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Will Benson CLE RF
Indians' Will Benson: Rising in farm system3m ago
Benson was promoted to High-A Lynchburg on Wednesday, Emily Waldon of The Athletic reports.
The 21-year-old had a stellar first half of the season, resulting in his second straight appearance in the Midwest League All-Star Game. He's on pace for 36 home runs, 110 RBI and 88 runs which would all shatter his previous career-best numbers, but considering his excellent hitting, it might be in the club's best interest to provide more challenging competition for Benson sooner rather than later.
Wilmer Font NYM RP
Mets' Wilmer Font: Not starting Thursday4m ago
Font will not start Thursday against the Cubs, Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports reports.
Font was a candidate to fill in for the injured Noah Syndergaard (hamstring), but the Mets will instead give Walter Lockett the ball for Thursday's series opener. The right-hander will work as a long reliever for now, though there's a chance Font could be considered for a spot start early next week if Lockett struggles, as the Mets will need another fill in before Syndergaard is eligible to return.
Walker Lockett NYM SP
Mets' Walker Lockett: Set for spot start Thursday9m ago
Lockett will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to start Thursday's game against the Cubs, Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports reports.
Lockett will join the big-league rotation for at least one turn with Noah Syndergaard (hamstring) on the injured list. The 25-year-old right-hander has been solid in four appearances since joining Syracuse, compiling a 3.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 9:4 K:BBB in 24.2 innings. Whether he sticks around for a second start could depend on how he fares in Chicago on Thursday.
Derek Dietrich CIN 2B
Reds' Derek Dietrich: Ends power drought11m ago
Dietrich went 1-for-2 with a home run, a walk and two RBI in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Astros.
Dietrich slugged one of the Reds' two first-inning home runs against Justin Verlander, which staked Cincinnati to an early three-run lead. The two-run shot to right field ended a 13-game stretch in which Dietrich recorded only two extra-base hits (both doubles) and batted .167 with a 27.1 percent strikeout rate. After starting at the keystone Tuesday, he'll shift over to first base Wednesday and bat cleanup with Joey Votto getting the day off.
Raisel Iglesias CIN RP
Reds' Raisel Iglesias: No role change12m ago
Iglesias once again pitched in the eighth inning Tuesday, giving way to Michael Lorenzen for the save chance in the ninth, but manager David Bell said afterward that there has been no role change at the back of the bullpen, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports.
The skipper has made it clear that he will use Iglesias in the highest-leverage spot, regardless of inning, and for the second consecutive day, there was an urgency to get outs in the eighth. "If [Yuli] Gurriel came up in that inning, that's where the game was going to be. We wanted Iggy. That was the game. So he pitched," Bell said. Iglesias currently has a career-worst 1.39 WHIP through 31 innings -- his previous career high was 1.14 -- but he's improved his strikeout and home-run rates from last year and in turn has shaved his FIP down to 3.49 (from 4.23).
Kendrys Morales NYY DH
Yankees' Kendrys Morales: Making progress14m ago
Morales (calf) fielded grounders Wednesday, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports.
Morales, who resumed hitting earlier in the week, continues to make steady progress in his return from a strained left calf. While the veteran slugger isn't expected to remain sidelined for much longer, he'll likely be designated for assignment once healthy following the Yankees' acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion, per Randy Miller of The Newark Star-Ledger.
Ted Ginn NO WR
Saints' Ted Ginn: Ready for 40 Yards of Gold1h ago
Ginn plans to participate in the "40 Yards of Gold" competition June 29, Brett Martel of The Associated Press reports.
Ginn returned from arthroscopic knee surgery for Week 16 and two playoff games last season, catching 11 of 21 targets for 176 yards in that stretch. He seems to be enjoying a healthy offseason, and he believes his 4.38 speed from the 2007 combine is mostly intact, pointing to improvements in his training regimen and diet. Even if he's right, the 34-year-old wideout will be a longshot to win the televised competition, and he'll later need to fend off 23-year-old Tre'Quan Smith for the No. 2 receiver role in the Saints offense.
Matt Prater DET K
Lions' Matt Prater: No competition for starting role2h ago
Prater appears safe in his job in advance of the 2019 season, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
The 12-year-veteran is entering his sixth season with the Lions and hasn't missed a game in four years. While Prater's career field-goal conversion rate of 83.8 percent is only 17th among active kickers, it also ranks 24th all-time. However, if you only count Prater's time in Detroit, those numbers would jump to seventh and eighth, respectively, on the back of an 86.3 conversion rate. Truly one of the most accomplished kickers in the NFL, Prater is not being presented with any outside competition ahead of the 2019 campaign. As such, the 34-year-old's job indeed seems safe.
