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Astros president Reid Ryan shifts to lesser role with team

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HOUSTON — The Astros reshuffled their front office Thursday, with president Reid Ryan being moved to a lesser role in the organization as owner Jim Crane’s son joined the executive team.

In addition, Nolan Ryan, the father of Reid who served as an executive adviser to Crane, “will not be back with the club,” the Hall of Famer told Fox 26 in Houston via text message. “Will leave it at that.”

The moves were announced 11 days after Crane apologized to a Sports Illustrated reporter and retracted a statement by the club accusing her of trying to “fabricate a story.”

Crane said Thursday he was bringing in his son, Jared, to get more experience and to help the organization. Crane maintained the moves were not related to the incident with SI or the firing of an assistant general manager. The owner turns 66 in January.

“It’s a family issue. I have an older son that’s very good, very bright, and has got some experience but he hasn’t been around it, and I want to start teaching him,” said Crane, who turns 66 in January and has owned the team for eight years. “I’ve been working a long time, and very hard a long time, and I have other stuff, and so he’s just coming in to lend a hand.”

Houston says Reid Ryan’s new role as executive adviser of business relations will allow him “more opportunities to focus on his other business ventures while remaining an important part of the Astros organization.”

Jim Crane said Reid Ryan has done a good job for the Astros and will be helping his son and working with the executive team. Crane said it was a “very amicable” situation.

“Jim Crane has been a great owner for the city of Houston, and I thank him for the opportunity to lead the Houston Astros organization,” Reid Ryan said in a statement released by the team. “Thank you to the many employees, fans, and partners that have supported this team during my tenure as president. Baseball is about bringing joy to people’s lives and I take pride in knowing that we have made so many memories for our fans.

“While my role has changed, I will remain with the Astros and look forward to another great season in 2020.”

Assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was fired for directing inappropriate comments at female reporters during a clubhouse celebration after the team clinched the AL pennant on Oct. 19. The Astros have not identified which team officials approved the initial statement criticizing SI on Oct. 21.

Taubman issued a statement the following day in which he apologized for using “inappropriate language,” and the team fired him Oct. 24.

During a news conference on the afternoon of the firing, general manager Jeff Luhnow did not identify which team officials approved the initial statement before it was released.

Major League Baseball approved Crane’s purchase of the club from Drayton McLane in November 2011. The Astros won their World Series title in 2017, then won 107 games during the regular season this year and got back to another World Series. They lost in Game 7 at home to the Washington Nationals last week.

Reid Ryan was hired as the Astros president in May 2013. He also is part of the ownership group of Triple-A Round Rock.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said on Oct. 25 that Major League Baseball was conducting a wider probe of the Astros beyond Taubman’s behavior, concerned about the team’s initial denial of what happened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The case for the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts — Examining Boston’s two paths forward

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This year’s tepid MLB stove season is dominated by talk of whether contending teams in Boston and Cleveland, both of which won their divisions in 2018 but missed the playoffs in 2019, might trade their best players — Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor, respectively — now, before they reach free agency (next November for Betts and the following offseason for Lindor). Cleveland’s financial picture is its own set of problems, but Boston should have no issue whatsoever paying Betts — who seems to want to go to free agency — $30-plus million a year to spend the rest of his prime years with the Red Sox. There is, however, an argument for trading Betts now to address the organizational deficiency in starting pitching, even though it would mean trading their best and perhaps most popular player.

The Red Sox are not in a great competitive position right now; their rotation for 2020 depends on two veterans, Chris Sale and David Price, whose health and durability are both gigantic questions. Neither threw 150 innings last season; both had the worst ERAs of their careers and both ended the year on the injured list. Their healthy returning starters are Eduardo Rodriguez and … Nathan Eovaldi, if you are an optimist. The Red Sox had a 4.70 ERA last year, putting them at the league median, and would project to worse than that in 2020 unless they bring in a lot of outside help.

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Reliever Chris Martin back with Braves on 2-year, $14 million deal

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ATLANTA — Pitcher Chris Martin and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a $14 million, two-year contract, a deal that brings the right-hander back after he closed 2019 with the club.

Martin, 33, was acquired by Atlanta from the Texas Rangers for left-hander Kolby Allard at the July 31 trade deadline.

Martin was 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 20 games with the Braves. He had 22 strikeouts and one walk in 17⅔ innings.

Martin will earn $7 million in each year of the deal and agreed to a provision to donate $70,000 annually to charity. His signing comes on the same day the Braves introduced left-hander Will Smith, who agreed to a $40 million, three-year contract.

The 6-foot-8 Martin has a 4.51 ERA in his big league career in 144 games, all in relief, with Colorado, the New York Yankees, Texas and Atlanta.

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MLB teams can trust these free agents over 30

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Looking at this year’s list of free agents, there are plenty of drool-worthy options at the top of the rankings. Gerrit Cole is one of the most valuable pitchers to become available in free agency. Anthony Rendon was a serious MVP candidate in 2019 and Stephen Strasburg isn’t that far behind Cole. Zack Wheeler and Hyun-Jin Ryu would fit near the top of most major league rotations.

However, not everyone is getting a star. Some teams are running up against salary issues — many of those limits being self-imposed, of course — and even if the willingness is there, there are a lot more teams than there are available stars. So there is going to be a lot of shopping at the bargain end of free agency. These players won’t carry a team to the postseason single-handedly, but they will likely contribute at a reasonable salary.

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