Bellinger agrees to $16.1M, 1-year contract with Dodgers
LOS ANGELES — Dodgers star Cody Bellinger agreed to a $16.1 million, one-year contract Friday with the World Series champions that avoided salary arbitration.
Los Angeles also agreed to one-year deals with shortstop Corey Seager for $13.75 million and left-hander Julio Urías for $3.6 million, but couldn’t come to terms with ace Walker Buehler or catcher Austin Barnes.
The Los Angeles outfielder and first baseman was the 2019 NL MVP and 2017 NL Rookie of the Year. He hit a career-low .239 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in the shortened season, down from a .305 average with 47 homers and 115 RBIs, all career bests.
He slumped to a .136 average (3 for 22) with one homer and three RBIs in the World Series against Tampa Bay as the Dodgers won their first title since 1988.
A two-time-All Star, Bellinger earned $4,259,259 in prorated pay last year from an $11.5 million salary. He is eligible for free agency after the 2023 season.
Seager won MVP honors in the NL Championship Series and World Series, batting .400 with two homers and five RBIs in the Dodgers' six-game defeat of the Rays. He hit .307 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs during the shortened regular season.
The 26-year-old is in his third year of arbitration eligibility and can file for free agency next offseason. He made $2,814,815 in 2020, prorated out of his $7.6 million salary.
Urías put early-career health woes behind him and became a full-fledged member of LA's rotation in 2020 for the first time, going 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 11 games, 10 starts. He made two starts and six appearances in the postseason and went 4-0 with a 1.17 ERA, including a save in the clinching Game 6 of the World Series.
This was the 24-year-old's first season of arbitration eligibility. Urías was set to earn $1 million last season and earned $370,370 in prorated pay.
Buehler, the Dodgers' 26-year-old ace, is asking for $4.15 million in his first stab at arbitration, while the Dodgers are offering $3.3 million. The sides can still come to an agreement until an arbitrator hears their case next month and makes a ruling. If it comes to it, an arbitrator will award the case in full to one side or the other — no settling in the middle.
Buehler was 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA in eight starts during the pandemic-shortened season and then excelled in the postseason, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA over five starts. He was paid $223,519 after being set to make $603,500 prior to the pandemic.
The 31-year-old Barnes hit .244 with one homer in 29 games last season, splitting time behind the plate with youngster Will Smith. He earned a prorated $407,407 pay out of his $1.1 million salary. Barnes asked for $2 million and the Dodgers offered $1.5 million in figures exchanged Friday.
Angels avoid arbitration with Bundy, 4 others
ANAHEIM — The Los Angeles Angels avoided arbitration with right-hander Dylan Bundy and four other players Friday.
The Angels agreed to 2021 contracts with Bundy ($8,325,000), left-hander Andrew Heaney ($6.75 million), right-hander Mike Mayers ($1.2 million), right-hander Felix Peña ($1.1 million) and catcher Max Stassi ($1.6 million). Two-way standout Shohei Ohtani is the team’s last remaining player still eligible for arbitration.
Ohtani asked for $3.3 million and the team offered $2.5 million. Ohtani had a rough year, batting .190 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 175 plate appearances. He also performed poorly in his first two mound starts since 2018 before being shut down as a pitcher. Ohtani earned $259,259 in the prorated portion of his $700,000 contract in 2020.
Bundy had a standout debut season with the Angels after they acquired him from Baltimore, going 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA, a career-best 1.036 WHIP and 72 strikeouts against just 17 walks. He earned a prorated $1,851,852 portion of his $5 million salary. He gets a solid raise in his final year before free agency.
Heaney went 4-3 with a 4.46 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 12 mostly solid appearances while receiving a prorated $1,592,593 portion of his $4.3 million salary. Mayers was outstanding in his first season with the Angels after they claimed him off waivers from St. Louis in November 2019. He went 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA in a team-leading 29 appearances while earning the prorated $212,222 portion of his $573,000 salary. New general manager Perry Minasian got rid of most of last season’s underachieving bullpen, but Mayers remains a key piece in Anaheim.
Peña, a veteran reliever and occasional starter, went 3-0 with a 4.05 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 26 2/3 innings. He made the prorated $217,593 portion of his $587,500 contract. Stassi broke through as the Angels’ starting catcher in his first full season in Orange County, batting .278 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in just 31 games while making the prorated $296,296 portion of his $800,000 contract.
