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NBA’s Sacramento Kings to auction game-worn jerseys using Ethereum blockchain

The Sacramento Kings haven’t had a winning season since 2006, but with a roster of young stars like Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox, it thinks there’s a market for its authenticated memorabilia.

The Kings today announced a new auction platform for bidding on sports jerseys and apparel during games. The auctions are made possible by Treum, a ConsenSys product for blockchain-backed supply chains, and will take place during each Sacramento home game. (Disclosure: ConsenSys funds Decrypt.)

The first auction will be held tonight during Sacramento’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, with Hield’s game-worn jersey going to the winner.

This isn’t a sign that the Kings are cash-strapped—look no further than Harrison Barnes’ four-year, $85 million contract for proof. Everything raised during the auction is going to charity. The team says the proceeds from tonight’s auction will go to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts and that future proceeds will go to its non-profit foundation.

It’s not the first time the Kings have innovated using blockchain
tech. In fact, it’s been well ahead of the curve compared to other North American sports teams. It accepted Bitcoin
for payment in 2014, started mining cryptocurrency in 2018, and began selling physical crypto-collectibles last year. The Kings even have their own ERC20 token to reward fans.

Its latest venture works like this: From tipoff until midnight, fans in the arena or at home can bid on the live auction item. The highest bidder gets the gear, complete with a certificate of authenticity and a time-stamped Ethereum
token showing how the memorabilia has changed owners.

In a press release, the Kings said that despite the American sport memorabilia market being worth more than $5 billion annually, “there are no industry standards for authenticating items and protecting fans from purchasing counterfeit merchandise. Through this partnership, the Kings and ConsenSys are effectively increasing the resale potential for authenticated merchandise on secondary markets.”

And who knows? The resale value for that Buddy Hield jersey could be pretty high when he leads Sacramento to its first NBA title next year, eh Kings fans?

What Steve Young believes is 49ers’ biggest concern entering NFL playoffs

After roaring to an 8-0 record, the 49ers became wounded down the stretch this season, looking more vulnerable as the injuries piled up.

Still, the 49ers were able to secure a win in Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, giving them a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout.

As the No. 1 seed at 13-3, coach Kyle Shanahan’s team is seen as the presumptive Super Bowl favorite coming out of the NFC. But that doesn’t mean there are no red flags, according to 49ers legend and Hall of Famer Steve Young.

“This defensive line, I thought was top in the league, maybe top two,” Young told KNBR’s “Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks” during the 49ers’ bye week. “Remember the game where they just mauled Aaron Rodgers and he put the white flag up? That’s what those defenses like Denver, when Peyton Manning couldn’t raise his arm and they still won the Super Bowl, or Seattle, Baltimore had a group like that. There are teams that have had these ferocious defensive lines, and we’ve lost that.

“I understand there were injuries and so forth, but that’s my greatest concern. Without that, our defense becomes something where everyone has to stand out on their own and a ferocious defensive line can kind of mask a lot of stuff, and that’s my concern. You run into these teams that can put up big points, and you don’t pull it out 48-46, you lose a game because you’re not putting the pressure on the quarterback that you need to.”

The 49ers’ defensive line was one of the most dominant units in all of football through the first 10 weeks of the season, But injuries to a number of players, including Dee Ford and D.J. Jones, has put a lot of pressure and wear on the likes of Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.

Ford is a game-time decision for Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Minnesota Vikings, but the 49ers will get linebacker Kwon Alexander and safety Jaquiski Tartt back, which should help solidify the second and third levels of the defense.

The 49ers will have to bottle up running back Dalvin Cook on Saturday and force Kirk Cousins to make accurate throws into tight windows to beat them. If they can do that, they should punch their ticket to the NFC Championship Game.

A fully healthy defensive line will provide a big lift to a 49ers team that will need to get the Vikings behind the sticks and turn up the heat on Cousins on third-and-long.