Keith Kirkwood NO WR
Saints' Keith Kirkwood: Dealing with undisclosed injury2h ago
Kirkwood was limited by an undisclosed injury at June minicamp, Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate reports.
Kirkwood caught on with New Orleans as an undrafted rookie last season, catching 13 of 21 targets for 209 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. He even enjoyed a stretch of time as the team's No. 3 receiver, but now he'll need to battle for the fourth or fifth spot behind Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn and Tre'Quan Smith. The list of candidates for depth roles at wide receiver includes Rishard Matthews, Cameron Meredith (knee), Austin Carr and Simmie Cobbs.
Dwayne Washington NO RB
Saints' Dwayne Washington: Battling for No. 3 job2h ago
Washington will try to fend off competition for the No. 3 running back job from Javorius Allen, Matthew Dayes and undrafted rookie Devine Ozigbo, Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate reports.
Washington is the incumbent, coming off a 2018 campaign in which he logged 173 snaps on special teams and 46 on offense in 13 games for the Saints. The highlight was an 11-carry, 108-yard performance against the Panthers in Week 17 when New Orleans rested most of its starters to get ready for the playoffs. The experience on special teams certainly helps, but Allen and Dayes probably can offer more in the passing game, while Ozigbo has more potential for development as a runner. This should be a fierce competition throughout training camp and preseason.
Taysom Hill NO QB
Saints' Taysom Hill: More comfortable with receiving now2h ago
Hill expects to have an easier time with blocking and running routes this upcoming season, FOX 8 New Orleans reports.
Hill is locked in for another season as a third-string quarterback, gadget player and core special teamer. He's a natural runner who produced 5.3 yards per carry on 37 attempts last season, but the blocking and receiving aspects of his unique role seemed to present a challenge, with Hill catching just three of seven targets for four yards. His continued development in those areas will only make the Saints more dangerous in the red zone, potentially allowing them to utilize Hill without wasting Drew Brees.
Drew Brees NO QB
Saints' Drew Brees: Dealing with lawsuit2h ago
Brees missed some spring practices while dealing with a lawsuit against a California jeweler, Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate reports.
Given his wealth of experience in coach Sean Payton's offense, Brees shouldn't be impacted by a few missed practice sessions in May and June. He's once again set up with an excellent situation, as the Saints replaced Mark Ingram with Latavius Murray and later signed tight end Jared Cook. The team did lose starting center Max Unger to retirement, but then acquired two potential replacements in free-agent signee Nick Easton and second-round pick Erik McCoy. With Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk locked in at the tackle spots, Brees should still be well protected as he looks to rebound from a modest finish to the 2018 campaign. A healthier season from Ted Ginn and continued development from Tre'Quan Smith could lead to a more balanced passing game that isn't so dependent on quick passes to Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
Grayson Allen UTA SG
Jazz's Grayson Allen: Traded to Grizzlies34s ago
Allen -- plus Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in Thursday's Draft and a future first-round pick -- was traded to the Grizzlies on Wednesday in exchange for Mike Conley, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.
Allen, a rookie last season, played just 416 minutes for the Jazz. Seeing 10.9 minutes per game, he averaged 5.6 points on 37.6 percent shooting. It's possible he'll see more run in 2019-20 with the rebuilding Grizzlies.
Mike Conley MEM PG
Grizzlies' Mike Conley: Traded to Jazz5m ago
Conley was traded to the Jazz on Wednesday in exchange for Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in Thursday's Draft and a future first-round pick, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.
Rumors of Conley being shopped arrived near last season's trade deadline -- the same time Marc Gasol was dealt to the Raptors. With the Grizzlies in the midst of a heavy rebuild, there was little reason to keep the 31-year-old point guard. He'll be shipped off to Utah, who have won at least 50 games in two of the past three seasons but have failed to make it past the Western Conference Semifinals.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist CHA SF
Hornets' Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Exercises player option26m ago
Kidd-Gilchrist (groin) has opted into his $13 million player option for the 2019-20 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.
Kidd-Gilchrist saw his role reduced by new head coach James Borrego last season, dipping below 25 minutes per game for the first time in his seven-year career. The former second overall pick has proven to be a solid defender, but he's averaged over 10 points per game just twice, struggling to develop his overall offensive game.
Khris Middleton MIL SF
Bucks' Khris Middleton: Declines option, working with Bucks32m ago
Middleton has declined his $13 million player option for 2019-20, making him an unrestricted free agent, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports. However, he and the Bucks are planning to work together toward a long-term deal.
As expected, Middleton has declined his player option to seek more money in free agency. Since signing his previous contract in the summer of 2015, Middleton has averaged 18.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. He made his first All-Star team last season, and he will enter the 2019-20 campaign in his age 28 season. Middleton and Milwaukee's front office will try to find common ground for an extension. Still, it's possible another team attempts to swoop in with a more enticing offer.
