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Jacob deGrom free agency buzz: Potential suitor Rays sign Zach Eflin to three-year deal

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Jacob deGrom free agency buzz: Potential suitor Rays sign Zach Eflin to three-year deal

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (56) pitches against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game six of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park.

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (56) pitches against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game six of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park. / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Here is the latest buzz and rumors surrounding Mets ace Jacob deGrom‘s free agency…

Dec. 1, 8:05 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Rays, who have reportedly expressed interest in deGrom earlier this offseason, inked Zach Eflin to a three-year, $40 million deal on Thursday. This contract is the largest free agent contract in the team’s history.

Whether Tampa Bay is finished signing starting pitchers to round out their rotation remains to be seen, but this could take the normally low-payroll Rays out of the running for deGrom.

In 20 games (13 starts) for the Philadelphia Phillies last season, Eflin went 3-5 and pitched to a 4.04 ERA (1.12 WHIP) with 65 strikeouts in 75.2 innings.

Pitching out of the bullpen during Philadelphia’s World Series run, Eflin pitched 10.2 innings and gave up four earned runs.

Dec. 1, 1:19 p.m.

Mets GM Billy Eppler, speaking on Thursday during a Zoom with reporters to reintroduce Edwin Diaz, was asked how important it was to get a resolution on deGrom before making other free agency moves.

Eppler, not mentioning deGrom by name after the question, seemed to suggest that the deGrom domino doesn’t have to fall before the Mets act elsewhere.

“I wouldn’t say that’s critically important,” Eppler said. “We’ve assessed the market, and we’ve had enough dialogue to try to get a sense of what we think is going to be a reality.

“We are positioned to be able to execute other things if it makes sense, and we get close enough. We don’t need one thing to happen first before other things can become a reality.”

As the Mets have maintained dialogue with deGrom’s camp, they have also spoken with Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, and Japanese ace Kodai Senga.

Additionally, it was reported on Wednesday by Jeff Passan of ESPN that the Mets are hoping to retain Chris Bassitt.

Nov. 28, 9:14 a.m.

The Texas Rangers “seem more confident” about signing Carlos Rodon or Kodai Senga than they are about landing Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. 

SNY’s Andy Martino reported on Nov. 23 that the Rangers appeared “very interested” in Rodon, adding that Texas was a “sleeper team” to watch on Senga.

Martino reported on Nov. 21 that the Mets were hopeful deGrom would choose them.

In addition to deGrom, the Mets have spoken with Verlander and Senga. They have not yet been connected to Rodon.

Nov. 23, 4:36 p.m.

The Texas Rangers now appear “very interested” in free agent RHP Carlos Rodon, reports SNY’s Andy Martino, who wonders who else would offer deGrom three years if the Rangers pass.

It is conceivable that the Rangers could sign both Rodon and deGrom, but it seems reasonable to believe Rodon landing in Texas would decrease the chances of them signing deGrom.

As far as what Rodon’s contract might look like, MLB Trade Rumors predicted that he would receive a deal worth $140 million over five years — an average annual value of $28 million.

The other teams — aside from the Mets — that have been connected to deGrom are the Atlanta Braves and Yankees, though Martino does not believe deGrom will wind up in the Bronx.

Nov. 21, 12:39 p.m.

The Mets are “hopeful that deGrom will choose them,” reports SNY’s Andy Martino.

Per Martino, retaining deGrom remains a priority for the Mets, who are also exploring alternatives.

Among the potential alternatives are Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga.

As far as the Mets’ competition for deGrom, Martino reports that there are four teams that have been linked to him including the Mets. The other teams are the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, and Yankees.

Martino reported that the Yankees have requested medical information on deGrom but have not yet decided whether or not they’ll pursue him.

Nov. 15, 10:45 a.m.

With the Mets believing that the Texas Rangers are “serious suitors” for deGrom, New York is considering a pursuit of free agent Justin Verlander and “forging ahead” with a pursuit of Japanese ace Kodai Senga, league sources told SNY’s Andy Martino.

The Mets will soon meet with Senga, who is in the United States visiting interested teams.

Per Martino, the idea of signing Verlander to a high average annual value deal has been “floating around the Mets front office for months.”

While the Mets are discussing a pursuit of Verlander and will meet with Senga, they remain engaged with deGrom’s camp, notes Martino.

Nov. 15, 9:03 a.m.

The Atlanta Braves signing deGrom is “highly unlikely,” reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Per The Athletic, the Braves are “reluctant to enter into a deal with any player who takes up too high a percentage of their payroll,” since their younger players will soon receive pay increases.

DeGrom, 34, is expected to seek a deal that could eclipse Max Scherzer‘s record average annual value of $43.3 million. In that deal, Scherzer received three guaranteed years with an opt-out after the second season.