If the defensive front isn’t whole, Young worries that some of the 49ers’ other issues could be exposed at some point in the playoffs.

“There’s other issues that we know the team has, but we haven’t had to worry about them,” Young said. “… I really believed this defensive line was supposed to be the best in the league, and if I have that, the rest of it is going to fall into place. If I don’t, then I’m at risk.”

Miami Heat to celebrate Dwyane Wade’s jersey retirement over three days between Feb. 21-23

There isn’t a more celebrated player in Miami Heat history than Dwyane Wade.

For 15 seasons in South Beach, he donned the No. 3 jersey while dazzling fans on a nightly basis as he hit career milestones, won championships and repeatedly claimed Miami as his city. His farewell tour last season was emotional, as he swapped jerseys with a different player on the opposing team following every game, was named an honorary All-Star for his final season alongside Dirk Nowitzki and ended his career by putting up 30 points in his final home game inside American Airlines Arena.

Wade has made a huge impact on the NBA and basketball as a whole, and when the time comes will undoubtedly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, before that happens the Heat are making sure that no one else will ever wear the No. 3 jersey in Miami as the team has plans to retire Wade’s jersey on Feb. 22 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as originally reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The celebration will take place over three days, with a more expansive ceremony happening the night before on an off day for the Heat, which will be for season-ticket holders only. The raising of Wade’s jersey to the rafters will happen during halftime of Miami’s game against the Cavaliers the next day, and on Feb. 23 there will be a debut screening of Wade’s documentary inside the arena, as reported by Winderman. Wade will become the fifth player in franchise history to have his jersey retired, the most recent being Wade’s former teammate Chris Bosh who was honored in March 2019.

Wade retired with the Heat as the franchise’s all-time leader in points (21,556), assists (5310) and steals (1.492), and led the charge to help Miami win its first championship in franchise history in 2006, by overcoming a 2-0 NBA Finals deficit against the Dallas Mavericks. After LeBron James and Bosh joined Wade in 2010, the three formed one of the most fearsome Big 3s in NBA history, making the Finals four straight times, and winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

LSU vs Clemson: Key facts and storylines one week before the national championship

It will be all about the Tigers when No. 1 LSU faces off against No. 3 Clemson in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship game in New Orleans.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. LSU is anywhere from a 5.5-to-6.5-point favorite to win.

The undefeated LSU Tigers beat Oklahoma 63-28 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Undefeated Clemson managed a 29-23 win over Ohio State during the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the big game.
What are the biggest stories to watch?

The quarterback battle will be a highlight of the match. Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow will face off against Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

The two quarterbacks have combined for more than 8,000 yards passing and more than 80 passing touchdowns this season.

Burrow is on track to break a number of major FBS records in his final game with the LSU Tigers.

Who will take the field for LSU?

The LSU Tigers are expected to have a number of key players back and at full strength for the national championship.

Senior Linebacker Michael Divinity will make a major return to the field. Divinity left the team on Nov. 4 to “focus on a personal matter” and returned to practice on Nov. 18. LSU cleared Divinity to play in games Tuesday morning.

Previously limited by a hamstring injury, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is expected to be at full strength for the national championship. He practiced with “no limitations” last week.

Safety Grant Delpit has battled through injuries this season, but his once sprained ankle is feeling healthier. He hopes to cement his legacy during the game.

Who’s on LSU’s injured list?

Wide receiver Terrace Marshall and Damien Lewis have missed several practices since LSU coach Ed Orgeron announced they were recovering from injuries sustained in the Peach Bowl.

Redshirt freshman running back Chris Curry practiced in a gold non-contact jersey last week. The 6-foot, 215-pound Florida native started in place of Edwards-Helaire in the Peach Bowl and rushed for 90 yards on 16 carries.
How expensive are tickets?

Data shared by StubHub last week showed their average price of tickets sold was hovering in the range of $1,719, with the cheapest tickets available in the range of $1,275.

