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Post Betts Trade Power Shift in the AL East

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The basic framework of the three-team deal, in the works for weeks and which obviously involves a large salary relief component for Boston, is as follows:

To Dodgers: 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young David Price

To Red Sox: 23-year old OF Alex Verdugo (from LA), 21-year old RHP Brusdar Graterol (from Twins)

To Twins: RHP Kenta Maeda (from L.A.)

Players Involved

Verdugo hit .294/.342/.475 with 12 homers in 106 games with L.A. last season. Graterol was among the Twins top prospects (#83 on the recently updated MLB top-100), and is known for a fastball that can reach triple digits, according to MLB.com.

RHP Kenta Maeda, 31, goes to the Twins and is signed through the 2023 season. He’s posted a 3.19 ERA and 3.13 FIP as a reliever since 2017 (compared to a 4.12 ERA and 3.84 FIP as a starter across that same span), and has a 3.87 ERA with 9.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.18 HR/9 and a 40.9% ground-ball rate over 589 career MLB innings.

The Dodgers can afford to take on much of the salaries of Betts and Price in trying to win their first World Series title since 1988, but they also enter 2020 with the third-best farm system in baseball, with five top-100 prospects according to MLB.com. That includes the #2 overall prospect in SS Gavin Lux, #23 prospect in RHP Dustin May, and #44 prospect in SS/2B Jeter Downs. None of them are involved in this trade.

In last week’s Baseball Prospectus update of their top-100 prospects, unsurprisingly there were no Red Sox. MLB Pipeline only ranks one Red Sox prospect in their top-100, A Advanced league 1B Triston Casas at #77.

In LHH Verdugo, the Sox acquire a young outfielder who has already proven capable of hitting major league pitching. He was considered “one of the best pure-hitting prospects in baseball” by MLB.com ahead of the 2018 season, and was ranked the No. 19 prospect overall by Baseball Prospectus ahead of the 2019 season.

Graterol instantly becomes the best prospect in the Red Sox farm system, with a 99-mph sinker, 88-mph slider and four-seam changeup at just 21 years of age. In his 2019 big league debut,  he struck out 10 and gave up five runs on 10 hits and two walks over 9 2/3 innings. Graterol shredded the minors with 230 strikeouts and a 2.48 ERA in 214 innings over four seasons. Of his 51 appearances, 41 were as a starter.

Betts, 27, who agreed to a record $27 million in arbitration for 2020, becomes an UFA next offseason and there was no guarantee the Red Sox would be able to re-sign the former AL MVP and 4X Gold Glove winner (think Mike Trout’s 12-year, $426 million deal with the Angels). He’s also a 4X All-Star, 3X Silver Slugger and won the batting title in his 2018 MVP campaign, slashing .346/.438/.640/1.078 all just in six MLB seasons.

Price, 34, is owed $96 million over the next three seasons. After his World Series heroics with the Sox in 2018, Price struggled with injuries last season, posting a 4.28 ERA in 107 1/3 innings. He’s a 5X All-Star and in addition to his 2012 Cy Young, has won the ERA title twice in his 12-year MLB career with Tampa, Detroit, Toronto and Boston.

World Series Odds

The trade immediately makes the Yankees and Dodgers the “odds on” favourites to advance to the 2020 World Series. The Yankees signed ace Gerrit Cole and lost nothing devastating from a 103-win team. Now, the Dodgers have obtained Mookie Betts to join a largely unchanged 106-win roster, and the trades of Maeda and a separate trade of Joc Pederson to the Angels, plus the expectation that Boston is taking on about half of Price’s remaining three years at $96 million means the Dodgers might not even go over the $208 million luxury-tax threshold.

AL East Fallout

New Red Sox chief of baseball operations Chaim Bloom immediately fulfills his mandate from owner John Henry to make the team younger and to free up salary cap space to get under the luxury tax threshold of $208 million for 2020. Spotrac sees Boston’s updated competitive balance tax payroll at $192 million post trade assuming the Red Sox pick up $16 million of David Price’s contract in 2020 and $48 million of the remaining $96 million over the next three seasons.

Trading away an AL MVP and their injury-plagued #2 starter suggests the Red Sox are re-tooling on the fly. This is in no way a tear down or a rebuild given a roster including Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers, but they do get younger with Verdugo under team control for the next five years and Graterol for the next six.

Does this open the door for the Blue Jays to compete for a wildcard slot in 2020?  Maybe, but unlikely. Pre-trade, MLB projected that Toronto will win 79 games in 2020. That could change given they face the suddenly less competitive Red Sox nineteen times this year. Should they go 14-5 now instead of 9-10 in their head-to-head matchup with Boston, that’s potentially 5+ more wins.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to lose two bWAR monsters from the AL East, with Betts at 6.8 in 2019 and at 42 over the past six seasons. His 2020 projected stats are .297/.386/.540/.926 with 27 HRs and 79 RBI.