The Braves and Texas Rangers have been viewed as two of the most likely landing spots for deGrom in the event he leaves the Mets.

SNY’s Andy Martino recently reported that the Mets would be happy to re-sign deGrom and could extend a strong offer early on in the process, but might balk at a deal of four years at a high average annual value.

Nov. 10, 10:40 a.m.

DeGrom has let the Texas Rangers know he’s interested in signing there, reports Jon Heyman of The New York Post.

Heyman speculates, however, that Carlos Rodon might ultimately be a better fit for Texas.

SNY’s Andy Martino reported earlier this week that the Mets viewed the Rangers and Atlanta Braves as two of the teams who could sign deGrom away from them.

Mets GM Billy Eppler said on Nov. 9 that the team and deGrom have had dialogue about him returning.

Martino reported earlier this week that the Mets would likely make a strong early offer for deGrom, but could be hesitant to guarantee four years at significant dollars.

Nov. 8, 8:30 p.m.

Mets GM Billy Eppler told the media at the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday that the team and deGrom have had talks about the RHP returning to New York.

While Eppler spoke in length about the various talks so far, he also said that both sides have made a “pact” that they will be in constant contact this offseason.

“We want to stay in communication with each other and to be very transparent with each other,” Eppler said of deGrom’s camp. “They’ll have a sense of what we’re doing and hopefully we’ll have a sense of what they’re doing.”

Eppler said that he does not have a sense on how long talks will take, but the team will continue to explore free agency and even the trade market to build their team for the 2023 season.

Nov. 8, 7:05 p.m.

At the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Rangers GM Chris Young told reporters how Texas will approach free agency and they’ll be looking for pitchers.

“[Starting pitching] is our No. 1 priority,” Young said. “We recognize the limitations we had especially in the starting rotation last year. We’re going to allocate the majority of our resources towards pitching this year.”

With Jacob deGrom opting out of his contract with the Mets, there will be plenty of teams vying for his services, including the Rangers, per SNY’s Andy Martino. Jon Heyman of The New York Post reported last week that the Rangers are going to “pony up” while making a run at deGrom.

Martino reported Tuesday that the Mets have made preliminary contact with deGrom’s camp, but nothing has progressed very far yet. Mets GM Billy Eppler said Tuesday there was no sense yet on the timing regarding deGrom.

Nov. 8, 3:55 p.m.

SNY’s Andy Martino reported from the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday that there has been preliminary contact between the Mets and deGrom’s camp, but that nothing has progressed very far yet.

Martino added that the Mets want deGrom back, but would be hesitant to offer four years if another team offered four years at a very high number.

Martino reported on Monday night that he believes the Mets will make a “strong” early offer for deGrom, but that they won’t let deGrom “lead them down a free agency chase” to the high point of the bidding.

Per Martino, the Mets will offer what they think deGrom is worth, perhaps go a bit higher, and will be happy if he returns.

Martino added that the Mets remain unsure whether deGrom wants to be back, and cited the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers as the two teams the Mets are most worried about when it comes to who could sign deGrom away.

As far as average annual value, the belief has been that deGrom will want to eclipse Max Scherzer‘s record deal that paid him $43.3 million annually. Martino notes that it remains to be seen whether deGrom’s market will reach that level.

Nov. 7, 10:15 a.m.

DeGrom made the expected move official on Monday morning, as the two-time Cy Young winner opted out of the remaining two years of his Mets contract, making him a free agent.

The ace stated multiple times over the past season that he intended to opt out of the five-year, $137.5 million extension that he signed in March of 2019.

DeGrom was set to make $30.5 million in 2023, and had he opted in, the Mets would have had a team option for $32.5 million in 2024.

Oct. 28, 11:28 a.m.

The Texas Rangers are going to “pony up” while making a run at deGrom, a rival predicted to Jon Heyman of The New York Post.

The Rangers spent a ton of money last offseason, including inking Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to megadeals, and are now focused on adding starting pitching.

There has been industry speculation that deGrom might want to go to a team like the Atlanta Braves and play closer to his home in Florida than New York is. Texas doesn’t exactly qualify in that regard.

The Mets will attempt to re-sign deGrom, SNY’s Andy Martino reported earlier this month, adding that the club was unsure how aggressive that effort would be.

There is an expectation that deGrom could be seeking the highest average annual value ever for a pitcher — a record currently held by Max Scherzer, who is making $43.3 million per year in his current three-year deal with the Mets.

Oct. 28, 9:12 a.m.

Former Mets and current Philadelphia Phillies pitchers Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard weighed in on the deGrom situation on Thursday as they prepared for Game 1 of the World Series.

“He told me he is happy there,” Wheeler told Mike Puma of The New York Post. “I just think he wants to get compensated for what he’s done.”