TicketIQ, which tracks prices of secondary market tickets, projected prices to rise above $3,000 with LSU making it to the championship game that will be played about 70 miles from its campus.

To help Clemson fans get to Louisiana, multiple airlines added additional direct flights to Louis Armstrong International Airport.

A number of people in the news will be making it to the game, including President Donald Trump.

LSU superfan Colton Moore was gifted tickets to the national championship game. The 9-year-old spina bifida patient from Alabama had the chance to meet Coach Ed Orgeron earlier this year.

A fellow LSU fan who won big on a bet that Joe Burrow would win the Heisman Trophy donated some of his winnings to a fundraiser to buy Moore a new wheelchair-accessible van.
How can I watch the game if I can’t make it to New Orleans?

The game will be broadcast on ESPN and on the ESPN “megacast.”
Where can I get an LSU jersey?

LSU merchandise was a hot seller across Baton Rouge during the holidays. And those strong sales are expected to carry on into early 2020, with the Tigers facing Clemson in the College Football Championship game on January 13.

The increased demand for LSU products has meant some items have been hard to find, such as replica jerseys for the Tiger’s Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Nike, which makes the officially licensed adult LSU jerseys, only produces one run of replicas that stores order a few months in advance of the season. Because no one could predict the record-breaking season Burrow would have this year, number 9 jerseys have been sold out.

Marin County teen on quest to find fallen teammate’s jersey after car break-in, theft

A basketball player for Marin County’s Branson High School Bulls is desperately trying to find a jersey stolen out of his car that belonged to his fallen classmate.

The team held one last practice on Thursday morning before yet another big game. And while they will have five men on the court, this team will still go into battle feeling one man short.

“Kwentyn was like our distributor, scorer, playmaker, he was everything,” said teammate Mike Keefe. Hence the words on their shoes, which read, “All For You.”

The former #11, Kwentyn Wiggins, died in a late-night, solo car crash on Highway 101 in Corte Madera last June.

“There were 10 to 11 colleges on his list,” said Kwentyn’s mother, La Tanya Wiggins.

When asked how you go from such promise to such pain, his mother said, “It’s the hardest thing to deal with. I have no idea how I keep going.”

Now Wiggins wears her son’s image around her neck and carries his image permanently on her left arm.

She did have his #11 home jersey, but gave it back to the team, where his best friend Peyton Mullarkey opened the season wearing it.

“We wanted his jersey out there for senior year,” Wiggins said. “We felt that we needed Peyton to wear that jersey.”

Mullarkey added, “He’s like our sixth man. Always with us.”

Bad luck intervened after a game in Oakland last month when someone broke into the Mullarkey family car and took the backpack containing that jersey.

“When we came back and saw that glass, my heart dropped,” he told us.

Getting that jersey back has become as important for the team and family as winning a championship. Branson High School had planned to retire it this year.

“You know, having a duplicate jersey is not the same as the one he sweated in, won a championship in, played with his team in,” Wiggins said.

Sports jerseys. Those of us who get attached to them do so because of feelings and memories. Their value transcends cloth and numbers. To the rest of the world, and probably the thief, it’s just like any other high school jersey.

In this case, friends and Wiggins want it back, no questions asked.

“It means everything,” she said. “It is absolutely priceless. It is one of a kind.”

As is every child.

Good luck finding a Joe Burrow jersey: LSU’s dream football season has merchandise flying off shelves

John Lett has been an LSU football fan for decades, ever since he moved from Missouri to Baton Rouge to get his degree from the college. And even though he’s seen some great Tiger teams that won college football national championships, he said he’s never seen anything like this year’s roster.

Because the Tigers have been so good this season, Lett said he’s been buying more purple and gold merchandise. He recently bought a new home in Ponchatoula, so he’s been decorating his “man cave” with LSU football gear.

“I don’t want to know how much I’ve spent this year,” he said. “For Christmas, I spent $700 on things for my wife, my five grandsons and my two daughters.”

