Francisco Lindor Agrees To A 10-Year, $341 Million Extension With Mets

The hours on hours of anxiety for New York Mets fans are finally over as Francisco Lindor will spend the rest of his career in Queens. Deliberations have concluded, and Lindor accepted a 10-year, $341 million extension, which begins after 2021 concludes.

Lindor’s new contract earns him a million more than Fernando Tatis Jr. and is the third-largest total ever given. This puts him right behind the record-breaking deals of Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Lindor’s deal has no opt-outs, around $50 million in deferral money, and a limited no-trade clause.

If the Mets and Lindor could not agree on a deal before his deadline, it would have become a lingering distraction all season. It may have even pushed Mets fans to unfairly boo him during their home opener. With the extension, the Mets locked up their next face of the franchise who hopes to bring home the first World Series championship since the 1986 season.

The pessimistic fan can no longer claim that Steve Cohen is all talk. Within three months, he revamped a depleted roster the Wilpons left him and made history with Lindor’s new contract. They have crept back into the major market of teams and are ready to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers for years to come. Of course, Michael Conforto’s contract extension is the next one on the table, but there is a much longer timetable for his.

Knicks meltdown spoils Thibodeau’s return in Minnesota

What should have been a dream return for Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota turned into his worst nightmare.

Malik Beasley, one of the New York Knicks’ targets in the offseason, haunted them with a clutch three to complete the Timberwolves’ 102-101 comeback win on Thursday night.

The Knicks’ bitter loss spoiled Thibodeau’s first game back at the Target Center since his unceremonious firing in 2019.

Beasley, a restricted free agent in the offseason, agreed to return to Minnesota with a fresh four-year, $60-million. Tonight, he proved he was deserving after hitting the game’s biggest shot.

With the Knicks clinging to a two-point lead, they collapsed on Anthony Edwards, who led the Timberwolves’ ferocious comeback from 13 points down in the fourth quarter. The top overall pick Edwards had the presence of mind of finding a wide-open Beasley at the left elbow beyond the arc.

Beasley’s go-ahead three-pointer with 37.8 seconds left was Minnesota’s first lead since a 7-6 score early in the first quarter.

Julius Randle and RJ Barrett missed their shots as the league-worst Timberwolves escaped with just their 12th win of the season.

It was the most disappointing loss for the Knicks so far this season as they blew an 18-point lead and led for 46 minutes.

Alec Burks and Barrett’s outside snipings opened up a 39-21 lead for the Knicks in the second quarter. But the Timberwolves quickly recovered and went into halftime only trailing by one, 51-50, much to the chagrin of Thibodeau, who was shaking his head heading into the locker room.

Randle poured in 10 points in the third quarter as the Knicks looked rejuvenated. They led by 11 after three quarters.

A Taj Gibson dunk gave the Knicks a 90-77 lead with 8:33 to go in the fourth quarter. But Edwards, who played with so much poise and confidence, willed the Timberwolves back with 11 of his 24 points and two key steals.

Randle finished with his 14th 20-10-5 game of the season, tallying 26 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists after a slow start. Only Bob McAdoo had more in a season for the Knicks (17 in 1977-78 season). But it all went for naught as he missed a potential game-winner with 11.4 seconds left.

Barrett, who rebounded from a subpar game against Miami, had 23 points but his poor play down the stretch hastened the Knicks’ downfall.

He lazily fouled Edwards at the onset of the Timberwolves’ fourth-quarter run for an and-one. Then he misfired a stepback jumper with 1.4 seconds left.

“It’s disappointing. We had a big lead in the first half, and we didn’t take care of it. We repeated it,” Thibodeau said. “It’s disappointing because of the turnovers. We beat ourselves.”

The Knicks had 17 turnovers, five of them they committed in the fourth quarter.

Gibson played solid off the bench for Thibodeau and almost ended up as the hero. He had seven points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. He caught an Elfrid Payton blocked shot and scored the Knicks’ last basket to push it to 101-99 with 55 seconds left.

The much-anticipated showdown between the recent NBA Rookie Ladder’s no. 2 Edwards and no. 3 Immanuel Quickley turned into a one-sided affair. Edwards came up with a complete game, leading the Timberwolves in scoring while adding two rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three blocks.

