Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
So do you bat them Mike Trout–Anthony Rendon–Shohei Ohtani, or Rendon-Trout-Ohtani, or some other combination? That’s a good problem that Angels manager Joe Maddon will have next season, as the Angels agreed to a seven-year, $245-million deal with Rendon on Wednesday night at the baseball winter meetings in San Diego.
Rendon, 29, cashed in on his best season as a major leaguer and was considered the top position player on the market. He had his choice of suitors, including the Dodgers, after declining the Washington Nationals’ reported offer of seven years and over $200 million at the end of the season.
The Texas Rangers had hoped Rendon, a Texas native raised in Houston, would sign with them out of a desire to play close to home. He was instead pulled to Anaheim, where Angels owner Arte Moreno has drawn other big-name free-agent position players such as Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
Rendon will not fill the void atop the Angels’ starting rotation. But he will provide an infusion of power at a position that previously had little. Without Rendon’s bat, the Angels would have likely relied on David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella at third base. Although La Stella became an All-Star in part because he tapped into his power in his first season drawing regular starts, Fletcher uses a contact-first approach and doesn’t bat with much pop.
Rendon hit .319 with 34 home runs and a 1.010 on-base-plus-slugging percentage while maintaining his defensive excellence at third base. He led the majors with 126 runs batted in and was named an All-Star for the first time. He finished seventh in the majors with 7.0 Wins Above Replacement and third in National League MVP voting.
He continued his elite performance in the playoffs, batting .328 with five home runs, eight doubles and 21 runs batted in to help guide the Nationals to a championship.
The Dodgers were looking for someone they believe could dominate batters in the later innings. On Wednesday, they addressed the priority, agreeing to a one-year, $10-million contract with Blake Treinen, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The news comes after the Dodgers missed out on Gerrit Cole, the offseason’s top free-agent prize, Tuesday night, but terms were agreed upon before Cole’s decision to sign with the New York Yankees.
Treinen’s career has been a story of fluctuation. In 2018, he was arguably the best reliever in baseball, posting an 0.78 ERA and 38 saves as the Oakland Athletics’ closer. Last season, the 31-year-old right-hander regressed and finished with a 4.91 ERA. He lost his job as closer and was non-tendered earlier this month. He has 71 saves and a 2.97 ERA in six seasons.
Five months after Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died in a hotel room with two opioids in his bloodstream, Major League Baseball and its players’ union have agreed on a new drug policy that would add opioid testing for major leaguers and would not punish marijuana use in the major or minor leagues.
The policy, which would be implemented next season, is expected to be announced Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the policy who requested anonymity.
The new policy is expected to call for treatment, rather than suspension, for players testing positive for opioids. Major league players have not been subject to opioid or marijuana testing, barring reasonable cause or participation in a treatment program.
The policy also would allow major and minor leaguers to use marijuana for pain relief without fear of discipline. Until now, minor league players have been subject to testing for marijuana and could be suspended for repeated use.
The Lakers (22-3) beat the Orlando Magic (11-13) 96-87 behind a triple-double from LeBron James, who finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. James was 11 for 24 shooting and Anthony Davis made six of 20 shots, to finish with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 15 points, making five of 10 shots and four of seven three-pointers. Jared Dudley, whose playing time increased with Kyle Kuzma out because of a sprained left ankle, scored nine points, making three of four three-point attempts.
The Lakers have now won 12 road games in a row.
“What I love about this win is we can win in a variety of different ways,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We have great versatility. The last game we played 140 points and we were able to secure that victory in a different style of game. This one was more of a grind-it-out game and our defense held up.”
Kawhi Leonard got his ring, and the Los Angeles Clippers got another win.
Leonard scored 23 points in his return to Toronto, Lou Williams had 18 and the Clippers won their third straight game, beating the slumping Raptors 112-92.
Maurice Harkless scored 14 points and Paul George had 13 as the Clippers evened their road record at 6-6.
Before the game, Leonard received his championship ring from the 2018-19 season, when he helped Toronto beat Golden State in six games for the franchise’s first NBA title.
Before the season, the Rams removed a potential burden from quarterback Jared Goff’s shoulders by signing him to a massive extension.
The $134-million deal, which included a record $110 million in guarantees, preemptively ensured that Goff would not have to play the final season of his rookie contract in 2020 while trying to prove his worth.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is doing just that — he reportedly turned down a $30-million-a-year deal before the season — and he has not flinched.