LSU merchandise was a hot seller across Baton Rouge during the holidays. And those strong sales are expected to carry on into early 2020, with the Tigers facing Clemson in the College Football Championship game on January 13.

About 500 businesses are licensed with LSU to produce official products, ranging from T-shirts and caps to original artwork.

Brian Hommel, director of LSU Trademark Licensing, said the team’s 14-0 record has contributed to an increased demand for purple and gold items. But the exact size of that increase won’t be known for a while.

“At this time we are only one quarter into the current fiscal year and will not be able to compare our fall 19 sales and royalty data until early 2020,” Hommel said in an email.

In fiscal 2019, LSU generated $4.8 million in gross royalties from merchandise sales. In contrast, in 2011, the last time the team played in the college football championship game, gross royalties topped $5.6 million. And in 2007, the last time the Tigers won the national championship, gross royalties were $5.3 million, Hommel said.

The increased demand for LSU products has meant some items have been hard to find, such as replica jerseys for the Tiger’s Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Nike, which makes the officially licensed adult LSU jerseys, only produces one run of replicas that stores order a few months in advance of the season. Because no one could predict the record-breaking season Burrow would have this year, number 9 jerseys have been sold out.

“Those jersey items can’t be restocked,” said Patrick Wilkerson, who owns Bengals & Bandits, an LSU clothing store. “We get 30 calls a day from people looking for jerseys.”

Bengals & Bandits doesn’t carry licensed adult jerseys because it concentrates more on unique, retro items. But the store has been producing T-shirts that look like Burrow’s jersey. “Those are our big seller this year,” Wilkerson said.

At Tiger Mania, an LSU merchandise store near Interstate 12 and Drusilla Lane, manager Melana Barton said the biggest sellers have been anything with Burrow’s number 9 on it – such as T-shirts and caps. The store does custom embroidery, so they put the number on anything, she said.

Tiger Mania wasn’t able to get any officially licensed Heisman Trophy items, commemorating Burrow being named as the top player in college football. But the store did produce purple and gold caps that said “He is the Man”.

Barton took over management of Tiger Mania earlier in 2019. She said sales have increased 190% over the previous year because of LSU’s historic season.

“It’s been extremely good,” she said.

At Purple & Gold Sports Shop, a Siegen Lane store that specializes in LSU merchandise, co-owner Sara Sanders said this year’s sales are “blowing away” the business from previous years.

“We’re definitely seeing a higher volume of sales now than we have in years,” she said. “And while the season is normally coming to an end after Thanksgiving, it’s been starting all over again. We’re looking forward to a longer season than we typically have.”

Detroit Lions’ Darius Slay gets Aaron Rodgers’ jersey in swap: ‘It touched me’

Darius Slay wasn’t happy about the Detroit Lions’ loss to the Green Bay Packers. But he was ecstatic about his parting gift from Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback whose virtues Slay has extolled for years.

After a 23-20 loss, the Lions cornerback found Rodgers on the field and received a signed No. 12 jersey.

Slay proudly showed off the jersey in the locker room and read Rodgers’ message, though he had some difficulty reading the writing.

“He basically just said — because he kind of got sloppy handwriting here — ‘I always loved competing against you. You’re one of the greatest in this generation. Thanks for making me a better player,’ ” Slay said. “Which he is one of the better players in this generation for sure, one of the Hall of Fame best quarterbacks.

“And coming from him, my heart drops. You could hear, ‘doop,’ a pin drop. So for me, coming from (someone like) that, feel great. It’s Aaron Rodgers, so he’s just letting me know I’m one of the greatest, I felt great. It touched me. It touched me.”

Slay left the game briefly and returned with a noticeable limp. He played a few series and struggled to match speed with receivers, including when he gave up a 28-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard. He didn’t play the final few series.

“Yeah, just trying to fight man,” Slay said. “I wanted to bring a win for the team, for Marvin (Jones), his family, myself. Just trying to fight. I should’ve stayed down. That last drive was special, but I should’ve stayed down. I don’t know what the results would have been, but I should’ve stayed down.”