Added Wheeler about the five-year, $137.5 million extension deGrom signed with the Mets before the 2019 season:

“I don’t think it was the right compensation at the time,” Wheeler said. “I can’t speak for him, it’s a lot of money and it’s life-changing money and I think anybody would have taken that at the time. But at the same time people have seen what he’s done and maybe you can correct it along the way, and this is his chance to correct it.”

Syndergaard told The Post he would be “surprised” if deGrom left the Mets:

“With Steve Cohen anything is possible, especially when you have a pitcher like deGrom — he’s got the potential and stuff to be the best pitcher ever to walk this earth,” Syndergaard said. “I just hope that he stays healthy.”

In other Syndergaard buzz, before he wound up with the Phillies he told the Los Angeles Angels that he would rather not be in Philadelphia or with any team in the same division with the Mets, reports Jon Heyman of The Post.

However, Heyman notes that Syndergaard now “loves it” in Philadelphia.

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Florida Atlantic hires ex-Texas coach Tom Herman as new head coach

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Florida Atlantic hires ex-Texas coach Tom Herman as new head coach

Sam Cooper

Tom Herman is returning to college football.

Florida Atlantic announced Thursday that it has hired Herman as its next head coach. At FAU, Herman will replace Willie Taggart, who was fired by the school after going 15-18 in three seasons.

It’s Herman’s first head-coaching job since 2020, when he was fired by the University of Texas after four seasons. Herman had a 32-18 record at UT, but the school opted to replace him with Steve Sarkisian after the Longhorns went 7-3 in 2020. Texas had a winning record in all four of Herman’s seasons in charge, including going 10-4 with a Sugar Bowl victory in 2018.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead the Florida Atlantic football program,” Herman said. “All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful. There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”

Before he landed at Texas, Herman had a 22-4 record in two seasons at Houston. That included a 13-1 record in 2015 that culminated in a win over Florida State in the Peach Bowl.

Herman also notably served as the offensive coordinator at Iowa State and Ohio State among his many stops as an assistant coach. However, he has never coached in the state of Florida.

Tom Herman will return to a head coaching role for the first time since he was fired at Texas following the 2020 season. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Tom Herman will return to a head coaching role for the first time since he was fired at Texas following the 2020 season. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Herman spent the 2021 season as an offensive analyst for the Chicago Bears. This year, he worked for CBS Sports Network. Now he’s back in a head-coaching role.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU athletic director Brian White said. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program. He has coached winning programs everywhere he has been and we believe he can be tremendously successful at FAU as well.”

Florida Atlantic went 5-7 this season, missing out on a bowl for the second year in a row.

The Owls endured eight consecutive seasons (2009-2016) without a winning record before the school hired Lane Kiffin. Kiffin spent three seasons at FAU and coached the Owls to two Conference USA titles before leaving for Ole Miss.

FAU was unable to match that success with Taggart as head coach. Now, with the program moving from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference in 2023, the school is hoping Herman can elevate the program’s performance in the years to come.

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Yankees free agency and trade buzz: Jameson Taillon’s market ‘gaining steam’

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Yankees free agency and trade buzz: Jameson Taillon’s market ‘gaining steam’

Aug 25, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) walks out from the dugout before the start of the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 25, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) walks out from the dugout before the start of the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports / © Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Here is the latest free agency and trade buzz surrounding the Yankees..

Dec. 1, 3:44 p.m.

Taillon’s market is “gaining steam,” reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, who notes that Taillon has impressed interested teams during his Zoom meetings with them.

Feinsand adds that Taillon is expected to get a deal larger than the four-year, $56 million contract Jon Gray signed with the Texas Rangers last offseason.

Taillon, 31, made $5.8 million last season with the Yankees.

In 32 starts in 2022, Taillon had a 3.91 ERA (3.94 FIP) and 1.12 WHIP while striking out 151 batters in 177.1 innings (7.7 per nine).

Nov. 20, 6:26 p.m.

The Yankees may have competition if they want to re-sign Jameson Taillon.

The Mets have been in contact with Taillon, according to a report by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The Yankees acquired Taillon on Jan. 24, 2021, in a five-player trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I haven’t thought about it a ton, but I definitely know I love playing here,” Taillon said after the Yankees’ four-game sweep against the Houston Astros in the ALCS last month. “They took a chance on me coming back from rehabbing elbow surgery. To get to come here — I never experienced the playoffs, never experienced a winning environment and culture. I feel like I didn’t take a day for granted showing up (and) putting the pinstripes on. I loved my time here. I would definitely love to come back.”

Nov. 19, 11:27 a.m.

The Seattle Mariners are interested in Yankees INF Gleyber Torres, reports The New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

Sherman notes that the Mariners have bullpen pitchers that could be of interest to the Yanks, even after Seattle traded RHP Erik Swanson to Toronto for slugging OF Teoscar Hernandez earlier in the week.