Nick Taylor gets a break and a birdie and leads Sony Open
HONOLULU — Nick Taylor pitched in for eagle to get his round headed in the right direction, and he kept going until he finished with a good break and one last birdie for an 8-under 62 and a two-shot lead Friday in the Sony Open.
It's still as crowded as the H-1 at the top, typical of this tournament.
Taylor gave himself at least some separation with a gap wedge to 6 feet for birdie on No. 8, and then even his worst swing of the day turned into a birdie on the par-5 ninth.
The Canadian hooked his tee shot toward the high netting of the driving range. The ball was so close to the knee-high boundary fence that his only hope was to play the shot left-handed. However, the netting that extends upward from the fence is considered a temporary immovable obstructure. Taylor was given a free drop.
He hit iron to about 50 yards short of the green leaving a good angle, and he clipped a wedge to 2 feet.
“It was a fortunate break,” Taylor said. “Easily could have probably gone under the fence, but to bounce off and get a drop was a break and it was nice to take advantage of it.”
Taylor, who won at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last year, was at 12-under 128.
Five players were two shots behind, a group that was decidedly Southern for the second leg of this Hawaii swing — Stewart Cink (63), Webb Simpson (65), Russell Henley (64), Vaughn Taylor (66) and Chris Kirk (65).
Kaprizov scores in OT in debut, lifts Wild over Kings
LOS ANGELES — Kirill Kaprizov scored his first NHL goal with 1:13 remaining in overtime and finished with three points as the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.
The 23-year-old Russian scored on a breakaway, putting the puck past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. Kaprizov, who is the third Russian-born player to make his NHL debut with the Wild, also had a pair of assists. He was a fifth-round selection by Minnesota in 2015 before signing a two-year, entry-level contract last summer.
Minnesota trailed 3-1 after two periods before rallying. Jonas Brodin, Victor Rask and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Wild. Cam Talbot made 32 saves in his Minnesota debut.
Dustin Brown scored his 300th goal, Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist and Andreas Athanasiou also scored for Los Angeles. Quick stopped 23 shots.
Brown got his milestone goal with 2:55 remaining in the second on the power play with a wrap-around that put the Kings in front by two goals.
Stone breaks tie in 3rd, Golden Knights beat Ducks
LAS VEGAS — Mark Stone scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, Robin Lehner made 20 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Golden Knights improved to 9-2-2 against Anaheim since they entered the league in 2017.
Jonathan Marchessault, Tomas Nosek, Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas.
Maxime Comtois scored Anaheim’s goals, both in the first 7:58 of the game, marking the fastest two goals by an NHL player to start a season in more than 15 years. The last NHL player to score two goals in the first eight minutes of a season was Jeremy Roenick of the Los Angeles Kings, who scored two goals in the first 4:18 on Oct. 5, 2005 in Dallas.
John Gibson made 24 saves for the Ducks.
Mobley brothers lead USC to 95-68 rout of Washington
LOS ANGELES — Isaiah Mobley scored a season-high 18 points, Evan Mobley added 17 points and Southern California routed Washington 95-68 on Thursday night.
The Trojans (10-2, 4-1 Pac-12) won their fifth in a row overall, and their fourth straight league game for the first time since 2018.
The Huskies (1-10, 0-6) were led by Erik Stevenson with 16 points. Jamal Bey added 11 points in the team’s seventh straight loss overall. They haven’t won at USC since Dec. 29, 2017.
Grizzlies-Timberwolves game postponed
Minnesota’s scheduled home game Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies has been postponed because of ongoing contact tracing within the Timberwolves.
The NBA said the Timberwolves did not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with the game.
Six Washington Wizards players have tested positive for COVID-19, and another three are in the NBA’s health protocols.
General manager Tommy Sheppard said in a video conference with reporters that two of the players who have the illness caused by the coronavirus have displayed symptoms, while the other four are asymptomatic so far.
Sheppard said no members of the team’s staff tested positive.
He spoke after the team announced that its next two scheduled games were being postponed: at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday and Monday.
That makes four consecutive games for Washington that have been called off.