On the other hand, Quickley was held scoreless in 13 minutes. The Knicks rookie missed all four of his attempts but got three boards, two assists, and a steal.

Beasley scored 20 points with five triples. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with a double-double (18 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks) while the Timberwolves’ other rookie Jaden McDaniels fired four treys en route to 18 points, four points off his career-high.

The Knicks’ second straight loss dropped them to sixth place in the East with an even 24-24 slate. Miami Heat, who beat them last Tuesday, moved up to fifth despite having a similar 24-24 record by virtue of sweeping their regular-season matchup.

The Knicks will host their former cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis, along with rising superstar Luka Doncic and the surging Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: Offensive line is biggest need, says Bill Polian

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

Former NFL executive Bill Polian knows a bit about New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman.

Gettleman actually started out under Polian working as a scout, long before he’d worked his way into Carolina as his first General Manager job. And, ahead of the NFL Draft, Polian has some predictions about which way his former scout might lean when it comes to making the Giants’ selection at number eleven.

According to Polian, the offensive line is the biggest need for the franchise right now. And if they don’t address that, the spending spree this offseason won’t amount to much. That, of course, isn’t an unreasonable take. The Giants did not have a good offensive line last year, and we saw real impacts from it when Daniel Jones was often sacked and suffered from injuries as a result.

“Unless they get that solved, the weapons won’t mean a thing. They have got to protect him, and they’ve got to be able to block for the run. That’s job one. And I suspect they’ll address it in the draft,” Polian said about Daniel Jones and the offensive line on Colin Cowherd’s podcast.

The Giants spent a top five pick on the line last time out but they’re still waiting on Andrew Thomas to develop into the player they expected. They’ll have room to potentially take another lineman high up this offseason, due to addressing other needs through a big free agency.

The Giants have a large amount of freedom thanks to filling other spots with free agents. And while it’s far from a flashy pick like further adding to the passing attack, it doesn’t seem unlikely that they’ll go in the direction Polian predicted and try to add another piece to their struggling line.

The top prospects that the New York Giants cannot pass on at eleven overall

The New York Giants have set themselves up to have an abundance of options with the eleventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. New York used to have a couple of glaring needs to address with their first-round pick. Before free agency, nearly everyone assumed that the Giants would add an offensive playmaker or possibly an outside cornerback in the first round. After the Giants signed Kenny Golladay and Adoree Jackson, that assumption changed.

Now the Giants can simply select the best player available at eleven overall. Or they could address a different position of need. They are no longer pigeon-holed into selecting a wide receiver. Yet, they still could, if they wanted to, in theory.

There might be some wide receiver prospects that the Giants cannot pass on at eleven overall. But there are prospects at other positions that are also “must-draft” prospects if on the board for the Giants. These “must-draft” prospects are few and far between and also unlikely to fall to eleven. But if one of them does, the Giants know what they need to do.

Must-draft prospects at eleven overall

There are a couple of quarterbacks that no team can pass on. But the Giants are not in a position to draft them, so let’s move on to the realistic “must-draft” options at eleven.

The premiere protector

Penei Sewell is very unlikely to drop to eleven. The Oregon left tackle prospect has been given the “generational prospect” tag by some scouts and seems like a top-five lock. However, he has dropped to eleven in some rare mock drafts. And it is not completely outside of the realm of possibilities that he falls outside the top ten. A team could value Rashawn Slater above Sewell, causing Sewell to drop a few extra spots. Plus, there are a bunch of offensive weapons that will likely go in the top ten. And there are about four quarterbacks expected to be drafted in the top ten. So it is possible that Sewell can be the forgotten man that gets pushed down the board. If Penei Sewell falls in the Giants’ laps at eleven, they sprint to the podium with his name on their draft card.

The offensive weapons

Speaking of those offensive weapons, there are a couple of playmakers that the Giants should not pass up on to draft a position of need. Wide receiver is no longer a pressing need, but if the Giants have the ability to draft the likes of Kyle Pitts, Jaylen Waddle, or Ja’Marr Chase, they have to pull the trigger.

Kyler Pitts has the potential to be a Hall of Fame tight end. Jaylen Waddle is the top wide receiver prospect on The Draft Network’s board, due to his game-breaking speed and ability to separate on routes. Ja’Marr Chase just blew everyone away with his sub 4.38s 40-yard dash time to match his NFL-ready skillset as an outside receiver. For these reasons, these three players are unlikely to be available at eleven. But if they are there, they would be incredible additions that would transform the Giants’ offense.