Torres, who will turn 26 on Dec. 13, slashed .257/.310/.451 with 24 home runs, 28 doubles, and 76 RBI over 140 games in 2022.

Over five seasons in the Bronx, Torres has a career .265/.331/.455 slash line with 98 homers, 100 doubles, and 310 RBI. He earned All-Star honors as a rookie in 2018 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. Torres was an All-Star again in 2019 and crushed a career-high 38 home runs with 90 RBI.

The Yankees agreed on a one-year, $6 million deal with Isiah Kiner-Falefa on Friday, keeping the infielder in New York for another season. It’s still possible the Yankees could try to trade IKF if they decide to keep Torres, as Sherman added the team “let executives at the GM meetings know they were open for business with their middle infielders.”

Moving either player would open the door for Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera and/or top prospect Anthony Volpe to get a larger opportunity in 2023.

Nov. 17, 9:07 p.m.

Speaking at the Covenant House Sleep Out event on Thursday night, Brian Cashman addressed the Yankees’ remaining needs on their roster and how they can improve upon them.

After signing Anthony Rizzo to a two-year deal earlier this week, New York must now shift their focus to Aaron Judge, but whether they do or don’t land the superstar slugger doesn’t change the fact that they “have more work to do.”

“We will be in play with trying to improve our team in other aspects without a doubt, not just Rizzo, not just our attempt to sign Judge,” Cashman said. “So if Judge collapses back into our fold, which we hope would be the case, but no guarantees, yeah we have more work to do, regardless.”

When asked if he’s in the market for a closer, Cashman said the team has one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean other closers around the league are not on the table.

“I’m looking to improve our bullpen, but I believe we have a closer,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we can’t play on somebody who is a quote unquote closer because, ultimately, the more the merrier. You just want as many high-leverage guys that you can collect as you possibly can.”

Cashman added: “I feel really good about Clay Holmes being our closer, but that doesn’t preclude us from entertaining any outside players via trade or free agency if it makes us better.”

As for another quality arm that’s already in their bullpen, Cashman mentioned that Michael King just started a throwing program in Tampa and that their hope is King is ready by Opening Day.

An area that likely will not need addressing, at least according to Cashman, is the infield thanks to young prospects such as Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera.

“I think we’re all looking forward to seeing what these kids can do, competing for a spot in the spring,” Cashman said. “But that doesn’t mean they’re gonna oust who’s currently in those spots either.”

Cashman added: “Clearly, the infield is an area of strength for us, more so than probably any other aspect.”

Nov. 15, 6:15 p.m.

The Yankees have reached out and are looking at Brandon Nimmo as an outfield option, The New York Post’s Jon Heyman said on his podcast, “The Show” with Joel Sherman.

“They have reached out, at least, for Brandon Nimmo. … The Mets would obviously like to get Nimmo back, we heard there’s a majority of teams interested,” Heyman said. “I think it’s interesting, too, that the Yankees have looked at him. They are looking at two outfielders, presumably, and hopefully, that’s [Aaron] Judge and one other.”

Sherman noted that he believes the Yankees are just doing their “due diligence” by looking into Nimmo as a free agent option.

Heyman went on to discuss possible SS options for the Yanks, saying they’ve “checked in” on Xander Bogearts, Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, and likely Dansby Swanson too.

“I have heard they have checked in on the big shortstops,” Heyman said. “At least Bogaerts, Correa and Turner and presumably Swanson, though I haven’t heard that. …I don’t know if that’s a hedge in case Judge goes or if they are actually going to consider a potential run at one of the shortstops.”

Nov. 15, 9:17 a.m.

Writing that Justin Verlander seemed like a “good bet” to quickly re-sign with the Houston Astros, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Verlander might not have re-upped “perhaps because Verlander sees the potential for lucrative opportunities with the Mets, Yankees, and Dodgers, among others.”

Verlander, who is entering his age-40 season and is about to win the 2022 AL Cy Young award, could be a replacement for Jacob deGrom if deGrom signs elsewhere.

As far as the Dodgers, Rosenthal notes that they could pursue Verlander if Tyler Anderson rejects their qualifying offer — or even if Anderson accepts.

It seems likely that Verlander could be had on a high average annual deal for one or two seasons.

Nov. 14, 8:15 p.m.

The Houston Astros have “identified” Anthony Rizzo as their No. 1 free agent target at first base, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

After he opted out of his contract, New York extended Rizzo a qualifying offer to stay for another season at the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.

With the elimination of most infield shifts in 2023, the left-handed-hitting Rizzo is likely to see his batting average get a boost when facing more traditional defensive alignments. The question is whether Rizzo, who will garner more interest in the market because of the removal of the shift, can get a better contract now or later.

Rosenthal notes the Astros are considering re-signing Yuli Gurriel and pursuing free agent Jose Abreu at first. And signing Rizzo would see them not only bolster the World Series-winning roster but also weaken the team they swept in the ALCS.

