MLB notebook: Hall of Famer McCovey dies at 80
Willie McCovey, a Hall of Famer with the San Francisco Giants, died Wednesday afternoon at the age of 80.
The team confirmed his death in a statement, noting McCovey had been battling ongoing health issues.
McCovey, a six-time All-Star, spent 19 of his 22 major league seasons with the Giants and was named National League MVP in 1969 and National League Rookie of the Year in 1959. Three times in his career he was the NL home run leader (1963, 1968, 1969), and twice he led the league in RBIs (1968, 1969). He was enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.
"San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken," Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement.
--For the fourth time since 2004, the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday hopped on a fleet of duck boats and paraded through the city to celebrate a World Series championship -- the first time with rookie manager Alex Cora. And he made sure his first Red Sox parade would be a memorable one. When he took the microphone to address the crowd, Cora took shots at all three teams Boston beat in the playoffs, and used his best jab on the Sox's most notorious rival.
In the American League Divisional Series, the Red Sox and the New York Yankees split the first two games of the best-of-five series, the Yankees winning Game 2 in Boston before the series shifted to the Big Apple. The Red Sox responded with a 16-1 win in Game 3, the biggest postseason blowout sustained by the Yankees in their history, before wrapping the series up in four games. On Wednesday, Cora made sure everyone remembered how much he enjoyed Game 3:
"Think about it. The New York Yankees. Yeah, the sky was falling. We lost Game 2 and it was panicking (in Boston). Everybody was all, 'Whoa! It's over!' We scored 16 at Yankee Stadium. Suck on it."
--David Price is planning to stay in Boston, declining to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract to become a free agent this offseason.
The Red Sox will have the 33-year-old left-hander under contract for the next four years for $127 million. He originally signed a seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox as a free agent entering the 2016 season.
He had his best season with Boston in 2018, posting a 16-7 record and 3.58 ERA in 176 regular-season innings before allowing three runs in 19 2/3 innings in four appearances in the ALCS and World Series.
--The Chicago Cubs exercised their 2019 option on left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana and also claimed left-hander Jerry Vasto off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. Quintana will receive $10.5 million next season.
Right-hander Brandon Kintzler also will be back with the team. The Cubs declined a $10 million team option on Kintzler, who intends to exercise his $5 million player option for 2019.
The Cubs acquired Quintana, who turns 30 in January, from the crosstown Chicago White Sox in 2017, and he finished 13-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 32 starts in his first full season with the team. Since joining the Cubs, he has gone 20-14 with a 3.93 ERA in 46 starts and is one of only four left-handers in the major leagues to win 20 games or more since the 2017 All-Star break.
--Brett Gardner and the Yankees agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million deal that allows the outfielder to return for his 12th season with the team. The team declined Gardner's $12.5 million option for 2019 before the two sides negotiated the deal. Gardner receives a $2 million buyout due to the option not being picked up.
Despite the $3 million difference, the 35-year-old Gardner is happy to be staying put. "I wasn't sure what to expect at the end of the season," Gardner told MLB.com, "but being able to come back and rejoin this special group of guys we have in place, continue my career in a Yankees uniform -- and hopefully finish it in a Yankees uniform -- it means a great deal to me."
Gardner batted .236 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 140 games in 2018. He also stole 16 bases.
--The Milwaukee Brewers are bringing back reliever Jeremy Jeffress for $3,175,000 million in 2019. Despite struggles in the postseason, Jeffress was one of the best relievers in the major leagues during the regular season with a 1.29 ERA.
The Brewers reportedly declined the $3.5 million team option on right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles. Instead, they will pay a $250,000 buyout, and the 28-year-old Lyles will become a free agent.
--The Houston Astros announced that they declined to pick up their $15 million option on catcher Brian McCann.
The Astros acquired McCann from the New York Yankees in November 2016 in exchange for pitching prospects. He played last season under the final year of a five-year, $85 million contract he signed with New York in 2014. McCann, 34, struggled with injuries in his two seasons with Houston. He played in 97 games in 2017 and 63 games this season, missing two months of 2018 because of knee surgery. However, he was a regular contributor to the Astros' 2017 World Series championship team.
The Astros also outrighted right-handed reliever Jandel Gustave off the 40-man roster. Gustave, 26, has been sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2017.
--The Royals and closer Wily Peralta agreed to a restructured contract that includes a mutual option for 2020.
The team held an option on Peralta for $3 million in 2019, but under the new terms, he will earn a base salary of $2.25 million for 2019. The following year, the two sides will have a $7 million mutual option and a $1 million buyout clause. According to MLB.com, he also could earn nearly $1 million in performance bonuses if he finishes 55 games. Last season, he finished 30 games and had 14 saves.
Right-hander Nate Karns also became a free agent after rejecting an assignment to Triple-A Omaha.
--Outfielder Leonys Martin and the Cleveland Indians avoided arbitration when they agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.
The Indians acquired Martin, 30, at the trade deadline but he appeared in just six games. He contracted a life-threatening bacterial infection that affected his major organs and missed the rest of the season. He is expected to be fully recovered before the 2019 season.
Martin hit .255 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 84 games for Cleveland and Detroit.
--The Pittsburgh Pirates declined club options for second baseman Josh Harrison and third baseman Jung Ho Kang, making both free agents.
The Pirates will pay Harrison a $1 million buyout instead of exercising their $10.5 million option. Kang's contract had a $5.5 million option for next year. The Pirates bought out the option for $250,000.
--The Oakland A's exercised reliever Fernando Rodney's $4.25 million contract option for 2019. Rodney, 41, was 4-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 68 appearances between Oakland and the Minnesota Twins.
--The Minnesota Twins claimed outfielder Michael Reed off waivers from the Atlanta Braves. Reed, 25, appeared in seven games with Atlanta in 2018 and batted .286. He has played in 707 games in the minor leagues since 2011.
--Field Level Media
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