Yandy Diaz Agrees to Three-Year, $24 Million Deal with Tampa Bay Rays, Avoids Arbitration

Yandy Diaz is extending his stay…

The 31-year-old Cuban professional baseball third baseman and outfielder has agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Yandy DiazDíaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

Diaz will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in Major League Baseball with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBI.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on December 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBI in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons. He began last season in the bullpe transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.

Tottenham Hotspur FC Signs Pedro Porro from Sporting CP

Pedro Porro is headed to England…

Tottenham Hotspur FC have completed the signing of the 23-year-old Spanish professional footballer from Sporting CP, the club announced before the January transfer deadline closed on Tuesday.

Pedro PorroPorro will join the Spurs on loan until the end of the season, with an obligation to make the deal permanent in the summer.

Porro was the Spurs’ top target this window, with talks with Sporting taking place for most of the month.

He becomes their second signing in January after the arrival of winger Arnaut Danjuma on loan.

Porro joined Sporting on loan from Manchester City in 2020, before signing permanently for the club in 2022.

He made 98 appearances for Sporting, the last of which came in a 2-0 Portuguese League Cup final defeat to Porto on Saturday when he was pictured afterwards waving to fans in an apparent farewell.

Spurs manager Antonio Conte has had his sights set on a new right wingback, with Matt Doherty‘s contract with the club being mutually terminated on Tuesday in order that he could join Atletico Madrid.

Porro will now compete with Emerson Royal for the role.

Sporting earlier announced the signing of Hector Bellerin from Barcelona as a replacement for Porro.

Chelsea FC Sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for Record €121 million

Enzo Fernandez is celebrating a record deal…

Chelsea FC has signed the 22-year-old Argentine professional footballer from Benfica after meeting the midfielder’s €121 million (£106.8m) release clause, the Portuguese side announced on Tuesday.

Enzo FernandezA statement from Benfica confirmed that a deal had been reached between the clubs over how Chelsea would pay the release fee for Fernandez, who has signed an eight-and-a-half year contract.

The deal breaks the previous Premier League record fee of £100m that Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish when he joined from Aston Villa in 2021.

 

Chelsea were still to confirm the deal, but according to reports in England the paperwork had been submitted on time and before the transfer deadline at 2300 GMT on Tuesday.

Fernandez impressed for Argentina as they won the 2022 World Cup and was named the Young Player of the Tournament.

ESPN reported on Monday that Fernandez had already agreed personal terms with Chelsea and was pushing the Portuguese club hard to reach an agreement with the Blues.

He becomes Chelsea’s seventh signing of a busy January transfer window, following Benoit BadiashileDavid Datro FofanaAndrey SantosMykhailo MudrykNoni Madueke and Malo Gusto into the club.

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt was not keen on seeing Fernandez leave, but had previously said their hands would be tied if a club paid the player’s release clause.

Fernandez moved from Argentine side River Plate to Benfica in 2022 and has played 29 times in all competitions, scoring four goals and grabbing seven assists.

The deal takes Chelsea’s total outlay on players since last year’s takeover by an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital to more than £500m.

Chelsea are 10th in the Premier League, 10 points adrift of a top-four spot. They next host local rivals Fulham on Friday.

Barcelona Pushing to Sign Julian Araujo from LA Galaxy

Julian Araujo is a hot commodity…

Barcelona FC is pushing to sign the 21-year-old Mexican American professional soccer player and LA Galaxy right-back before the transfer window closes in Europe on Tuesday, according to ESPN.

Julian Araujo Barca have been tracking Araujo for a while and want to sign him on loan initially with an option to make the deal permanent given Hector Bellerin‘s possible move to Sporting Club.

Sources have told ESPN that Araujo would initially be registered with Barca’s B team if signed, but that the Catalan club feel he has the potential to be involved with the first team in the short term.

If Bellerin joins Sporting Lisbon this week — with sources telling ESPN that the deal is likely to happen once Tottenham Hotspur complete the signing of Pedro Porro from the Portuguese side — then Barca would be left without a natural right-back.

Jules KoundeRonald AraujoSergi Roberto and Alejandro Balde have all been used in the position this season, often at the expense of Bellerin.

Araujo, who was born in California, represented the United States at the youth level and has one cap for the senior side. However, in 2021 he switched allegiance to Mexico, although he’s not played for El Tri since winning his third cap in a friendly against Suriname in June 2022.

Barca are hopeful of closing the deal before Tuesday’s deadline but sources add it is a “complex situation.” A source close to the negotiations in the United States says “it isn’t final by any means.”

Araujo has been a regular for the Galaxy across the last two seasons and convincing the Major League Soccer side to let him leave initially on loan is not a simple task.

In addition, the operation may also have to be approved by LaLiga, although registering him with the B team could prove a workaround.

Barca were unable to register midfielder Gavi‘s new contract last week due to the league’s salary limits, although LaLiga president Javier Tebas confirmed on Monday the club do have “some room” to maneuver this month following the departures of Gerard Pique and Memphis Depay.

Pique announced his retirement in December and Memphis joined Atletico earlier in January in a deal worth an initial €3 million.

Gleyber Torres Agrees to One-Year, $9.95 Million Contract with New York Yankees

Gleyber Torres is staying put…

The New York Yankees have agreed to a $9.95 million, one-year contract with the 26-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop and second baseman, avoiding an arbitration hearing with the infielder by reaching a deal at the midpoint of proposed salaries.

Gleyber TorresThe Yankees announced the deal on Sunday.

Torres hit .257 with 24 homers and 76 RBIs in 140 games for the AL East champions last year.

Torres had asked for a raise from $6.25 million to $10.2 million in arbitration, and the Yankees had offered the second baseman $9.7 million.

A two-time MLB All-Star, Torres made his big league debut with New York. He is a .265 hitter with 98 homers and 310 RBIs in 576 career games.

He was New York’s last remaining player in arbitration. Nine Yankees agreed just before the exchange of proposed salaries on January 13: right-handers Frankie Montas ($7.5 million), Clay Holmes ($3.3 million), Domingo German ($2.6 million), Jonathan Loaisiga ($2,262,500) and Michael King ($1.3 million); left-handers Wandy Peralta ($3.35 million) and Nestor Cortes ($3.2 million); and catchers Jose Trevino ($2.36 million) and Kyle Higashioka ($1,462,500).

Twenty-nine major leaguers remain scheduled for hearings from Monday through February 17.

Vergil Ortiz Jr.’s Bout with Eimantas Stanionis Rescheduled for April

Vergil Ortiz Jr. will have to wait six more weeks for his next bout…

The 24-year-old Mexican-American boxer and Eimantas Stanionis will meet in a rescheduled welterweight bout on April 29 in Texas, according to ESPN.

Vergil Ortiz Jr.The 147-pound matchup was set for March 18, but postponed after Stanionis underwent an emergency appendectomy in his native Lithuania earlier this month.

Oritz’s promoter, Golden Boy, won the rights to the WBA “regular” welterweight title fight at last month’s purse bid with a commitment of $2.3 million and will stream the fight on DAZN.

Golden Boy will kick in additional money to make Ortiz, who is a far bigger star than Stanionis in the U.S., whole. The Lithuanian boxer won the secondary title with a split-decision victory over Radzhab Butaev in April and is entitled to 75% of the winning bid, while Ortiz will earn much more than the $575,000 he’s set to make via the purse bid.

The bout shapes up as a coin-flip matchup between two pressure fighters in one of boxing’s best weight classes.

Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) is rated No. 4 by ESPN at welterweight. He broke through last year with a pair of stoppage wins over Maurice Hooker and Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Ortiz, who fights out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, was set to fight Michael McKinson in March, but it was postponed after Ortiz was hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis.

Rhabdomyolysis is a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases the damaging protein myoglobin into the blood, which can lead to kidney damage. Ortiz went on to score a ninth-round TKO of McKinson in August and will now step way up in class.

Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs) is ESPN’s No. 6 boxer at 147 pounds. He also owns a win over Thomas Dulorme.

Luisa Stefani & Rafael Matos Win Australian Open Mixed Doubles Title to Become First All-Brazilian Team to Win Grand Slam

Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos are celebrating a historic win Down Under

The 25-year-old Brazilian professional tennis player and her 27-year-old compatriot defeated Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna 7-6 (2), 6-2 on Friday to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title.

Luisa Stefani & Rafael MatosWith the win, Stefani and Matos become the first all-Brazilian team to win a Grand Slam.

The Brazilian pair took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker, and Mirza and Bopanna fought back to 3-2, but that was to be the last points the Indian duo took. They missed two overheads in a row, including Mirza’s shot into the net on set point.

Stefani and Matos broke Mirza’s serve in the fourth game of the second set to go up 3-1, with the break point coming after a lengthy exchange between the teams.

Stefani and Matos are undefeated as a team, having won all seven matches together at the United Cup and at Melbourne Park.

Stefani said an invitation from Matos to play together on her return from a serious knee injury provided inspiration as she completed her rehabilitation last year.

“It was about Wimbledon time last year, and he asked me how I was doing,” she said. “I was doing rehab. … That was a big motivation for me to keep working hard and keep getting closer to coming back.

