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Giants, Hunter Pence agree to five-year, $90 million extension

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UPDATE: Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com hears that Pence’s new deal will include a no-trade clause.

1:30 p.m. ET: Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the two sides have agreed to a deal, pending a physical.

1:28 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that it would be a five-year, $90 million deal.

1:18 p.m. ET: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Giants and Pence are “closing in” on a $90 million deal. The contract would carry an AAV (average annual value) of $18 million per season, topping Andre Ethier’s five-year, $85 million ($17 million AAV) extension from last year. Pence’s new deal will likely set the bar for free agent outfielders like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury this winter.

10:08 a.m. ET: Hunter Pence is poised to do quite well in free agency this winter, but it’s possible he’ll come to an agreement with the Giants before getting a chance to hit the open market.

In an unusual scene, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Pence and Giants president Larry Baer had a long discussion in the clubhouse “within earshot of reporters” after last night’s game in which they appeared to be discussing a new contract. Baer merely said that he was congratulating Pence for winning the team’s Willie Mac Award, given annually to the team’s most inspirational player, but the impending free agent confirmed that the two sides are discussing a contract and that a deal could be imminent.

“They’re about to get back to me, seriously,” Pence said. “So we’re either really close or really far away.”

Like, close as in he could reach an agreement before everyone scatters for the winter on Sunday?

“Yeah,” Pence said. “I’ll know shortly. We’ll just say we’re talking, I guess.”

His quotes came hours after general manager Brian Sabean called re-signing Pence the first priority among the “heavy lifting” prior to the start of the free agency period. The club also hopes to retain Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez.

Pence has enjoyed one of his best seasons this year, batting .282/.339/.481 with 26 home runs and 94 RBI over 160 games. The 30-year-old has previously said that he would pass up free agency to sign a multi-year deal with the Giants, but he’s obviously not going to come cheaply.

Study: West teams at a disadvantage due to jet lag

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JULY 14:  A Delta airlines plane is seen as it comes in for a landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Delta Air Lines Inc. reported that their second quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 4.1%, and also announced that they decided to reduce its United States to Britian capacity on its winter schedule because of foreign currency issues and the economic uncertainty from Brexit.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Every year, when the schedules are released, we often hear about the teams that have it worst. Almost always, those teams are West teams. According to MLB.com, teams in the West division of their respective leagues had the top eight most travel-heavy schedules in 2016. The full list:

Team League Division Miles
Mariners AL West 47,704
Angels AL West 44,945
Athletics AL West 42,119
Rangers AL West 41,128
Dodgers NL West 40,294
Giants NL West 39,341
Astros AL West 38,553
Padres NL West 37,363
Rays AL East 36,916
Red Sox AL East 36,896
D-Backs NL West 35,312
Yankees AL East 35,252
Marlins NL East 35,226
Rockies NL West 33,287
Blue Jays AL East 32,895
Orioles AL East 32,322
Braves NL East 29,236
Royals AL Central 29,077
Twins AL Central 28,948
Phillies NL East 28,351
Mets NL East 26,832
White Sox AL Central 26,538
Cardinals NL Central 26,451
Pirates NL Central 26,134
Brewers NL Central 25,620
Tigers AL Central 25,450
Indians AL Central 25,176
Reds NL Central 25,108
Nationals NL East 24,664
Cubs NL Central 24,271

The averages by division:

  • AL East: 34,856 miles
  • AL Central: 25,176
  • AL West: 42,890
  • NL East: 28,862
  • NL Central: 25,517
  • NL West: 37,119

The maps aren’t up for 2017 yet, but rest assured that West teams will once again have it worst. It’s easy to see why, taking a look at the map on MLB.com. If you draw a line to split Texas in half and go straight up through North Dakota, there are only eight teams to the left of that line, leaving the other 23 condensed on the right side. When West teams aren’t playing intra-division games, they are traveling. That’s often not the case for East and Central teams. The Phillies and Pirates, for example, don’t even have to leave the state to play each other.

As Gizmodo points out, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a link between jet lag and performance. Sleep scientist Ravi Allada of Northwestern University analyzed 4,919 games, finding that teams that traveled East performed worse than those that traveled West. Allada and his colleagues adjusted for home field advantage and park effects.

Specifically, teams that traveled from the West to the East lost more often than East teams traveling West. They gave up more runs and scored less runs. They hit for a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They gave up more home runs, accounting for most of the decline in run prevention.

There was a peculiar finding. Allada found that jet lagged home teams performed worse than jet lagged visiting teams. He hypothesizes that “teams may be more cognizant of their schedules when traveling away, thus mitigating jet lag effects,” he told Gizmodo.

The Braves ask Cobb County for $14 million more

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The Braves’ new ballpark in Cobb County Georgia is the gift that keeps on taking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have asked Cobb County for $14 million for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements around the stadium the team has already paid for but which it says the county is responsible. The county says it’s not responsible for them and that it has already paid nearly $70 million for transportation improvements around the ballpark, including on privately-owned property in the mixed-use development.

The reason this isn’t settled: at the time the deal between the county and the team was struck, there was a provision for the county to pay for $14 million for certain improvements. The Braves, this past September, told the county that it wants to be reimbursed for these projects under that provision and that the $70 million the county has already spent shouldn’t count. For reasons, I guess. It’s a bit complicated, but the AJC story lays it out pretty well. The upshot seems to be “why didn’t the Braves say they wanted the county to pay for these things long ago?”

The answer to that question, I suspect, is “because the Braves have been treated as entitled corporate welfare recipients since this deal was announced and they have learned that they can get away with almost anything.”