Baseball will be an Olympic Sport in 2020

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The International Olympic Committee decreed today that baseball and softball will be Olympic sports in the 2020 Olympics. Also added were skateboarding, sports climbing, karate and surfing.

Baseball became a medal sport for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but was dropped for the 2012 London Games. It won’t be played this year in Rio de Janeiro, either. Japan is hosting the 2020 games, however, and host countries are given the opportunity to request the addition of new events. Baseball being what it is in Japan, it was logical that they’d at least ask for baseball, and today the IOC agreed. It will be in the form of a six-team tournament. It may only last for the 2020 games, however. It will not be approved beyond that. At least not now.

The question is who from the major leagues may play in it? A few weeks ago, when baseball was given approval in a preliminary vote, several major leaguers balked at the idea of doing so given that, you know, the Olympics tend to take place during the major league regular season. Japan and some other countries have discussed suspending their seasons for a couple of weeks, but it’s doubtful MLB would do that.

Which is not the end of the world if you’re pro-Team USA. In the past Olympic baseball teams consisted almost exclusively of college players. Indeed, Olympic baseball was the first place many of us saw some future stars. In 1984, in Los Angeles, baseball was only a demonstration sport, but Mark McGwire and Will Clark were introduced to many of us. U.S. won gold at the 2000 games, with Ben Sheets, among others, turning heads. The 2008 bronze medal winners featured Brett Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Dexter Fowler and Stephen Strasburg.

The 2020 Olympic baseball teams from the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and, perhaps, Canada may not feature the top possible talent each country can offer given that those guys are always big leaguers. But it can still be fun. Here’s hoping it will be.

Kyle Gibson, Orioles finalize 1-year, $10M contract

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Right-hander Kyle Gibson and the Baltimore Orioles finalized a one-year, $10 million contract.

The 35-year-old would receive a $150,000 assignment bonus if traded, payable by the receiving team. He also can earn a $25,000 bonus if he is elected or selected for the All-Star team. Gibson was an All-Star in 2021.

Gibson was 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 31 starts for Philadelphia last season. He also pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances in the postseason for the NL champions.

Baltimore gained another experienced arm as it looks to build on its surprising season. After losing 110 games the previous year, the Orioles contended for an AL wild card for much of the summer before finishing 83-79 for the franchise’s first winning record since 2016.

Gibson was an AL All-Star in 2021, going 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 starts for Texas. He was traded to Philadelphia that July, and he went 4-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 12 appearances for the Phillies down the stretch.

The 6-foot-6 Gibson was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Twins in 2013.

He spent his first first seven seasons with Minnesota, going 67-68 with a 4.52 ERA in 193 games, including 188 starts. He had his best year in 2018, finishing with a career-low 3.62 ERA in a career-best 196 2/3 innings.

Gibson, who signed a $28 million, three-year contract with Texas in December 2019, is 89-91 with a 4.52 ERA in 267 major league games.