Hand-sculpted hockey jerseys a ‘unique’ project for Edmonton artist

An Edmonton artist with an enthusiasm for sports has hit the market with a series of unique, collectible sculptures of hockey jerseys.

“I made this,” Janet Deane said. “How many people do we know in Edmonton who created something from start to finish? It’s not an easy thing.”

It took Deane about 80 hours to sculpt the original mini jersey. It was shipped to a manufacturer in China who then created moulds and hand-painted replicas made from plastic resin.

Along with her business partner, Deane created a company called Sorturii to have a royalty guarantee with the National Hockey League that allows them to use logos and colours of NHL teams.

“I just wanted to make stuff,” she said.

But if she’s going to make something, it’s got to be unique, she said.

Packaged with adhesive numbers and letters in team-specific fonts, each mini jersey can be personalized — perfect for fans of players who rarely get marketed on collectables, or fans who want to remember an event or special date, said Deane.

Deane, 48, has done commissioned artwork — from digital prints to paintings to hand-sculpted trophies — for a long list of players, teams and local charity organizations.

Creating personalized works of art for players to commemorate career milestones has been a thrill, but Deane said she has experienced a lot of entrepreneurial ups and downs that led her to this point in her career, which began at a young age, she said.

“I was selling snails when I was eight years old,” she said.

While she’s done a lot of sports-related art, she isn’t focused on it exclusively.

Deane opened an art gallery at the age of 22 to sell work by university and college students, pitched her products on the business investment show Dragon’s Den, painted art on toenails for charity, and created trophies for international championship events.

Coming up with a unique idea, turning that invention into a reality, and then being able to market it and make a profit comes with unpredictable challenges.

“It’s a cutthroat business.”

Eventually, Deane said she would like to grow her idea into a larger product list that includes more teams and even other sports leagues.

The mini jerseys, featuring the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, are available online and in-store from West Edmonton Coin and Stamp for $39.95.

MLB rumors: Latest on Yankees’ pursuit of Kyle Schwarber; Mookie Betts to Dodgers for Corey Seager? Updates on Francisco Lindor, Dallas Keuchel, Josh Donaldson

It sure has been a fun baseball offseason so far with lots of signings for big bucks and trade rumors galore involving star players.

The latest gossip includes an update on the Yankees’ trade talks with the Chicago Cubs. Also, the Dodgers reportedly are willing to give up star shortstop Corey Seager in a trade with the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Mookie Betts or a deal with the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor.

As for the remaining top free agents, we have the latest info on the likes of Nicholas Castellanos, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Meanwhile, free agents Maikel Franco, Justin Smoak, Julio Teheran and Gio Gonzalez have new homes.

Here is the latest baseball news:

NICHOLAS CASTELLANOS, OF

Status: Free agent.

Age: 27 (28 on March 4, 2020).

2019 stats: Detroit Tigers & Chicago Cubs, 289 average, 615 AB, 100 runs, 178 hits, 58 doubles, 27 HR, 73 RBI, 41 BB, 143 K, .863 OPS, 151 games.

The latest: The Giants and Rangers are possible landing sports for Castellanos as is a return to the Cubs, the team that he raked for last summer following a July trade. The Cubs are the best fit, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. “Someone close to Castellanos said he’s looking for a team where the culture is good, where he can contribute to that culture and elevate it,” Rosenthal said on Hot Stove. “Well, what have the Cubs been talking about for the better part of a year? Culture, urgency, all of these buzzwords. And he certainly elevated them in that regard when he came over in the trade. I suspect he is going to do well (in a contract). Maybe not crazy well because he’s not really much of a defender, but he’s is going to get a longer deal because of his age, and because of a longer deal, the money will be pretty big.”

MIKE CLEVINGER, RHP

Club: Cleveland Indians.

