Padres finalize contract with reliever Chad Qualls

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It was reported last week that the Padres and right-hander Chad Qualls were close to agreement on a one-year contract.  That deal is now official and Corey Brock of MLB.com has the financial terms.

Qualls will make $1.5 million this season and another $1.05 million if his club option for 2012 is not exercised.

The 32-year-old posted a disappointing 7.32 ERA and 1.80 WHIP across 59 inning last season for the Diamondbacks and Rays, but he was the victim of bad luck all season and he still throws a fastball that averaged 92.1 MPH in 2010.

Our guess is that he will bounce back in San Diego, where the ballpark is very pitcher-friendly and where he is going to be asked to serve mostly as a middle reliever.  Qualls is probably fourth in line for saves behind Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.