Chris Paul HOU PG
Rockets' Chris Paul: Morey says no trade demand made15h ago
General manager Daryl Morey emphasized that Paul has not requested a trade from the Rockets, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports. "Tweet that I said that. Print it. Tweet it twice."
Whether or not a trade demand has been made by Paul, reports have been circulating that Houston's team chemistry has reached a low point, especially between Paul and Harden. While Morey has refuted the trade demand, it's certainly possible Paul gets dealt before the 2019-20 season begins.
Al Horford BOS C
Celtics' Al Horford: Expected to change teams16h ago
Horford, despite prior reports that he was likely to stay with the Celtics, is expected to sign a four-year contract elsewhere, Steven Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports.
In a same-day change of plans, it appears Horford will be moving on from Boston. This is a significant hit for the Celtics, as he's been a cornerstone of the franchise since 2016-17. The Celtics were reportedly ready to offer Horford a three-year deal, but another team has apparently arrived with a four-year offer that could be hard for the 33-year-old to turn down.
Jordan Kyrou STL C
Blues' Jordan Kyrou: Undergoes knee surgery1h ago
Kyrou underwent surgery to address a kneecap injury, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Kyrou would have been called up as one of the Blues' "black aces" for the playoffs, but a knee injury he suffered while playing for AHL San Antonio robbed him of that opportunity. Nonetheless, the 21-year-old winger is expected to be ready for training camp, and will be in prime position to win a spot on St. Louis' Opening Night roster after racking up 16 goals and 43 points in 47 AHL appearances this season.
Vladimir Tarasenko STL RW
Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko: Dealing with shoulder injury2h ago
Tarasenko played through a shoulder injury that he suffered during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Boston, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Tarasenko was able to play through the injury during the final five games of the series, but it clearly impacted his performance, as he was only able to pick up one goal and two points over that span after racking up five goals and 10 points in the Blues' previous 10 contests. General manager Doug Armstrong described Tarasenko's injury as "nothing too serious," so it doesn't sound like it will have much of an impact on the Russian sniper's offseason program. Nonetheless, fantasy owners considering snagging the 27-year-old in drafts this year will want to circle back for an update on his health once training camp gets underway in September.
Kevin Hayes PHI C
Flyers' Kevin Hayes: Inking seven-year deal with Philly13h ago
Hayes is nearing agreement on a seven-year, $50 million contract with the Flyers on Tuesday, Bob McKenzie of TSN reports.
Hayes was acquired by Philly from Winnipeg earlier in June and was slated to become a free agent July 1, so the head start in contract talks appears to have paid off for the Flyers. The 27-year-old split last season between the Rangers and Jets and recorded 55 points (19 goals and 36 assists) in 71 games.
Joe Thornton SJ C
Sharks' Joe Thornton: Plans to play next season15h ago
Thornton said Tuesday that he plans to play for the Sharks next season, Tom Gulitti of NHL.com reports.
Thornton had previously stated he was unsure about returning for his 21st season, but the center himself confirmed he'll be back. He even doubled down when he texted Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday, stating: "Thinking I got 5 more years left in me." The 39-year-old put up a solid 16 goals and 51 points last season, proving that he still has something left in the tank. He's set to be a free agent come July 1, but it's all but a guarantee he'll be back with the Sharks next season.
Justin Williams CAR RW
Hurricanes' Justin Williams: Mulling retirement17h ago
Williams said Tuesday that he's unsure whether he'll play next season, Tom Gulitti of NHL.com reports.
The veteran is set to turn 38 at the beginning of next season, and told reporters that he's been in frequent contact with the Hurricanes about his future. Williams added reliability to a young club last season, racking up 23 goals and 53 points while playing all 82 games. He was also instrumental in the team's Eastern Conference Finals appearance, collecting seven points in 15 playoff games. The winger is set to hit the open market come July 1, and could add a strong veteran presence to any team in the league, should he decide to keep playing.
Hunter Shinkaruk MON C
Hunter Shinkaruk: Won't receive qualifying offer18h ago
The Canadiens will not extend Shinkaruk a qualifying offer, which means he'll become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Shinkaruk has failed to make any sort of meaningful impact at the highest level since being selected by Vancouver with the 24th overall pick of the 2013 draft. The 24-year-old winger has only notched four points in 15 NHL appearances since turning pro in 2014-15, and just had what was probably his worst season yet, picking up a meager 10 points in 54 appearances with AHL Laval. He'll hope to catch on with another organization, but at this point it wouldn't be surprising to see him head overseas to continue his career.