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Selig reviewing pending Marlins-Blue Jays deal

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Selig reviewing pending Marlins-Blue Jays deal

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Bud Selig was on hand when the Miami Marlins played their first regular-season game in their swanky new ballpark in April. The commissioner provided a glowing review of the $634 million project and boldly declared that opposition to the facility would fade away within five years.

So far, it's not looking so good for that last prediction.

Selig said Thursday he is examining the pending blockbuster trade that sends at least three of Miami's best players to Toronto for a package of prospects just seven months after the Marlins moved into their new home, which was financed primarily with tax money.

Speaking at the conclusion of the owners' meetings, Selig said he also is aware of fan anger in South Florida but is going to do what's in the best interests of the sport.

``People have different views of that as to what you should do and how you should do it, but I think I've been able to come through all these situations and the sport's been stronger and better as a result,'' he said, pointing to his recent experience with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers going through bankruptcy proceedings.

``So when I say I have this matter under review and I've talked to a lot of our people and I've spent a lot of time here in between all the other meetings - this is a tough place to do it - that's exactly what I mean. It is under review. I am aware of the anger, I am. I'm also aware that in Toronto they're very happy.''

The Blue Jays, who finished fourth in the loaded AL East last season, are bringing in All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and right-hander Josh Johnson under the deal, which is contingent on physicals for the players. Selig also said there is money going from Miami to Toronto, but did not offer any details and said the trade hadn't been officially presented to his office yet.

Reyes and Buehrle signed lucrative free-agent contracts with the Marlins last offseason, and Johnson has been Miami's best pitcher when healthy.

The Marlins get infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez and several top prospects, a nice haul but certainly not enough to satisfy a fan base that went through similar rebuilding after the franchise won the World Series in 1997 and 2003.

``I've talked to two baseball people - I have a lot of people that I check with and talk to - who have, actually, an interesting view on the trade.'' Selig said at an airport hotel just outside of Chicago. ``They think that (Miami), in terms of young players, did very well. These are two independent baseball people. These are not chefs in these kitchens here.

``So I want to think about all of it and I want to review everything. I want to be my usual painstaking, cautious, slow, conservative self in analyzing it. ... There's a lot of variables here.''

Paul Beeston, the president and CEO of the Blue Jays, rushed by a group of reporters as he left the owners' meetings. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was seen in the lobby at the hotel but did not make himself available to media.

Loria went on a spending spree last offseason, also signing free-agent closer Heath Bell. The Marlins thought they would contend for the NL East title and draw 3 million fans in the first year of their ballpark.

But they flopped, finishing last in the division. Bell was traded to Arizona in October, with the Marlins agreeing to pay $8 million of the remaining $21 million owed to the reliever.

Asked Thursday if it's in the best interests of baseball for Loria to continue to own a franchise, Selig said he wasn't going to comment any further other than saying the trade is under review.

``I know what the commissioner can do, can't do, what his legal responsibilities are,'' he said. ``I understand the feeling and in the end I'll do what I've done in the other past situations. People always ask me, `Boy, don't you wish it didn't happen?' Well, there are a lot of situations I wish hadn't happened, but they have, and then I have to try to do what I have to do.''

Also Thursday:

-Owners approved new television deals with ESPN, Turner Sports and Fox worth about $12.4 billion from 2014-21, according to Selig.

-Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations, said the league still is looking into expanded use of instant replay.

``Whether we do something for next season or not, I think by the time we start next season I'm confident we'll have a plan,'' he said.

-There was no update on the situation in Northern California, where Oakland wants to build a ballpark in San Jose - an area that is part of the San Francisco Giants' territory.

``I know people say `Gee, it should be easy to do,''' Selig said. ``Well, the more they've gotten into it, the more complicated it's gotten. But we're headed for resolution.''

-Selig is planning to travel to next month's winter meetings to speak to team doctors and trainers about drug testing, and he reiterated his support for baseball's drug program and its penalties.

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Jay Cohen can be reached athttp://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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