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Posey, Pence, Ellsbury among 81 to strike deals

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Posey, Pence, Ellsbury among 81 to strike deals

NEW YORK (AP) NL MVP Buster Posey agreed to an $8 million, one-year contract with the San Francisco Giants, teammate Hunter Pence got a $13.8 million deal and Jacoby Ellsbury settled with the Boston Red Sox for $9 million on a busy Friday as players and teams swapped figures in salary arbitration.

Eighty-one players reached agreements, leaving just 36 headed toward hearings next month in Phoenix from among the 133 who filed for arbitration Tuesday. Most of the cases are expected to settle.

San Diego third baseman Chase Headley had the largest request and the biggest spread, asking for $10.3 million while the Padres offered $7,075,000.

Boston reliever Craig Breslow had the slimmest gap. He sought $2,375,000 - that was $50,000 more than the Red Sox offered.

Teams won five of seven cases decided by three-arbitrator panels last winter, their 14th winning record in 16 years. Overall, owners lead 291-214 since arbitration began in 1974.

Posey was eligible for arbitration for the first time after hitting a National League-leading .336 with 24 homers and 103 RBIs and helping the Giants win their second World Series title in three seasons. Posey, who made $615,000 last year, cannot become a free agent until after the 2016 World Series.

Obtained by San Francisco from Philadelphia on July 31, Pence can become a free agent this fall, as can Ellsbury.

Among those left in arbitration, Cincinnati has a major league-high six players remaining. Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, acquired from Cleveland last month, asked for a raise from $4.9 million to $8 million, while the Reds offered $6.75 million. Right-hander Homer Bailey asked to be increased from $2.5 million to $5.8 million and was offered $4.75 million.

Mat Latos, eligible for arbitration for the first time, asked for a raise from $550,000 to $4.7 million after going 14-4 in his first season with the Reds. Cincinnati offered $4.15 million. The other Reds still in arbitration are pitchers Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon and outfielder Chris Heisey.

Two interesting settlements involved Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jason Vargas ($8.5 million) and Seattle Mariners first baseman-designated hitter Kendrys Morales ($5.25 million), who were swapped for each other last month.

Also reaching agreements were Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters ($5.5 million), Milwaukee closer John Axford ($5 million) and Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward ($3.65 million).

Only two players got multiyear deals Friday. Toronto catcher Josh Thole, acquired from the New York Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade, got a $2.5 million, two-year contract, and Washington reliever Craig Stammen agreed to a $2,225,000, two-year deal.

The high-spending Los Angeles Dodgers settled with catcher A.J. Ellis ($2 million) and right-hander Ronald Belisario ($1.45 million). That raised the Dodgers' projected payroll to $214.2 million after an adjustment for cash received this year as part of last summer's trade with the Boston Red Sox for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.

Five players settled after the exchange of figures, with Boston and reliever Alfredo Aceves agreeing to a deal at the $2.65 million midpoint. Posey, Vargas, Washington reliever Tyler Clippard ($4 million) and Detroit reliever Phil Coke ($1.85 million) submitted the same figures as their teams, an indication they reached agreement shortly before the exchange and didn't finalize them until after the swap.

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Royals' Yordano Ventura, 25, killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Royals' Yordano Ventura, 25, killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, whose electric arm and confident demeanor helped lead Kansas City to a long-awaited World Series championship in 2015, died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic early Sunday. He was 25.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo. Mateo did not say whether Ventura was driving.

Ventura is the second young star pitcher to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was among three men killed in a boating accident in September.

Also Sunday, former major league infielder Andy Marte died in a separate car accident in the Dominican Republic. Metropolitan traffic authorities said he died about 95 miles north of the capital.

With the fitting nickname of "Ace," Ventura burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

Not surprisingly, he quickly became a fan favorite as Kansas City embraced baseball once again.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

Royals teammates took to Twitter to share their sorrow.

"I love you my brother. I'm in disbelief and don't know what to say. I love you ACE," first baseman Eric Hosmer said.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas also expressed disbelief, tweeting: "I love you Ace. I don't know what to say other than I'm going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE."

Fans began arriving at Kauffman Stadium shortly after Ventura's death was announced, leaving flowers, hats and other mementos outside the stadium. Flags outside the ballpark also were lowered to half-staff.

Before his start in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series, Ventura paid tribute to his close friend and countryman, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, who had been killed days earlier in a car accident in the Dominican Republic at the age of 22.

Just hours after Taveras' funeral, Ventura put "RIP O.T (hash)18" on his hat and also wrote messages on his glove, cleats and the mound before throwing his first pitch. Ventura proceeded to shut out San Francisco for seven innings in a win.

"If he was still here, I would for sure be talking to him, and Oscar would be very happy for me and very proud," Ventura said after that game. "Oscar was a very humble guy and very likable, and I'm going to miss him a lot."

The Royals lost Game 7 the next day, but came back to win the World Series the next year, beating the New York Mets in five games for their first crown since 1985.

Ventura signed a $23 million, five-year deal with the Royals shortly before he started on opening day in 2015.

The right-hander went 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA last season. He was suspended for nine games -- cut to eight on appeal -- after hitting Orioles star Manny Machado with a fastball, leading to a brawl.

Marte, 33, last played in the majors in 2014 with Arizona. He spent the past two years in South Korea last year.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura," players' union executive Tony Clark said. "It's never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, teammates and fans throughout the United States and Latin America."

Fernandez was killed late last season when his boat crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach in the early morning hours.

It wasn't certain whether Fernandez was driving the boat when it crashed on Sept. 25. He had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, above Florida's legal limit of 0.08, according to autopsy reports released by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office.

Ventura wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Ventura was 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time in nearly three decades. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts.

In 2015, now firmly entrenched in the rotation, Ventura helped lead Kansas City back to the World Series, pitching well in two starts against Toronto in the AL championship Series. The Royals went on to beat the Mets to win their second championship.

Not surprisingly, the Royals moved quickly to sign their burgeoning young ace to a new contract through the 2019 season that included two more options that could have kept him in Kansas City.

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura represented a true rags-to-riches story. He quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when Ventura heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy located on his picturesque island home.

Still, the odds were long that Ventura would ever make it to the big leagues. Very few players from the Dominican academies reached the pinnacle of the sport.

But over time, Ventura was able to harness one of the most electric fastballs that scouts had seen in years, and his headstrong and confident nature was essential in his rapid rise. He made his big league debut to great fanfare in 2013, allowing just one run again Cleveland in a sign of things to come.

He eventually became a cornerstone of a youth movement that included young stars such as Hosmer and Moustakas, one that carried the Royals first to respectability, then to the top of the American League -- rare heights the organization had not experienced in decades.

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Orioles' Adam Jones living out his dream as hockey official

Orioles' Adam Jones living out his dream as hockey official

We all have our dreams and some of us aim higher than others.

What if you're a professional baseball player, and a 5-time All-Star at that?

Well, if you're Adam Jones you want to be the guy who manages the penalty box of a hockey game and the San Diego Gulls of the AHL accomodated his dream.

His list of duties includes the following:

If Adam controls the box like he controls the outfield, I'm sure he'll do just fine.