Tagged in: career

Noah Syndergaard, Los Angeles Angels reach 1-year, $21 million deal

Right-hander Noah Syndergaard and the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a one-year, $21 million deal, pending a physical, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

Syndergaard, 29, spent the first seven campaigns of his career with the New York Mets, making one All-Star team and displaying perhaps the nastiest array of pitches for a starter in the major leagues.

Having pitched only two innings since 2019 because of Tommy John surgery, Syndergaard will join an Angels rotation that was among the worst in the big leagues last season.

The Angels’ pursuit of starting pitching this winter was their top priority, with two-way star Shohei Ohtani coming off a season that will end with the American League MVP award and outfielder Mike Trout returning from an injury-plagued 2021.

The cost is hefty: Beyond the $21 million, the Angels will forfeit their second-round draft pick in 2022 because Syndergaard had been tendered a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer by the Mets. They will receive a pick after the draft’s competitive balance Round B (around 70th overall).

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While some in the industry expected Syndergaard to take the qualifying offer, the market proved healthier. The Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees were among the teams that showed the greatest interest in Syndergaard, sources told ESPN.

All of them saw enough in Syndergaard’s late-September return, which involved a pair of one-inning outings in which he didn’t throw his slider or curveball. Though Syndergaard’s average fastball velocity during the outings was down more than 3 mph from his 2017 peak, the promise of plenty more prompted the Angels to pay a premium.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Syndergaard’s deal, by average annual value, is the largest doled out by the franchise for a pitcher. C.J. Wilson signed a five-year, $77.5 million deal ($15.5 million AAV) prior to the 2012 season.

The Angels’ need for pitching is no secret.

Ohtani led the team with 130.1 innings; no other Angels pitcher exceeded 100. Syndergaard has never pitched 200 innings in a season; he’s made 30 or more starts in a season twice (2016 and 2019).

However, a rotation that includes Ohtani, Syndergaard and left-hander Patrick Sandoval has the makings of something good — particularly if general manager Perry Minasian can complement it with a top-of-the-rotation arm like free-agent right-hander Max Scherzer.

Syndergaard, a 6-foot-6 leviathan nicknamed Thor, looked superheroic early in his career, constantly ripping off 100-mph fastballs and pairing them with 93-mph sliders.

During the Mets’ run to the 2015 National League pennant, Syndergaard was among their best pitchers, and the next year he was even better, posting a 2.60 ERA, striking out 218 in 183.2 innings and looking every bit a star.

When Syndergaard was healthy, he was typically excellent, pairing his strikeout stuff with a tendency to generate groundballs. Over 718 career innings, he has a 3.32 ERA and has struck out 777, walked 166 and permitted just 64 home runs.

His return from elbow reconstruction in March 2020 hit roadblocks and culminated with the September showcases, during which he allowed two runs in two innings. That was enough for the Angels to see — and pay.

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Max Holloway edges Yair Rodriguez in bloody, back-and-forth UFC Fight Night main event

Yair Rodriguez, blood coming from several cuts on his face, pointed his finger and planted it in Max Holloway’s chest. Holloway, face swollen and bleeding from above his right eye, took his fist and patted it versus Rodriguez’s face.

Holloway’s legend continued Saturday with a unanimous-decision victory (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) over Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. And Rodriguez’s own lore leveled up after a warrior-like performance in a losing effort.

The back-and-forth bout, which ended up as one of the best of 2021, could have been a torch passing moment from Holloway, the former UFC featherweight champion, to the up-and-coming Rodriguez. Instead, Holloway, nicknamed “Blessed,” earned another huge victory in a historic career.

Rodriguez pushed Holloway to the brink, rallying with an elbow that cut Holloway in the fifth round. But Holloway held on.

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“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best — and the best is ‘Blessed,’ baby,” Holloway said in his postfight interview.

Both fighters were taken to a hospital after the fight.

