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Why George Springer is such a big get for the Blue Jays – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

The Blue Jays gave out their richest contract ever

Toronto has lured centre-fielder George Springer away from the Houston Astros with a six-year agreement reportedly worth $150 million US. Here are the key things to know about Springer and the deal, which is awaiting a physical to become official:

This is the largest contract in Blue Jays history. The only other one to hit nine figures was the seven-year, $126-million extension signed by Vernon Wells in December 2006. The previous Jays record for a free agent was the $82 million given to Canadian catcher Russell Martin before the 2015 season. At $25 million per year, Springer’s average annual pay eclipses that of pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, who signed for $20 million a year for four years last off-season.

But this isn’t the biggest free-agent signing in Jays history. In terms of sheer “Holy s—! I gotta tell everyone I know!” impact, that would be the Roger Clemens deal in December of ’96. The four-year, $40-million pact worked out pretty well too, at least to start. Clemens won the Cy Young in his only two seasons with the Jays before demanding a trade. The signings of Jack Morris (two years, $10.85 million before the ’92 season) and Paul Molitor (three years, $13 million prior to ’93) were also very big at the time and helped propel the Jays to World Series titles.

Springer was one of the top free agents on the market. This list on MLB.com ranked him third, behind Philly catcher J.T. Realmuto and Cincy pitcher Trevor Bauer. Not the greatest class, but Toronto can say it got the best non-battery player available.

Springer is a very good player. His best years were 2017 and ’19, when he averaged about 36 homers and an OPS+ of 145 — meaning his on-base-plus-slugging percentage was 45 per cent better than the average hitter’s in his league when adjusted for ballpark. He hit well in the shortened 2020 season too, smashing 14 homers in 51 games with an OPS+ of 140. Springer was named the MVP of the 2017 World Series after hitting five home runs in seven games vs. the Dodgers. The Astros won that year with the help of their infamous signal-stealing scheme that allowed them to tip off their hitters about what kind of pitch was coming.

He’s a bit old, though. Six years is a lot to commit to a 31-year-old, so the Jays might end up regretting the last few years of the deal. But that’s the price teams usually have to pay to land a player of this calibre.

The Springer signing adds excitement to an already-promising Jays team. Last year’s post-season appearance may have been a pandemic-induced fluke — as much a product of the shortened season and expanded playoff field as the actual skill on Toronto’s roster. A (presumed) return to a full 162-game regular season would probably benefit stronger-looking AL East rivals New York and Tampa Bay, and another 16-team playoff tournament is unlikely. But baseball seems interested in expanding from the old 10-team field, which would give the Jays more hope of making it through their tough division. And Springer joins a talented lineup of hitters whose returning core — Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Teoscar Hernández, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — are all currently between the ages of 22 and 28. If the pitching can just not be a trainwreck again (prospect Nate Pearson might help there) this team has a lot of upside.

The Blue Jays’ prized free agent signing joins a budding young core ready to take the next step. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press)

Quickly…

The Calgary ski and snowboard bubble burst. The plan, announced two weeks ago, was to hold the world championships for freestyle skiing and snowboarding there in February and March. Some World Cup competitions were also part of the pitch, which was awaiting approval from various authorities. But the world governing body for skiing and snowboarding decided today to pull the plug on the idea, with the backing of the Canadian federations for those sports. Read more about the decision here.

The NHL postponed two more Hurricanes games. Five Carolina players have been placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, resulting in the postponement of last night’s game at Nashville and now a pair of home dates vs. Florida on Thursday and Saturday. These are the first three games to be postponed since the NHL season began. Dallas’ first few games were postponed before the season started. Read more about the Carolina outbreak here.

Marielle Thompson won another medal. Today’s silver in Sweden is the 2014 Olympic ski cross champion’s 45th career World Cup podium spot. This one came in a “sprint” event, where the course is shorter than the standard one. Read more about it and watch highlights here.

