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Red Sox rev up with Victorino; Giants keep Scutaro

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Red Sox rev up with Victorino; Giants keep Scutaro

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Shane Victorino bolted for Boston, Marco Scutaro stayed with San Francisco, and the Miami Marlins shed more payroll in a late-night trade.

It was another busy day at baseball's winter meetings, where it's easy to tell which teams are making major changes (the Red Sox), which ones want to remain intact (the champion Giants) - and which ones are saving their cash (the Marlins, of course) and the Yankees (come again?).

Boston kept spending freely, though, this time revving up the lineup Tuesday with a $39 million contract for Victorino. Over in the National League, the well-armed Washington Nationals neared a $13 million deal with pitcher Dan Haren.

``It seems like this is a market flush with money,'' said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, whose big-budget club has taken a conservative approach so far.

In the first two trades of the week, Colorado got effective reliever Wilton Lopez and a player to be named from Houston for young right-handers Alex White and Alex Gillingham, and Miami sent recently acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar to Tampa Bay.

Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets is still the prime trade target, with Boston in the mix for him, too.

Josh Hamilton remains the top free agent amid speculation the slugger will re-sign with Texas. Ace pitcher Zack Greinke also is available, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Rangers very interested.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he's been involved in the pursuit of one free agent. He didn't disclose who it was, but seemed to be enjoying this week's developments.

``It's like a smorgasbord of baseball. It's been good,'' Mattingly said.

Boston has been the most active team this offseason, by far. A day after giving All-Star bat Mike Napoli a $39 million, three-year deal, the Red Sox lured Victorino with the exact same contract terms.

``Can't wait to get to Boston!'' Victorino tweeted during a day of snorkeling in Hawaii.

The Red Sox are coming off their worst season since 1965 and trying to reshape the roster. The 32-year-old Victorino is a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner who stole a career-high 39 bases for Philadelphia and the Dodgers last season.

Recently, the Red Sox added Jonny Gomes and David Ross.

``I think we're making the progress that we've hoped, at least in the early going, with adding those types of players,'' new manager John Farrell said before the Victorino deal.

Victorino projects to play right field at Fenway Park - or his arrival could lead to a trade of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, coming off a disappointing and injury-interrupted season.

The Nationals and Haren are close to completing a one-year deal for $13 million, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. The person spoke under condition of anonymity because no deal was announced.

Washington had the best record in the majors last season. The NL East champions already have a formidable rotation led by Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, and want to throw in Haren, an All-Star from 2007-09.

``I've got some young guys that act like veterans, and they pitched like veterans last year for me, and a veteran like Dan Haren is just going to make things even better,'' Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.

Haren was 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 30 starts for the Los Angeles Angels. They nearly traded the 32-year-old righty to the Chicago Cubs for reliever Carlos Marmol after the season, but the deal fell apart. Then the Angels declined their $15.5 million option and paid a $3.5 million buyout.

``World Series or bust, that's probably the slogan this year. But I'm comfortable with that,'' Johnson said.

The price tag on Hamilton figures to be high. The 2010 AL MVP came to Nashville this week, presumably to talk to potential new teams, though Texas could be his landing spot.

``I expect we will get together relatively soon,'' Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. ``I keep reading that we've got a deal done. I keep asking the guys in the room who snuck out and did it?''

``We left it as he was going to test the market and once he had an idea of what was out there, then we would talk,'' he said. ``We haven't had that conversation yet.''

The Mets and All-Star third baseman David Wright finalized a $138 million, eight-year contract, the largest deal in team history. The sides reached agreement last week, subject to a physical, and Wright planned to talk about it Wednesday at the meetings.

On Sunday, Dickey was at the Opryland Hotel to see a Mets trainer. The knuckleballer will make $5.25 million next year and would like an extension. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson briefly met this week with Dickey's agent, Bo McKinnis.

A trade remains possible.

``Something could happen on either front that would bring this to a conclusion, presumably,'' Alderson said. ``I don't expect that's going to happen today. It may not happen tomorrow. It may not happen in Nashville.''

The World Series champion Giants kept Scutaro, the NLCS MVP, by giving the free-agent second baseman a $20 million, three-year contract one day after retaining center fielder Angel Pagan with a $40 million, four-year deal. Arizona reached a one-year agreement with veteran utility man Eric Hinske.

Escobar's stay in Miami barely lasted two weeks. The payroll-cutting Marlins sent him and his $5 million salary across the state for minor league infielder Derek Dietrich.

Escobar was acquired on Nov. 19 in a 12-player trade that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to Toronto. Escobar batted .253 last season with nine homers and 51 RBIs.

Colorado bolstered its bullpen with Lopez. The 29-year-old righty was 6-3 with 10 saves and a 2.17 ERA in 64 games for the Astros. He struck out 54 and walked only eight in 66 1-3 innings.

The 24-year-old White split last season with the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs. He was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 23 games for the Rockies, including 20 starts.

The 23-year-old Gillingham was 6-8 with a 3.66 ERA at Class-A Asheville in his first full pro season.

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AP Sports Writer Mike Fitzpatrick in New York contributed to this report.

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Nationals’ Daniel Hudson isn’t sure a 60-game MLB season can determine the best team

Nationals’ Daniel Hudson isn’t sure a 60-game MLB season can determine the best team

In a normal season, most teams play 162 games. This year, they will play 60.

