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Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes Is Said to Take a Pay Cut After Ranch Injury

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When the Mets announced in May that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had fractured his right ankle in a “violent fall” on his Florida ranch in May, General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen insisted that his immediate focus was on his player’s health.

“We haven’t even thought about implications to the contract,” Van Wagenen said during a news conference at Citi Field at the time.

The contract was always going to be addressed, though. On Friday, the team and Cespedes agreed to an amended deal, according to multiple news media reports. Cespedes, who will remain under contract and was due $29.5 million in the final year of his contract, was said to agree to a significant reduction in his salary. ESPN reported that the Mets will save more than $10 million.

Cespedes, who has not played in a game since July 2018 because of multiple injuries and who was rehabilitating from surgery on both heels when his fall happened, had performance-based incentives added to his contract, as well.

No one knew the contract better than Van Wagenen. He was the one who negotiated it following the 2016 season, when he was Cespedes’s agent, securing a four-year extension worth $110 million for his client. Van Wagenen switched sides of the bargaining table in November 2018 when he became the general manager of the Mets.

Cespedes’s status for 2020 remains unknown. The Mets have been reluctant to provide a timetable for a possible Cespedes return. At M.L.B.’s winter meetings in San Diego this week, Van Wagenen told reporters that Cespedes had been swinging the bat for several weeks and had commenced his running program, as well.

The Mets have missed Cespedes’s power in the lineup. After being acquired from the Detroit Tigers just before the trade deadline in 2015, Cespedes demonstrated his full potential with powerful displays from the batter’s box as the Mets advanced to the World Series that fall, losing to the Royals.

The Mets subsequently signed Cespedes to a three-year contract worth $75 million. Van Wagenen and the Mets returned to the negotiating table again the next off-season, when Cespedes opted out of his deal following a season in which he posted a .280 batting average, hit 31 home runs and drove in 86 runs.

But he has struggled to stay on the field in recent years. In 2017, he missed games due to hamstring and quadriceps ailments. In 2018, he suffered a right hip flexor strain and went on the disabled list on May 14. His rehabilitation was hindered by a setback during a minor league game, and the team announced his season was over in July because of calcification and bone spurs in both heels. Even before the fall on his ranch, Cespedes was expected to miss most of the 2019 season.

Cespedes has been a colorful Met on and off the field. When Van Wagenen announced that Cespedes had fallen on his ranch, a reporter asked if Cespedes, who once rode a horse into the team’s parking lot during spring training, had fallen off a horse. Van Wagenen responded that Cespedes had said he was not riding a horse at the time of the fall.

The Mets failed to make the playoffs the last three seasons, and Manager Mickey Callaway was dismissed in October because of his failure to make the postseason. Carlos Beltran, the Mets’ new manager, has expressed optimism about including Cespedes in his lineup card this year.

“If he’s at his best, he’s a high-impact performer,” Van Wagenen said this week. “We’ll have to see how that plays out.”





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LeBron James on fan who threw something at son Bronny during game

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BOSTON – Upon learning a young fan threw something at his son, Bronny James, at a high school basketball game in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Monday, LeBron James called the act disrespectful. 

“I did not see it until I got here actually,” James said following Boston’s 139-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. “I was at the complete opposite end of the floor. I did see the referee stop the game or stop the in-bounds and a cop came up there. But I didn’t know what happened until the video evidence shown to me today when I got here.

“I mean it’s just disrespectful, and it was a little kid, too. I don’t know how old that little kid was. I don’t know if he learned that on his own or he learned that at home or whatever the case may be, but it’s disrespectful. I wonder how old that kid is, if he was around Bronny’s age or Bryce’s age.”

Following the game, Bronny James’ teammate, Ziaire Williams, told reporters, “You’d be surprised by all the stuff Bronny has to go through. It’s not fair, but he doesn’t let it faze him at all. I’m learning how to be more like that from him and he’s younger than me.”

James confirmed his son does indeed go through things because of who his dad is, but James said his son handles it well for a 14-year-old high school freshman, whose Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California) lost to Paul IV (Fairfax, Virginia) at the HoopHall Classic.

“He’s cool, calm,” James said. “He’s better than his mom and dad. He is. He is better than his mom and dad at some of the things he lets off his shoulder. I guess he’s taken that from me too, because I let a lot of (expletive) go, too. But he’s a great kid, and most importantly, he just loves being around his teammates, being a great a kid, being a model citizen in the community and playing the game that he loves to play and being a big brother to his brother and sister.

“But that (expletive) earlier made me mad when I saw that.”

The Lakers’ game in Boston happened to coincide with Sierra Canyon’s game in Springfield, a 90-mile drive from Boston.

“I didn’t mind going down to Springfield to check the game out,” James said. “The only bad thing about today is I took two Ls. The James Gang took two Ls today. There’s always better days.”

More: Boston Celtics blow out Los Angeles Lakers despite Anthony Davis’ return to lineup

More: Russell Westbrook now has a triple-double vs. every NBA team after getting one vs. Thunder

While reports circulated that James took a helicopter to and from the game and James said he walked, USA TODAY Sports confirmed a vehicle transported him back and forth.

James didn’t mind that he had to break his gameday routine, as long as it was to see his son play.

