Nationals

Red Sox avoid arbitration with 7, sign Ellsbury

Red Sox avoid arbitration with 7, sign Ellsbury

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Red Sox signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a one-year contract on Friday, avoiding arbitration with the outfielder.

The oft-injured Ellsbury, 29, a 2011 All-Star, saw a drop in his production last year, finishing with a .271 average, four home runs and 26 RBIs. He will make $9 million, a year after making $8.05 million.

Ellsbury missed 79 games after suffering a right shoulder subluxation April 13. He returned to the lineup July 13 and played in 67 games. In 2011, he was named American League Comeback Player of the Year, and established career highs in home runs (32), run (119), hits (212), and RBIs (105).

The Red Sox also agreed to terms with right-handers Alfredo Aceves ($2.65 million), Andrew Bailey ($4.1 million), Daniel Bard ($1.86 million), and Joel Hanrahan ($7.04 million), as well as left-handers Andrew Miller ($1.47 million), and Franklin Morales ($1.48 million), to one-year, non-guaranteed contracts.

Boston left-hander Craig Breslow is the last player eligible for salary arbitration still unsigned. If he remains without a deal, arbitration hearings can start next month. Breslow made $1.79 million last season. He asked for $2.37 million, and was offered $2.32 million.

Aceves, 30, who shifted over to the closer role last season after Bailey was injured, posted a career-high 25 saves, as the Red Sox stumbled to a 69-93 season. He finished second among AL relievers with 84 innings, and closed with a 2-10 mark. Aceves asked for $3 million, was offered $2.3 million and settled for the midpoint.

Hanrahan, 31, who made the All-Star team twice as a closer in Pittsburgh, was acquired by the Red Sox Dec. 26. He went 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 67 strikeouts last season, posting 36 saves. He made $4.1 million last season.

Bailey, 28, appeared in just 19 games due to right thumb surgery, posting a 1-1 record with six saves.

Bard, 27, made the first 10 starts of his career, going 5-6 for the Red Sox with a 6.22 ERA.

Miller, 27, went 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA and 51 strikeouts, posting a career high for holds (13).

And Morales, 26, made nine starts in his first full season.

The Red Sox lost their final eight games last season, forcing a managerial change for the second time in as many years. Out went Bobby Valentine, in came John Farrell. Under Valentine, Boston finished 26 games behind the division-champion New York Yankees in the AL East.

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Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has rocked MLB and left a dark shadow over the league during offseason. Up until this point, despite a fired general manager and on-field manager, the players at the root of the scandal have remained silent on the subject and avoided questions from the media.

That will all change in Spring Training as the Astros players plan to make "a strong statement as a team," according to Astros' owner Jim Crane. 

"When we get down to Spring Training, we'll all get them together and they'll come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we'll move forward," Crane said in a media scrum.

Over the weekend the team held their annual winter FanFest where several players had to face the music as many players met with the media for the first time. Jose Altuve, who is one of the players who allegedly benefited from the sign-stealing, dodged the question as best he could. The Astros shortstop's comments coincide with Crane's, saying “I think the time to comment about that will come. It’s a little early for me to say something about it.” 

Outside of their FanFest event, there is little that has come out of the clubhouse. Their owner acknowledged the lack of communication from the players and said the players were advised to stay out of the conversation. 

"The players have been beaten up a little bit and they've been all spread out. They've just kinda getting [sic] advice to take it easy."

Already Spring Training in West Palm Beach is going to be awkward between the two teams that made the World Series last season. The Nationals, who won the World Series whether or not the Astros used their system to gain an advantage, have their facilities next door to Houston's.

And if the Astros sign former Nationals' manager Dusty Baker to the same position in wake of A.J. Hinch's firing, there will be even more tense situations at Spring Training this year. 

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Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Just four months shy of his last appearance on the NFL gridiron sidelines, Jay Gruden may already have his 2020 gig lined up, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Gruden was head coach of the Washington Redskins for six seasons, beginning in 2014 and going 35-49-1 in his burgundy and gold tenure. Gruden pushed the Redskins to their first postseason appearance since 2012 in his second year with the team, as well as back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, not seen in Washington since 1996 and 1997. 

In March 2017, Gruden signed a two-year extension with the Redskins. He was fired after beginning the 2019 season 0-5. 

Recently, Gruden confirmed to Rapoport that he was "itching for something to do" and seeking employment before Jacksonville brought him in to interview for the OC role. 

After playing four years at the University of Louisville and and eight more in various football leagues, Gruden held many offensive roles, offensive coordinator for the Florida Tuskers and Cincinnati Bengals. 

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