Dallas Stars set date for season opener
The Dallas Stars will open their season Jan. 22 at Nashville after a teamwide outbreak forced their first four games to be postponed.
The National Hockey League rescheduled the Stars’ opening games and moved several others around to accommodate. The regular season started Wednesday, and the Stars were set to play Thursday.
But 17 players tested positive for the virus, leading the NHL to close down team facilities and Dallas to halt practice.
Expansion could bring football back to WAC this fall in FCS
HOUSTON — Football is returning in the Western Athletic Conference, this time at the Championship Subdivision level.
The league announced this week it would add four schools from the Southland Conference and one from the Big Sky to bring its membership to 13.
The five new members will join Dixie State and Tarleton State in a WAC football League. The WAC continues to seek an eighth football member that would bring league membership to 14 schools, but no timetable for that is set.
The new members are Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin from the Southland and Southern Utah from the Big Sky.
The four Southland schools are on track to become members in July, with Southern Utah joining in July 2022, assistant commissioner of media relations Chris Thompson said Friday. He added that it’s anticipated a six-team WAC football league will begin this fall.
The WAC will be split into two divisions for sports other than football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. One division will be made up of the Texas schools. The other division will include Southern Utah, Dixie State, New Mexico State, Grand Canyon, California Baptist, Seattle and Utah Valley.
One-city March Madness leads to more straightforward bracket
INDIANAPOLIS — There will be a bit less mystery to the March Madness bracket now that the NCAA selection committee no longer has to adjust matchups for travel concerns.
With the entire tournament taking place in the Indianapolis area this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced Friday that teams will be bracketed more closely to their true seeding, 1-68.
In the past, adjustments were made to keep teams as close as possible to their campuses for the early rounds.
Jets hire 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as coach
NEW YORK — The New York Jets were searching for a leader, someone who could bring a frustrated, playoff-starved franchise back to respectability.
They think they found their guy in Robert Saleh.
The Jets reached an agreement in principle with the popular and energetic San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Thursday night to hire him as their head coach. Saleh replaces Adam Gase, who was fired by on Jan. 3 after going 9-23 in two seasons.
The 41-year-old Saleh, believed to be the first Muslim head coach in NFL history, emerged as a favorite for the Jets job when he was brought in for a second — and this time, in-person — interview Tuesday night and those discussions extended into Wednesday. He was the first of the nine known candidates New York interviewed remotely to meet with chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, team president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at its facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Saleh left the Jets and met with Philadelphia, which fired Doug Pederson on Monday. And New York also had an in-person meeting with Tennessee offensive coordinator Arthur Smith on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
After Smith left without a deal, New York had internal discussions and opted to hire Saleh.
Falcons pick Titans offensive coordinator Smith as new coach
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith on Friday to become the team’s head coach.
The Falcons announced the agreement. Smith held a virtual interview with the team on Monday and he also interviewed with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions. The Jets reached an agreement with Robert Saleh on Thursday night to be their coach.
The 38-year-old Smith has served on the Tennessee staff for 10 seasons, including two as offensive coordinator. The Titans finished this season tied for second in the NFL in total yards.
Under Smith’s leadership, the Titans finished behind only Kansas City in total offense with 396.4 yards. They had the NFL’s second-best rushing offense as Derrick Henry became only the eighth back to rush for at least 2,000 yards.
Atlanta’s choice of Smith was applauded by Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown, who said on his Twitter account “Held me accountable from day 1. Always trying to improve. Atlanta got a good one.”
The Titans’ offensive success, especially on the ground, may have been especially appealing to the Falcons, who finished ahead of only five teams in rushing this season. The Falcons averaged only 95.8 yards rushing per game.
Smith, who has no experience as a head coach, will face important decisions about the offense. Quarterback Matt Ryan is 35 and wide receiver Julio Jones, coming off a season hampered by injuries, is 31.
Browns guard Bitiono back for playoffs after COVID-19
CLEVELAND — Joel Bitonio’s long playoff wait with the Browns is over.
The Pro Bowl left guard was activated from the COVID-19 list Friday after missing last week’s wild-card win over Pittsburgh.
Cleveland’s longest-tenured player, Bitonio had to isolate at home and missed his first career postseason game — and the Browns’ first since the 2002 season. It was a devastating development for Bitiono, who had endured so much losing with the Browns before this turnaround season.
