Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports brings us this exclusive report:
Burgeoning agent Jay-Z is wooing Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig, hoping to add the 22-year-old to the growing stable of athletes he represents, two sources told Yahoo! Sports.
During a mid-June trip to New York, Puig was invited to a party at a club Jay-Z owns after a Dodgers teammate passed along the rapper’s contact information, one source said. Between the lifestyle and marketing plan offered by Roc Nation Sports, Puig left the meeting intrigued.
Roc Nation Sports’ only other baseball client at this point is Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. The newly-founded agency also represents Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, quarterback Geno Smith of the Jets and WNBA rookie Skylar Diggins.
Puig, 22, is batting .407/.441/.659 with eight home runs, five stolen bases, 19 RBI and 26 runs scored through his first 35 major league games. He defected from his native Cuba in 2012 and went on to sign a seven-year, $42 million free agent contract with Los Angeles. He can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season.
Passan hears that Jay-Z is also courting A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, another Cuban defector.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP