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Boras: Dodgers 'bought store,' Mets 'in freezer'

Boras: Dodgers 'bought store,' Mets 'in freezer'

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) With baseball awash in record revenue as the signing season starts, Scott Boras compares the habits of teams to families sifting through supermarket shelves.

At the winter meetings in Dallas last year, the agent had this to say of the financially troubled Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets: ``Normally, they're in the steaks section, and I found them in the fruits-and-nuts category a lot.''

Since then, the Dodgers have been sold for $2 billion. The Mets owners have agreed to pay up to $162 million - and likely much less - in a deal with the trustee for Bernard Madoff's fraud victims.

So on Wednesday at the general managers' meeting, Boras said his view of the Dodgers had changed.

``I think they bought the store,'' he said.

And as for the Mets?

``The best you can say is that they might be in the freezer section,'' he explained. ``But there's a lot of good, longstanding products that they can acquire there.''

Slugger Josh Hamilton and pitcher Zack Greinke are among the top players in a relatively weak free-agent class that also includes outfielders B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Torii Hunter and Nick Swisher; first baseman Adam LaRoche; and pitchers Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano.

Baseball estimates revenue this year at $2.5 billion - an increase of about $500 million. National television contracts with Fox and Turner that run from 2014-21 will double the average yearly money baseball receives to about $800 million.

And perhaps the biggest evidence of baseball's wealth is franchise values - the Dodgers sold for $2 billion this year in a bankruptcy court auction and the lowly San Diego Padres were bought for $800 million.

``So now we've had owners that have become instant billionaires. They've made over a billion dollars by this reevaluation,'' Boras said. ``I don't think we need Forbes anymore to tell us what franchises are worth because we had a bankruptcy court judge say this is open season, come tell me what this is all worth, and I think we got a proper accounting. Franchise values are through the roof because interestingly enough, we know what a near-top team is worth and we know what a near-bottom-value team on the market is worth by what's gone in the past three or four month. So I think there's a lot of smiling faces for people who invested in this industry in the early 2000s.''

Since the Dodgers were bought last spring by a group headed by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, they increased their payroll by about $35 million, adding infielder Hanley Ramirez, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, closer Brandon League, pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford.

``Today compared to a year ago, we're in much better shape,'' general manager Ned Colletti said.

The Dodgers' payroll next year might approach or surpass that of the New York Yankees, who have topped spending every year since Los Angeles edged them by $1 million in 2001.

New York is vowing to cut its payroll by 2014 because of changes in the collective bargaining agreement that will cut the team's revenue-sharing bill if it doesn't wind up paying a luxury tax.

``Every year you're kind of given your budgets, your challenges, your needs,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. ``You always have your restrictions, whether it's in terms of what ownership provides, the Basic Agreement allows.''

It is in Boras' interest to encourage spending. His free-agent group includes Soriano and fellow closers Jose Valverde and Ryan Madson, first baseman Carlos Pena, Bourn, Lohse and pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Infielder Maicer Izturis became the first major league free agent to switch teams this offseason, agreeing to a $10 million, three-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. The 32-year-old hit .256 with 17 steals in 19 tries, two homers and 20 RBIs this year for the Angels.

``He's someone that's going to come in and compete for the job at second base,'' said Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who tried to acquire him last summer. ``He's not guaranteed the job, but the fact that he can play all over the infield, he's just a valuable guy to have. He can do a lot of little things. He's a winning player. He can draw a walk. He can put the ball in play - a pretty good contact rate. He can run a little bit and steal some bags. He plays very good defensively, as well, and is a good teammate, good in the clubhouse.''

As the meetings conclude Friday, the deadline will pass for free agents to decide whether to accept $13.3 million qualifying offers from their former clubs. Among the eight players on the market who were given the offers, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda appears to be the only one who might accept. He is coming off his first season with the Yankees.

NOTES: Oakland GM Billy Beane was given the major league executive of the year award by The Sporting News. He also won it in 1999. He had 31 votes, and Washington's Mike Rizzo was second with 13. ... Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he hopes to sign knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, a Cy Young Award finalist, to a contract for beyond 2013 but he wouldn't rule out trading him. Alderson also is trying to reach a new deal with 3B David Wright, whose contract expires after next season. With Lucas Duda recovering from a broken wrist, Jason Bay released and Scott Hairston a free agent, Alderson decided to be funny when asked about his outfield. ``What outfield?'' he said.

