Fri, 19 Dec 2014 02:36:00 +0000

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Celtics traded point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Thursday night, cutting ties with the last remnant of their last NBA championship while giving Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks a chance at another title.

The Celtics will send Rondo and forward Dwight Powell to Dallas for Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, two draft picks and a $12.9 million trade exception.

"Welcome to Rajon Rondo the newest member of the Dallas Mavericks," team owner Mark Cuban wrote on the social media application Cyber Dust shortly before the official announcement. Cuban also thanked the three departing players, calling them "Amazing players and better people."

Boston got a first-round pick in next year's draft and a second-rounder in 2016. The Celtics have eight first-round picks in the next four years, picking them up in trades for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and even coach Doc Rivers as they shed the pieces of the New Big Three that earned the franchise its unprecedented 17th NBA title in 2008.

"We would not have won Banner 17 without Rajon and will always consider him one of our most valuable Celtics," the team's owners said in a joint statement. "We will always cherish the time he was here."

The Mavericks get a pass-first point guard - a four-time all-star - to team with Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler in what they hope will make them a contender again. Dallas is 19-8 this season but in third place in the Southwest Division and sixth in the Western Conference.

The Mavericks, who won their only NBA title in 2011, have not won a playoff series since.

The deal has been years in the making, with the Celtics shopping Rondo every time a coach grows tired of his moods or his contract expectations grow too large for their budget. But every previous time Boston management decided that the offers weren't enough.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge found a partner in Dallas, which is coached by his former Boston teammate Rick Carlisle.

Rondo, 28, joined the rebuilding Celtics as the 21st overall pick out of Kentucky in 2006 and became the point guard for an NBA champion in his second year when Boston acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett the next summer. They helped the Celtics reach the NBA finals again two years later.

With the once-proud franchise mired in what now looks to be an extended rebuilding process, though, Rondo became more valuable as a trading chip. Due to be a free agent at the end of the season, he was reportedly expecting a contract at or near the NBA maximum.

Rondo has averaged 11 points, 8.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds over his career. He missed the second half of the 2012-13 season and the first half of last season to have reconstructive knee surgery, and then reportedly fell in the shower in Las Vegas on the eve of training camp and missed all of the preseason.

In 22 games this season for Boston, Rondo had an NBA-best 10.8 assists per game and also averaged 8.3 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Nelson, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal last summer after 10 seasons in Orlando, was starting at point guard for Dallas, averaging 7.3 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 37 percent from the field.

Wright has played about 19 minutes a game, averaging 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Crowder has averaged 3.6 points per game for Dallas.

Powell has totaled nine points and nine minutes in five games for Boston this season as the Celtics (9-14) opened their second season under new coach Brad Stevens.

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AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski and AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:49:00 +0000

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The thought crossed Jay Cutler's mind as soon as he found out he was being benched: He might have played his final game for Chicago.

The Bears announced Thursday that they will start Jimmy Clausen against the Detroit Lions on Sunday instead of the man who signed a massive, seven-year deal at the end of last season.

Coach Marc Trestman said Cutler will be available as the backup at Soldier Field, where boos have rained down on a punchless, porous team that is now 5-9 and playing out the string after starting the season with legitimate hopes of a playoff run. They will miss the postseason for the seventh time in eight years and it's unclear whether Trestman - or Cutler - will be back for another try next year.

"I would like to stay here," Cutler said. "I really like it here. I love the guys in the locker room that I get to play with. Clearly, it's a different circumstance now. But going forward, this is where I'd like to be."

The move comes after Trestman pledged his allegiance to Cutler as the starter several times the past few weeks.

"Certainly, it was not an easy decision," Trestman said. "In my mind those types of decisions never are, and I worked it through and think it through not only myself but with our staff."

Trestman said he met with general manager Phil Emery on Tuesday and informed Cutler and Clausen of his decision on Wednesday. He met again with Emery later in the day to discuss his decision and informed the staff that night.

Did Emery support the decision?

Trestman paused for a few seconds, then said: "That's the way we are with each other. When we make decisions, we support it. We give our opinions and then we actively and passionately support each other with the decisions that we have to make. That's the way it's been the last two years. We talk thoroughly about it. We talk analytically about it. We talk passionately about it. And once a decision is made, we support each other."

Cutler was taken aback by the decision, saying that he was "Shocked, I think at first. And then, I think disappointed."

He said he could play for Trestman next season, although there would have to be some mending to the relationship during the offseason.

Asked if he believed the team was committed to him, Cutler responded: "I don't know if I can answer that."

Does he wonder about that?

"Yeah," Cutler said. "I think everyone would. It's a natural response to wonder that."

The switch adds more fuel to the idea that the Bears are in a state of dysfunction and that the future of everyone from Emery on down is open to discussion. There has been plenty of speculation about Trestman, now in his second year, not to mention defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer.

Cutler's future is also in question despite the big contract.

"All I know is there's a lot of money involved in my contract, which comes with a lot of expectations and a lot of responsibility," he said, when asked if the change was fair. "And whenever you're not winning and performing the way you should, there's a likelihood that could happen."

Cutler leads the league in interceptions (18) and turnovers (24) and he was benched after arguably his worst game of the season in Monday's loss to New Orleans. He threw three interceptions and got sacked a season-high seven times as the Bears fell meekly at home to the Saints, 31-15. That performance came after Kromer admitting he was a source behind a report by the NFL Network criticizing the quarterback's ability to identify when plays should be changed at the line.

Kromer might have sealed his fate with his leak and admission. But there could be a long list of personnel taking the fall.

The defense has ranked among the league's worst in two years with Tucker, and the offense has taken a big step back in Year 2 under Trestman.