Nov. 10, 4:55 p.m.

The Yankees have expressed interest in Japanese OF Masataka Yoshida, according to The New York Post’s Jon Heyman.

Yoshida, 29, has a career slash line of .326/.419/.538. with 135 home runs, 164 doubles, and 474 RBI over 781 games in seven seasons.

In 2022 with the Orix Buffaloes, Yoshida slashed .335/.447/.561 with 21 homers, 28 doubles, and 88 RBI to go along with a career-high 80 walks and just 41 strikeouts at the plate.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he’s “aware of him,” while another person with the Yankees told The Post that they are interested in the lefty.

Nov. 10, 2:15 p.m.

The Yankees announced a few roster moves on Thursday afternoon, including outfielder Tim Locastro electing free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment.

The 30-year-old Ithaca College product was traded to the Yankees from Arizona in July 2021 and then re-signed with the Yankees last offseason. In 38 big-league games in 2022, Locastro slashed just .186/.239/.349 with two homers and four RBI.

Additionally, the Yankees added RHP Jhony Brito and LHP Matt Krook to the major league roster.

Nov. 9, 8:20 p.m.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told MLB Network’s Jon Morosi that he has been “listening and engaging” on multiple trade possibilities during the GM Meetings in Las Vegas this week.

Cashman added that includes inquiries about the team’s many infielders.

With Anthony Volpe waiting in the wings, the Yankees would have to make room for him or one of the free-agent shortstops on the market. Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera have appeared in the big leagues and could have some value, while Gleyber Torres‘ name did come up in trade talks at this season’s trade deadline.

After Anthony Rizzo opted out of his contract, the confirmed infielders on the roster for the Yankees include Peraza, Cabrera, Torres, Josh Donaldson, DJ LeMahieu and Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Nov. 7, 8:34 p.m.

Anthony Rizzo opted out of his 2023 contract with the Yankees and is now a free agent, according to MLB Network.

He signed a two-year, $32 million contract with the Yankees on March 17.

The deal included a $16 million player option for the 2023 season.

In 130 regular-season games this past year, the 33-year-old Rizzo slashed .224/.338/.480 with 32 home runs and 75 RBI.

Nov. 7, 10:53 a.m.

The Yankees are picking up the $15 million option on RHP Luis Severino for the 2023 season, the team announced Monday.

The move was expected, with GM Brian Cashman saying this past Friday that the team planned to exercise the option.

“I haven’t talked to anybody yet about it, but he’s a really impactful pitcher, so the answer to that would be an easy yes,” Cashman said at the Yankees’ end-of-season news conference.

Severino, who will turn 29 in February, had a 3.18 ERA (3.79 FIP) and 1.00 WHIP while striking out 112 in 102 innings in 2022, but injuries limited him to just 19 starts.

In two appearances in the 2022 postseason, Severino allowed six runs in 11 innings.

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Ty Gibbs declines to discuss sudden death of his father

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Ty Gibbs declines to discuss sudden death of his father

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ty Gibbs on Thursday declined to discuss the death of his father, which occurred just hours after the young NASCAR driver clinched the Xfinity Series championship last month.

Gibbs was asked about his grandfather, Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, telling the employees at Joe Gibbs Racing they all had to move forward, even as they mourn the sudden death of 49-year-old Coy Gibbs.

Coy Gibbs died in his sleep just hours after his 20-year-old son won the Xfinity Series title on Nov. 5 at Phoenix Raceway.

“For right now, I’m not going to touch on any other subject at all, so I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and I will go from there,” Ty Gibbs said before NASCAR’s annual awards ceremony.

The Gibbs family has made no public statements since confirming Coy Gibbs’ passing shortly before the NASCAR season finale. Ty Gibbs did not race in the Nov. 6 finale and had made just one public appearance before Thursday, courtside at a Charlotte Hornets game with his younger brother, a cousin and another driver.

Ty Gibbs was promoted to NASCAR’s top Cup series on Nov. 15, an expected announcement void of any celebration as JGR mourned the loss of Gibbs’ father. Ty Gibbs took the spot left when Kyle Busch left for Richard Childress Racing.

Joe Gibbs, the NASCAR and NFL Hall of Famer, lost both his sons one month before their 50th birthdays. J.D. Gibbs also was 49 when he passed away in 2019 of a degenerative neurological disease, and Coy Gibbs was the NASCAR team’s vice chairman at the time of his death.

Ty Gibbs, who turned 20 in October, said he never thought about skipping NASCAR’s awards ceremony. That included picking up his championship ring that he wore to media appearances, along with a cap commemorating his Xfinity title.