“I break every routine in my life for my family,” James said. “If the gods are with me, they’re going to make sure I get back safe. My routine was broke today, but I can care less about it if I’m seeing my family – my wife, my daughter, my kids. It’s unique opportunity for me to see my son live that close to where I’m at. This right here is all secondary when it comes to my family. Nothing else matters.”



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Antetokounmpo has Triple-Double as Bucks Down Bulls 111-98 – NBC Chicago

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Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double and scored his 10,000th career point as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Chicago Bulls 111-98 on Monday to sweep the four-game season series.

Antetokounmpo had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season. He reached 10,000 points on a jump hook with 4:30 remaining in the fourth.

Khris Middleton added 24 points for Milwaukee, which has won 10 consecutive games over the Bulls dating to the 2017-18 season. That’s the Bucks’ longest winning streak over Chicago since the teams began playing in 1968.

The Bucks have won seven straight and ran their league-best record to 39-6. Milwaukee shot 58 percent, with Middleton connecting on 10 of 13 shots.

Zach LaVine had 24 points for Chicago, which shot just 37 percent. Kris Dunn had 15 points and Thaddeus Young added 14 points off the bench. LaVine has scored at least 20 points in 11 consecutive games.

After a sloppy first half by both teams, the Bucks began to take control, opening the third quarter on a 13-4 run, sparked by Middleton’s eight points. Milwaukee’s lead grew to as many as 16 in the quarter before Chicago clawed back.

Milwaukee used a 14-0 run on it way to a 30-23 lead after the opening period.

The second quarter saw 10 lead changes with the Bucks leading 53-52 at halftime. Antetokounmpo had 12 points but was saddled with three fouls and had five turnovers.





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Nolan Arenado isn’t happy after Rockies GM says he won’t be traded this offseason

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To hear Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tell it, it’s time to stop all the Nolan Arenado trade talk. 

Colorado’s star third baseman has been the subject of numerous trade rumors this offseason, which is a consequence of the big contract extension he signed last winter plus his vocal frustrations with the Rockies’ 91-loss campaign in 2019. The Cardinals, Rangers and Braves, among other teams, have been reported as having varying degrees of interest in Arenado. Now, though, it appears trade talks are off. Here’s what Bridich had to say on the matter Monday, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post: 

“With the season coming up and spring training on the horizon, we are going to start focusing on that. We have listened to teams regarding Nolan and really nothing has come of it. We are going to move forward pretty much as we expected — with Nolan in the purple and black and as our third baseman.

“So we can put this to bed and collectively look forward to the upcoming season and work toward that.”

Bridich acknowledges that trade discussions took place, but the Rockies apparently found those discussions wanting. As well, there’s the matter of Arenado’s full no-trade clause, which the team that agrees to a trade would need to persuade him to waive. While there’s nothing ruling out Arenado talks at some point in the reasonably distant future, the Rockies, according to Bridich, will open the 2020 season with Arenado at the hot corner and anchoring the middle of the lineup. 

For his part, Arenado sounds most displeased. Thomas Harding of MLB.com got Arenado’s reaction to Bridich’s comments: 

“There’s a lot of disrespect from people there that I don’t want to be a part of,” Arenado said in a text. “You can quote that.”

In reaction to Bridich’s announcement, Arenado elaborated.

“You ask what I thought of Jeff’s quotes and I say I don’t care what people say around there,” Arenado said. “There is a lot of disrespect.”

Asked what was said that he found particularly disrespectful, Arenado said, “No. I won’t get into the details.”

At this point, it’s quite clear that Arenado wants out of Colorado, and after Bridich’s comments, he may be looking to force the issue. All of this means the Rockies may be pressured into accepting a less than ideal return just to get the disgruntled superstar out of town and get out from under his remaining salary commitments. 

Arenado’s relationship with the team seemed to degrade during the 2019 season, as the Rockies slipped to fourth place after making the postseason in 2017 and 2018. Arenado expressed his frustrations in September, and shortly thereafter Bridich made a puzzling public comment about Arenado’s discontent and his contract: 

The implication is that Bridich isn’t particularly worried about surrounding Arenado with a contention-worthy roster, which raises the question of why you invest so much in a performer like Arenado if you’re not going to try your best to win while he’s still in his prime. It’s also unusual for a GM to reveal details about negotiations in such a manner. In that context, Arenado’s frustration is understandable.

In any event, Arenado is going into his age-29 campaign in 2020. The Rockies lifer has a 122 OPS+ for his career and a mark of 130 over the past four seasons, all while being an elite defender at third and showing uncommon durability. Arenado has to his credit seven Gold Gloves in seven seasons and five straight top-10 finishes in the NL MVP balloting.

As for his aforementioned contract extension, he signed an eight-year, $260 million pact in February 2019, and he’s still owed $234 million over seven years. Arenado also has an opt-out after the 2021 season, which might explain why some teams were hesitant to trade for him. Arenado’s latest remarks, though, may make those interested teams see an opportunity to increase their leverage in trade talks, assuming Bridich — in spite of his Monday comments — is still open to having discussions. If nothing else, this situation is far from resolved despite the GM’s efforts to communicate closure and finality. 





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