Then there's Emery, who fired Lovie Smith after a 10-win season in 2012 and chose Trestman over Bruce Arians, now rolling with the Cardinals. He also signed Cutler to that seven-year contract at the end of last season when the Bears could have applied the franchise tag instead.

Even so, the timing of the benching seems curious considering the Bears are out of contention. Trestman, who came with a reputation for getting the most out of quarterbacks, acknowledged this week that has not happened with Cutler.

So the Bears are going with Clausen, the former Notre Dame star. He has appeared in three games this season and attempted nine passes, completing three. H

"Obviously, it's tough on him," Clausen, who was 1-9 in 10 starts as a rookie with Carolina in 2010, said of Cutler. "Being the starting quarterback and coach going a different way, it's obviously going to be tough on him, but he's been great with me."

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Online:

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Fri, 19 Dec 2014 05:07:00 +0000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Blake Bortles revived a stagnant offense. Jordan Todman provided some cushion. And Sen'Derrick Marks sealed it with the most rewarding sack of his career.

The trio provided all the highlights in the Jacksonville Jaguars' 21-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.

In a matchup that was widely billed as unwatchable, Bortles, Todman and Marks offered some compelling moments in a relatively meaningless game.

"The neat thing about this was different guys stood up at different times," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said.

Bortles completed 13 of 26 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown, a 4-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis that got Jacksonville going late in the second quarter. He also ran for 50 yards playing with a sprained right foot.

"I wasn't going out there if I couldn't move around and help the offense," Bortles said.

Todman's 62-yard run put the Jaguars ahead for good. He juked one defender and stiff-armed another in his first carry of the night, ending his first score of the season with a leap into the stands.

Marks' play, though, got the most attention.

With the Titans driving, Marks sacked Charlie Whitehurst on the final play. It gave him 8 1/2 sacks on the season, triggering a $600,000 bonus in his contract.

"What a great way to end the night," Bradley said.

Marks stood up and starting rubbing his fingers together before getting mobbed by teammates near midfield.

"Oh, we're going to spend some of that money," Jaguars defensive end Red Bryant said.

The Jaguars (3-12) won for the second time in four weeks thanks to a rejuvenated offense that had scored just two touchdowns in the previous four games. Playing the Titans (2-13) surely aided the effort.

Tennessee lost its ninth consecutive game and moved a step closer to securing the No. 1 draft pick.

"It was more about mistakes that we made than anything else because when we did it right - as you can see by most of the first half - we played pretty good," Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

The Jaguars had only 16 yards of offense until Bortles led them on an 80-yard drive at the end of the first half, ending it with the jump ball to Lewis in the left corner of the end zone.

The Jaguars got the ball to start the second half, and Bortles found Marquise Lee on a 34-yard catch-and-run on third-and 7. After two more completions, Jacksonville went to some trickery with a backward to Cecil Shorts III, who then threw across the field to Todman to the 9.

It looked as if Jacksonville would have to settle for a tying field when Bortles was flushed from the pocket and scrambled down the sideline to the 2 on third-and-goal. But linebacker Avery Williamson was called for holding Lewis away from the play, giving the Jaguars new life. Toby Gerhart punched it in from the 1 on the next play.

The turnaround for the Jaguars was surprising. Losers of seven of their last eight games, the Jaguars had only two offensive touchdowns in their previous 46 drives over four games and nearly two quarters, and just like that, Bortles took them down the field for touchdowns on consecutive drives.

That was a bright spot in a game otherwise devoid of them early.

For the final NFL game on Thursday night this year, about the only thing at stake was the inside track for the No. 1 pick, and likely a slightly easier schedule. In this case, the loser had more to gain.

The Titans were led by third-stringer Whitehurst, who was replacing Zach Mettenberger. Whitehurst couldn't miss at the start, and for the first time this year, the Titans scored a touchdown on their opening possession.

Tennessee made it 10-0 in the second and had a 179-16 advantage in yards.

But things turned from there, with Bortles, Todman and Marks providing the big plays.

"It was a great feeling," Todman said. "You're looking up at the scoreboard just hoping you don't get caught from behind. It was a great call. The line did a good job. I made a guy miss and then it was off to the races. It was just what we needed - just what I needed."

Notes: The Jaguars gave up four sacks, giving them 66 for the season and breaking the franchise record of 63 set in 2001. Jacksonville has allowed at least four sacks in six consecutive games. ... Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart left the game with bruised ribs, tried to return and then sat out for good late. He finished with 53 yards on 12 carries. ... Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton was on the sideline for the first time this season. ... After NFL observers complained and maybe threatened a fine, Jaguars LB J.T. Thomas removed his teal-tinted visor at halftime.

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AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:25:00 +0000

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant sat out the second half of a 114-109 loss at the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night after spraining his right ankle.

Durant said the sprain was mild and X-rays were negative. The reigning NBA MVP said he hopes to play at the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night but will see how he feels.

"I wanted to play. I wanted go back out there, but we wanted to be cautious," Durant said.

Durant grabbed his ankle after stepping on Marreese Speights' left foot while going hard to the basket late in the second quarter. Durant was called for a charge on the play.

Durant lay on the ground in pain before walking to the bench with the help of teammates Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Durant limped to the locker room at halftime under his own power.

"I was a little nervous, but I knew that when I got up and started walking that it felt good," he said. "I just wanted to make sure with the X-ray that everything was good."

Durant came back Dec. 2 after missing the team's first 17 games with a broken right foot, and his latest injury ended his best performance yet this season.

Durant scored 30 points on 10-for-13 shooting, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range. It was his highest-scoring game this season and the highest-scoring first half of his career.

Oklahoma City started the season 3-12 with Durant and Westbrook dealing with injuries but had been rediscovering its championship-contender form with both healthy again.

