AP source: Ramírez, Guardians agree on 5-year, $124M deal
UNDATED (AP) — A person familiar with the deal tells AP that All-Star third baseman José Ramírez and the Cleveland Guardians have reached agreement on a five-year, $124 million contract extension. Ramírez’s deal runs through the 2028 season, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because numerous details need to be finalized. The Guardians open the 2022 season in Kansas City on Thursday. The team and Ramírez’s representatives had been in talks about an extension for weeks at training camp in Arizona. Ramírez is one of the AL’s best all-around players. He’s finished in the top three in MVP voting three times in the past five seasons.
In other MLB news:
— The Los Angeles Dodgers and veteran right-hander Dellin Betances (DEH’-lihn beh-TAN’-sehs) have agreed to a minor league contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The 34-year-old Betances made four All-Star teams in eight seasons with the New York Yankees but hasn’t been a reliable contributor since 2018. He’s only appeared in 17 games over the past three seasons and pitched just once for the Mets last year due to shoulder surgery. Over 10 seasons, Betances is 21-23 with a 2.53 ERA and 36 saves.
— The Minnesota Twins are delaying their season opener until Friday due to expected bad weather. The Twins were due to open at Target Field on Thursday against the Seattle Mariners, but the forecast calls for a rain-snow mix and cold conditions. Friday had been a planned off day. The rescheduled opener is set for same 3:10 p.m. Central time start.
— About 1 in 4 fans of Major League Baseball feel at least some anger toward the sport after its first work stoppage in a generation, according to a new poll, but the vast majority are still excited about the new season. The poll from the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds only 27% of Americans say they are currently a fan of MLB, with younger Americans less likely than older ones to say they’re fans. But even among fans, few were very attuned to the 99-day lockout that delayed the start of the season from March 31 or say that it had a major impact on their views of MLB.
— Former All-Star CC Sabathia (suh-BATH’-ee-uh) has been hired as a special assistant to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. The 41-year-old, who retired after the 2019 season, is tasked with addressing player relations, diversity, equity and inclusion, social responsibility, youth participation and broadcasting. Sabathia will work with The Players Alliance. He is a vice president of that group’s board and is working to increase Blacks in the major leagues. He was a six-time All-Star who went 251-161 with 3,093 strikeouts for Cleveland, Milwaukee and the New York Yankees.
AP source: Bills’ Diggs agrees to 4-year contract extension
UNDATED (AP) — A person with direct knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press that Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs has agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $96 million.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Wednesday because the contract has not yet been signed. The deal was first reported by ESPN.
Diggs had two years remaining on his current contract, with the extension locking him up through the 2027 season. The fifth-round draft pick blossomed into one of the NFL’s top playmakers after being traded by Minnesota to Buffalo two years ago.
Diggs celebrated the agreement on his Twitter account by posting a video clip from the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which actor Leonardo DiCaprio announces “I’m not leaving.”
In other NFL news:
— A judge in Texas says Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson must say whether he had sex with 18 massage therapists who supported him last year following criminal complaints. USA Today reported that Watson has 30 days to comply. He previously would not answer the question. Watson also has to provide other information about his massage history since 2019, including any language in his Texans contract about massages. Watson was traded last month from Houston to Cleveland. He has been accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct during therapy sessions.
— Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus says he’s retiring, ending a 10-year career in which he made 58 sacks. The 31-year-old Mercilus announced his decision Wednesday via Instagram. The 2012 first-round draft pick from Illinois spent nearly his entire career with the Houston Texans before playing four regular-season games and one playoff contest with the Green Bay Packers last season. Mercilus had all but one of his 58 career sacks with the Texans. He had a career-high 12 sacks in 2015.
— The budget-conscious Atlanta Falcons signed former first-round picks Rashaan Evans and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to one-year contracts. Evans bolsters the Falcons at linebacker after spending the past four seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He was the 22nd overall pick in the 2018 draft from Alabama, Ifedi gives Atlanta additional depth on an offensive line that struggled in 2021. He was No. 31 overall pick in 2016 by the Seattle Seahawks and spent the past two seasons with the Chicago Bears.
— The attorneys general of six states have written to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing concern over the league’s treatment of female employees and admonishing him for a lack of improvement to the league’s workplace culture. Without improvement, the attorneys general warned of potential legal action. The letter outlines concerns of gender discrimination ranging from the NFL’s treatment of women who have experienced domestic violence to the hiring and promotion of women in NFL offices. The letter comes as Congress investigates how the league has handled claims of sexual harassment in the front office of the Washington Commanders.
— In a bid to encourage the Washington Commanders to stay in Maryland, the Maryland House has approved a measure with a $400 million plan to develop the area around FedEx Field in the suburbs of the nation’s capital. The bill approved Wednesday doesn’t include money for a new stadium for the NFL team. The House voted 121-10 for the bill, which now goes to the Senate with less than a week to go in the state’s legislative session. The measure would authorize the Maryland Stadium Authority to use money from the state lottery to build infrastructure in Prince George’s County.
— Terrell Owens is returning to professional football to catch more passes, mentor young receivers and prove he can still play in the NFL at age 48. Owens, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, is joining the Fan Controlled Football league for its second season. The 7-on-7 indoor league is expanding from four teams to eight and begins play on April 16. Fan Controlled Football allows fans to call offensive plays and vote on rules. Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel already said he’s returning for a second season. Marhawn Lynch, Austin Ekeler, Richard Sherman and Dalvin Cook own teams in the league.
Bulls’ Ball to miss rest of season because of knee injur
UNDATED (AP) — The Chicago Bulls say point guard Lonzo Ball will miss the remainder of the season following another setback in his recovery from surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Ball’s final game was on Jan. 14, and he had surgery two weeks later. The Bulls hoped a recent 10-day shutdown in activities after he experienced discomfort would resolve the issue and allow him to return this season. But he felt pain again. Coach Billy Donovan said this week it was “disappointing” and there would be discussion to determine the next steps.
In other NBA news:
— The Milwaukee Bucks have added some backcourt depth by signing Luca Vildoza, a 26-year-old guard from Argentina. He played two NBA Las Vegas Summer League games last year with the New York Knicks. The Knicks waived him in early October. The 6-foot-3 Vildoza was named the Spanish ACB League Finals MVP in 2020 after helping Baskonia win the league title. He played for Baskonia from 2017-21. He averaged 10.6 points, 3.5 assists, 1.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 24.5 minutes in 62 games across EuroLeague and Spanish ACB competition in the 2020-21 season.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-GEORGIA STATE-HAYES
Georgia State hires former Xavier interim coach Jonas Hayes
ATLANTA (AP) — Jonas Hayes has been hired as Georgia State’s coach after leading Xavier to its first NIT championship in 64 years as interim coach.
The Atlanta native and University of Georgia alumnus replaces Rob Lanier, who left Georgia State to lead SMU’s program.
Hayes was an assistant coach at Xavier before being promoted to interim coach after Travis Steele was fired following a win over Cleveland State in the first round of the NIT. Hayes then led Xavier to its first NIT title since 1958. He led the Musketeers to wins over Florida, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure and Texas A&M.