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D’Backs, A’s and Marlins pull off three-way deal: Heath Bell to Arizona, Chris Young to Oakland

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Here’s doozy of a trade to break up an otherwise quiet day around major league baseball.

Per announcements from the clubs involved, the Diamondbacks, Athletics and Marlins have pulled off a three-way trade which will send Heath Bell to Arizona and Chris Young to Oakland.

Here are the specifics as we have them right now:

The Diamondbacks dealt outfielder Chris Young and cash considerations to the Athletics for infielder Cliff Pennington and prospect infielder Yordy Cabrera. The Diamondbacks then sent Cabrera to the Marlins in exchange for reliever Heath Bell to complete the three-team deal.

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Diamondbacks will cover $13 million of the $21 million remaining on Bell’s contract. It’s clear that something had to be done with the disgruntled reliever after his disastrous first season in Miami, where he clashed with manager Ozzie Guillen and even some teammates. With that in mind, the Marlins have to be thrilled that they were able to not only get rid of Bell, but somehow convince the Diamondbacks to cover the majority of his remaining salary.

We knew the Diamondbacks would likely deal at least one of their outfielders this winter, but it’s hard to believe Kevin Towers couldn’t do better than this as a return for Young, especially considering the money they will now owe to a declining reliever. And in a poor environment for a bounceback, to boot. Towers must really like Pennington, but it’s hard to understand the rush. The Diamondbacks picked up the option on J.J. Putz’s contract for 2013 this morning, so Bell will be asked to pitch in a set-up role with his new club.

This looks like an excellent deal for the Athletics, even though Young is a bit of a curious fit with Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick set in the corner outfield spots and Coco Crisp under contract for $7 million for next season. Still, hard to pass up a deal for a talented center fielder at this price. They likely got a bit of a discount because of Young’s shoulder injury from this season.

Young, 29, is owed $8.5 million in 2013 while his contract includes an $11 million club option for 2014 or a $1.5 million buyout. Per Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, the Diamondbacks are sending $500,000 to Oakland as part of the deal.

Given the surplus of outfield talent with the A’s, it wouldn’t be surprising if we see some more wheeling and dealing from Billy Beane soon, possibly with a deal involving Crisp or Seth Smith. It’s also worth noting that by dealing Pennington to the Diamondbacks, the A’s are more likely to exercise their portion of the $10 million player option Stephen Drew’s contract for next season.

Cabrera was ranked as the No. 15 prospect in the Athletics’ organization by Baseball America coming into this season, but his numbers have been pretty underwhelming as a pro. The 22-year-old has a .230/.297/.351 batting line and a .648 OPS over three seasons and has yet to play above High-A. This was mostly about the Marlins getting out from under Bell’s contract. And they certainly accomplished that goal.

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: