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Red Sox avoid arbitration with Steven Wright

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that right-hander Steven Wright has settled for a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Red Sox, effectively avoiding arbitration. The team has yet to confirm the settlement.

Wright, 33, made it through just five starts before a left knee sprain cut his season short in April. He underwent a cartilage restoration procedure and is presumed to be out of commission until spring 2018. Prior to his injury-shortened campaign with the Red Sox in 2017, the knuckleballer put up All-Star numbers in 2016, going 13-6 in 24 starts with a 3.33 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 156 2/3 innings.

Complicating matters, of course, is Wright’s arrest on domestic assault charges last month. The case will be retired for one year, which Wright’s law firm says is “the first step toward a dismissal,” but the league can still hand down a separate punishment if they see fit to do so.

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.