The Thunder had won seven straight entering the game, which was the longest active streak in the league after Memphis snapped Golden State's 16-game winning streak Tuesday night. Oklahoma City is 7-2 since Durant came back and 8-2 since the return of Westbrook, who sat out 13 games with a broken bone in his right hand.

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 03:37:00 +0000

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Freshman point guard Tyus Jones scored 21 points, Justise Winslow hit two key baskets late in the game and No. 2 Duke responded to a tongue lashing by coach Mike Krzyzewski to beat defending national champion Connecticut 66-56 on Thursday night.

Winslow and Jahlil Okafor - the other two members of the Blue Devils' trio of talented freshmen - added 12 points apiece. Ahead 30-25 at the break, Duke (10-10) got off to a slow start in the second half and UConn (4-4) tied it, raising Coach K's ire.

Amile Jefferson added 11 points and 13 rebounds for Duke in a game that had the feel and intensity of a NCAA tournament contest.

Ryan Boatright had 22 points to lead the Huskies. Kentan Facey added 14 points and Daniel Hamilton had 10.

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:25:00 +0000

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is declining to respond to reports that he is weighing an offer from Michigan to become the new football coach at his alma mater.

Harbaugh has one season remaining on the $25 million, five-year contract he signed in January 2011. Several media outlets, including ESPN and the NFL Network, have reported Harbaugh has a six-year offer on the table from the Wolverines to return to Ann Arbor.

"As you know, I'll only talk about the job that I have. We've been together a long time and it's a longstanding policy," Harbaugh said Thursday.

All season long, he has said he won't let outside issues affect him. His name has emerged as a possible candidate for what should be several NFL vacancies after the season if Harbaugh and the 49ers part ways, including to fill the job across the bay in Oakland.

San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke said this week that a decision on Harbaugh's future would come after the season. The Niners (7-7) were eliminated from playoff contention in last Sunday's 17-7 loss at Seattle, giving them their first three-game losing streak under Harbaugh. San Francisco had reached three straight NFC championship games, losing the Super Bowl after the 2012 season.

"Trent and I have discussions every day," Harbaugh said, noting he still intends to coach out his contract. "I have said that I'm going to finish this `til the end. My focus is the same as the players' focus, the same as the coaches' focus, focused on the practice field, focused in meetings, by our players, by our coaches and by me."

Harbaugh said the 49ers still have plenty to play for in their final two games, Saturday at home against San Diego and next week hosting Arizona - like ending with a winning record.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who worked on Harbaugh's staff at Stanford before joining him in the jump to the NFL, said everybody wants to end this season on a positive note despite all the outside chatter about the coach's future.

"We don't talk about that stuff at all. We're focused on the Chargers, all that water cooler talk is just that," Roman said.

When asked whether he still has a special affinity for the Michigan program and university, Harbaugh again wouldn't bite.

"Again, I really don't want to talk about any other job than the one I have or talk about anybody else's process," Harbaugh said.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:07:00 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) Alex Rodriguez faces a diminished role in his return to the New York Yankees, who have stripped A-Rod of his third-base job and plan to limit his role to full-time designated hitter - at most.

General manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday that A-Rod's days as an everyday fielder are over in the Bronx and Chase Headley will start at third after agreeing this week to a $52 million, four-year contract.

Coming off a season-long suspension for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract, Rodriguez will have to compete with Martin Prado for time as Headley's backup at third.

"I can't expect Alex to be anything," Cashman said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I've got to think the worst and hope for the best. Even before the suspension, he wasn't the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side. And that was before the suspension.

"And now he's been out of the game for a year. He's approaching 40 years of age. And just to automatically assume given his circumstances that he'll be able to plug right in, play third as an everyday guy and hold up and be productive, I think that would be dangerous thinking from my perspective, in the seat I'm sitting in."

Rodriguez turns 40 in July and has not played a full season since 2007 because of leg injuries, operations on both hips and the suspension. Cashman said A-Rod will have to prove to manager Joe Girardi he can play the field.

"So given all that circumstance, we look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us, and if he shows he has retained athleticism, then he can play third as a choice when Joe decides to give Headley a rest," Cashman said. "He can compete for Joe's thought process, whether it's Prado swinging over or Alex playing third."

Cashman said he has not spoken with Rodriguez about his new role.

"I don't need to. I've been very consistent with my conversations publicly from October on," he said. "I have not heard from Alex on any of that, and I know he reads all this stuff."

Rodriguez is owed $61 million by the Yankees in the final three seasons of his contract, and New York could use improvement at DH - its players there combined to hit .230 this year (12th in the AL) with 18 homers (11th), 63 RBIs (13th), a .290 on-base percentage (14th) and a .372 slugging percentage (12th), according to STATS.

Acquired from San Diego in July, Headley convinced the Yankees to keep him. He will get $13 million each year and the chance to earn an additional $1 million annually in performance bonuses based on plate appearances. He would receive a one-time $1 million assignment bonus if traded.

"We measure a lot of different things on the hitting analytics as well as our scouting assessments of him," Cashman said. "He's got plate discipline. He's got power. ... We like his leadership. We like his abilities. We think he's an exceptional defender."

Headley hit .229 with seven homers and 32 RBIs last season for the Padres and .262 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 191 at-bats for New York. His offense improved after a herniated disk in his back was treated with an epidural injection June 20.

"If the back rears its ugly head, we know the process necessary to deal with that. So it was a risk that we felt worth taking," Cashman said.

New York anticipates Headley, a 2012 Gold Glove winner, will be joined in the infield most days by Didi Gregorius at shortstop, Prado at second and Mark Teixeira at first.

"We believe we now have a very strong defensive infield," Cashman said, "that will serve our pitching staff and our run prevention well."

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:15:00 +0000

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Sprint informed NASCAR it won't extend title sponsorship of the top Sprint Cup Series beyond its current contract, which expires after the 2016 season.