But he’ll get his long-awaited chance to play in the postseason this week. The Browns, who stunned the Steelers in the wild-card round, face the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in the AFC divisional round.
Portland’s Nurkic fractures right wrist against Indiana
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic fractured his right wrist Thursday night during a game against the Indiana Pacers.
Nurkic could be seen holding the wrist after swiping at the ball in the third quarter, and he fell to the floor after contact under Indiana’s basket. At a timeout he went to to the locker room and did not return.
The 7-foot-0 Bosnian was averaging 10.3 points and 7.6 rebounds heading into the game.
Nurkic missed much of the first half of last season after breaking his left leg in a game in March 2019. He returned to the team to play in the the bubble in Orlando, Florida, after the season was put on hold because of coronavirus.
“He had a long road back from his other injury,” coach Terry Stotts said. “He had a rough start of the season, it looked like he was getting back on track. Obviously this is a big setback for him and for us.”
Stotts said Nurkic was in a splint after the game.
The Blazers were already without forward/center Zach Collins indefinitely after ankle surgery at the end of December.
NBA fines Irving $50,000 for health, safety violations
NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving’s absence from the Brooklyn Nets has become a costly one.
The NBA fined the point guard $50,000 on Friday for violating its health and safety protocols, and said he could return to team activities Saturday — though he won’t play in the Nets’ game that night.
The league added that he would forfeit his salary for each game he misses during a five-day quarantine period that would end Saturday if he continues to test negative for the coronavirus. He’s already missed two, which means he has lost nearly $900,000 of his $33.5 million salary.
Irving has missed the last five games while away from the Nets for personal reasons. He was seen in a video on social media during his absence at an indoor family party while not wearing a mask.
The league’s protocols prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.
Irving is the second player to be fined for that. The other is his new teammate, James Harden.
FCS schedules nearly set with season starting in February
One college football season just ended, and another one starts in just over a month.
All but a few teams in the Football Championship Subdivision shut down in the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will play a spring season culminating with the NCAA playoffs in April and May.
As has been the case across the sports landscape for months, nothing is set in stone and more than 20 FCS programs — including all eight in the Ivy League — are not playing spring football at all.
Defending national champion North Dakota State — which beat Central Arkansas in October in its lone fall game — is supposed to to play five weeks from Sunday against Youngstown State. At least that what it says on the Bison’s football website.
But the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the league the Bison play in, was thrown for a loop when Indiana State announced this week it would opt out. The Sycamores didn’t cite concerns about the virus. Instead, they said they want to avoid the physical toll of playing next fall so soon after the spring season.
So for NDSU, that game against Youngstown State might or might not happen Feb. 21. The Bison should know in a week or so.
Washington appoints NBA G League’s 2nd female GM, Nichols
WASHINGTON — Amber Nichols is the NBA G League’s second female general manager after the Washington Wizards promoted her to that job with the Capital City Go-Go on Friday.
Nichols, who played four years of college basketball at Richmond, has been with the Go-Go since the team’s inception. She managed its logistics the past two seasons and has worked with the Wizards’ front office during NBA and G League drafts and scouting events.
“Couldn’t be prouder. Amber deserves it,” Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard said on a video conference call. “She originally came to the Wizards as an intern; worked her way up.”
Nichols joins Tori Miller of the College Park Skyhawks as women serving as GMs in the G League. Miller became the first in July when the Atlanta Hawks put her in charge of its affiliate.
The G League season is expected to start next month in Florida with 18 teams participating. The Wizards are not sending their G League team to the bubble but Nichols will accompany some players who will participate with the Erie BayHawks, New Orleans’ affiliate.
South Carolina men’s basketball coach tests positive for second time
South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin is frustrated after testing positive for COVID-19 a second time since May.
Martin will miss his team’s game at LSU on Saturday.
Martin first got the virus in the spring and recovered with only mild symptoms. He said this latest bout hit him harder, although he was not hospitalized.
The Gamecocks have played just twice since Dec. 5. Martin expects to be out of isolation and back with the team Monday.
Japan minister says ‘anything can happen’ with Tokyo Games
TOKYO — Japanese cabinet minister Taro Kono has said “anything can happen” in regard to the postponed Tokyo Olympics, raising more doubts about the games scheduled to begin in just over six months.