Age: 28 (29 on Dec. 21, 2019).

2019 stats: Indians, 13-4, 2.71 ERA, 21 starts, 126 IP, 96 hits, 37 BB, 169 K.

The latest: The Indians still are in a cost-cutting mode after trading ace Corey Kluber, and although shortstop Francisco Lindor has been in a lot of trade rumors, the next to go could be Clevinger, who was 38-18 with a 2.96 ERA over 80 outings from 2017-19. The Dodgers and Padres are showing interest, but the price is “crazy high,” baseball writer Robert Murray reported.

JOSH DONALDSON, 3B

Status: Free agent.

Age: 34 (35 on Dec. 8, 2020)

2019 stats: Atlanta Braves, .259 average, 549 AB, 96 runs, 142 hits, 33 doubles, 37 HR, 94 RBI, 100 BB, 155 K, .900 OPS, 155 games.

The latest: “I think the key number could be $100 million,” MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said. “(Donaldson) is in excellent, excellent position. The (Mike) Moustakas deal for $64 million not only took Moustakas off the board, but it put him on the Reds, who really didn’t need a third baseman. So it left a lot of options for Donaldson in play. It feels like it could be an NL East matchup. The Nats, I’ve heard, are trying hard. They seem to be the team that’s willing to do that fourth year. Whether there are other teams, I’m not sure. We’ve heard earlier on that the Braves probably wouldn’t go to a fourth year, but if push comes to shove and you’ve got the rival in there doing the fourth year … I’m not going to bet against the Nats and the Braves are still in there. The Dodgers have been looking at him, the Twins have been looking at him and the Rangers also, but it feels like an NL battle (between the Nationals and Braves) to me.”

MAIKEL FRANCO, 3B

Club: Kansas City Royals.

Age: 27 (28 on Aug. 26, 2020)

2019 stats: Philadelphia Phillies, .234 average, 389 AB, 48 runs, 91 hits, 17 doubles, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 36 BB, 61 K, .704 OPS 123 games.

The latest: The Royals and Franco have agreed on a one-year, $2.95-million contract that includes $1.05 million in performance bonuses. This signing is expected to lead to the Royals playing Hunter Rozier in right field next season after a 2019 campaign in which he started 99 games at third, 17 in right and seven at first base.

GIO GONZALEZ, LHP

Club: Chicago White Sox.

Age: 34 (36 on Sept. 19, 2020)

2019 MLB stats: Milwaukee Brewers, 3-2, 3.50 ERA, 19 games, 17 starts, 87.1 IP, 76 hits, 37 BB, 78 K.

2019 minor-league stats: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (AAA), San Antonio Missions (AAA), Carolina Mudcats (high A), 2-1, 5.40 ERA, 5 starts, 21.2 IP, 28 hits, 6 BB, 25 K.

The latest: The White Sox filled a rotation hole signing Gonzalez to a deal for undisclosed terms. Chicago’s other projected starters, at least for the time being, are ace Lucas Giolito (14-9, 3.41), Reynaldo Lopez (10-15, 5.38), Dylan Cease (4-7, 5.79) and Dylan Covey (1-8, 7.98)

DALLAS KEUCHEL, LHP

Status: Free agent.

Age: 31 (32 on Jan. 1, 2020)

2019 stats: Atlanta Braves, 8-8, 3.75 ERA, 19 starts, 112.2 IP, 115 hits, 39 BB, 91 K.

The latest: A return to the Braves or signing with the Angels or Cardinals are the top possibilities for Keuchel. “I wouldn’t be shocked if (the Braves) come back to Keuchel,” MLB Insider Jon Heyman said on Hot Stove. “I do think the Angels make sense. They do have some interest, I would not be shocked there. I’ve heard that he does like St. Louis very much, as a lot of ballplayers do. Great baseball town. So all of those are possibilities. I know the White Sox have been connected (but) I would say they’re on the fringe and less likely than the others.”