"Sprint has long benefited from the unprecedented level of brand integration available in NASCAR, and the passionate fan base that is the most loyal in sports," Steve Gaffney, vice president of marketing for Sprint, said in a Tuesday statement. "Without question, the NASCAR sponsorship property has been a valuable investment for us and will be for our successor.

"As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless,"

The wireless carrier assumed a 10-year sponsorship agreement with NASCAR when it acquired Nextel in 2005. The Nextel Cup Series became the Sprint Cup Series in 2008, and Sprint later agreed to a three-year extension that took the contract through 2016.

Now, the company is citing "a need to focus more directly on its core business priorities," in ending its relationship with NASCAR. SoftBank bought out Sprint in 2013 and the change in leadership has led to a new CEO and changing marketing strategies.

The announcement Tuesday gives NASCAR two seasons to find a replacement, and NASCAR chief communications officer Brett Jewkes said the series understands that significant changes within Sprint led to the decision.

"The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner," Jewkes said in a statement. "In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint's partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons."

Sprint's exit means NASCAR will enter a new entitlement agreement for just the fourth time since 1971, when RJ Reynolds began its 33-year sponsorship of the top series through its Winston brand. RJR pulled out after the 2003 season and Nextel stepped in until Sprint's corporate merger.

Since Sprint stepped in, the wireless carrier has implemented fan-friendly innovations ranging from a new generation scanner in 2005, a mobile app in 2008 and the Miss Sprint Cup ambassador program in 2007. The Miss Sprint Cup program has more than 1.5 million social media followers.

Sprint is also responsible for funding the season-ending point fund, which was approximately $22 million this past season and awarded $4.8 million to first-time champion Kevin Harvick.

Sprint also promotes the series through various marketing campaigns.

"Much like 2004, this is an enormous opportunity for a prospective sponsor to join one of the country's most popular sports on its highest level," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "NASCAR has reached out in advance to industry people like myself to assist them in identifying a replacement title sponsor. We encourage NASCAR to find an active, supportive and long-term sponsor with broad consumer reach and minimal category conflict that proves beneficial to the entire industry in the future."

NASCAR signed a deal with Xfinity this year to replace Nationwide as entitlement sponsor of the second-tier series, and NASCAR extended its current deal with Camping World through 2022 for title sponsor of its Truck Series.

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:17:00 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) Marcus Mariota wrote it all down, every word of his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. It was a good thing, too, because getting through it might have been tougher than sprinting away from a linebacker or tossing a touchdown pass for Oregon's understated star.

The junior quarterback became the Ducks' first Heisman winner going away Saturday night, capping a three-year climb to college football's most prestigious individual award.

"I'm humbled to be standing here today," Mariota said moments after he was announced as the winner.

Mariota isn't a bigger talker, but he steadily worked through his speech, thanking his teammates, teachers, friends and his home state of Hawaii. He finally hit a snag when it came time to thank his mother and father. He needed to take two deep breaths and still he got choked up.

"I had to give thanks to so many people because where I am today, it's all do to all those people," Mariota said later. "It's hard not to get emotional. It's been a long journey. My emotions got the best of me."

A pinpoint passer with wide-receiver speed, Mariota came into this season as the favorite to win the 80th Heisman and delivered a performance that turned the presentation ceremony at a theater in Times Square into a foregone conclusion.

Mariota had twice as many points (2,534) as second-place finisher Melvin Gordon (1,250), the record-breaking running back from Wisconsin. The other finalist, Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, was third.

Mariota received the second-highest percentage of possible points (90.92) in Heisman history, behind only Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, who had 91.63 in 2006. Southern California tailback Reggie Bush received 91.77 percent of possible points in 2005, but his victory was later vacated for violating NCAA rules.

Mariota, the first Hawaii native to win the Heisman, has accounted for a Pac-12-record 53 touchdowns (38 passing, 14 rushing and one receiving) while directing the Ducks' warp-speed spread offense.

"In Hawaii, if one person is successful, the entire state is successful," he said, draped in leis at his news conference.

It will be a matchup of Heisman-winning quarterbacks in the College Football Playoff's Rose Bowl semifinal Jan. 1 with Mariota and the Ducks facing Florida State and Jameis Winston.

"I'm just looking forward to getting back on the field and playing again,' Mariota said. "We do have a team goal."

In an era when so many Heisman winners seemingly come from out of nowhere - the last two were the first freshmen winners - Mariota's rise was slow and steady.

Three of the last four Heisman winners were in their first seasons as starters, including Cam Newton, who won the award in his only season at Auburn after transferring from a junior college. Before Newton, three straight sophomores won the award (Tim Tebow of Florida, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and Mark Ingram of Alabama). Tebow was the first sophomore winner.

Like Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Winston, the previous two winners, Mariota started as a redshirt freshman. It quickly established himself as a star, but unlike Johnny Football and Famous Jameis, Mariota wasn't the face of college football in his first season.

In his second season he put up numbers that rivaled those of Heisman finalist quarterbacks Winston, Manziel, AJ McCarron and Jordan Lynch, but when it came time to vote for the Heisman, Mariota was forgotten. He didn't even finish in the top 10 in 2013.

This season Mariota would not be ignored.

He leads the nation in passer rating (186.2), is fifth in total offense (342.5 yards per game) and has led the Ducks to a Pac-12 title with a chance to play for their first national championship.

Of course, patience and poise have defined Mariota's career. He didn't start for his high school team until he was a senior - then led Saint Louis in Honolulu to a state title.

A quiet leader with a nice-guy reputation, Mariota brought no off-field baggage to this Heisman ceremony. After a season beset by off-field troubles, including a school hearing into sexual assault allegations, Winston wasn't a finalist this time around. He finished sixth.