Holloway outlanded Rodriguez in important strikes 230-159, per UFC stats. The 389 combined significant strikes are the third largest total in a single fight in UFC history — and Holloway has been involved in each of the top four highest totals, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Holloway landed 251 total strikes, becoming the first fighter to eclipse 3,000 total strikes in a UFC career. His 2,848 significant strikes are also a UFC record. Holloway is the only fighter in history to have 25 UFC fights and never get knocked down.

“Insane,” UFC president Dana White said. “It was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen.”

Holloway is arguably the best featherweight in UFC history, holding the 145-pound title from 2017 to 2019 with three title defenses. ESPN has Holloway ranked tied for No. 9 in the world in its pound-for-pound MMA rankings. At featherweight, Holloway is ranked No. 2 and Rodriguez is No. 8.

“Max is an amazing fighter,” Rodriguez stated. “He has a lot of experience. He’s done an amazing job. I have nothing to do but accept [the loss].”

Afterward, Holloway was noncommittal about what he wants next. He mentioned a possible title fight at lightweight, another shot at the man who took the featherweight title from him in Alexander Volkanovski, and even being on “the short list” for a fight versus Conor McGregor, who beat Holloway in 2013.

“We’re ready whenever,” Holloway said.

Holloway, 29, owns the most wins (18), most KO/TKO wins (8) and most stoppage victories (10) in UFC featherweight history. Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC) was undefeated in three consecutive fights coming in and has just two losses in 10 UFC fights.

The Mexico native had not fought since a unanimous-decision victory over Jeremy Stephens in October 2019. Rodriguez, 29, owns the record for the latest knockout in UFC history, a spectacular back elbow finish of “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, with one second remaining in the fifth and final round in November 2018.

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Veteran WR Chris Hogan opts to retire from NFL, ending 10-year career

After a brief return to the NFL this season with the New Orleans Saints, wide receiver Chris Hogan decided to retire.

The 10-year veteran, who collected two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, was placed on the reserve/retired list Saturday.

Hogan had flirted with retirement earlier this year, when he switched careers and joined the Premier Lacrosse League. But the Saints lured him back in late July, and he earned a roster spot with the team — catching four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown in five matches.

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It’s unclear exactly why Hogan decided to retire.

He was not dealing with any known injuries. But the Saints have added depth to their wide receiver corps in recent weeks.

They signed veteran Kenny Stills last month and designated veteran Tre’Quan Smith to return from injured reserve this week. All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas could also return soon, though he has not started practicing after having ankle surgery in June.

Hogan began his career as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and bounced around from San Francisco to the New York Giants to the Buffalo Bills before finally making his NFL debut in December 2012 and catching his first pass in 2013.

He then played for the Bills until 2015 before spending three seasons in New England from 2016 to 2018 and winning two championships. He also spent one year each with the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

He caught a total of 220 passes for 2,836 yards and 19 touchdowns in the regular season, plus another 34 catches for 542 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs.

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Jacksonville Jaguars expected to sign Tim Tebow as TE

It looks as if Tim Tebow is finally going to be playing for his hometown team. Just not as a quarterback.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign Tebow, 33, to a one-year deal later this week or next week to play tight end, a position he never played in high school, college or his previous three-year NFL career, a source confirmed to ESPN. A deal has not been agreed upon at this time.

Once he signs, he will be reunited with Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who coached Tebow at Florida and won a pair of national championships with the Gators.

Word leaked on the first day of the 2021 NFL draft that Tebow had worked out for the Jaguars as a tight end. Jaguars GM Trent Baalke confirmed the workout but stated the team wouldn’t worry about whether it would sign Tebow until after the draft.

The Jaguars already have five tight ends on their roster: 

Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Luke Farrell, Ben Ellefson and Tyler Davis. Manhertz, who was signed in free agency, is a blocker who has 12 catches in 70 career games.

