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Wilmer Flores, Giants finalize two-year, $6.25M contract

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Versatile infielder Wilmer Flores and the San Francisco Giants finalized a two-year, $6.25 million contract Wednesday as spring training began, giving the club a proven hitter against left-handed pitching.

Flores will earn $3 million each of the next two seasons, and the deal includes a $3.5 million club option for 2022 with a $250,000 buyout.

“The addition of Wilmer Flores gives us great flexibility with his ability to play across the infield,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. “Offensively, he matches up well against both right-handed and left-handed pitching and adds another bat to the mix that can help lengthen our lineup.”

The 28-year-old Flores batted .317 with nine home runs, 18 doubles and 37 RBI in 89 games for the National League West rival Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

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Rhys Hoskins leads Phillies to MLB The Show win over Marlins’ Miguel Rojas

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Thursday would have been Opening Day in Major League Baseball.

Fifteen games were on the docket, including the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals facing the New York Mets; the New York Yankees squaring off against the Baltimore Orioles; the Houston Astros meeting the Los Angeles Angels; and the California matchup of the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But with Opening Day postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLB The Show, developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment, took center stage on baseball twitter.

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Teams such as the Cleveland Indians offered codes for The Show, and several others, including the aforementioned Astros, put on computer simulations of what should have been their Day 1 matchups.

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The main event of the baseball video game scene on Thursday, however, was certainly the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the Miami Marlins, as played by Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins and Marlins infielder Miguel Rojas. After seven scoreless innings, Hoskins scored in the eighth and ninth and kept Rojas off the score sheet, taking the contest 2-0. Bryce Harper led the way for Philadelphia with a homer and a pairs of RBIs.

“This was a lot of fun,” Hoskins said during the Phillies’ stream of the game on YouTube. “It’s good to get some baseball on Opening Day when we’re supposed to be playing.”

Both Hoskins and Rojas had a lot of fun throughout the hour-and-a-half stream, trading stories and giving scouting reports on their teammates.

At one point, Hoskins asked Rojas about choosing a farm system pitcher as his reliever.

“Tell me about Sterling Sharp,” Hoskins said.

“Sterling Sharp … He’s a great MLB The Show player,” Rojas quipped. “That’s why I brought him in out of the bullpen for the first time. I know Sharp is watching, so Sharp, congratulations, this is your MLB debut.”

While practicing social distancing and self-quarantining due to COVID-19, many athletes across multiple leagues have turned to video games: The Phoenix Suns lead the way in the NBA on game simulations involving athletes; one tweet from an esports commentator went viral and led to an entire FIFA tournament involving the Spanish La Liga; and multiple athletes are competing in online tournaments in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and other titles.

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Sources — MLB, MLBPA agree to deal on stoppage

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Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have a deal, sources tell ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The players have voted on it already. MLB owners are expected to ratify it Friday.

The deal draws a path forward as baseball tries to figure out when it will return from the stoppage because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the deal, MLB has the right to shorten the 2020 draft to five rounds, sources tell ESPN. Additionally, it can delay the start of the international signing period to as late as January 2021.

MLB also can shorten the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, and push back the 2021-22 international signing period to January 2022 through December 2022, per sources.

The most important thing for the players: In the doomsday scenario of no 2020 season, they will get full service time, meaning Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, J.T. Realmuto and others will be free agents in November regardless of whether games are played.

Along these lines, an important point: Because the season will clearly be shorter, the arbitration rules will be adjusted so players are not penalized for putting up counting stats that don’t stack up to past comparables.

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Ex-Astros slugger Jimmy Wynn, nicknamed ‘Toy Cannon,’ dies at 78

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Jimmy Wynn, the slugger who earned his nickname of “The Toy Cannon” during his days with the Houston Astros in the 1960s and ’70s, has died.

Wynn was 78. The Astros said he died on Thursday in Houston but did not provide further details.

Just 5-foot-9, Wynn was a power-packed outfielder. He hit more than 30 homers twice with Houston, including a career-high 37 in 1967 at the pitcher-friendly Astrodome — that was the first of his three seasons as an All-Star.

Wynn spent his first 11 seasons in Houston, first with the Colt .45s and then with the Astros, before making stops with the Dodgers, Braves, Brewers and Yankees in a 15-year major league career.

Wynn left the team as the franchise leader in hits, home runs, RBIs and walks. He finished with 291 homers, 964 RBIs and 225 stolen bases in his career.

At the time of his death, Wynn worked in the Astros’ front office as a community outreach executive. Ever popular, he often was seen around the ballpark interacting with players and fans alike.

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