Nationals

UC Riverside dominates Division III Whittier 91-62

UC Riverside dominates Division III Whittier 91-62

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) Davin Guinn scored 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, and UC Riverside recovered from one of the worst offensive performances in school history with a 91-62 victory over Division III program Whittier on Tuesday night.

Steven Jones, Josh Fox and Chris Harriel added 14 points apiece and Chris Patton had 12 for the Highlanders (3-8), who set a school record for fewest points in the shot-clock era and shot 19 percent from the field in Saturday's 70-26 loss to USC. They had more than doubled that total by halftime Tuesday, leading 53-19 and coasting from there.

UC Riverside came into the game averaging 79 points in its two wins but just 49 points in its eight losses.

Phillip Thomas scored 19 points to lead the Poets, who treated the game as an exhibition on their schedule. The game was the first meeting between the schools since 1977.

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Sterling Sharp headlines Nationals prospects who could be picked in Rule 5 Draft

Sterling Sharp headlines Nationals prospects who could be picked in Rule 5 Draft

When the Rule 5 Draft begins at noon ET on Thursday in San Diego, every MLB club will have the opportunity to steal a prospect from another club—with a catch.

Any player selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on his new team’s 25-man roster all season, or else be placed on waivers before being offered back to his original club for $50,000.

The Nationals aren’t expected to select anyone during this process, especially after the team signed career minor-league Kyler Finnegan onto their 40-man roster. He carries the same professional experience as a Rule 5 pick but still has three options remaining.

Washington could, however, lose a prospect to another club, with the most likely candidate being right-handed pitcher Sterling Sharp. The Nationals added fellow prospect Ben Braymer to their 40-man ahead of the November deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft. But Sharp was left off, making him an intriguing option for other clubs should they select him.

Sharp, 24, was limited to just nine starts at AA-Harrisburg this season due to an oblique injury. When he was on the field, he posted a 3.99 ERA with an 8.2 K/9. That helped earn him an invitation to the Arizona Fall League, where he put up a 1.50 ERA and sub-1.000 WHIP in six starts. He’s a groundball pitcher who still racks up solid strikeout numbers with a three-pitch arsenal that includes two plus-graded pitches in his fastball and changeup. Sharp is also athletic for a pitcher, once going viral for slamming a between-the-legs dunk.

Braymer is left-handed and earned a promotion to AAA-Fresno this season, so it’s understandable why the club chose to protect him over Sharp. But MLB Pipeline actually rates Sharp (13) higher than Braymer (15) on its Nationals Top 30 list, a pedigree that’s more likely to put Sharp on other teams’ radar ahead of the draft.

The other prospects in the Nationals’ top 30 who are eligible to be selected are Steven Fuentes (21), Malvin Pena (22), Gilbert Lara (25), Telmito Agustin (27) and Jhonatan German (28). No other team has six players from their top 30 eligible for this year’s draft.

Up I-95 over in Baltimore, the Orioles are a team that might be more likely to make a selection. In his first Rule 5 Draft with the club, General Manager Mike Elias selected shortstop Richie Martin from the Oakland A’s with the No. 1 pick. Martin played 120 games and was the team’s everyday shortstop by the end of the year, although he hit just .208 with six home runs.

The team’s 40-man roster is already at 38 players, so they could decide to forego a pick in order to use that roster slot another way. But with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, they’ll have plenty of options to choose from should they decide to make a pick.

Baltimore could also lose a player as well, namely Cody Sedlock, who ranks 17th on their MLB Pipeline Top 30. Sedlock, 24, was promoted to AA-Bowie last season and posted a 3.71 ERA and 9.0 K/9 in nine games (six starts). A former first-round pick out of Illinois, he’d be a risk for another team given his little experience above High-A.

Right-handed pitcher Gray Fenter (30) is the only other Orioles’ top-30 prospect who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

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Stephen Strasburg held contract record for 33 hours before Gerrit Cole broke it

Stephen Strasburg held contract record for 33 hours before Gerrit Cole broke it

When the offseason began, it was widely expected that a starting pitcher would be signing a record contract before the end of the winter.

David Price held the record for the highest total value with his seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox that he signed in December 2014. The highest average annual salary, however, belonged to Zack Greinke for the six-year, $206.5 million contract he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks ($34.42M AAV) before being traded to the Houston Astros.

Both those records were smashed this winter, but the first one to do it wasn’t who most were expecting.

Stephen Strasburg agreed to a seven-year, $245 million deal ($35M AAV) with the Nationals on Monday that broke both Price’s and Greinke’s records. Despite having $80 million of that total deferred to after the seven years, Strasburg was the sole owner of the richest contract for a pitcher in MLB history.

That is, until the news broke just before midnight on Tuesday night that Gerrit Cole reached an agreement with the New York Yankees on a nine-year, $324 million contract that left Strasburg’s deal in the dust. Not only is his $36 million AAV be the highest of any pitcher ever, it’s also the highest of any player ever—just edging past Mike Trout’s figure of $35.54 million.

Strasburg is no longer the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, but after opting out of the remaining four seasons and $100 million left on his previous deal only to receive an additional three years and $145 million—which makes his opt-out the most successful ever—he’s probably not too disappointed.

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