Tiger Woods needed another back surgery. This makes five, and it’ll keep the 45-year-old out for at least the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing, which starts this week and runs through Feb. 21. The operation was to remove a disc fragment that Woods said caused him pain during the event he played with his 11-year-old son last month. Tiger’s friend and fellow tour star Rory McIlroy said he thinks Woods will be out of action “for the next couple of months” but will return in time for the April 8-11 Masters “if not before that.” Read more about Tiger’s latest setback here.

Also…

Philip Rivers retired.

He never made it to a Super Bowl, and he didn’t make it look pretty, but the fiery Alabaman owns one of the best quarterback resumés ever. Rivers’ awful-looking, shot put-style throwing motion should not have worked in the NFL. But he overcame it (and then some) with supreme accuracy and a savant’s understanding of how to attack defences. He spent 17 years in the NFL (all but the last one with the Chargers) and ranks eighth in wins and fifth in completions, yards passing and touchdown passes.

Two other numbers essential to the Rivers story: nine (how many kids he has) and zero (how many games he missed after becoming an NFL starter in 2006). Rivers played his only conference championship game on a torn ACL on Jan. 20, 2008 — one of the reasons he chose today to announce his retirement with a charmingly down-home statement that included the word “dadgummit.” Read more about Rivers’ career here.

And finally…

Donald Trump isn’t the only polarizing Republican we’ll be hearing less from now.

As the 45th President left the White House today, Kelly Loeffler also appeared set to vacate her most public-facing roles. The pro-Trump U.S. Senator recently lost her seat to Raphael Warnock in one of the two high-profile Georgia run-offs that resulted in Democrats grabbing control of the Senate. As Warnock was sworn in today, a sale of the Atlanta Dream was being finalized that would presumably see Loeffler give up her 49 per cent stake in the WNBA team.

If that goes through, it will fulfill the wish of the WNBA players who openly campaigned for Warnock and called for Loeffler to sell her piece of the Dream after she criticized the league for embracing the Black Lives Matter movement. Read more about Loeffler’s potential departure from the league here.

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Thursday Habs Headlines: The Canadiens mid-season coaching shake-up – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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In today’s links, the hockey world chimes in on the Habs coaching change, Gallagher vents about Tuesday’s disallowed goal, will Price up his game now that there’s fresh blood behind the bench, and more.

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We should be grateful that Tiger Woods is alive, 'that his kids haven't lost their dad,' says an emotional Rory McIlroy – CNN International

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The 45-year-old is awake and recovering from surgery after being involved in a serious car accident on Tuesday near Los Angeles.
He suffered serious leg injuries and was trapped but conscious when emergency responders reached the scene of his one-vehicle rollover crash on a stretch of California road known for speeding and accidents, authorities said Tuesday.
The vehicle driven by Woods lies on its side in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.The vehicle driven by Woods lies on its side in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
“He’s not Superman … He’s a human being at the end of the day,” four-time major winner Rory McIlroy told reporters, ahead of WGC-Workday Championship which begins on Thursday. “And he’s already been through so much.
“At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad. That’s the most important thing. Golf is so far from the equation right now, it’s not even on the map at this point.”
In the aftermath of the crash, Los Angeles County Sherriff Alex Villanueva told CNN’s Erin Burnett the single-car crash was “purely an accident,” and investigators will not pursue any charges.
He also said Woods told investigators Tuesday at a hospital that “he had no recollection of the crash.”
McIlroy (right) and Woods wait on the first tee during the third round of The Northern Trust.McIlroy (right) and Woods wait on the first tee during the third round of The Northern Trust.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan emphasized that while he’d love to see Woods on the golf course in the future, thoughts should be with his family.
“Tiger’s a human being. Tiger’s had some really difficult injuries — the most important thing is, you know, is his well-being. It’s Tiger recovering, it’s supporting Tiger’s family. The golf — when Tiger wants to talk about the golf, we’ll talk about the golf. All the energy right now is going to be poured into supporting him in the days and months ahead.”
Given the grisly nature of the crash, former world No. 1 Jon Rahm said he is just appreciative that Woods is alive at all.
“Just over a year ago we lost Kobe Bryant out of the blue, and I’m just, if anything, thankful that Tiger’s still here. Hopefully he comes out of this one,” the 26-year-old told the media.
“Hopefully his body’s still good. I don’t necessarily need to see him on a golf course again. I would love to, but I just hope he can live a normal life from here on. He’s given everything to this game, he’s done so much for us, and every day that we’re all out here is going to be a memory of Tiger Woods.
Woods looks on from the range during the first round of the PNC Championship.Woods looks on from the range during the first round of the PNC Championship.
“Luckily he’s got so much impact in this world that even though if he doesn’t hit a golf shot, with his foundation and many other works, he’s still able to make a great impact in this world.”
Dustin Johnson added: “He’s such a big part of the PGA Tour and what it’s become today so, yeah I mean once he’s not playing anymore it definitely, you know, the game will miss him but I feel like he’ll always somehow be around and be involved in the game.”