In a normal season, Cy Young candidates typically clear 200 innings. This year, they will be lucky to rack up 90.

In a normal season, home run leaders routinely reach the 40s and 50s. This year, it would take an all-time performance to get into the 30s.

The 2020 MLB season is going to be different in nearly every way. So much so that Nationals reliever and reigning last-out-of-the-World-Series getter Daniel Hudson still isn’t sure how he’s going to feel about how this year’s champion will stack up when compared to those of full 162-game seasons.

“Obviously, it’s not going to feel the same,” Hudson said in a Zoom press conference Monday. “Even if we don’t win it, whoever does win it—I’ve thought about that a lot like, how are we supposed to feel about that? It’s only 60 games, we’re playing 100 games less than we normally do and…what was the Nationals’ record through 60 games last year? I mean, they weren’t even close to the playoffs.”

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Washington famously stumbled out to a 19-31 start last season before turning its season around, but even by the 60-game mark they were only 27-33 and fourth in the NL East standings. No team aspiring to make the postseason this year will be able to afford that kind of start, making for a very different kind of season where every win matters much more than it usually does.

“What does 60 games prove? I don’t know,” Hudson said. “Can you really figure out who’s the best baseball team in the league from 60 games? Probably not. But I think it’s going to be competitive and, in the end, that’s what we want to do. We want to go out and play and be competitive against each other.

“That’s what we’ve done our whole lives so if it’s only for 60 games then that’s it and whoever’s left standing at the end, you can probably ask them about it then. But I can’t tell you how whoever’s there at the end is gonna feel about it, if they’re going to think it’s legit, I don’t know. But if we’re standing at the end then I’ll probably [be] just as happy as I was last year when we were last standing.”

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Even though the 2020 season is going to produce some anomalies, Hudson acknowledged that all 30 teams are on even playing field facing the same set of obstacles in order to reach the playoffs.

“It is what it is,” Hudson said. “It’s difficult but it’s difficult for everybody, it’s not just us. It’s not like we’re going out there and it’s this situation for us only. There’s a lot of people across the league trying to figure this out and nobody really knows exactly what to do and it’s just going to be a guess-and-test thing.”

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Changes still happening midway through Nationals ‘Summer Camp’

Changes still happening midway through Nationals ‘Summer Camp’

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are shifting to night-time work to replicate what may be coming in just more than a week. Opening Day is creeping, the league is still dealing with stumbling blocks and the defending World Series champions are short key players.

Everyone in the league has dealt with a coronavirus-related setback since “Summer Camp” began July 3. Testing results lagged. Asymptomatic players have tested positive. Large groups -- like the swath of Nationals players from Latin America and the entire Astros pitching staff -- have needed to enter quarantine. Those setbacks can be worked around during practices. Massive problems will exist if they occur in the middle of the season.

A variety of small things are being dealt with while the larger issues are managed. Players are testing masks in the field. They are adjusting to not having protein bars around, not spitting, carrying around their own bag of baseballs. These items are small, and tedious, and resonate as less-than-minor problems in the middle of a pandemic. But, they are part of the new baseball process.
 
“Um … I think it’s terrible,” first baseman Eric Thames said of the day-to-day with the new protocols. “Not so much the practices, but just, like, the rules we have to follow. We can’t eat protein bars on the bench. We can’t celebrate with our teammates. Even on a ground ball, usually you throw the ball around the infield, but you can’t have more than two guys touch a ball.

“So rules like that are annoying. But you have to do it to keep everybody safe and be able to play in a few weeks.”

One celebration in play: the helmet tap. Jake Noll executed it over the weekend after hitting a home run. He and his teammate botched it at first, almost appearing to have forgotten that was the new plan, before clanging the top of their helmets together with extended arms.

Ghost around-the-horn sessions are in play, too. Following a strikeout, the entire infield goes through the process while the catcher throws the ball lightly back to the pitcher. If the ball is coming out of play -- which is often -- the infield will execute a real around-the-horn session.

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Pitchers are coming into their regular entrance music: ‘Seven Nation Army’ for Stephen Strasburg, ‘Still D.R.E’ for Max Scherzer, the profanity-laced, heavily-edited ‘Who am I’ for Javy Guerra. Music is briefly played between innings. A giant clock is all the scoreboard shows.

What is much harder to track remains significantly more problematic. When players go home, the expectation is they will remain there. They are part of the honor system. The outcome of the season may be dependent on how well they participate.

“None of us want to get it,” Stephen Strasburg said. “Naturally, we want to avoid large crowds and being in situations that might get us exposed to it. I’m sure if you ask a lot of guys around here, when it’s the middle of the season, it’s like clockwork. You go home when you’re done, and you come back the next day. It’s not like you’re spending a lot of time doing things out around town.

“It’s a crazy time right now, and if we can go out there, provide some relief for the fans, something fun for them to watch on TV, that’s the big purpose here.”

More than a week of workouts are over. Just more than a week remains before games begin to count in this 60-game experiment. Fits and starts seem inevitable throughout the season. New ways to celebrate are coming into place, old ways to act are being pushed out. And whether it can all be held together for months remains in doubt.

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