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O’Shaughnessy has 88 catches in six seasons with Kansas City and Jacksonville. Ellefson has one career catch, and Davis played in eight matches last season after the Jaguars selected him in the sixth round. Farrell was the team’s fifth-round pick this year.

Tebow hasn’t played football since the 2015 NFL preseason and has spent the past six years working as a broadcaster on the SEC Network and working on his professional baseball career.

Tebow was adamant about remaining a quarterback during his three seasons with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles but apparently has had a change of heart now that Meyer is running the Jaguars franchise.

Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and starred at Nease High School before signing with Meyer and Florida in December 2005. Chris Leak was the starting quarterback in 2006, but Tebow got plenty of action as a short-yardage specialist and threw 33 passes to help the Gators earn the national championship.

Tebow became the starter in 2007, and he threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns to become the first sophomore to collect the Heisman Trophy. He led the Gators to the 2008 national championship, and UF went undefeated in the regular season in 2009 before losing to Alabama in the SEC championship game.

Tebow finished at UF as the SEC’s career leader in rushing touchdowns (57), touchdown responsibility (145) and passer efficiency (170.8).

He still holds the first two records but has since been passed by Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and Mac Jones in the last category.

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Basilashvili claims fifth ATP Tile at Munich Open

Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili claimed the fifth ATP Tour title of his career and the second in 2021 with a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory over Jan-Lennard Struff after 86 minutes at the BMW Open in Munich. Basilashvili did not a set in five matches this week. 

Basilashvili won eight of the first nine points and broke Struff in the first game. The match was suspended by rain, when Basilashvili was leading 4-2.

The Georgian player never looked back and dropped just three service games to close out the first set after 35 minutes.  Struff did not convert one break point in the sixth game of the second set, which went on serve en route to the tie-break.

Both players went on serve in the tie-break until the ninth point, when Basilashvili earned the decisive mini-break at 4-4 when Struff hit a backhand into the net.

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Basilashvili sealed the 14th match of his campaign on his second match point with a forehand winner.

Basilashvili has already won a title on German clay in Hamburg in 2019.

Earlier this year he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha and beat Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the quarter finals of the Sardegna Open in Cagliari. 

“It wasn’t easy and I was super tight at the end. It was very difficult. It’s never easy to play against Jan. He is a very big fighter and serves well. I am super happy. It seems like German conditions suit me. This is my fifth ATP Tour title and i twill give me confidence for the upcoming season”, said Basilashvili. 

Struff, who was playing in his ATP Tour final, was bidding to become the seventh different German champion at the ATP 250 in Munich after Jurgen Fassbender in 1974, Rolf Gehring in 1980, Michael Stich in 1990, Phillip Kohlschreiber in 2007, 2012 and 2016, Tommy Haas in 2013 and Alexander Zverev in 2017 and 2018. 

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Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon throws no-hitter against Cleveland Indians

Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon came two outs away from a perfect game but threw the first no-hitter of his career in an 8-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.

Rodon, 28, threw 114 pitches in the complete game, looking as strong at the end of the contest as he did at the beginning.

“I can’t believe it,” Rodon stated on the game telecast afterwards.

With one out in the ninth inning, Rodon hit Roberto Perez in the foot, ending his chance at perfection. But the lefty then got Yu Chang looking on strike three and Jordan Luplow grounded out to third base.

Josh Naylor had opened the ninth inning with a slow roller to first baseman Jose Abreu, who barely got to the bag before Naylor. The call on the field was ruled an out, which was upheld by video review.

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It’s the second White Sox no-hitter in as many seasons; Rodon’s teammate, Lucas Giolito, threw one last season on Aug. 25 versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rodon was the third overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft but injuries have plagued his career.

He was non-tendered by the White Sox this past December only to sign back with them on a 1-year deal for $3 million.

Tony La Russa is now the first manager to oversee two no-hitters in the American League and two in the National League, having been in the dugout Dave Stewart in 1990, Jose Jimenez in 1999 and Bud Smith in 2001.

