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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Evan Longoria is in his first season as a San Francisco Giant after 10 years in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform, but he still follows his old organization from a new league and the opposite coast. He’s giving a thumbs-down to one particular roster move this spring.

The Rays made a surprising decision Saturday when they designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment during a flurry of transactions. Longoria, who took his spring training physical on Sunday at Scottsdale Stadium, pronounced himself baffled by the decision.

“It’s kind of a shame,” Longoria said. “I don’t understand it. The guy was an All-Star last year. He’s in his early prime. He’s still controllable. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. Corey will end up somewhere and continue to be the player that he is. But I kind of just feel bad for the Rays’ fan base.

“And I feel bad for the guys this year who were probably counting on Corey to put up numbers to help the team win. I’m not going to take too many shots. But I think it’s pretty obvious that the guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFA’d.”

The Rays saved about $10 million from their projected 2018 million payroll with three transactions Saturday. They traded starter Jake Odorizzi, who will make $6.3 million this year and is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, to the Minnesota Twins for minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios, and they realized additional savings by acquiring first baseman/DH C.J. Cron from the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named and designating Dickerson.

The Rays have seven days to trade or release Dickerson. By making the move now, they’re obligated to pay about $1 million of his $5.95 million salary for 2018.

“It’s obviously not a common move to do something like this, but we’ve had enough conversations that we felt this was the best way to get things resolved for him and for us,” Rays general manager Erik Neander told the Tampa-St. Petersburg media on Saturday. “With the conversations that are ongoing with Dickerson, we felt this was the best way to go.”

Cron will make only $2.3 million this season and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2021. Dickerson, in contrast, will be a free agent in 2020. Cron brings some right-handed balance to a Tampa Bay lineup that had a surplus of left-handed bats.

Dickerson, 28, tailed off in the second half last season after making his first All-Star team. He has a .280/.325/.504 slash line in 2,102 MLB plate appearances, and he ranked fourth on the Tampa Bay roster with 2.6 WAR in 2017.

The Rays acquired Dickerson from the Colorado Rockies as part of a four-player trade in January 2016.

Longoria, who left Tampa Bay for San Francisco in a five-player trade in December, wondered about the message the Rays’ decision to part with Dickerson might have on the team’s players as well as the fan base.

“It’s really hard to come into a clubhouse and expect to win when you give away your best players,” Longoria said. “Corey was our best player last year. He was better than me. Logan Morrison hit 38 home runs, but overall, Corey was our best player.

“He has two or three years of MLB service time, and his numbers have been great. I don’t know how you just let the guy go. He can only continue to improve, in my opinion.”

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Given ‘his stats are beyond amazing,’ New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom becomes betting favorite to win NL MVP award

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It often takes eye-popping statistics for a pitcher to win a regular-season MVP award, something that’s happened only twice since 1992. Sportsbooks believe New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom has what it takes.

DeGrom, who is sporting a 0.56 ERA and has driven in more runs at the plate than he has allowed on the mound, has emerged as the consensus favorite to win the National League MVP at U.S. sportsbooks. After opening at 40-1, he is now the National League MVP favorite at 2-1 at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. He went from 9-1 to the favorite at 2-1 in a week at BetMGM sportsbooks.

DeGrom moved ahead of San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. last week, despite leaving his most recent start on Friday with flexor tendinitis. DeGrom is expected to be available for his next scheduled start on Wednesday. DeGrom’s departure caused William Hill’s Nevada sportsbooks to halt betting on the NL MVP, but the company’s New Jersey shops kept the odds on the board. A bettor with William Hill in New Jersey placed $1,000 on deGrom to win NL MVP at 6-1 odds prior to his last start.

In the past 28 seasons, only two pitchers have won regular-season MVP awards, the most recent being Clayton Kershaw in 2014. Only 25 pitchers have won the award in Major League Baseball history.

“He goes out every game and just shuts the other team down,” Adam Pullen, second director of trading for William Hill U.S., said. “It’s hard for people to get past that he’s not an everyday player, but he’s just so dominant. For a pitcher to win the MVP, you have to have dominant stats, and his stats are beyond amazing.”

DeGrom is also the favorite to win the NL Cy Young and has attracted 79.3% of the amount wagered on the odds at BetMGM sportsbooks.

The Mets have been favored in each of deGrom’s 10 starts this season, going 7-3 with him on the mound. The price to bet the Mets with deGrom on the mound, however, was so high that if a bettor backed him for $100 on each of his starts, they’d be down $55 on the season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Tatis is the second-favorite to win NL MVP at 3-1, followed by Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves at 4-1.

In the American League, the Los Angeles Angels‘ two-way star, Shohei Ohtani, is the favorite to win MVP at +120. Before the season, William Hill reported taking a $30,000 bet on Ohtani to win MVP at 30-1 odds. The bet would pay $930,000.

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Kansas City Royals’ Andrew Benintendi hits IL, won’t face Boston Red Sox this weekend

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The Kansas City Royals placed outfielder Andrew Benintendi on the 10-day injured list Monday with a fractured right rib.

The move means that Benintendi won’t be able to face his former team when the Royals host the Boston Red Sox this weekend.

“He had something grab when he threw yesterday [against the Oakland Athletics] with the ball off the wall,” Royals manager Mike Matheny told reporters, according to the Kansas City Star. “He’d been feeling a little bit of something for a while. Obviously, it wasn’t affecting his swing. On the throw, it grabbed him. He was fine last night. Woke up today and it wasn’t right. He had it X-rayed.”

Benintendi, who was traded by the Red Sox to the Royals before the season, is hitting .283 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in his first season with Kansas City.

He missed most of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season because of a strained right rib cage.

The Royals recalled outfielder Edward Olivares from Triple-A Omaha in a corresponding move.

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Day after uncharacteristic loss, Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber placed on 10-day injured list with right shoulder injury

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CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, has a strained right shoulder and will not pitch for at least two weeks.

Manager Terry Francona said Bieber complained of tightness in his shoulder after pitching Sunday and underwent an MRI. The tests showed the muscle strain, and Bieber will be temporarily shut down.

The Indians placed the right-hander on the injured list and recalled reliever Kyle Nelson from Triple-A Columbus.

Bieber’s loss is a major blow to Cleveland, which has managed to stay in contention in the first 2 1/2 months of the season despite a rash of key injuries. The Indians will now have to survive without Bieber, one of baseball’s best pitchers, for at least a few weeks.

Bieber allowed a season-high 10 hits and five runs while losing to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

“Today, I got beat for not executing,” Bieber said after the loss. “That’s obvious. Whether it’s curveball, fastball, slider, changeup, cutter, it doesn’t really matter. I just got to be better and continue to hit spots, execute throughout the game, strike one, two and three and then continue momentum.”

His velocity was noticeably lower vs. Seattle, but Francona didn’t make much of it when asked in his postgame news conference.

Bieber is 7-4 this season in 14 starts, covering 90.2 innings. He has 130 strikeouts, opposed by just 33 walks and has maintained momentum from last season, when he led the majors in wins (8), ERA (1.63) and strikeouts (122).

Seattle has beaten Bieber twice this season, scoring eight runs on 15 hits in 10.1 innings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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