Kono’s statements contradict the official government position and that of the local organizing committee. They have both said repeatedly the games will take place and will be “safe and secure.”
Kono opened the door to a possible cancellation. He also gave more credence to recent poll results that show about 80% in Japan think the Olympics shouldn’t happen, or will not happen.
Chock, Bates take lead at nationals with record rhythm dance
LAS VEGAS — Defending champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates set a world record in the rhythm dance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday, scoring 90.10 points to edge Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue by less than a point in their first competition in nearly a year.
Hubbell and Donohue, the two-time champions and reigning silver medalists, set an American record 89.66 points during their strong, sassy program set to music from the film “Burlesque.” But they were eclipsed just an hour later, when Chock and Bates earned Level 4 marks on every element but a twizzle sequence to music from “Kiss Me, Kate.”
The previous world record of 90.03 points was set by Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron at the 2019 NHK Trophy.
“It means that we’ve been doing the right thing and surrounding ourselves with the right people and training really well,” said Chock, who sustained a concussion that forced them to withdraw from Skate America. “Just enjoying ourselves, truly.”
Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, performing to a medley of swinging music, were in third place with 85.28 points as they try to improve on the bronze medal they earned each of the past two years.
Panthers make it official: Scott Fitterer is their new GM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Panthers have hired Seattle Seahawks vice president of football operations Scott Fitterer to become their new general manager.
The team said Fitterer agreed to a five-year contract late Thursday night after being offered earlier in the day.
“We thought Scott was the best fit for the organization,” Panthers owner David Tepper said.
Fitterer has been with the Seahawks since 2001, where he effectively operated as a co-assistant GM under John Schneider. He has worked with three head coaches during that span, with his focus primarily on evaluating incoming college talent.
Fitterer is expected to have final say in personnel decisions in Carolina, although coach Matt Rhule will still have an input.
Fitterer’s hire comes following an exhaustive search by Tepper, who interviewed 15 candidates for the position. The list was later trimmed to four with Fitterer, Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters, and Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles being the finalists who were invited for a second in-person interview.
Josh Gordon’s reinstatement rescinded, suspension resumes
NEW YORK — The conditional reinstatement of wide receiver Josh Gordon has been rescinded by the NFL, and Gordon is once again under suspension.
The change in Gordon’s status was listed on the NFL’s official transactions on Friday.
Gordon was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in September despite being under an indefinite suspension. That suspension ended in early December when Gordon was conditionally reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell. He was allowed to begin strength and conditioning work with the Seahawks staff, and attend meetings. He was expected to be eligible to play the final two weeks of the regular season.
But that never took place. Gordon was placed back on the commissioner’s exempt list in Week 16. Seattle expected Gordon to play at the start of Week 16, only to see his status change a couple of days later.
World Golf Championship moving from Mexico to Florida
The World Golf Championship is moving from Mexico City to the Gulf Coast of Florida, a change driven by the COVID-19 pandemic that has put restrictions on travel and kept away spectators.
The PGA Tour sent a memo to players Friday informing them of the relocation for Feb. 25-28. It will be played at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin.
Golfweek first reported the development.
Still to be determined is the title sponsor for the World Golf Championship, which began in 1999 with a history of moving around the world. The Concession will be its ninth venue.
Along with travel being limited between the United State and Mexico, not having spectators has severely cut into revenues for running events and caused each tournament to get creative in trying to raise money for its local charities, which typically are funded by the net proceeds.
Hernandez, Stripling agree to 1-year deals with Blue Jays
TORONTO — Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez agreed to a $4,325,000, one-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, who reached a $3 million, one-year deal with right-hander Ross Stripling.
The pair were the only Blue Jays remaining eligible for arbitration going into Friday’s scheduled exchange of proposed figures.
Hernandez, 28, hit .230 with 16 homers and 34 RBIs in the shortened 2020 season, tied for fifth in the AL in home runs. His seven assists tied for the big league lead among outfielders.
He earned $223,037 in prorated pay from a salary of $602,200 and was eligible for arbitration for the first time.
Stripling, 31, went 3-3 with a 5.84 ERA over nine starts and three relief appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Blue Jays, who acquired him in a trade on Aug. 31.