“I got a little paranoid because it got tight on one finger and I pulled it off and it was, like, tight,” Ty Gibbs said of his new ring. “So I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to leave it on and not touch it.’ So I really enjoyed it. It’s cool. It’s definitely a different, I’ve never had a ring before, so it’s definitely really cool.”

Ty Gibbs also went to a Toyota event and tried some of Nashville’s hot chicken. He also talked about taking the No. 54 with him to his new Cup car, the same number he used the past two seasons while winning 11 of 51 races in the Xfinity Series and the championship in the season finale at Phoenix.

Gibbs will be moving up with Chris Gayle, his crew chief during this year’s championship season.

His first national series title ended a bumpy season for Ty Gibbs, who scrapped with other drivers, was fined by NASCAR, and then cost JGR driver Brandon Jones a spot in the championship finale by spinning him out of the lead on the final lap at Martinsville Speedway.

If Gibbs had simply stayed in second behind Jones, both JGR drivers would have made the championship race and Toyota would have had two entries. Joe Gibbs promised consequences would be coming for his grandson, but the team had to get through championship week first.

Then Coy Gibbs died at a Phoenix-area hotel the morning after the Xfinity Series season finale.

“Hopefully I can make the best of this whole situation next year,” Ty Gibbs said.

He said he’s also working hard to learn more about how his grandfather’s race team works.

“It’s my family’s business, and so we’ve been taking care of that,” Ty Gibbs said. “And there’s a lot of great people and we have a lot of great spotters, a lot of great drivers and a lot of great crew chiefs. So now it’s time to go and put it together and go do the best we can in 2023.”

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Sony Music Group Gives Back This Holiday Season With ‘Season of Giving’ Campaign

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Sony Music Group Gives Back This Holiday Season With ‘Season of Giving’ Campaign

Artists and Songwriters Volunteer with Select Organizations to Support Local Communities

NEW YORK, NY – WEBWIRE

Sony Music Group has partnered with its artists and songwriters to support every local community in which it operates during the holiday season. This year, the Company launched its ‘Season of Giving’ program to support global organizations dedicated to providing aid for those facing food insecurity, homelessness and refugee support, as well as music industry relief and educational programs for communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Beginning in the month of November, SMG committed sizeable amounts in each territory where the Company conducts business: Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Continental Europe, Latin America, United Kingdom, and the United States. 

The nearly 30 global beneficiaries of this year’s campaign include:

  • Banco Alimentar Contra a Fome (SMG Latin/Iberia)
  • Banco de Alimentos de Bogotá (SMG Latin/Iberia)
  • Banco de Alimentos de Perú (SMG Latin/Iberia)
  • Bonnie Support Services Ltd (SMP Australia)
  • Covenant House (SMG)
  • Dream Streets (SMG Nashville)
  • Foodbank Australia (SME Australia)
  • FoodForward SA NPC (SMG South Africa)
  • Fundación Sí (SMG Latin/Iberia)
  • help2read (SMG South Africa)
  • Lagos Food Bank Initiative (SMG Nigeria)
  • MUSICALLY FED (SMG Nashville)
  • OzHarvest Limited (SMP Australia)
  • Pinball Clemons Foundation (SME Canada)
  • Plansverige (SMG Sweden)
  • Polska Akcja Humanitarna (SMG Poland)
  • Rainbow Youth (SME New Zealand)
  • Reach Out and Feed Philippines Inc. (SMG Philippines)
  • Rise Against Hunger Philippines (SMG Philippines)
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee (SMG Nashville)
  • Settlement Services International (SME Australia)
  • Soles4Souls (SMG Nashville)
  • The Dream Nurture Foundation (SMG Nigeria)
  • The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund (SMP Canada)
  • The Simple Plan Foundation (The Orchard Canada)
  • The Trussell Trust (SMG United Kingdom)
  • Weave Youth and Community Services Incorporated (SMP Australia)
  • Worthy of Love (SMG)

Over the course of the last three weeks, Sony Music Group – alongside their notable artists and songwriters including India Shawn (Epic Records), Tyler Shaw (SME Canada), Clara Benin (SME Philippines), NOBITA (SME Philippines), Kobie Dee (SMP Australia), Tom Wilson (SMP Canada) – volunteered with partner organizations in their own communities during a series of in-person events. 

In speaking of the seasonal initiative, Towalame Austin, Executive Vice President, Philanthropy and Social Impact, Sony Music Group, said, “Globally, SMG is committed to supporting local communities throughout the year. For the holiday season, we wanted to bring extra support and relief aid to those in need and dedicate our efforts to more than three million people worldwide. We’re grateful to our artists and international partner organizations who work on-the-ground to provide direct assistance to their neighbors.”   

This campaign represents the Company’s ongoing philanthropic commitment to forge partnerships and support communities that need it most, inside and outside the music industry. For ‘Season of Giving’, every global organization selected to receive funding was determined by a group of global stakeholders including our internal task forces, legal and public policy teams. Learn more about SMG’s giving approach here.