Oregon's only Heisman finalists before Mariota were quarterback Joey Harrington in 2001 and running back LaMichael James in 2010.

"If you have your punch list of things as a program, the most iconic individual award would be the Heisman Trophy. But like Marcus said, I know he'd trade all that to win as a team," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.

For Harrington, Oregon, with Nike's help, put up a billboard in Times Square to promote their Heisman candidate.

Oregon didn't need a billboard to get the word out about Mariota. His play provided all the publicity he needed

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrusoAP

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 05:28:00 +0000

Floyd Mayweather Jr. says he's ready to fight Manny Pacquiao next May in a long anticipated bout that would be the richest ever in boxing.

Mayweather called for negotiations for the fight to be take place, though he warned Pacquiao not to expect to get anywhere near the money that he himself would make.

"You lost twice and now you're coming back begging for the same money?" Mayweather asked. "That's not gonna happen."

In an interview on the Showtime network from a fight card he was promoting in San Antonio, Mayweather for the first time called for the fight to happen and even gave a date - May 2. He claimed it wasn't him but Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, who has been the main obstacle for not making the fight in the last five years.

"Floyd Mayweather is not ducking or dodging any opponent," Mayweather said. "Bob Arum is stopping the fight. We have been trying to make this fight happen for many years behind the scene."

Pacquiao turned the pressure up on Mayweather to make the fight last month, saying the time had come to put on the much anticipated bout. Arum said he had also been in talks with CBS Corp. chairman Les Moonves about the fight.

CBS operates Showtime, which has Mayweather under contract for two more fights in May and September.

Mayweather repeated his old charges about Pacquiao not wanting to do blood tests prior to the fight for it not happening five years ago. He also said he offered Pacquiao $40 million for a bout, but he refused.

Mayweather, who hasn't lost in 47 fights, said he was confident he could beat Pacquiao and eager to star in an extremely lucrative fight.

"I know that he's not on my level," Mayweather said. "The fan would love to see the fight. And, of course, I want to go out with a bang."

No one knows how rich a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight would be, coming so late after it first should have happened in 2009. There are some who think both fighters have slipped some with advancing age, but there's no doubt that the fight still holds tremendous appeal.

It would likely gross at least $250 million, and Mayweather's purse alone would be more than $100 million.

Mayweather was not asked in the ringside interview about the murder-suicide of rapper Earl Warren Hayes and his wife in Los Angeles on Monday. Police spoke to Mayweather after the killings following media reports that he may have spoken to Hayes before he shot Stephanie Elyse Moseley and then took his own life in their apartment.

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 05:24:00 +0000

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The NFL's hard line on Adrian Peterson held up.

The league-appointed arbitrator for Peterson's appeal affirmed the unpaid suspension until at least next spring, the final result of the child-abuse case that kept the Minnesota running back out of all but one game this season and widened the rift between the NFL and its players over the fairness of the disciplinary process.

The decision by Harold Henderson, a former league official, was announced Friday.

That means Peterson, though he avoided jail time and a felony conviction, has been fined more than $4.1 million as part of the punishment from the NFL. That's the cost of the six-game suspension that was issued Nov. 18 under the league's personal conduct policy. He will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, a lawsuit will be filed against the NFL on Peterson's behalf in federal court in Minnesota as early as Monday. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the lawsuit had not yet been filed.

Peterson told ESPN.com that he might walk away from the game, possibly even trying to run in the 2016 Olympics.

"I've considered retiring from the NFL," Peterson said. "I still made $8 million this year. ... I've thought about going after the Olympics. You only live once. It might be time for me to pursue that."

The NFL Players Association called Henderson's objectivity into question.

"The decision itself ignores the facts, the evidence and the collective bargaining agreement," the union said in a statement. "This decision also represents the NFL's repeated failure to adhere to due process and confirms its inconsistent treatment of players."

Henderson's announcement was a decisive victory for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose authority was overruled last month by the arbitrator in the case of former Baltimore running back Ray Rice. Rice was reinstated, but he had no team to return to because the Ravens released him a week into the season.

The union's grievance for Peterson was similar, arguing essentially that Goodell was making up protocol for discipline as he went along. But Henderson forcefully wrote that he saw no bounds being overstepped by the league boss.

After Rice's case emerged, Goodell announced in August a stiffer penalty for players involved with domestic violence. The union argued that Peterson, who was charged with felony child abuse in September for use a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son in May, should be subject to the prior guidelines. Henderson said that argument didn't matter.

"The Commissioner has broad discretion to impose appropriate discipline for violations of the personal conduct policy, and his recent pronouncements simply reflect his current thinking on domestic violence and other incidents involving physical force," Henderson wrote.

The Vikings declined to comment.

Peterson led the NFL in rushing twice, including 2012 when he had 2,097 yards and fell 9 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record, but he might never play again for the Vikings after this mess.

The three-time Associated Press All-Pro pick and six-time Pro Bowl selection has a contract that runs through 2017, but that's not guaranteed like the other major sports. The Vikings could release him before next season and owe him nothing, taking only a $2.4 million hit on their 2015 salary cap.

The Vikings initially announced Peterson would stay on the active roster after the first game he missed following the indictment, but they reversed course less than two days later following intense public pressure and placed him on the exempt list at Goodell's approval. That's like paid leave, which the union argued counted as discipline and therefore contributed to an overreaching punishment. Henderson dismissed that argument, too.

Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault in Texas on Nov. 4 for probation time, community service and a small fine. He acknowledged physically disciplining the boy as he had been as a youth, but he said he meant no harm and was sorry for the trouble he caused.

"I love my son more than any of you can imagine," he said outside the courthouse that day.

Still, Henderson sided with Goodell in his written reprimand of Peterson's purported lack of remorse.

