UPDATE: Cards sign Felipe Lopez

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Felipe Lopez headshot.jpgUpdate: OK, Johnny Mo is just showing off at this point. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Lopez will earn a $1 million base salary with $1.2 million in “easily attainable” incentives. Lopez made $3.5 million last season.

Saturday, 11:00 AM: The Cardinals have officially announced the signing. In fact, Lopez is already at Roger Dean Stadium (hat-tip to John Marecek of KTRS in St. Louis).

Friday, 8:55 PM: Heyman writes that he’ll make a $1.75 million base salary. Even better for the Redbirds.

Friday, 8:38 PM: Buster Olney of ESPN confirms the signing. One-year, $2 million, pending a physical.

Friday, 8:00 PM: According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are close to signing free agent infielder Felipe Lopez to a one-year contract. He could take a physical as soon as this weekend, according to the report. If the contract is finalized, he’ll earn a $2 million base salary with a chance for some additional incentives.

Lopez, who earned $3.5 million last season, amazingly has to settle for less money after what was arguably his best season. He batted .310/.383/.427 with nine home runs and 57 RBI for the Diamondbacks and Brewers in ’09 and as I compiled in November, Lopez ranked fourth among impending free agents in WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Lopez became so frustrated this offseason that he recently fired Scott Boras and signed on with Beverly Hills Sports Council.

Lopez, who played 43 games with the Cardinals in 2008, is a pretty nice contingency plan while Brendan Ryan rehabs from wrist surgery. Because of his versatility around the diamond, he could even play some third base on occasion if rookie David Freese struggles or needs a breather. It’s a no-brainer, really.

And for my fellow Mets fans, just a reminder that Alex Cora will make $2 million this season and Luis Castillo is still the starting second baseman.

Cavaliers will move ring ceremony to avoid conflict with World Series start

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 11: A general exterior image of the Quicken Loans arena which is next door to Progressive Field where the Chicago White Sox will take on the Cleveland Indians on July 11, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.

In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.

Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.

Indians could benefit from long rest before the World Series

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09: Danny Salazar #31 of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on September 9, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.

Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.

Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.

The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.