Kevin Kouzmanoff outrighted by Rockies, picks free agency

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Kevin Kouzmanoff’s struggles offensively continued after being traded from Oakland to Colorado in mid-August, leading to the Rockies dropping the veteran third baseman from the 40-man roster and Kouzmanoff opting for free agency.

That was mostly just a timing issue anyway, because Kouzmanoff would have been in line for a $5 million salary via the arbitration process and there was never any chance of a team making that commitment to a guy who failed to crack a .700 OPS in back-to-back seasons.

Kouzmanoff’s stock has fallen to the point that he may have to settle for a bench job or perhaps even a minor-league contract. Any promise he showed by hitting .275 with 18 homers and a .786 OPS as a 25-year-old rookie with the Padres in 2007 has given way to four straight underwhelming seasons and Kouzmanoff is already 30 years old.

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.