Rodón was selected by Chicago with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 amateur draft. He has been hampered by injuries in recent years, but he won a spot in the rotation during spring training and pitched five innings in a 6-0 victory at Seattle in his first start of the season.

He was supposed to pitch on Monday versus Cleveland, but he was scratched because of an upset stomach.

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Star receiver Julian Edelman, 34, retires, ending 12-year career with New England Patriots

Patriots star receiver Julian Edelman, who helped New England win three championships and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, declared his retirement in a video posted on social media Monday.

The NFL transaction wire released Monday stated that Edelman had his contract terminated by the Patriots, but the roster move is expected to be a technicality as part of his retirement, a source told ESPN.

“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family,” Edelman said. “And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. … It’s been the best 12 years of my life.”

Edelman, who turns 35 next month, was limited to six matches last season because of a chronic knee injury. He spent his entire 12-year career with the Patriots and ranks second in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions, behind only Jerry Rice’s 151.

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Edelman caps his career in second place on the all-time Patriots chart for receptions (620), behind only Wes Welker (672).

He is fourth on the team’s career receiving yards list with 6,822 receiving yards, behind only Stanley Morgan (10,352), Rob Gronkowski (7,861) and Welker (7,459).

Edelman was still playing at a high level last campaign, totaling a career-high 179 yards in a Week 2 loss to the Seahawks. But the nagging knee injury ultimately landed him on injured reserve in late October, and while there was hope he might return late in the season, he wasn’t healthy enough to be activated.

Because of his health, the Patriots went into the 2021 offseason unsure of Edelman’s status, which contributed to their agreeing to contracts with receivers Nelson Agholor (two years, $26 million, with $15 million guaranteed) and Kendrick Bourne (three years, $22.5 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed) on the first day of free agency.

Edelman was also entering the final year of his contract.

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Ryan Braun, longtime Milwaukee Brewers slugger, leaning toward retirement

Ryan Braun stated he’s strongly leaning toward retirement, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ home run leader isn’t ready to make any decision regarding his future.

Braun visited the Brewers’ spring training site Monday and said he hasn’t picked up a bat since the end of the 2020 season. The 2011 NL MVP became a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I’m strongly leaning in the direction of being done as an active player,” the 37-year-old Braun said. “But I think you can always push that decision back.

I’m still young enough, still working out, still in shape. If something were to change, I might as well leave that door open as long as possible.”

Braun has spent his entire major league career with the Brewers and said that “I can’t foresee a scenario in which I play for any other major league team.”

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Last campaign, Braun batted a career-low .233 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 matches while dealing with a back issue. He came on strong late in the season and had a .958 OPS in September.

His back issues prevented him from playing in the Brewers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Once the regular season starts and I’m able to watch some games, I feel like that’s when I’ll actually miss the game itself,” Braun said.

“I’m kind of interested to see how I feel, what it feels like. Obviously, I’ve never experienced it before. Time will tell.”

Braun made his debut with Milwaukee in 2007. His 352 homers as a Brewer are the most of anyone in franchise history.

He ranks second among all Brewers in career RBIs (1,154), extra-base hits (809), total bases (3,525) and doubles (408). He ranks third in runs (1,080), hits (1,963), triples (49), stolen bases (216) and walks (586).

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Minnesota Vikings release TE Kyle Rudolph after 10 seasons

The Minnesota Vikings have released veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph after 10 seasons, the team revealed on Tuesday.

The move saves Minnesota $5.1 million against the salary cap for 2021. Rudolph, 31, will become a free agent for the first time in his NFL career.

The former second-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2011 issued a heartfelt goodbye in a story published by The Players’ Tribune reflecting on his 10 seasons in Minnesota.

“I got so lucky, because — I didn’t just get drafted by some team who ‘had a need at tight end,’ Rudolph wrote. “I didn’t just get drafted as, like, the nameless, faceless ‘#1 tight end on the board.’ I got drafted by a team that was all set in terms of need … but then drafted me anyway.