“Now here we are, winning our first Grand Slam together in Australia in this beautiful court. … It’s a dream come true.”

Alex Pereira to Face Rival Israel Adesanya in Fourth Fight

Alex Pereira is going on the defensive…

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former kickboxer will defend his middleweight championship back in a fourth fight against rival against Israel Adesanya this spring.

Alex PereiraPereira and Adesanya will face each other in the co-main event of UFC 287 on April 8, UFC president Dana White has announced.

Jorge Masvidal will return against Gilbert Burns in the other co-main event, while popular welterweight Kevin Holland will take on Santiago Ponzinibbio on the main card, White said.

A location for UFC 287 has yet to be announced.

Perira has beaten Adesanya twice in kickboxing and knocked him out last November in the fifth round of their first MMA fight against one another at UFC 281 to win the belt.

Adesanya is No. 4 in ESPN‘s pound-for-pound rankings.

Pereira (7-1) is 4-0 in the UFC with three victories via KO/TKO. The Brazilian-born fighter, who trains out of Connecticut, only started his full-time MMA career in 2020. Pereira, 35, was once one of the best kickboxers in the world, holding Glory titles at middleweight and light heavyweight.

Adesanya (23-2) had been the UFC middleweight champion since 2019 prior to Pereira’s victory. The Nigerian-born New Zealander had only one MMA loss prior to November, at light heavyweight in a 2021 title fight against Jan Blachowicz.

Adesanya, 33, had five successful middleweight title defenses.

Masvidal (35-16) has lost three straight but remains one of the biggest stars on the UFC roster. The 38-year-old Miami native owns the fastest knockout in UFC history — a five-second flying knee win over Ben Askren in 2019.

Burns (21-5), a 36-year-old former title contender from Brazil who trains out of Florida, is coming off a first-round submission victory over Neil Magny on Saturday at UFC 283.

Yoan Moncada to Represent Cuba at Upcoming World Baseball Classic

Yoan Moncada is going native

Cubans signed with Major League Baseball organizations or other foreign clubs, including the 27-year-old Cuban professional baseball third baseman for the Chicago White Sox, will for the first time join local stars on the national team that’ll play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, according to officials.

Yoan MoncadaThe Cuban Baseball Federation long defended the idea of amateurism and punished those who left the island to seek their fortunes in professional baseball.

But that changed when a program on state television announced the roster of 30 players for Cuba’s national team that will play in the international tournament that begins March 8 in Taiwan.

In addition to Moncada and his teammate Luis Robert, plus three players from Triple-A rosters: infielder Andy Ibanez of Detroit Tigers affiliate Toledo Mud Hens, right-hander Miguel Romero of the Oakland Athletics’ Las Vegas Aviators and right-hander Ronald Bolanos of the Kansas City Royals‘ Omaha Storm Chasers.

Also on the team will be outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who played for the New York Mets but has not been in the majors since 2018.

Two Cubans who play in Japan were picked, outfielder Yurisbel Gracial of the Pacific League‘s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and catcher Ariel Martinez of the Central League‘s Chunichi Dragons.

To arrange participation of the MLB players, Cuba had to get special permission from the U.S., since Washington maintains sanctions on Cuba. Under the agreement, those players are barred from coming to Cuba to work with the team.

Baseball is the national sport in Cuba but economic difficulties, the philosophy of restricting the movement of athletes and the temptations of professional contracts abroad have decimated the game on the island.

Chris Armas Joining Coaching Team at Leeds United

Chris Armas is ready to leed(s)

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican professional soccer coach and former player will join the coaching team of fellow American Jesse Marsch at Leeds United.

Chris ArmasThe former Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls coach was most recently an assistant coach at Manchester United, working under Ralf Rangnick last season.

The former USMNT international and MLS player is expected to be in the dugout for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup round four tie at Accrington Stanley, subject to obtaining a work permit.

About the appointment, Leeds United head coach Marsch said: “He will be a fantastic addition to the staff, he brings a wealth of experience from across the world and having worked closely with him previously, I am sure he will help us to improve every day.”

Director of football Victor Orta added: “We always have constant ideas to improve the team around Jesse and with Chris it is a perfect fit, they have both worked together in the past and he has experience of working in the Premier League.

“Chris was one of the best ever players in the history of the United States and his determination and skills will add value to our club and we are really happy he has joined us.”

Armas won 66 caps for the USMNT alongside a playing career that included spells with LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire. He played alongside Marsch at Chicago Fire. He also took over at NYRB as head coach when Marsch left for RB Leipzig in 2018.

Leeds has American players Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson in its team, and has been linked with a move for another U.S. international, Weston McKennie.