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Cargill to buy soybean processor and oil refiner Owensboro Grain

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Cargill to buy soybean processor and oil refiner Owensboro Grain

Nov 28 (Reuters) – Cargill Inc has agreed to acquire soybean processor and refiner Owensboro Grain Company in a deal that would expand its oilseed crush capacity to meet rising demand for food, feed and biofuel, the agricultural commodities trader said on Monday.

The purchase includes a soybean processing plant and oil refinery on the lower Ohio River in Owensboro, Kentucky. The facility can load and unload trucks, railcars and river barges bound for U.S. Gulf Coast fuel refineries and export terminals.

Privately held Owensboro Grain has the capacity to process 39.5 million bushels of soybeans annually into vegetable oil and soybean meal for livestock and poultry feed.

The acquisition comes amid surging demand for vegetable oils to produce renewable diesel, a lower-carbon fuel that is chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel, and increasing soybean meal exports.

“This will allow our meal to be more efficiently exported,” Helen Cornell, president and CEO of Owensboro Grain, said in an interview.

“Additionally, we recently invested in the ability to load out soybean oil onto barges on the river to supply the Gulf and those refiners making renewable diesel,” she said.

Renewable diesel production capacity is slated to grow to more than 5 billion gallons a year by 2024, from less than 1 billion in 2020, according to projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Soybean oil is expected to be the industry’s largest feedstock.

The transaction is due to close in early 2023 after regulatory approvals. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Karl Plume

Thomson Reuters

Chicago-based senior commodities correspondent covering agricultural markets, large agribusinesses and the food supply chain and specializing in global trade, farming technology and climate change issues impacting the industry.

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Misleading food labels contribute to babies and toddlers eating too much sugar

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Misleading food labels contribute to babies and toddlers eating too much sugar

Australian infants and toddlers are eating unhealthy amounts of sugar. This is mostly because the products marketed and sold by the processed food industry are high in sugar.

Based on the last Australian National Nutrition Survey, children ages two to three years old consumed 32 grams of added sugar per day, equivalent to 8 teaspoons of white sugar.

Our research shows the increased availability of ultra-processed foods for very young children may be contributing to a sugary diet.

So what can parents do about it?

What too much sugar does to children

The problem with too much sugar in our diets is it provides kilojoules but little else nutritionally.

These extra kilojoules promote weight gain and obesity. They also contribute strongly to tooth decay in young children and often displace healthy options like fruits, vegetables and dairy foods from a child’s diet.

One in every four Australian children has dental cavities in their baby or permanent teeth.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends “free sugar intake” be limited to less than 10% of our total daily kilojoules for everyone. In fact, the WHO is now considering reducing that amount down to 5% given the knowledge children’s sugar intakes remain high.

Free sugars are those added to foods and drinks, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. Free sugars do not include natural sugars found within whole (unprocessed) fruits and vegetables or milk.

Results from the Australian National Nutrition Survey indicate toddlers ages two to three years old consumed 11% of their total energy intake from free sugar on average. Half of the toddlers exceeded the current WHO free sugar recommendation.

Where is the sugar coming from?

The latest National Health survey also tells us sugar comes mostly from highly processed foods like bakery products, sugar-sweetened beverages, chocolate and confectionary, breakfast cereals and desserts.

These foods provide 80 to 90% of children’s daily added sugar intake.

But it’s not just about treats. Commercial infant and toddler foods are a major source of hidden sugars in young children’s diets. These are largely ultra-processed foods that have undergone multiple industrial processes. They contain ingredients such as added sugar, salt and fat, as well as additives to make them appealing. Ultra-processed foods often contain ingredients that would not be used if we made a similar product at home.

Our research shows, ultra-processed foods, particularly snack foods, are common. They comprise 85% of all foods marketed as for toddlers in Australia (as of 2019).

These ultra-processed toddler foods often contain ingredients like fruit pastes, purées or concentrates. They can sound healthy — with slogans like “made from real fruit” — but are very different from the whole fruit they come from.

Consumers might assume these products are healthy due to the labeling and images of fruit on the package. But our body handles ultra-processed foods very differently than it does whole foods, which have had no or minimal processing.

Some toddler foods marketed as “no added sugar” or “all natural” are in some cases, up to 50% fruit sugar in the form of fruit purées or concentrates.

Some toddler milks, which are also ultra-processed, contain more sugar in the same volume than a soft drink. And nearly a third of savory foods for toddlers contain fruit purées, as well.

While this may make the food more palatable to a child, ensuring parents buy it again, it also ensures children will develop a preference for sweetness.

3 things parents can do

While there is no need to remove all free sugar, the evidence tells us most children are consuming more than is good for them. So how can we cut that down?