"While the discipline assessed is indeed greater than in most prior cases, this is arguably one of the most egregious cases of domestic violence in this Commissioner's tenure - the severe beating of a 4-year old child, with a tree branch, striking him repeatedly about the body and inflicting injuries visible days later," Henderson said.

At the crux of the NFLPA's argument for reinstatement was what NFL executive vice president for football operations Troy Vincent told Peterson last month with the dispute at its height.

The union claimed Vincent told Peterson he would receive a two-game ban if he attended a hearing on Nov. 14 with Goodell. Peterson declined to meet that day with Goodell, citing uncertainty about the NFL's intent to question him. Goodell then announced on Nov. 18 the suspension.

A recording and a transcript of what Vincent told Peterson was presented by the NFLPA to Henderson, who oversaw a hearing on Dec. 2. Peterson attended that and listened via telephone as the hearing continued on Dec. 4, when Vincent was questioned.

But Henderson concluded Peterson was not retaliated against for not going to meet with Goodell.

"Mr. Vincent testified that he never promised a two-game suspension or that the old policy would control, but rather encouraged Mr. Peterson to `go through the process and all things will be considered,"' Henderson wrote. "He said, `I didn't promise Adrian anything. Never promised. Adrian needed to show up. Talk."'

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AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 22:14:00 +0000

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Federal and state grand juries in New Orleans added new sexual assault and drug charges Friday to the multi-state criminal counts faced by former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper.

Sharper, 39, was indicted by a grand jury on two state counts of aggravated rape stemming from accusations that he sexually assaulted two drug-impaired women at his apartment in September 2013, District attorney's spokesman Christopher Bowman said Friday morning. Sharper also was charged with simple rape of a different woman in August 2013.

Also indicted on state charges Friday: Brandon Licciardi, 29. He is a friend of Sharper's and also is a former sheriff's deputy in nearby St. Bernard Parish. He was indicted on a charge of aggravated rape of a woman on Feb. 2, 2013, three counts of human trafficking for the purposes of providing sexual conduct and with one count of battery.

Erik Nunez, 27, another Sharper acquaintance, was charged with two state counts of aggravated rape for his alleged involvement with the two women at Sharper's apartment. Nunez also was charged with obstruction of justice.

Under Louisiana law, simple rape includes sexual intercourse with a victim incapable of resisting for reasons that include unsoundness of mind or intoxication. Aggravated rape can involve force, threats of harm or the involvement of more than one perpetrator.

Later Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans announced federal charges against Sharper and Licciardi.

"Sharper and Licciardi conspired to distribute narcotics to several women with the intent to commit rape," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said in a prepared statement.

The federal indictment charges Sharper and Licciardi with distributing the drugs alprazolam, diazepam and zolpidem - more commonly known by the brand names Xanax, Valium and Ambien, respectively. Licciardi also was charged with witness tampering and "obstruction of an official proceeding."

Sharper is jailed in California on charges that he drugged and raped two women there. He also faces sexual assault charges in Arizona. Similar accusations against Sharper in Las Vegas remain under investigation.

Sharper has pleaded not guilty in California, and has denied the other allegations.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans said Licciardi was in federal custody. There was no word on when he would make a first court appearance and no information immediately available on his attorney.

Nunez, who had been released on $400,000 bond after his initial arrest in the case earlier this year, will turn himself in on Monday for arraignment on the grand jury charges, his attorney Jeffrey Smith said. Smith said Nunez is innocent in the case and will seek reduction of his new bond, set Friday at $2.5 million.

He described Nunez as a service industry worker who has worked for Sharper but is not close to the former Saint.

"Unfortunately he's caught up in the sensationalism and politics of this," Smith said.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office said Nunez was not in custody as of Friday afternoon. A call to a lawyer who has represented Nunez in the past was not immediately returned.

Sharper's bail in the Louisiana state case was $2.5 million; Licciardi's was $2.9 million.

If convicted of aggravated rape in Louisiana, Sharper, Nunez and Licciardi each could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Each of the federal counts returned Friday - six against Licciardi and three against Sharper - carry maximum 20-year sentences.

If convicted on the California charges, Sharper could face more than 30 years in state prison.

Sharper was selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times. He played in two Super Bowls, one with the Green Bay Packers as a rookie and was part of a successful championship run while with the New Orleans Saints.

He retired after the 2010 season and was working as an analyst for the NFL Network before being fired after the rape allegations surfaced.

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 08:02:00 +0000

SAN DIEGO (AP) Less than five months after acquiring Yoenis Cespedes as part of a big deadline deal, the Boston Red Sox traded the slugging outfielder to help bolster their rotation.

The Detroit Tigers were happy to take him.

Boston sent Cespedes to the Tigers on Thursday for right-hander Rick Porcello in a deal that both teams hope will help fill significant needs. The Red Sox are rebuilding their starting pitching after losing 91 games this year, and Detroit was able to add another power hitter to a lineup that also includes Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

Pitchers Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier also went to Detroit as part of the trade.

"We were not looking to trade Yoenis Cespedes," Boston general manager Ben Cherington said. "But as we got into the offseason and looked at what our alternatives were, and we needed to build our rotation, and the depth we had in the outfield - we feel good about the outfield group that we have. Just felt it made sense."

The Red Sox acquired Cespedes in July in the deal that sent Jon Lester to Oakland. Cespedes finished the year with a .260 average, 22 home runs and 100 RBIs. Boston was unable to bring back Lester as a free agent, and the Red Sox needed to add to their rotation after also trading Jake Peavy and John Lackey during the season.

Boston completed a one-year contract Thursday night with free-agent right-hander Justin Masterson, who began his career with the Red Sox, and has discussed a deal to obtain left-hander Wade Miley from Arizona.