Projections
Year Tm Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2020 Proj. 27 614 528 111 157 39 4 27 79 18 3 76 92 .297 .386 .540 .926 285

Price had a 1.9 bWAR last season but generated 10.8 wins above replacement since 2016 with the Red Sox.

Projections
Year Tm Age W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2020 Proj. 34 9 6 .600 4.15 1 130.0 124 65 60 19 42 1 137 1.277 8.6 1.3 2.9 9.5 3.26

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Thousands of tickets still available for world junior hockey tournament in Edmonton – CBC Sports

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Odd summer timing and an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada could be the reason thousands of tickets to the world junior championship are still available on the eve of the tournament, says an Edmonton professor.

Prof. Dan Mason, who teaches in the faculty of kinesiology, sport, and recreation at the University of Alberta, said when Canada hosts, there are usually so many fans who want to see the home team take the ice that they are willing to buy Hockey Canada’s packaged games that include teams that are not Canadian.

“So Latvia vs. Slovakia, for example, those games will be sold out as well because in order to get the tickets to watch Canada play, you have to buy a package that includes some of the other games,” he said on Friday.

“The fact that there are still Team Canada tickets available, that tells you the demand is much lower than it usually is for this kind of event.”

WATCH l World junior tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy:

World junior hockey tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy

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Duration 2:07

Ticket sales for the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton are below expectations as the tournament kicks of this week in the shadow of an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada.

The tournament runs from Aug. 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The initial 2022 championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., was called off Dec. 29 after just four days because of rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials, which forced game forfeitures.

The 10-country tournament will be minus Russia, barred from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Holiday tradition

Around 1,500 tickets are still available for purchase on Ticketmaster to the first game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Tuesday. About 1,300 tickets are available for the next day when Canada takes on Latvia. About 1,500 seats for the final game are also available with hundreds of other tickets to watch the 11-day tournament.

This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake … or do something summer-related.— Edmonton professor Dan Mason on poor ticket sales for an August world juniors

Mason said the timing of the games could be why interest is so low. The tournament typically runs over the Christmas holidays.

“Over the past 30 years or so, TSN has built the world juniors into this holiday event that people partake in,” he said.

“I watch it with my family over the [Christmas] break though so it’s kind of become part of our holiday tradition.

“This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake, go to the mountains or do something summer-related. I don’t think we’re willing to give up those plans to watch hockey.”

Many people could also be waiting for a former judge on the Supreme Court of Canada to begin independently reviewing Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change of leadership.

The review comes after members of the 2018 world junior team were accused of a group sexual assault after a gala event, and after Hockey Canada reached a settlement.

“I think there’s people who weren’t sure if they would go or not, and maybe deciding not to go because of that,” Mason said.

The CEO of Explore Edmonton, which promotes tourism in the Alberta capital, said in an email the marketing organization paused its promotion of the games in response to the allegations.

“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard.

Mason said inflation and less disposable income could be other factors working against the tournament.

“Canada may be more focused on that player development piece than trying to sort of make money off of a tournament being held in the summer,” he said.

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Nets owner Tsai backs coach, GM amid reported Durant standoff – theScore

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Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai has pledged his support of the coaching staff and front office after Kevin Durant reportedly demanded that the team trade him or fire head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks

Tsai took to Twitter on Monday, saying, “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Durant’s ultimatum is apparently a result of his lack of faith in the team’s direction, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported earlier Monday. The 33-year-old is firm in his stance, Charania adds.

The former MVP requested a trade at the end of June following a disappointing season that ended in a first-round exit. Little was known at the time about his reasons for the decision.

The Nets have reportedly had discussions with nearly every team in the league in hopes of getting a historic package of players and draft picks in return for Durant. Brooklyn reportedly proposed a trade with the Toronto Raptors involving Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and talked about a deal with the Boston Celtics that would include star Jaylen Brown.

The Raptors, Celtics, and Miami Heat are seen as the most likely trade destinations for Durant, sources told Charania.

The Nets aim to take “every last asset” from their trade partner in any deal for Durant, according to Charania.

Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard, has been at the helm of the Nets for two seasons. It is his first job in professional coaching. Meanwhile, Marks has held the position of general manager since 2016 after being an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs.

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Watch live for free: Leylah Fernandez vs. Storm Sanders at National Bank Open – Sportsnet.ca

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Update: This stream has ended.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez begins her quest for her first National Bank Open title against qualifier Storm Sanders of Australia, under the lights in Toronto.

Fernandez, still only 19, is returning to action for the first time since suffering a fracture in her foot during the quarterfinals of the French Open on May 31.

The Laval native is the top-ranked Canadian on the WTA Tour after a headline-making run to the U.S. Open final last year.

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