The dynamic defender

The Giants have a clear need at edge rusher on their roster. However, there are no top-ten locks at the position in this year’s draft class. There is a defender in this class, though, that is an obvious top-ten talent. But he is not a top-ten lock. Micah Parsons is an incredible linebacker prospect that has fallen down draft boards due to some off-the-field rumors and allegations.

Micah Parsons has elite pass-rushing and run-stuffing ability as an off-ball linebacker. He might not be a stud in pass coverage, but given his athletic ability, he has room to grow in that regard with limitless potential. Parsons could be a prospect that turns the Giants’ defense into a top-five unit in the league. He might be a player that gets skipped over due to the off-the-field concerns, but if those boxes are checked off then his talent is too good to pass up at eleven overall.

Yankees give spot to Lucas Luetge, finalize roster

The New York Yankees made their final decision on their 26-man Opening Day roster, giving him the last spot to left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge, who impressed during spring training play. He hasn’t pitched in Major League Baseball since 2015.

Luetge worked hard, using the Yankees’ resources, to increase the spin rate on all of his pitches, giving his fastball more ride and his breaking balls more bite. The prize for his hard work is a spot on the Yankees’ bullpen.

Luetge will be replacing fellow lefty Justin Wilson, who will start the season on the injured list after experience some left shoulder tightness for the past few days.

Kuetge impressed the Yankees

The veteran reliever was excellent during Grapefruit League play, striking out 18 batters in just 10.1 innings of work. He only walked a couple of batters and finished the month of March with a sparkling 1.74 ERA.

Even rival scouts who watched Luetge pitch said that he made batters look silly at nearly all times, so he will try to be more than just a mop-up guy in the Yankees’ bullpen.

He will join Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Darren O’Day, Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Nick Nelson in the bullpen to start the season.

Zack Britton and Justin Wilson will eventually return to action once they are recovered from their respective injuries, so Luetge will have to perform and impress in order to keep his roster spot for the long term.

Here is the Yankees’ 26-man roster to open the season:

C: Gary Sanchez, Kyle Higashioka

Infielders: Jay Bruce, Tyler Wade, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela

Outfielders: Mike Tauchman, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Clint Frazier

Starters: Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon

Relievers: Chad Green, Aroldis Chapman, Nick Nelson, Lucas Luetge, Darren O’Day, Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, Michael King.

Yankees’ Mike Tauchman is getting reps at a new position

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

For much of the spring, the New York Yankees made outfielders Jay Bruce (signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to camp) and Mike Tauchman work and compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

As it turns out, the Luke Voit knee injury opened up a spot for Bruce and Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone ended up choosing Tauchman’s defensive prowess in the outfield over Derek Dietrich’s versatility, so both Tauchman and Bruce made the team. The latter will fill in for Voit until May, when he returns from the injury list.

But reporters covering the team at Yankee Stadium got a surprise at the team’s latest practice on Wednesday morning. The Bombers had Tauchman get some reps at first base, ‘coached’ by Bruce.

The Yankees love Tauchman’s defense, will he work as a backup 1B?

Tauchman made the team because he is a gifted defensive player in the outfield. He had 19 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) for the Yankees in 2019, his last full, normal season. His offensive struggles in 2020 left him on the verge of being on the outside looking when it comes to a roster spot, but he had a nice spring with the stick, with three home runs and a .250/.382/.571 line (.954 OPS), convincing Boone that he can be a valuable piece.

By virtue of Voit’s injury, the Yankees’ first base depth is extremely thin, with Bruce expected to cover but not a lot of other options (shifting DJ LeMahieu there would alter the whole infield). If Tauchman shows he can be a capable first baseman, his playing time is sure to increase, at least in the first few weeks of the season.

A couple of weeks ago, the Yankees hadn’t approached Tauchman with the idea of playing first base, but he said to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that he was open to the idea. It seems the Yankees monitored the news, as they are trying him there to see what they got.

Jon Jones says UFC offer of $8-10 million would be way too low; Derrick Lewis responds

UFC, Jon Jones

The biggest fight the UFC could make right now outside of Conor McGregor – Dustin Poirier 3 is a heavyweight title fight between Francis Ngannou (16-3) and Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). That’s a fight that the world wants to see.