FRANCISCO LINDOR, SS

Club: Cleveland Indians.

Age: 26 (27 on Nov. 14, 2020)

2019 stats: Indians, .284 average, 598 AB, 101 runs, 170 hits, 40 doubles, 32 HR, 74 RBI, 46 BB, 98 K, .854 OPS, 143 games.

The latest: The Indians still are willing to deal Lindor after trading two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in a cost-cutting deal, and according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, “the Reds are the latest team to engage about a potential trade,” Feinsand added, ”It’s unclear if there’s any traction, but Reds have been aggressive on (the) trade market before and have trade chips.” The Padres also have looked into dealing for Lindor, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal added. Lindor is two years away from free agency and reportedly unlikely to get a market-value, long-term offer from the Indians.

MARTIN PEREZ, LHP

Club: Boston Red Sox.

Age: 28 (29 on April 4, 2020)

2019 stats: Minnesota Twins, 10-7, 5.12 ERA, 32 games, 29 starts, 165.1 IP, 184 hits, 67 BB, 135 K.

The latest: Perez’s recent signing with the Red Sox was announced by the club on Thursday. Perez currently is listed as Boston’s No. 5 starter in a rotation that includes fellow lefties Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez plus righty Nathan Eovaldi, but the club hopes to deal Price in a cost-cutting move this winter. Perez’ new deal is for one year and $6-million plus a $6.25 million club option or $500,000 buyout for 2021.

HYUN-JIN RYU, LHP

Status: Free agent.

Age: 32 (33 on March 25, 2020)

2019 stats: Los Angeles Dodgers, 14-5, 2.32 ERA, 29 starts, 182.2 IP, 160 hits, 24 BB, 163 K.

The latest: At least five clubs are the running for Ryu, and the Dodgers are the favorite to keep the 2019 NL Cy Young runner-up, MLB insider Jon Heyman said on Hot Stove. “It feels like the Dodgers still want him back,” Heyman said. “They played on the really big players in their primes (this winter in runs at free agents Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon) and have come up short to this point. But they are very good at keeping their own stars. Ryu had a fantastic year, so I think the Dodgers are an obvious favorite to keep Ryu. I know Toronto is in there strong, as well. I know the Twins have been connected. I know the Braves have checked in. The Angels are another team that would make sense. So we have at least five teams that are possibilities for Ryu. This one feels like it is heating up and I wouldn’t be shocked if something happens in a week or two. There are teams looking at four years for Ryu and he’s going to do quite well.”

COREY SEAGER, SS

Club: Los Angeles Dodgers.

Age: 25 (26 on April 27, 2020).

2019 stats: Dodgers, .272 average, 489 AB, 82 runs, 133 hits, 44 doubles, 19 HR, 87 RBI, 44 BB, 98 K, .817 OPS, 134 games.

The latest: The Dodgers are willing to part with Seager in a deal that brings them Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported. Betts can become a free agent after the 2020 season while Seager, a two-time All-Star, has two years of team control remaining. The Red Sox reportedly hope to trim payroll and Betts, according to MLB Trade Rumors, is projected to make $27.7 million next season as an arbitration-eligible player. Boston, however, appears “inclined to deal elsewhere on the roster” and keep Betts, according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox have been aggressively shopping left-hander David Price, who has three seasons and $96 million remaining on a seven-year, $217 million contract.

Club: Chicago Cubs.

Age: 26 (27 on March 5, 2020).

2019 stats: Cubs, .250 average, 529 AB, 82 runs, 132 hits, 29 doubles, 38 HR, 92 RBI, 70 BB, 156 K, .871 OPS, 121 games.

The latest: Although the Yankees recently have looked into trading for Schwarber, who has been on their radar since 2016, they aren’t close to completing a deal with the Cubs, MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal reported. Schwarber, who has averaged 31 homers in his three full seasons as a big leaguer from 2017-19, would be an upgrade in left field for the Yankees over Mike Tauchman and Brett Gardner.