Porcello does not turn 26 until later this month, but he has plenty of experience. He made his debut with Detroit in 2009 as a 20-year-old, and he's been a mainstay in the Tigers' rotation ever since. He is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 15 wins, a 3.43 ERA and 204 2-3 innings pitched.

Porcello has held hitters to a 53 percent groundball rate, a skill that may be more useful at Fenway Park than in Detroit.

"We feel he's been one of the better starting pitchers in baseball," Cherington said. "He's been on a staff with a lot of big-name pitchers so he gets buried in the names in Detroit. But he's been really good in his own right."

The Tigers, who have won the last four AL Central titles, still have Justin Verlander, David Price and Anibal Sanchez in their rotation, and they recently acquired Shane Greene from the New York Yankees. Free agent star Max Scherzer remains on the open market.

Detroit also acquired right-handed starter Alfredo Simon from Cincinnati on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Cespedes gives Detroit another power-hitting presence in the middle of its lineup. The Tigers already made an addition to their outfield this offseason, acquiring speedy center fielder Anthony Gose from Toronto. Cespedes joins a group of outfielders that also includes J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis.

If J.D. Martinez can repeat his 23-homer performance of 2014, the Tigers should have plenty of power threats, and although Cespedes has an on-base percentage of only .316 in three major league seasons, he is a decade younger than outfielder Torii Hunter, who left Detroit via free agency.

"Cespedes is a dynamic all-around player who hits for power, provides solid run production and will play left field," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Alex Wilson is a solid performer who has pitched at the major league level and will compete for a job in our bullpen this spring. Gabe Speier is a young player that our scouts like."

The 28-year-old Wilson posted a 3.38 ERA in 56 innings for the Red Sox over the last two seasons. The 19-year-old Speier went 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in 2014.

Cespedes and Porcello could both be free agents after this season. Cespedes will make $10.5 million in 2015. Porcello is arbitration-eligible after making $8.5 million this year.

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 23:41:00 +0000

IRVING, Texas (AP) NFL owners moved quickly and unanimously Wednesday to change the league's personal conduct policy. Now the question is how, or whether, the players' union responds.

The league announced it will hire a special counsel for investigations and conduct to oversee initial discipline, but Commissioner Roger Goodell will retain authority to rule on appeals. The commissioner also may appoint a panel of independent experts to participate in appeals.

Amid questions over his handling of domestic violence cases involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the union wants Goodell removed entirely from the disciplinary process. The players believe any changes to the personal conduct policy should be part of labor negotiations.

Asked whether he anticipated a challenge from the union, Goodell deferred to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, who said the owners' decision was "entirely consistent with the collective bargaining agreement."

"I don't know whether the union will challenge it or not, but we've given it a lot of thought," Pash said. "And I would hope they don't challenge. We'd be happy to sit down with them again tomorrow if they wanted to have some further conversations about it. I don't think there's any need for legal challenges."

The union has sought negotiations with the NFL on any revamping of the policy, and said Tuesday it would "reserve the right to take any and all actions" should the owners act unilaterally. The union could consider the vote by owners a violation of the collective bargaining agreement reached in 2011, giving the union cause to file a grievance.

Among the union's options is pursuing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. The players could argue this policy is a change in terms and conditions of employment; the National Labor Relations Act says such changes in unionized situations are subject to collective bargaining.

"Our union has not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL's new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses," the union said in a statement issued after Wednesday's vote. "Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months."

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman reiterated criticisms from other players Wednesday that the NFL was "making things up as they go along" by not pursuing policy changes through collective bargaining.

"You would think, you would hope anything having to do with the players and especially discipline and things like that players would have some say so in the policy," Sherman said. "At least something we could agree on, everybody is comfortable with, but obviously that isn't what they saw fit."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was "aware of a lot of the things that the union is an advocate of."

"This differs in some respects," Jones said. "At the end of the day, we're all trying to do the same thing. We're trying to influence and diminish domestic violence."

After the Rice and Peterson cases, a more extensive list of prohibited conduct will be included in the policy, as well as specific criteria for paid leave for anyone charged with a violent crime.

A suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, sexual assault, battery, domestic violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence will be in effect, but with consideration given to mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

"The policy is comprehensive. It is strong. It is tough. And it better for everyone associated with the NFL," Goodell said.

That new policy will include a conduct committee made up of several team owners and a pair of former players who are now part of ownership groups - Warrick Dunn (Atlanta) and John Stallworth (Pittsburgh).

Chaired by Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, the committee will review the personal conduct policy at least annually and recommend appropriate changes. The group will seek advice from outside experts, the NFL said.

Last month, an arbitrator threw out Rice's indefinite suspension by the NFL for hitting his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator, freeing him to play again.

Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones said Goodell's decision in September to change Rice's original suspension from two games to indefinite was "arbitrary" and an "abuse of discretion."

After noting the two-game suspension given to Rice was insufficient, Goodell had changed the minimum punishment under the personal conduct policy to six games. After a video of the punch became public, Rice was released by the Ravens and Goodell suspended him indefinitely.

Rice and the union contended he was essentially sentenced twice, and Jones agreed, saying Rice "did not lie to or mislead the NFL."

Peterson's appeal of a league suspension lasting until next April 15 was heard by Harold Henderson last week. Henderson, a former NFL executive, was appointed by Goodell to rule on the appeal and is expected to do so soon.

Peterson is seeking reinstatement, something Goodell said he would not consider before April 15.

The 2012 NFL MVP hasn't played for the Minnesota Vikings since Week 1 after he was charged with child abuse in Texas. He was placed on paid leave while the legal process played out, and he pleaded no contest Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault for injuring his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:47:00 +0000

SAN DIEGO (AP) Jon Lester agreed Tuesday night to a $155 million, six-year contract with the Cubs, the first big deal of the offseason involving a top-level starting pitcher and one Chicago hopes will help end more than a century of frustration at Wrigley Field's Friendly Confines.