AP source: LeMahieu, Yanks work on $90 million, 6-year deal
NEW YORK — The New York Yankees and AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu worked Friday to put in place a six-year contract worth about $90 million, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical.
LeMahieu, who turns 33 in July, became the first player to win undisputed batting titles in both leagues. He won his first AL batting title last year at .364, the highest average for an AL batting champion since Minnesota’s Joe Mauer hit .365 in 2009, after winning the NL championship with Colorado in 2016.
A three-time All-Star, LeMahieu signed a $24 million, two-year contract with the Yankees in January 2019. He had 10 homers and 27 RBIs in the shortened 2020 season after hitting .327 with 26 homers and 102 RBIs in his first season in New York.
Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Soto, Josh Bell, Nats agree for 2021
WASHINGTON — NL batting champion Juan Soto, shortstop Trea Turner and first baseman Josh Bell agreed to 2021 contracts for substantial raises with the Washington Nationals on Friday, leaving the team with no players headed to arbitration.
Soto’s one year-deal is worth $8.5 million, Turner’s is for $13 million and Bell’s is $6.35 million. Friday was the scheduled exchange by players and teams of proposed salary figures for arbitration.
A young, slugging outfielder, Soto hit .351 in 2020, also leading the National League in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695). He finished with a team-high 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 47 games during the pandemic-truncated season.
Soto made just above $233,111 in prorated salary in 2020; he had been due to make s$629,400 if it had been a full season.
UFC bouts return to Fight Island; McGregor back in octagon
UFC docked for a third time at Fight Island, and this time a pair of old rivals are primed to make the trip -- with a few thousand fans set to attend fights for the first time in 10 months.
They might cheer the loudest for Conor McGregor.
The first of three straight fight nights at Etihad Arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island kicks off Saturday when Max Holloway (21-6) fights Calvin Kattar (22-4) in a 145-pound bout in the main event of the first combat sports card aired on ABC since 2000. UFC welterweights Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny fight in the main event of Wednesday’s ESPN card.
That’s just an appetizer for UFC 257 on Jan. 24 when McGregor returns from a year-long layoff for a rematch against Dustin Poirier in the promotion’s first pay-per-view of the year.
White Sox finalize deal with Athletics closer Hendriks
CHICAGO — Liam Hendriks saw the talent the Chicago White Sox had and knew he wanted to join the team. The move became official on Friday.
Chicago finalized a $54 million, three-year deal with the former Oakland Athletics’ closer, another big move as the White Sox set their sights on a championship run.
“At the end of the season, my wife and I sat down and made a list of teams,” Hendriks said. “On paper, the White Sox were the team that I wanted to go to.”
The deal calls for a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $11 million this season, $13 million in 2022 and $14 million in 2023. The White Sox hold a $15 million option for 2024 with a $15 million buyout that would be paid in 10 equal installments from 2024-33.
Judge, Yankees agree at to $10,175,000, 1-year contract
NEW YORK — Slugging outfielder Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a one-year contract worth $10,175,000.
Judge had his third straight injury-interrupted season since winning the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year award, hitting .257 with nine homers and 22 RBIs in 101 at-bats and 28 games. After homering in his first five games, he strained his right calf and played just once between Aug. 11 and Sept. 16.
The two-time All-Star was limited to 112 games in 2018 by a broken bone in his right wrist when by hit by a pitch from Kansas City’s Jakob Junis and to 102 games in 2019 by a strained oblique muscle.
AP source: Red Sox’s Devers agrees to $4,575,000 deal
BOSTON — A person with knowledge of the terms says the Red Sox have agreed to a $4,575,000, one-year deal with third baseman Rafael Devers that avoided salary arbitration..
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because details have not been announced by the team.
The 24-year-old Devers had a breakout season in 2019, when he batted .311 with 32 homers and 115 RBIs, leading the majors with 54 doubles and 359 total bases and finishing 12th in the AL MVP voting.
Rangers 1-year deals with Gold Glovers Gallo, Kiner-Falefa
The Texas Rangers agreed to one-year deals with right fielder Joey Gallo and expected starting shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa on Friday, avoiding arbitration with their two Gold Glove winners.
Gallo got a $6.2 million deal, after last season earning $1,629,630 prorated of the $4.4 million salary he agreed to to avoid arbitration last year.
