Then in Game 3 of the division series against Baltimore, he became the first player in major league history to homer twice in a postseason game he didn't start. He pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning and hit a tying home run, then hit a winning shot in the 12th.

Three days later, his two-run homer in a four-run ninth inning tied the AL championship series opener against Detroit, a game the Yankees lost 6-4 in 12 innings as the Tigers started their way to a four-game sweep.

Whether there's another season of production left in Ibanez's bat is uncertain. He'll be joining the worst offensive team in baseball, which has tried to make incremental upgrades during the offseason but has been unable to make a huge splash.

Seattle last week added power-hitting Kendrys Morales in a trade that sent left-hander Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels. Former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero started 77 games at designated hitter last season for the Mariners and 55 behind the plate, so Ibanez's acquisition by the Mariners could make catcher John Jaso expendable. Jaso made 39 starts behind the plate and 44 at DH.

The Mariners also signed former Mets slugger Jason Bay to a one-year deal in the hope that he could restart a career that fell off in New York. But there remain questions about whether any of the three can make a significant difference to Seattle's scuffling offense.

``In Raul we have a player and person with outstanding leadership skills who has participated in postseason play the last several years,'' Zduriencik said. ``We will give Raul the opportunity to come in and compete and add an additional veteran presence to this ball club.''

In 17 major league seasons that also included time with Kansas City (2001-03) and Philadelphia (2009-11), Ibanez has a .278 career average with 271 home runs and 1,116 RBIs.

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

“How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?”

That brain-busting question from a current NBA general manager came before the February 7 trade deadline when rumors involving Wizards guard Bradley Beal swirled.

Another migraine-inducing conundrum is forthcoming whether Beal receives All-NBA honors or not.

Should the league’s upcoming announcement of its first, second and third team include the two-time All-Star, the Wizards may have no choice but to break up the backcourt pairing with John Wall that fueled the franchise’s most sustained success since winning the 1978 title.

This honor comes with a financial reward-- if extended to Beal by the Wizards --  in the form of a supermax contract worth approximately $193 million over four years that would begin in 2021-22. He still has two years and $56 million remaining on the valued five-year, $127 million deal he signed in 2016.

The issue is less about Beal’s hefty chunk of the Wizards’ salary cap, but combining it with Wall’s four-year, $170 million supermax deal that begins next season. Offer Beal the supermax and, should he accept, approximately 71 percent of the team’s future salary cap beginning in the 2021-22 season would be chewed up by two players.

Beal and Wall, when healthy, are All-Stars. They’re not Jordan and Pippen.

NBC Sports Washington spoke with over a dozen league sources in recent weeks including three current or former general managers, other executives, NBA coaches, and scouts, about Beal’s contract situation and the Wizards’ overall equation coming off a 32-50 campaign.

Some dutifully tried putting themselves in the mindset of Washington’s next front office leader knowing Beal’s contract status and other limiting or uncertain factors.

The executives shared opinions on whether to boldly hold or sell high on the Wizards’ best player. Regardless of their stance, their initial instinct almost unanimously landed in the same place as this current lead executive: “I have no idea what you would do.”

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There’s an incredibly strong argument for doing nothing. How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?

Several NBA sources largely acknowledge the choice almost gets removed from the Wizards front office should Beal receive the All-NBA nod. Even if Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson or Ben Simmons trump Beal in the voting, events from early February may effectively force the Wizards’ hand.

Washington faced its second consecutive luxury tax payment, diminishing playoff hopes and the knowledge that Wall would miss the rest of the season with a heel injury.

Despite those negatives and salary cap concerns with only five players catapulting the team over next season’s salary cap, big picture hope existed. The headliners -- Wall, Beal and Otto Porter -- previously put the Wizards in a playoff contender mode. “We're not trading any of those players,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said at the time.

There’s a good reason to believe Leonsis meant what he said. Then life intervened and forced change.

Wall’s left Achilles ruptured during the first week of February. The recovery time means an entire calendar year and perhaps the full 2019-20 season. Those negatives, especially with the salary cap, were now amplified.

Washington dealt with that financial scenario two days after the Wall status update by trading Porter and Markieff Morris to slide under the luxury tax.

Another life event requiring a financial decision could happen soon.

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There’s no debating whether Beal is worthy of the All-NBA accolade. Some believe he is a favorite to snag one of the two guard spots on the third-team.

The dilemma is can the Wizards justify offering a contract with those hefty terms knowing what’s already on the books, plus the upcoming challenges.

Pass and the likelihood of trading Beal at peak value becomes a leading option. Hold Beal regardless and his trade value effectively decreases over the next two seasons with the possibility he leaves as a 2021 free agent without compensation.

“The Wizards is a hard job right now,” a former GM told NBC Sports Washington. “There’s a lot to figure out. Timelines can’t be certain with John Wall in particular. For Bradley Beal, that's a decision… Hard to walk in [to those interviews) with a specific plan.”

Leave the supermax contract off the table and the human element arises. Those familiar with Beal’s mindset do not see a Robin to Wall’s Batman. Co-headliners, cool, but then pay and appreciate accordingly. Maybe folks could start referring to the pair as Beal and Wall once in a while.

Forget the money, which isn’t Beal’s driving motivation. As one source familiar with Beal’s thinking stated, “Brad needs to be in the playoffs. He’s not disruptive...Brad just wants to win.”

The Wizards might not be in playoff position next season even if Beal maintains his All-NBA level. It's a near lock they won't if the 2012 first-round pick is traded.

Beal averaged 30.9 points in February, the same month he dropped a season-high 46 at Charlotte and his All-NBA buzz soared. Beal joined 2019 MVP finalist James Harden as the only players this season to average at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals.

The wing guard’s leadership kept Washington tangibly in the playoff race until realities of the undermanned roster kicked in.

“I think [Brad is] an all-NBA player in my eyes,” said Wall, an All-NBA selection in 2016. “You know how tough it is to make that team? It’s always tough. The year he’s had speaks for itself.”

How do you trade that player especially one groomed by the organization since selecting him third overall in 2012? You can't -- but the Wizards might not have a choice.

Nobody recognizes this more than Bradley Beal.

"Honestly, I’m here until I’m not here," Beal told NBC Sports Washington earlier this month. "I’m not thinking too strong on it. My personal desire is to be here and see the direction we go. Hopefully, the correct direction.

"I keep hearing the possibility of rebooting, trading Brad and getting assets back. It’s a business. I understand both sides of it. I can’t be mad at it."

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks Tuesday to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1970, where they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins.

They will look to even the odds, as they will be taking on the Bruins yet again on Monday night.

Blues fan and St. Louis native Bradley Beal will hope that his hometown squad will take the cup from the reigning champs, the Washington Capitals, and win the matchup against the Bruins.

Beal cheered on the Caps just a year ago and is ready to show out for the surging Blues.

To really put it into perspective how long it has been since the Blues played for the Cup, take a look at the number one song in the country when these two teams faced off 49 years ago. 

The Blues besting the Bruins will be a challenge, and Beal will be ready to root for his squad until the final buzzer.

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