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Report: Royals and Whit Merrifield nearing agreement on four-year contract extension

11 Comments’s Jon Morosi reports that the Royals and second baseman Whit Merrifield are nearing an agreement on a four-year contract extension. The deal will be worth $16.25 million with an additional $2 million available through performance incentives, Morosi adds.

Merrifield, 30, becomes eligible for salary arbitration after the 2019 season, so the extension would cover all three arbitration-eligible seasons before he can enter free agency.

Last year, Merrifield was one of the best players in baseball, batting .304/.367/.438 with 12 home runs, 60 RBI, 88 runs scored. He led all of baseball with 192 hits and 45 stolen bases. Defensive metrics also rated him highly. Per FanGraphs, Merrifield ranked 16th among qualified position players in WAR, tied with the Braves’ Freddie Freeman at 5.2. 2.0 WAR is considered average.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.