Kiner-Falefa won a Gold Glove at third base last season, but the Rangers have already said he will go to spring training with the opportunity to be their starting shortstop. His $2 million deal is up from his $587,000 salary for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season when he got $217,407 prorated.
With the agreements, the Rangers will again avoid a salary arbitration hearing. They haven’t had one since 2000, with first baseman/outfielder Lee Stevens.
Gallo won his first Gold Glove for standout defense last season, though he struggled at the plate. The 27-year-old outfielder hit .181 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 57 games in his sixth MLB season since being the 39th overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft.
Reliable third baseman Matt Chapman earns big raise from A’s
OAKLAND — Slick-fielding third baseman Matt Chapman reached agreement Friday on a $6.49 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics to avoid arbitration, and the club also secured deals with its five other arbitration-eligible players.
Chapman earned a hefty raise after making $230,926 in prorated pay of his $623,500 salary in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
The two-time Gold Glove winner’s year was cut short by a season-ending hip injury in September — a big blow for Oakland. He was limited to 37 games before undergoing surgery on his right hip. The 27-year-old Chapman had 10 homers and 25 RBIs batting .232 before the injury.
Brewers reach 1-year deals with Josh Hader, Brandon Woodruff
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers avoided going to arbitration with pitchers Josh Hader and Brandon Woodruff by agreeing to one-year contracts with the former All-Stars.
Hader signed for $6,675,000 while Woodruff agreed to a $3,275,000 deal. The Brewers don’t have any arbitration cases.
Last year, Hader lost an arbitration case that resulted in a $4.1 million salary, which was pro-rated to $1,518,519 in the pandemic shortened the season. Hader said after his arbitration case last year that he believed the system is outdated and doesn’t account for the fact that high-leverage relievers now occasionally pitch earlier in games.
Hader, who turns 27 on April 7, has been one of the game’s top relievers over the last few seasons and made the NL All-Star team in 2018 and 2019.
Teen Cuban infielder among Marlins’ international signings
MIAMI — An 18-year-old infielder from Cuba is among 11 players from four countries to sign with the Miami Marlins during Major League Baseball’s international signing period.
Yiddi Cappe is widely regarded as one of baseball’s top 10 international prospects. He’s 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds and has played shortstop in national competition in Cuba since he was 16.
The Marlins also signed players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Mexico.
Appeals court OKs convictions in college basketball scandal
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court in New York on Friday upheld convictions against a sports marketer, an aspiring agent and a financial adviser in a college basketball scandal that spoiled the careers of several coaches.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in its written decision that it was not adequate for the defendants to argue that their actions mirrored what was commonly done in college basketball programs and that their aim was to help universities, rather than harm.
Pirates avoid arbitration with pitcher Musgrove, 8 others
PITTSBURGH — The Pirates avoided arbitration with right-handed pitcher Joe Musgrove and eight others on Friday as the club tries to bounce back after finishing with the worst record in the majors in 2020.
Musgrove, the team’s opening day starter in 2020, will make $4.45 million after going 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA last season while making a pro-rated $1,037,037 of a $2.8 million salary. The 28-year-old could help anchor the top of the rotation along with Jameson Taillon, the emphasis on “could.” With the Pirates in full rebuild mode, Musgrove is one of their few major-league ready trade chips as they look to restock their prospect pool.
Catcher Jacob Stallings, a Gold Glove finalist while dealing with a pitching staff ravaged by injuries, earned a significant raise. The 31-year-old’s pay jumped from $586,500 ($217,222 pro-rated) to $1.3 million. Stallings hit .248 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in his first full season as a starter.
Infielder Colin Moran, now the de facto starting first baseman after the Pirates traded Josh Bell to Washington on Christmas Eve, earned a bump from $593,500 ($219,815 pro-rated) to $2.8 million. Moran hit .248 with a team-high 10 home runs in 2020.
UConn recruit graduates early, quickly joins No. 4 Huskies
STORRS, Conn. — UConn recruit Saylor Poffenbarger has enrolled in classes at the school and will join the fourth-ranked Huskies this season, coach Geno Auriemma announced Friday.
The 6-foot-2 guard from Middletown, Maryland, was expected to be part of next year’s freshman class.