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Canadiens will keep paying Claude Julien $5 million for another season – Montreal Gazette

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“I did tell Geoff (Molson) what I was doing and he supported my decision,” GM Marc Bergevin says after firing head coach.

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With no fans in the arenas because of COVID-19 and very little revenue coming in, these are not good financial times for any NHL team.

So Canadiens owner/president Geoff Molson can’t be thrilled about having to pay Claude Julien his $5-million annual salary for the rest of this season and all of the next one. Julien, who was fired by GM Marc Bergevin on Wednesday and replaced by Dominique Ducharme, was in the fourth year of his five-year, US$25-million contract. Associate coach Kirk Muller, who was also fired Wednesday, was in the final season of his contract.

“I’m well aware of what you just mentioned,” Bergevin said during a video conference from Winnipeg Wednesday afternoon when Julien’s contract was brought up. “I did tell Geoff what I was doing and he supported my decision. That’s all I could say.”

This is the second time Molson has had to continue paying a fired coach with Bergevin as GM. Bergevin hired Julien on Feb. 14, 2017 to replace Michel Therrien, who still had another two full seasons remaining on his contract.

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The fact Ducharme was already on the payroll as an assistant coach will lessen the financial hit on Molson.

After playing about $8 million under the NHL salary cap for the last three seasons, Bergevin spent right up to the $81.5-million cap with his off-seasons additions and expectations were high coming into this season. The Canadiens got off to a 7-1-2 start, but are 2-4-2 in the last eight games.

“I know what type of team we have,” Bergevin said. “I know what we’re capable of doing.

“The hard thing to watch is the swing from being a really good hockey team that was playing with pace, was engaged, were playing to our identity, which is speed,” he added. “And then going to the other side where the team was looking for anything. The expression we were chasing our tail … we were chasing the puck. We were not in sync and that was frustrating for me. Sometimes you can blame injuries, but we had none. Zero. If the message is the same and they’re acting differently, then the change needs to be made.”

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Bergevin had a sleepless night in Ottawa Tuesday after the Canadiens lost 5-4 to the Senators in a shootout and finally decided it was time for a coaching change. He informed Julien and Muller of his decision Wednesday morning before the Canadiens flew to Winnipeg, where they will play the Jets Thursday night (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

“Yeah, it’s emotional because they’re good people,” Bergevin said. “It’s not fun. It’s a tough part of my job. To walk in these two men’s rooms this morning was not easy.

“I said at training camp we mean business,” the GM added. “We raised the bar. It’s not an easy day for anyone, for me personally to make this decision. … Expectations are high. I expect to tack the boat first and for the players to respond.”

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If they don’t, it could be Bergevin looking for a job at the end of the season. He has one more year remaining on his contract.

“Listen, the day that I took the job here it came with a lot of things, including pressure from the media and our fans,” he said. “I have no problem with that. I make decisions, I live with them and the consequences. But I’m very confident in our team and I’m very confident in Dominique Ducharme.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin watches his team's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM’s hand in firing of Julien

  2. Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks toward the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

    Jack Todd: Canadiens’ sweet start ends in bitter outcome for Julien

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