Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda named NLCS Game 1 starter

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It’s official: Kenta Maeda will lead off Game 1 of the Dodgers-Cubs NLCS on Saturday evening. Beyond that, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts was tight-lipped about the remaining pitching match-ups in the series, though the club will carry an additional pitcher as they work through the first best-of-seven series of the playoffs (per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi).

Maeda struggled in his first playoff appearance, going three innings in Game 3 of the NLDS with five hits, four runs, and four strikeouts. All four of the runs scored in the third inning, capped by Anthony Rendon‘s two-run shot. While Roberts said he expects Maeda’s performance to be improved heading into the NLCS, the proof will be in the pitching: the rookie right-hander hasn’t pitched deeper than four innings in a game since September 21, and the Dodgers will be looking to give their bullpen a break against a stacked Cubs’ lineup.

Oh, and just in case Saturday’s opener goes the way of the Dodgers’ dramatic NLDS clinch, professional innings eater Kenley Jansen could be available for an inning of work despite suffering some leg fatigue. Clayton Kershaw, on the other hand, will likely be kept on a fully day of rest.

Report: Brandon Nimmo staying with Mets on 8-year, $162M deal

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NEW YORK – Center fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the free-spending New York Mets, agreeing to an eight-year, $162 million contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical and no announcement had been made.

A quality leadoff hitter with an excellent eye and a .385 career on-base percentage, Nimmo became a free agent last month for the first time. He was a key performer as the Mets returned to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2016.

The left-handed hitter batted .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs, a career high. He also set career bests with 64 RBIs and 151 games played. His seven triples tied for most in the National League.

Bringing back Nimmo means New York is poised to return its entire everyday lineup intact from a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs and won 101 regular-season games – second-most in franchise history.

But the Mets remain busy replenishing a pitching staff gutted by free agency, including Jacob deGrom‘s departure for Texas and Taijuan Walker‘s deal with Philadelphia that was pending a physical.

On the final day of baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Mets completed an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. New York also retained All-Star closer Edwin Diaz last month with a $102 million, five-year contract, and the team has a $26 million, two-year agreement in place with veteran starter Jose Quintana, pending a physical.

Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under owner Steve Cohen, who bought the Mets in November 2020, New York became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. The Mets’ payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Nimmo was selected by New York with the No. 13 pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets last month.

The 29-year-old Wyoming native made his big league debut in 2016. He is a .269 career hitter with 63 homers, 213 RBIs and 23 triples in 608 games. He has an .827 career OPS and has improved his play in center, becoming a solid defender.

Nimmo’s new deal with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.