But after graduating early from high school and completing the academic requirements for admission, she has enrolled at UConn for the spring semester. She will be eligible to participate in team activities and play this season after completing a medical quarantine, the school said.
She is scheduled to arrive on campus this weekend.
Pitt suspends freshman forward John Hugley following arrest
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh suspended freshman forward John Hugley indefinitely for disciplinary reasons on Friday following his arrest on felony charges stemming from an incident last summer.
Hugley, who is from Cleveland, Ohio, is facing two counts of felony criminal conspiracy and one felony count of receiving stolen property, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.
A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 18.
The complaint alleges Hugley was one of two men who entered a car without permission in the early hours of July 19 while the person responsible for the vehicle was sleeping. The car was reported stolen later in the day before being recovered on Aug. 4.
Hugley has appeared in seven games for the Panthers and is averaging 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He missed one game due to COVID-19 protocols.
Dakar Rally motorcyclist dies from injuries days after crash
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — A Dakar Rally racer who was badly injured after crashing his motorbike has died aboard a medical flight from Saudi Arabia to France, race organizers said Friday.
Pierre Cherpin died while being transported from Jeddah to Lille on Thursday night, four days after his crash during the seventh stage from Ha’il to Sakaka.
The 52-year-old Frenchman was found unconscious after the crash and the medical report revealed “serious head trauma.”
Cherpin underwent surgery in Sakaka and was kept in an induced coma before being airlifted to a hospital in Jeddah, organizers said.
Rooney stops playing to take Derby manager job permanently
All-time record scorer for England and Manchester United. A haul of 16 trophies. Wayne Rooney’s illustrious playing career is over.
The former England and United captain has decided it’s time to focus on trying to replicate his successes as a striker in management.
After taking temporary charge of Derby in November — as a player-coach — the 35-year-old Rooney has accepted the manager’s job on a permanent basis with the second division club through 2023.
Marco Andretti to step back from full-time IndyCar racing
Marco Andretti will not run the full IndyCar schedule this season as the third-generation driver reprioritizes his racing career.
Andretti will compete in the Indianapolis 500, the historic race his family has notoriously won just once, and assist Andretti Autosport with preseason testing and development. He will be in a car next week testing in Sebring, Florida.
Beyond that, his schedule is open.
“Marco and I have discussed this at length. I support and respect his decision to take a focus on other areas of life, and maybe even other forms of motorsport,” team owner Michael Andretti said Friday of his son.
Andretti followed his grandfather, father and cousins into IndyCar racing but has never found the same success as his famed family. Mario Andretti, his grandfather, ranks second on IndyCar’s all-time win list with 52 victories including the 1969 Indy 500. Michael Andretti won 42 races.
Mr. WorldWide to NASCAR: Pitbull joins Trackhouse ownership
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Mr. Worldwide” is coming to NASCAR.
Pitbull has become an ownership partner in new NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing, set to make its debut next month at the Daytona 500.
Trackhouse made the Friday announcement with a video on Twitter in which the Grammy winner is featured dancing to an “I believe we will win” chant. He also holds signs that say: “Knuckle Up, Fight Hard. Buckle Up. Fight hard.”
The platinum-selling rapper, known also as “Mr. Worldwide,” joins NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan as celebrity owners entering NASCAR this year. Jordan is a part owner of 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin, which has Bubba Wallace in the No. 23 Toyota this year.
Germans win skeleton golds; Uhlaender leads US sliders
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — Tina Hermann of Germany won a World Cup skeleton race on the historic St. Moritz track Friday, and Katie Uhlaender posted the best finish of any U.S. sliding athlete so far this season.
Hermann prevailed with Austria’s Janine Flock finishing second and Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling taking third. Hannah Neise of Germany was fourth, followed by Uhlaender — the four-time Olympian who placed fifth.
Americans did not compete in the first half of the World Cup skeleton, bobsled and luge seasons, remaining home in the U.S. because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and issues with international travel. Kaillie Humphries was sixth in women’s bobsled last weekend, which had been the top U.S. result this winter before Uhlaender’s showing Friday.
The fifth-place finish was Uhlaender’s top World Cup result in nearly eight years, since a silver-medal performance in a World Cup at Sochi, Russia, in 2013.