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Free agent closer Liam Hendriks and the Chicago White Sox are in agreement on a multiyear deal, pending a physical, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The deal is for three years and includes an option for the fourth, and guarantees Hendriks $54 million, sources said.

Yahoo Sports first reported the agreement.

The 31-year-old Hendriks, who became a free agent last month when Oakland failed to make a qualifying offer, has been one of the most effective relievers in baseball over the past two seasons, ranking second in ERA (1.6), fourth in WHIP (0.87), third in strikeout ratio (7.2) and tied for eighth in saves (39).

He finished the 2020 regular season with a 1.78 ERA and an MLB second-best 14 saves in 15 opportunities and then recorded a win and a save and a 3.18 ERA in the postseason.

The Australian reliever established career bests with a 12.3 strikeout-walk ratio and 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings last season and was selected the Reliever of the Year in the American League.

Hendriks became a key piece for A’s manager Bob Melvin late in games during the 2019 season. The right-hander, who earned $2.15 million in 2019, is the former opener who became a reliable closer. He went 4-4 with a 1.80 ERA and 25 saves over a career-high 75 appearances spanning 85 innings and made the All-Star team for the first time. He turns 32 on Feb. 10.

Hendriks even got designated for assignment on June 25, 2018 — he has been through that almost a half-dozen times now –and then started Oakland’s 7-2 wild-card loss at Yankee Stadium just more than three months later.

The Oakland closer received a nice raise when he signed a $5.3 million, one-year contract before the 2020 season to avoid salary arbitration.

In 10 major league seasons with the Twins, Royals, Blue Jays and A’s, he has a 19-27 record with 40 saves and a 4.10 ERA.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Odubel Herrera returns for first game since 2019 domestic violence arrest

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CLEARWATER, Fla. — After playing in his first game with the Philadelphia Phillies since his arrest on domestic violence charges two years ago, Odubel Herrera apologized and vowed he’s a better person.

“I feel sorry because I made a big mistake,” Herrera said Tuesday. “I know some people are not going to forgive me, and I understand that. I spent the last two years earning (my girlfriend’s) trust back and I’m grateful she forgave me. Now, I would like to have the same opportunity with my teammates, our fans and the Phillies family.”

The former All-Star center fielder was 1-for-3 with a single and stolen base in a 4-2 loss to Toronto. He played right field, and manager Joe Girardi said he “looked pretty normal.”

Herrera had last played on May 26, 2019. He was suspended for the remainder of the season under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. The charges against Herrera were dismissed, and he was assigned outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Jan. 16 last year and wasn’t part of the 60-player pool for the shortened season.

Herrera will earn $10 million in 2021 in the final season of a $30.5 million, five-year contract that includes two club options, and he is at spring training as a non-roster player.

“I learned a lot the past two years,” he said. “I feel mature. I have changed a lot. I feel I am a better person now.”

Herrera underwent counseling in Philadelphia and also did virtual sessions.

“My relationship is better,” he said. “I feel more mature.”

Herrera said he addressed teammates in the clubhouse before playing against the Blue Jays, and he plans to speak to other players who didn’t travel for the game.

“I want to play baseball, help the team win and play my game,” he said. “I told them I love this uniform and I feel happy to wear the uniform again.”

Herrera, 29, was an All-Star in his second season in the majors in 2016 when he batted .286 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs, 25 stolen bases and had a .361 on-base percentage. He had a career-high 22 homers and 71 RBIs in 2018.

Herrera had lost his starting job and was batting just .222 at the time of his arrest.

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Arizona Diamondbacks’ Kole Calhoun to undergo knee surgery for meniscus tear

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Diamondbacks starting right fielder Kole Calhoun will have surgery Wednesday on his right knee because of a medial meniscus tear.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said on Tuesday that he wasn’t sure whether the injury would cause Calhoun to miss opening day on April 1. The manager said Calhoun the injury occurred during during offseason training and nagging pain led Calhoun to have an MRI.

The 33-year-old Calhoun was one of the D-backs’ best players in 2020, finishing with a team-high 16 homers. He is entering the second season of a $16 million, two-year deal.

“Obviously concerned,” Lovullo said. “I don’t want to sugarcoat that, but I know it’s going to give an opportunity to some other guys and I’m excited about that as well.”

Lovullo said there are several players who could see added at-bats if Calhoun misses extended time, including Pavin Smith, Andy Young, Tim Locastro, Wyatt Mathisen, Daulton Varsho, Trayce Thompson and Josh VanMeter.

“We’ve got some guys who can do it,” Lovullo said. “They’re going to get an opportunity. It’s up to them to take advantage.”

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Alternate, developmental sites to return for MLB teams in 2021, as AAA season gets delayed by at least one month, sources say

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Major League Baseball teams will operate alternate sites similar to those used during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, delaying the beginning of the AAA season by at least a month, sources familiar with the plan told ESPN.

While AAA, the highest level of minor league baseball, was scheduled to begin April 6, games will be pushed back, sources said, to around the same time as AA, High-A and Low-A are expected to start – the first week of May.

Even then, some executives told ESPN they believe the alternate site could last longer into the season. The reason for rekindling sites – which serve as training facilities for players who are likeliest to be called up to the major leagues – is the proximity to teams’ home stadiums and easier oversight of testing and coronavirus protocols, according to sources. Further, AAA teams travel via commercial airline, whereas major league teams can go from hotel to stadium to private flights on getaway days.

Teams are hopeful the delay allows for the vaccination of players before they are sent to their minor league affiliates, which came under the management of MLB this winter. Vaccinated players would allay concerns with teams about players arriving from minor league sites and immediately joining clubs without a quarantine period.

The swift pace of vaccination across the country has heartened league and team officials, and combined with decreasing COVID-19 cases around the country, there is increased optimism about baseball’s prospects for playing a full season with limited issues. Spring-training games have started without a hitch, and officials were stunned at the low number of COVID-19 cases upon intake testing this spring – 20 positive tests among more than 20,000 taken, according to the league.

Still, MLB’s belief that April is likely to be the most difficult month for COVID concerns has not wavered since it tried to get the MLB Players Association to agree on a one-month delay to the season. The union rejected the idea. MLB’s control of the minor leagues allows unilateral implementation of policies.

To make up for lost games in April, AAA teams expect their seasons to run into September – later than the standard minor league year, which typically ends at the beginning of the month.

The number of players at each alternate site is unclear, but sources expect the sites to house about two dozen players – a typical AAA roster. Last year, with a finite number of players allowed at alternate sites, teams opted for a mixture of major league-ready players and prospects whom they didn’t want to lose a year of development not playing.

This incarnation of the alt site is likelier to skew older – major league veterans ascendant prospects who are on the cusp of the major leagues. Lower-level minor league players plan to report to spring training toward the end of March, after major league teams have vacated the facilities, and will prepare for their seasons in Arizona and Florida.

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