“I’ll always remember that: how the Minnesota Vikings wanted me — and wanted to bet on my potential.” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman weighed in on Rudolph’s release in a statement, calling him “one of the premier tight ends in the NFL and most influential and positive leaders I’ve ever been around.”

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“Kyle and [his wife] Jordan have made such an immeasurable impact on our team and community that may never be matched,” Spielman said. “The energy they have invested in the community, most notably through the End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, is truly remarkable. I admire Kyle and we will miss him and his family. We sincerely wish them the best.”

Rudolph had three years left on the contract he signed in June 2019 after the Vikings approached him to restructure his deal via an extension.

He was in danger of being a cap casualty this offseason with a $9.45 million cap hit and a role that has decreased significantly in the Vikings’ offense over the past two seasons.

Rudolph spoke earlier this offseason about his desire for a bigger role in Minnesota’s offense or elsewhere and said he would not be open to a restructure if the team approached him about taking a pay cut.

“I think I’m worth every dime of my contract,” Rudolph said on the podcast “Unrestricted with Ben Leber” in January.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m used to my potential and I’m used to do what I do well, so it will be interesting over the next few months. Like I said, I have three years left on my contract. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I’ve somehow become a pretty decent blocker because I’ve been forced to. It certainly wasn’t something that I ever did well at any point of my career. Maybe in high school because I was bigger than everyone else, but even then, I just wanted to run around and catch balls.”

Rudolph caught 28 passes on 35 targets in 2020, his lowest output since the 2014 season. He churned up 334 receiving yards and one touchdown, the latter of which was a career low for the former second-rounder.

At 31, Rudolph said he feels he has “a lot of good football left” and will have an opportunity to play for his second NFL team. Rudolph’s impact off the field was well documented throughout his time in Minnesota. The tight end’s work with the Masonic Children’s Hospital led to him being the Vikings’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee three consecutive times from 2017-19.

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Deshaun Watson met with Houston Texans coach David Culley, still wants to be traded

Quarterback Deshaun Watson met with new Houston Texans coach David Culley last Friday, according to sources, and informed Culley that he has no plan of suiting up for the team again.

Upset over the way the organization has operated in recent years, Watson has asked the Texans to trade him and has had very little contact with the team since the season ended.

The conversation with Culley is believed to have been the first between the two. Culley said in his introductory news conference that he expected Watson to be on the team in 2021.

But according to the sources, Watson’s message to Culley in Friday’s meeting was that nothing has changed on his end and he still would like to be traded. So far, the Texans have told interested teams that they don’t intend to trade Watson, who just last summer signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension that runs through 2025.

Trading Watson would cost the Texans $21.6 million in dead money against this year’s salary cap — a significant hit since his cap number if he’s on the team is just $15.94 million.

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Any team acquiring the young superstar would get a tremendous bargain in 2021, as Watson is arranged to earn just $10.54 million in salary this year before that number jumps to $35 million in 2022, $37 million in 2023 and $32 million each in 2024 and 2025.

If the Texans choose not to trade Watson, he could opt not to report to mandatory team activities or training camp, but at a cost.

Houston can fine Watson $95,877 for missing minicamp and can fine him $50,000 per day for each day of training camp missed, plus one week’s salary — $620,000 — for each preseason game missed. In the unlikely scenario that Watson chooses to retire, the Texans can collect $21.6 million.

Watson’s trade request came after he was reportedly unhappy with the process used by the team to hire new general manager Nick Caserio in early January.

Watson set career highs in the 2020 season in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low seven interceptions. His 33 touchdowns and 4,823 passing yards were single-season franchise records.

He is the NFL’s career leader in completion percentage at 67.8%, ahead of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. In 2020, Watson became just the 11th player in NFL history to complete at least 70% of his passes in a season.

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