JUSTIN SMOAK, 1B

Club: Milwaukee Brewers.

Age: 33 (34 on Dec. 5, 2020).

2019 stats: Toronto Blue Jays, .208 average, 414 AB, 54 runs, 86 hits, 16 doubles, 22 HR, 61 RBI 79 BB, 106 K, .748 OPS, 121 games.

The latest: The Brewers and Smoak came to terms on a one-year, $1 5M deal that includes a $5.5 million club option or $1 million buyout for 2021

Club: Los Angeles Angels.

Age: 28 (29 on Jan. 27, 2020)

2019 stats: Atlanta Braves, 10-11, 3.81 ERA, 33 starts, 174.2 IP, 148 hits, 83 BB, 162 K.

The latest: Outbid by the Yankees for Gerrit Cole, the Angels added a two-time All-Star and long-time workhouse signing Teheran to a one-year, $9-million contract, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reported. The Angels still may add another starter, but currently have a projected 2020 rotation that includes Andrew Heaney, Shohei Ohtani, Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning. Only Heaney and Canning were in the Angels’ rotation last year, as Bundy was acquired in trade from Baltimore on Dec. 4 and Ohtani was limited to DH duties last season due to Oct. 1, 2018 Tommy John surgery.

EDINSON VOLQUEZ, RHP

Club: Texas Rangers.

Age: 36 (37 on July 3, 2020)

2019 stats: Rangers, 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 11 games, 4 starts, 16 IP, 20 hits, 12 BB, 10 K.

The latest: Volquez, who missed most of the 2019 season with a right shoulder strain, re-signed with the Rangers on a minor-league contract that includes an invite to big-league spring training. A 17-game winner and All-Star with Cincinnati in 2008, Volquez began this past season as the Rangers’ No. 2 starter. He landed on the DL after two starts with the shoulder and didn’t return until September.

Kelenna Azubuike says Carmelo Anthony paid him $3,000 to take his No. 7 jersey with the Knicks

How much is a jersey number on a team worth? Well, that varies from player to player, and Kelenna Azubuike, former New York Knick, realized this the hard way when Carmelo Anthony joined his then team and wanted to take the No. 7 off his back. Azubuike had his sights set on a large sum of cash for the gift of a number, but was let down when the check was finally in his hands.

During the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors game Azubuike told the story of how Melo snatched his number for a discounted price.

Azubuike set the scene saying, “So he wanted No. 7 and so Donnie Walsh, who was the GM at the time, calls me into his office and he’s like, ‘Carmelo’s telling us he wants your number.'”

He was not just about to hand over then number right then and there and said, “Well he’s gonna have to give me something, he’s gotta pay me something, right?”

Walsh told them to work it out themselves.

“So Carmelo comes in there,” Azubuike continues, “I’m like ‘Bro, let me hold something… I know you’re paid.'”

Azubuike says he didn’t even have the chance to shoutout a number before the next No. 7 said, “I got you, don’t worry about it.”

With high hopes of taking in “at least 20 racks,” Azubuike thought about all those players who paid $50-100,000 for a jersey number swap and was looking forward to a nice payday courtesy of his new teammate.

His friends were hyping him up, talking about Anthony’s contract and how much he was about to get for the number, but it did not exactly play out how they had hoped.

“I walk in the next day and he hands me a check for $3,000, I’m like come on,” Azubuike says.

Azubuike said the problem was that he had no leverage with the team. He was not a star, he was injured and was not even playing, and said Anthony knew “He had all the power.”

“I blame my boys for the high expectations,” he joked.

Anthony got the number without even putting a dent in his bank account Azubuike got was a few thousand and a funny story to tell during broadcasts.

Melo was unable to wear No. 7 with the Trail Blazers because it is out of circulation for Brandon Roy, and his previous number 15, is retired by the franchise for Larry Steele, who was on the 1977 NBA championship team. Anthon now wears 00 for very specific reasons.