Nationals extend offers to five
Just before the deadline at midnight last Friday, the Washington Nationals made contract offers to five of their six players who are eligible for arbitration: Drew Storen, Stephen Strasburg, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon. All five of them are solid players with a lot to contribute, so that made perfect sense. The sixth player, Craig Stammen, did not receive an offer and therefore is now a free agent. That was a surprise to me, since Stammen has been pretty good as a relief pitcher in most recent years, and the Nats need stability in the bullpen. He spent the entire year on the DL after getting surgery in the spring. Two other players, Tyler Moore (utility) and Jose Lobaton (backup catcher) agreed to one-year deals, thus avoiding arbitration. They are both reliable on defense, but had poor years in the batter's box, not getting as many at-bats as they had in 2014. It was the first year the Nats' first-string catcher (Ramos) played for the entire season without an injury. See MLB.com.
One question is whether Storen will be traded to some other team before spring training. The whole fiasco with getting bumped aside when Jonathan Papelbon was acquired in late July left a sour taste in everyone's mouth, and it would be hard to smooth things over again. Storen is a fine pitcher but has been through hell and back (the 2012 and 2014 NLCS), and finally vented his frustration by breaking his thumb in September. It's a terrible shame.
D-backs sign Greinke
In a surprise move, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke to a fat and juicy contract. The free agent Dodger pitcher (and third-place contestant in this year's NL Cy Young Award) will rake in a tidy sum of $206.5 million over the next six years. It's a puzzling move on his part, given that one of the main reasons he left the Kansas City Royals a few years ago was to play in a postseason-bound team (irony!), and the D-backs aren't exactly a top contender at this point in time. Time will tell what is going on. See MLB.com.
Sun Life Stadium update!
Wouldn't you know it? Just two days after I make some minor changes to the Sun Life (Dolphin) Stadium diagrams (see December 4), I made another, even more "startling discovery": the planned rebuilding (which I had thought was going to take another year or two) has already been done! I was flipping channels this afternoon, and when I saw the Ravens-Dolphins game (being played in Miami), my mouth just about dropped open. Nearly all of the upper deck in the four corners was gone, and there were new gaps in the corners of the lower deck, which now extends about 20 feet forward (along the sides) from where it used to. (As a footnote, the home team won, 15-13.) So, I got right to it and did the necessary diagram update (not just a "tweak") for Sun Life (Dolphin) Stadium, which you can see in reduced form right here. (Roll over the image to compare it to what the stadium used to look like.)
I guess it serves me right for not paying enough attention to news, including the tips I get from fans. Actually, the renovations at Sun Life Stadium are not completed. By next year, they plan to have completed a canopy covering the stadium (possibly retractable to cover the field as well), and by 2017 all of the luxury suites and other amenities will be done. See palmbeachpost.com. So, I'll probably have to do another diagram once all the changes have been completed.
Coincidentally, all three current NFL stadiums that were once home to an MLB team hosted a football game today: Sun Life (Dolphin) Stadium, QualComm (Jack Murphy) Stadium, and O.co (Oakland) Coliseum. (The latter two are aging and at risk of being vacated in the next few years, unless the Chargers and Raiders just can't financial support to build new stadiums.) There was also a game at another stadium where baseball has been played: the Superdome. In recognition of all that, I have made some updates to the Football use page, and may make a few more in the next few days.