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Red Sox rev up with Victorino; Nats, Haren close

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Red Sox rev up with Victorino; Nats, Haren close

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Boston Red Sox kept the cash freely flowing, this time revving their lineup with Shane Victorino, while the well-armed Washington Nationals neared a deal with Dan Haren at baseball's winter meetings Tuesday.

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 busiest 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's arrival could also lead to a trade of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, coming off a down, 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.

For the Nationals, Red Sox and several other teams, the dollars didn't appear to matter too much.

``It seems like this is a market flush with money,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

The price tag on Hamilton figured 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 San Francisco Giants kept NL championship series MVP Marco Scutaro, giving the second baseman a $20 million, three-year contract. Arizona reached a one-year deal with veteran utility man Eric Hinske.

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. Known for his sharp control, he struck out 54 and walked just 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.

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.

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Davey Martinez names Carter Kieboom the Nationals’ starting third baseman

Davey Martinez names Carter Kieboom the Nationals’ starting third baseman

Carter Kieboom has not joined the Nationals for their on-field workouts yet. But, he does have a job assignment.

Davey Martinez said Saturday that Kieboom will be the team’s full-time third baseman when the season starts. The position was previously a competition between the rookie and veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera in spring training.

“As of right now, yes, I anticipate in a 60-game season, he’s going to go out there and play every day,” Martinez said of Kieboom.

The decision answers one of the largest questions of the offseason for the defending World Series champions. Their managing principal owner, Mark Lerner, said they could not afford Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. So, they paid Strasburg and not Rendon. He signed with Anaheim.

Josh Donaldson was a high-end free agent they could have paid to play third base. He signed a four-year, $92 million contract with Minnesota. Trade rumors were also attached to Chicago’s Kris Bryant and Seattle’s Kyle Seager.

RELATED: WHAT DOES A SHORTENED SEASON MEAN FOR KIEBOOM?

None of that happened. The Nationals instead entered spring training with a question about who would replace Rendon, an MVP finalist in 2019, someone the organization drafted, developed and played for seven years, and the central figure in their offense. They needed a replacement and settled on Kieboom.

The 22-year-old’s brief, 11-game stint in the major leagues did not go well last season. He compiled -1.0 bWAR in barely two weeks. He struggled defensively at shortstop and produced an OPS-plus of 24 at the plate. However, the sample size is minuscule.

Washington has a history of playing its top prospects consistently under Mike Rizzo. Bryce Harper and Juan Soto were those the organization deemed ready at a young age, so they brought them up and put them in the field for good. The same idea follows Kieboom into the short season.

Kieboom started nine games at third base for Triple-A Fresno late last season. He made four errors. He played in 14 of the 17 spring training games before baseball slammed to a stop this year. Kieboom made three errors in 10 starts at third base then. It’s an alarming rate. That’s a 49-error full season. Rendon made 53 errors in seven seasons playing third base (729 starts).

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“The biggest thing for him was obviously his defense,” Martinez said. “We feel that he’s going to hit here. One thing when he left, [Tim Bogar] and Chip [Hale] talked to him about his footwork and really honing in on his footwork and getting his feet turned to where he’s going to throw at all times. I know he’s been working out. He’s hit tons. I know he’s faced live pitching and [was] trying to keep in shape the best he can and trying to do baseball activities as much as he can.”

Kieboom is expected to join the group workouts in Nationals Park on Sunday. When the season starts, he will be standing at third base, a legacy spot within the organization first held by Ryan Zimmerman then Rendon. Even in a short year, Kieboom will be compared to the person he is replacing, though he would argue there is no comparison.

“I’m not here to fill [Anthony Rendon's] shoes,” Kieboom told NBC Sports Washington in February. “That guy, in every category possible -- baseball, clubhouse, off the field, family, he checks all the boxes. He does it. He’s a special player. That’s not my job, to fill his shoes. My job’s to be myself, do what I can. Control what I can control.

“There’s going to be expectations of course. There’s going to be comparisons to what I do versus what Tony does. But that just comes with the job. That comes with anything when somebody as great as he is leaves, and joins another team and somebody needs to come in and fill the spot. I wouldn’t even say I’m replacing him. I don’t -- he’s not replaceable. But I’m here to fill a spot, take care of business, play my game and go from there.”

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Freddie Freeman and three other Braves have tested positive for the coronavirus

Freddie Freeman and three other Braves have tested positive for the coronavirus

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves four-time All-Star Freddie Freeman, reliever Will Smith and two teammates have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Manager Brian Snitker said Saturday the four players, including right-hander Touki Toussaint and infielder Pete Kozma, agreed to have the team disclose their positive tests.

Snitker said Freeman had a negative intake test before having a positive test on Friday. Snitker said the first baseman has a fever and "is not feeling great."

"It will be a while before we can get him back," Snitker said of Freeman.

RELATED: WHO IN SPORTS HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS

Major League Baseball has scheduled the 60-game season to start on July 23. Freeman is the biggest star in the sport so far to have his positive virus test publicly announced by his team.

The 30-year-old Freeman set career highs with 38 home runs and 121 RBIs last season in helping Atlanta win its second straight NL East title.

The Braves signed Smith, the former Giants reliever, to a three-year, $39 million deal in the offseason.

Snitker said Smith and Toussaint have no symptoms. He said Kozma, who is working with top minor leaguers at the team's Triple-A Gwinnett facility, has a fever.

Snitker also said first base coach Eric Young Sr., 53, has opted out of for the season due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

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