Prescott is earning about $2.1 million this season, according to overthecap.com. He has passed for an NFL-best 4,122 yards, and has connected for 24 touchdown passes, with 11 interceptions.
“He’s been doing a great job,” Goff said Wednesday. “There has been a lot of outside noise, and I think he’s handled it as well as he can.”
Would Goff be surprised if Prescott ultimately agrees to an extension that eclipses his deal?
“Not at all,” Goff said. “He’s a great player and he deserves everything coming his way.”
Goff, the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and Prescott, a fourth-round pick that year, will play against each other as pros for the third time Sunday when the Rams travel to AT&T Stadium for a game with playoff implications for both teams.
Anthony Lynn said Jerry Tillery understood the coach’s decision Sunday to not have the Chargers rookie defensive tackle active for the game against Jacksonville.
He understood it, Lynn explained, but didn’t like it.
On Wednesday, Tillery confirmed that story.
“We had a conversation,” Tillery said. “He told me how he felt and I told him how I felt, and that was it. That was the end of it.”
A first-round choice in April, Tillery had appeared in all 12 games — including three starts — before Sunday.
But against the Jaguars, Lynn opted to have veteran Sylvester Williams active over Tillery because Williams is 30 pounds heavier and better equipped to stop the run.
Tillery said being inactive was discouraging but said he feels good about the progress he’s made this season.
“I want to play,” he said. “That’s it. At the end of the day, I wasn’t out there. They made me inactive. That’s how it went.”
Who doesn’t love bobbleheads?
I get emails all the time from readers of this newsletter or the Dodgers newsletter asking where I can find a certain bobblehead. I never had a good answer until now. I have a bunch of bobbleheads, and am always looking for more. Most of them are Dodgers bobbleheads, but sometimes I miss out on giveaways or sometimes I just can’t find one I really want. If that sounds like someone you know, I have stumbled on a website that may help you find the perfect bobblehead as a Christmas present for someone you love. My Christmas present for me was a limited edition Bret Hart–Steve Austin bobblehead that recreates a memorable scene from their classic WrestleMania 13 match. The site is easy to navigate and is a great place for you to start your bobblehead search. And at least now I have an answer for those of you who write me about one.
YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT
What is your all-time favorite local sports moment? Email me at [email protected] and tell me what it is and why, and it could appear in a future Sports newsletter.
This moment comes from Eliot Brown:
My favorite sports moment involved, as a few others seem to, Coach John Wooden and came about 20 years ago with my son who was around 10 at the time.
We were being taken to our table at a delicatessen on Ventura in Tarzana, and as we approached our booth, I noticed that there was a man sitting by himself, two booths from us.
When I told my son that the man is Coach Wooden my son asked how I was sure. I told him that Coach is always having breakfast at a coffee shop up the street and that I’ve seen him there many times. I then told my son to go visit him, just say hello.
At first, my son hesitated, didn’t want to disturb Coach having dinner. Normally, I’d agree, but, then I remembered how Coach loved talking to people, especially young people.
So, I “encouraged” my son again to go over to him and just say hi. So, he did.
I expected my son to come back in just a couple of minutes. Instead, Coach Wooden engaged him for almost 20 minutes and when he came back, my son said “What a cool guy!”
I asked what Coach talked about & he said “Being a good person, work hard, honor your family & friends, and about a Pyramid”. Then, he showed me a business card Coach gave him that had the “Pyramid to Success” logo on it with Coach’s signature.
Here was this unassuming man, this legend, sitting at a table by himself, literally no one recognizing him (or if they did, they kept their distance), stops his dinner to take 20 minutes of his time to talk with a 10 year old, my son. 20+ years have passed since then, but it’s a vivid memory I’ll never forget!
TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE
All times Pacific
Kings at Ducks, 7 p.m., FSW, PRIME
BORN ON THIS DATE
1914: Former Dodger and Angel executive Buzzie Bavasi (d. 2008)
1932: Basketball player Bob Pettit
1946: Race car driver Emerson Fittipaldi
1950: Hockey player Billy Smith
1952: Gymnast Cathy Rigby
1962: Tennis player Tracy Austin
1964: Football player Haywood Jeffires
1967: Football player John Randle
1970: Football player Orlando Brown
1972: Runner Wilson Kipketer
1977: Former Dodger Orlando Hudson
1981: Aerial skier Jeret Peterson
DIED ON THIS DATE
1991: Baseball player Ken Keltner, 75
2006: Basketball player Paul Arizin, 77
Tracy Austin vs. Chris Evert in the 1979 U.S. Open final. Watch it here.
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