Lester's contract, agreed to on the second day of baseball's winter meetings, contains an option for 2021 that, if it becomes guaranteed, would make the deal worth $170 million over seven seasons. The average annual value of $25.8 million is the second-highest for a pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw's $30.7 million as part of a $215 million, seven-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that began this year.

"It's not often you get to win the lottery, and we won the baseball lottery this year," new Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Now it's up to us to put it into effect."

A three-time All-Star who turns 31 next month, Lester won two World Series titles with Boston. The left-hander joins a long-suffering team with a promising core of young players and a top-tier manager, Maddon, who left Tampa Bay and signed a $25 million, five-year contract with the Cubs.

Now, Chicago has an ace to lead the rotation as it tries to end a run of five straight losing seasons and a championship drought that dates to 1908.

Lester was dealt by the Red Sox to Oakland at the trade deadline in July and helped the A's reach the playoffs for the third straight year before a 9-8, 12-inning loss to Kansas City in the AL wild-card game. He went 16-11 with a career-best 2.46 ERA and 220 strikeouts last season and is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA in nine big league seasons.

He also had been sought by the Red Sox, World Series champion San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lester is headed to a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2008, but he knows Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer from their time together in Boston.

Maddon had been used to small payrolls in Tampa Bay.

"I've not been on this side since my days with the Angels, when I got an email in Italy that we had signed Vladimir Guerrero," said Maddon, who was a coach in Anaheim before switching to Tampa Bay. "I think that definitely sends that message how Theo and the group feel about this particular group. But understand, we have a lot of young players that have to grow up as quickly as possible. But having Jon there adds to the flavor and the possibility."

The Cubs' management is making over the team in a big way.

Chicago has a pending $20 million, two-year deal with right-hander Jason Hammel, traded by the Cubs to Oakland last summer. Earlier Tuesday, the Cubs acquired All-Star catcher Miguel Montero from Arizona for minor league right-handers Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley - a deal that added $40 million in payroll over the next three years.

Chicago's rotation is likely to also include Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood, and Kyle Hendricks.

The Cubs also have a pair of All-Stars in the batting order in first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro and expect improved performances from young sluggers Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. Ahead is another wave of prospects that includes third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Addison Russell.

Maddon hopes an addition such as Lester helps change the mindset in the clubhouse when spring training starts in February.

"It definitely makes it more believable to everybody else in that room," he said. "I'll stand up and make the same speech regardless, but when you have it backed up by that particular kind of presence, it adds to it."

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AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg contributed to this report.

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 04:12:00 +0000

SAN DIEGO (AP) Jeff Samardzija has played for Notre Dame and the Cubs and now will get to pitch for the White Sox.

"Being a Chicago guy, that's one of the craziest things I've thought about," he said Tuesday after Oakland dealt him to Chicago's South Side. "I'm sitting here thinking, `Now, do I really have to go get my cleats on and go play for the Bears?' If I could skate, maybe the `Hawks. My jumper's garbage, so the Bulls are out of the question."

Trading an All-Star for the third time in less than two weeks, the Athletics sent the Samardzija and right-hander Michael Ynoa for right-hander Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Rangel Ravelo and infielder Marcus Semien.

An All-America wide receiver with the Fighting Irish, Samardzija was 31-42 with a 3.97 ERA for the Chicago Cubs from 2008 until July 5, when he was traded to the A's. He went 5-6 with a 3.14 ERA for Oakland.

"It's a gutsy move," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You look around at our division, and you see the starting pitchers out there, of what it takes to make it in your division of facing them all the time, and we feel like that's something we had to do."

Samardzija, a right-hander who turns 30 on Jan. 23, made $5,345,000 this year and is eligible for salary arbitration. He can become a free agent after the 2015 season.

"We're going to make every effort to make this a long-term relationship," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "We felt that this was a premium starter who fit, not just in terms of how he fit in our rotation, but how he fit in our clubhouse."

Samardzija wasn't so sure he would want to miss free agency.

"You're so close to it, you really want to experience it," he maintained. "But like I said before, when the situation's right, it's right. When the numbers are right, they're right."

The White Sox have been a prominent team in the offseason. On Monday at the winter meetings, Chicago agreed to a $46 million, four-year contract with closer David Robertson, a person familiar with the deal said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the agreement had not been announced.

Even before that, Chicago agreed to a $25 million, two-year contract with first baseman Adam LaRoche and a $15 million, three-year deal with left-hander Zach Duke.

"We've moved the chains to improve this club in what we feel is dramatic fashion, but we still have work to do," Hahn said. "It's starting to get a little tight. We spent a pretty good chunk of what we had available to us, but at the same time it just means it's time to get a little more creative."

Samardzija joins a rotation that includes Chris Sale, who finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting, and Jose Quintana.

"I think we're going to be the most competitive rotation in the league, and I mean that internally," Samardzija said. "The best starting rotations are made when there's three or four guys that want to be the best and they want to go out there and clinch that three-game series or win that Sunday sweep game."

While Chicago is adding after finishing fourth in the AL Central at 73-89, Oakland is subtracting.

Following its loss to Kansas City in the AL wild-card game, Oakland traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto on Nov. 28 and first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss to Cleveland on Monday.

Oakland was 22nd in payroll at the end of the regular season at $92 million. Moss had a $4.1 million base salary this year and is eligible for arbitration. Donaldson is eligible for arbitration for the first time after Oakland renewed his salary this year at the $500,000 major league minimum.

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AP Sports Writers Howie Rumberg and Andrew Seligman contributed to this report.