For the last couple of months, it was obvious what was coming in the UFC‘s heavyweight division. UFC 260 was headlined between Ngannou and former heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic (20-4).

The winner of that fight would take on Jon Jones who vacated his light heavyweight title last year to move to heavyweight. While that has been the plan all along, things have hit a brick wall in terms of the financial negotiations.

Things have become so testy between Jones and the UFC that Jones requested his release from the promotion. Today, Jones took to Twitter and seemed to shed a little light on the financial negotiations.

Jones said that the UFC‘s lawyer, Hunter Campbell, called him a few days ago. The former light heavyweight champion said that any offer that was in the range of $8-10 million would be, “Way too low.”

What will the UFC do?

The one thing I will say is that I don’t think it was in Jones’ best interest to let this play out publicly. In reality, while it’s the best fight to make and the biggest fight to make, Jones doesn’t hold a ton of leverage here.

The UFC has a very solid backup option and the backup option is ready to go. That backup option is the popular, Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC). Lewis took to Twitter and made it clear that he would accept the fight for $8 million.

It’s pretty obvious that Lewis would be willing to do it for a lot less than that even. Dana White has already said that Lewis could be the next in line to take on Francis Ngannou if Jones prices himself out of the fight.

With Ngannou wanting to be an active champion, I wouldn’t be shocked if the UFC starts the process of moving on from this fight if things don’t progress. The promotion is targeting August for the return of Ngannou.

Given the current timelines, I would give the negotiations another week or two. If the UFC doesn’t get any closer with Jon Jones, they will move on. One thing we know about Dana White is that he’s not going to bend over backwards to appease Jon Jones.

UFC: Miesha Tate wants to be active upon her return; Eyeing a rematch with Amanda Nunes

One week ago today we learned that Miesha Tate (18-7) was returning to the UFC. The former bantamweight champion retired back in 2016 after she had lost her second consecutive fight.

That fight was to Raquel Pennington and prior to that, she lost at UFC 200 to Amanda Nunes. Tate had just turned 30 years old when she retired and having only lost two fights in a row, many were perplexed by her decision to retire.

However, Tate told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani this week that she was just ready to get away from being Miesha Tate the fighter. In her time away from the octagon, she became a VP with One Championship.

However, as a fighter, Tate was still under contract with the UFC. Tate told Helwani that she really started to get the itch to fight last year. She had a baby last June and then reached out to Dana White in September.

After meeting with White, Tate’s UFC return was inevitable. However, at first, Tate was going to compete at featherweight. The former bantamweight champion wanted to compete where she didn’t have to cut weight.

Returning to the UFC’s bantamweight division

Of course, it’s known how shallow the talent pool is at featherweight in the UFC. In fact, there was rumors going around that the division was being shut down after Nunes defeated Megan Anderson earlier this month.

As of now, featherweight is still a division, but it won’t be the division Tate competes in. After thinking about it, Tate wanted to compete at bantamweight because she’s wanting to be an active fighter upon her return.

Ultimately, the goal for Tate is to get a rematch with the UFC’s two-division champion, Amanda Nunes. Tate told Helwani that she believes she could get another crack at Nunes with a couple of quality wins.

Given her name recognition, I believe that’s about right in terms of her timeline. Tate takes on Marion Reneau (9-7-1) on July 17th. This is the perfect opponent for her in her UFC return.

Reneau is not the best fighter, but she’s dangerous. This is a good way for Tate to get back into the swing of things before she starts taking on some of the best at 135 pounds. Maybe another showdown with Holly Holm could occur later in 2021.

Who is the Yankees’ biggest threat in the AL East division?

New York Yankees, NYY, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees were good in 2020, but they weren’t the best team in their division. They finished the short season at 33-27, seven games behind the 40-20 Tampa Bay Rays and just one game ahead of the 32-28 Toronto Blue Jays. The Bombers were around the .500 mark for much of the season and were eliminated by the Rays in the postseason.

However, 2021 is looking a lot different, one day prior to the start of the new season. Several months have passed since the 2020 campaign ended with a Los Angeles Dodgers championship, and the American League landscape has certainly changed.