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The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

On Monday, in the middle of their game with the Yankees, Mike Rizzo did a very Mike Rizzo thing and added another strong arm to the Nationals' bullpen well before the trade deadline.

In a trade with the Kansas City Royals, the Nats dealt prospects Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera, who's in his eighth season, has walked only two batters in the last 27 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

"We just thought that it was a good idea to strike early," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We thought the closer to the deadline we get, the more competition we'll have for Kelvin [Herrera]. We were able to strike a deal with Dayton Moore quickly and [we] couldn't be happier about it."

But Mike Rizzo didn't just come across Herrera by chance, he's had his sights on him for years.

"He was one of the guys that we kind of kicked the tires on [last year] and obviously the price for Kelvin at that time with a year and a half of control was a lot different than it was with four and a half months of control."

"We did have our eyes on him for years. He's been a great reliever for years. He's one of the guys we talked about when we talked about improving our bullpen." 

Herrera has spent all of his eight seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, even winning a World Series. Trades can bring both joy and angst, but Rizzo knows Herrera is excited to get back to playing meaningful baseball.

"This guy is such a competitor; World Series tested and playoff tested. He's happy to be playing meaningful games. He talked about what it takes to win a World Series, and you know, our guys were all ears. I think he's really thankful for getting the opportunity to get after it again and get another ring."

"At the same time, you know, it's hard for those old relationship to die and to move on, but he was very excited about being with us. I spoke to him after we made the trade and he [was] a little shocked, but really fired up about it. And when he got to the clubhouse, [he] met some of his old teammates - Timmy Collins and Ryan Madson -  and was welcome with open arms by not only the bullpen guys but everyone on the team." 

Herrera will join Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, and Ryan Madson to make about as deep of a bullpen as any in baseball right now.

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Trea Turner goes 4 for 4 to help Nationals beat Orioles

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Trea Turner goes 4 for 4 to help Nationals beat Orioles

WASHINGTON -- Presented with identical opportunities to ring up a big inning, the Washington Nationals took full advantage and Baltimore Orioles squandered the chance.

That goes a long way toward explaining why the Nationals are a contender and the Orioles own the worst record in the big leagues.

Trea Turner went 4 for 4 with a homer , Anthony Rendon drove in three runs and Washington extended its recent domination of the Orioles with a 9-7 victory Tuesday night.

The game was essentially decided in the fifth inning, which began with Baltimore leading 4-1.

In the top half, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs and scored only one run -- when Manny Machado hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Washington loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half and batted around, scoring four runs on four hits and a pair of walks. Adam Eaton contributed a two-run single, Rendon hit a sacrifice fly and Bryce Harper chased starter David Hess with an RBI double.

"They did a lot better job cashing in their bases loaded, nobody out situation than we did," Orioles manager Buck Showalter conceded.

For the game, Baltimore was 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. The Nationals were 5 for 10.

"This team is starting to become relentless," manager Dave Martinez said. "They kept pounding and pounding and pounding, had a couple of big innings there and scored some runs."

The Nationals trailed 6-5 before getting six hits in a four-run seventh. Rendon delivered a two-run double off Tanner Scott (0-1) that made it 7-6, and Turner capped his four-hit night with a double.

Both teams noted that more than a couple of Washington's hits were bloopers and seeing-eye grounders, but the Nationals certainly weren't about to apologize.

"I feel like all year we've been hitting balls right at people," Turner said, "so it's nice to get a bunch of those in one game and come out with a win."

Washington has won six straight over its neighboring interleague rival, including four games this season by a combined 20-8.

Pitching in his second big league game, Nationals starter Jefry Rodriguez gave up five runs, four hits and four walks in five innings.

Justin Miller (5-0) pitched two innings of relief, newcomer Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect eighth and Sean Doolittle gave up a solo home run to Joey Rickard while earning his 19th save.

Jace Peterson and Trey Mancini each hit two-run homers for the Orioles, who have lost 16 of 19.

This one can be blamed on an all-too-telling fifth inning.

"It's just one of those things where if they got hits they seemed to have found holes," Showalter said. "They hit some balls hard, too."

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