The New York Yankees look like the favorites to win the AL East division, and also seem like the best team in the junior circuit. The Dodgers are a cut above, but as far as the American League concerns, the Bombers don’t appear to have a competitor.

The Yankees appear to be the AL favorites

With the way the offseason unfolded, it’s fair to wonder who the Yankees’ biggest threat in the division is. Tampa Bay will still be competitive, but they lost two aces in Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, and recently suffered a huge injury blow with reliever Nick Anderson. They will get healthy, full seasons from Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows, who look like stars, and have Wander Franco, the best prospect in baseball, waiting in the wings.

The Blue Jays appear ready to fight with the Rays for the second place in the division. They brought George Springer and Marcus Semien to an already impressive lineup, and if Nate Pearson takes a step forward (entirely possible), he will help ace Hyun-Jin Ryu stabilize an iffy rotation. Robbie Ray looked excellent in spring training, too.

The Yankees’ biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox, don’t profile to be very good this season, but they are on the right path, as are the Baltimore Orioles.

In the end, Tampa and Toronto may complicate things at times for the Yankees this season, but they should fight for a Wild Card spot and are nowhere near the Yankees level – on paper.

It might be time for the Islanders to give Oliver Wahlstrom a shot on the first line

As the Islanders have sputtered a bit of late — 3-4-0 — in their last seven, the pressing need for more offense has reared its ugly head again.

Everyone has been screaming for g.m. Lou Lamoriello to make a deal to help at least solve some of the problem. Fact is the trade deadline is still 13 days away and Lamoriello biding his time and looking over all his options. After all, his most favorite quote goes, “If you have time, use it.”

But now as the Isles begin a crucial six-game homestand which includes two matchups with the division-leading Capitals and the high-powered Rangers, they are going to need their first line to show out. And as we’ve seen since Anders Lee went down a few weeks ago, that line has not had the same impact they were having all season. Head coach Barry Trotz has tried to find the right formula and given Leo Komarov and Kieffer Bellows chances there. Both have been unsuccessful.

So with that said, there might be one option left: giving rookie Oliver Wahlstrom a shot on the top line.

Wahlstrom has proven he’s game for playing in big spots. He was on the ice last week with the Islanders trailing in Philadelphia and with the game tied against Boston, and was the one who ended up getting goals on those shifts. Furthermore, he’s shown an edge to in his style of play that mirrors a bit of how Lee is looked at. Watching the freshman sensation for close to 30 games already, he’s enjoys the physical element and get in the dirty areas, and he hasn’t been afraid to throw his 6’2, 205-pound frame around.

Aside from how it would be a nice promotion for the 20-year-old, and showing how much faith the coaching staff has in him, both Barzal and Jordan Eberle would benefit from a presence like Wahlstrom brings. Wahlstrom could open up more space and allow Barzal and Eberle to flex their offensive muscles that have been taken away as of late. For someone who loves to dish it (Barzal) and Wahlstrom (rip it), the two would be a formidable duo. The line as a unit would also gain from the added jump No. 26 has. With all due respect to Komarov, he’s not built to play first-line minutes, neither from a skill or in speed perspective. Wahlstrom provides both in bunches, as seen from the success he’s had playing with J.G. Pageau a majority of this year.

“His attitude is top-notch on and off the ice,” Pageau said of Wahlstrom last month. “He’s doing the right things and paying attention to all the details and that’s how you get better… He’s doing everything possible to be apart of this team.”

The Islanders have reached a point where something needs to be done to improve their attack. Their options are limited and some of what they thought were solutions — especially for their top line — clearly haven’t panned out. But one they haven’t tried yet is Wahlstrom being on the first line.

They might be smart to experiment with that idea starting now. They need a spark.

And it’s he who can be it.

Nick Leddy recorded another assist on the lone Islanders’ tally Monday night in Pittsburgh. That gave him four apples in his last three games and 24 total on the season. His career-high is 35, which came back in his third season with the organization back in 2016-17.

With 19 games, it’s not out of the realm that he passes that career best stat.

It’ll be interesting to see if Barry Trotz goes with Ilya Sorokin tomorrow night against Washington. Semyon Varlamov has gotten all the starts when the two teams have met this season, and has yet to record a win. Sorokin himself is coming off a rough performance on Saturday where he gave up four goals on nine shots and was pulled in a 6-3 loss to the Pens.