1. Demand accurate labeling

Honest food labeling where food manufacturers are required to reveal how much added sugar is in food products is needed. For example, a clear “added sugar” definition would ensure that all harmful sugars are included in food labels, including the highly processed fruit-based ingredients used in infant and toddler foods. You can sign up to advocate for this via the Kids are Sweet Enough campaign.

2. Pantry swaps

Replace sugar-sweetened foods with foods often already in the kitchen. Swap out the common sources of sugar, including cakes, biscuits, pastries, sugar and sweet spreads with wholegrain breads, low-sugar cereals (like porridge or Weet-Bix), vegetables and fruits (cut to safe swallowing size) and nut pastes.

Swap sugar-sweetened beverages, sweetened dairy products and toddler milks with plain water (boiled and cooled for children over six months) and unflavored cows milk (from 12 months of age).

3. Plug into places to learn more

For practical advice and support on feeding your baby or toddler, download the My Baby Now App from the App Store or Google Play.

Parents can join our free online course Infant Nutrition, or search here to see if the INFANT (INfant Feeding, Activity Play and NuTrition) Program is running in your area.

Jennifer McCann, Lecturer, PhD student, Deakin University and Miaobing (Jazzmin) Zheng, NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow, Deakin University

Julie Woods, Karen Campbell and Rachel Laws contributed to this article.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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AI in Health Care: No, the Robots Are Not Taking Over

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AI in Health Care: No, the Robots Are Not Taking Over

Dec. 1, 2022 – It’s common for many people to fear the unknown, and exactly how artificial intelligence might transform the health care and medical experience is no exception. 

People might be afraid, for example, that AI will remove all human interaction from health care in the future. Not true, say the experts. Doctors and other health care workers might fear the technology will replace their clinical judgment and experience. Also not true, experts say. 

The AI robots are not taking over. 

AI and machine learning remain technologies that add to human know-how. For example, AI can help track a patient over time better than a health care professional relying on memory alone, can speed up image analysis, and is very good at prediction.

But AI will never replace human intuition in medicine, experts say.

“AI is unemotional. It’s fast and very, very smart, but it does not have intuition,” says Naheed Kurji, board chair of the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and CEO of Cyclica Inc. 

Machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence where a computer learns over time as it gets more and more data, could sound threatening to a person who might not fully understand the technology. That’s why education and greater awareness are essential to ease any concerns about this growing technology. 

“You need to have an understanding of human behavior and how to help people overcome their inherent fears of something new,” Kurji says. 

All this new science needs to be explained to the public, and machine learning is certainly one that deserves explanation,” says Angeli Moeller, PhD, head of data and integrations generating insights at Roche in Berlin, and board vice chair for the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. 

“It’s useful to ground it in examples that the general population is familiar with and with technology that has grown,” she says. “On our smartphones, we benefit from a significant amount of machine learning – even if you just look at your Google search or your satellite navigation system.”

Moeller says it’s helpful to think of AI as an assistant to a doctor, nurse, a caregiver, or even a patient trying to understand more about a medical diagnosis, treatment plan, or prognosis. 

Also, with big data comes big responsibility. “Health care industry accountability is important,” she says. 

With than in mind, the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare was created in 2019 as a forum for industry players – drug companies, biotechnology firms, and database entities – to convene and address important AI questions. The group seeks to answer some fundamental questions, including: How do we ensure that we have ethical and appropriate use of artificial intelligence in health care? How do we make sure that that innovation gets to the patient as quickly as possible? 

“If you think about your personal life, a decade ago, your car didn’t have autopilot modes where it drove itself,” says Sastry Chilukuri, co-CEO of Medidata and founder and president of Acorn AI. “You didn’t really have an iPhone – which is like a computer in your hand – much less like have an Apple Watch – which is like another minicomputer on your wrist pumping out all kinds of data.”

“Our world has dramatically changed over just like the last 15 years,” he says. “It’s very interesting, I think. It’s a good time to be alive.”

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FDA Moves to Ease Restrictions on Gay Men Giving Blood

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FDA Moves to Ease Restrictions on Gay Men Giving Blood

By Cara Murez and Robin Foster 

HealthDay Reporters

THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) – U.S. Food & Drug Administration policies that have limited blood donations from men who have sex with men may soon ease.

At the moment, FDA policy does not allow blood donation from men who have had sex with other men in the past three months. That’s already a shorter timeframe than in the past, when the agency required a one-year gap.

The agency is now considering switching to questionnaires that focus on individual risk, rather than blanket limitations, CNN reported.

“The FDA remains committed to gathering the scientific data related to alternative donor deferral policies that maintain a high level of blood safety,” the agency said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We anticipate issuing updated draft guidance in the coming months.”

Information collected through a donor eligibility questionnaire and blood surveillance “will likely support a policy transition to individual risk-based donor screening questions for reducing the risk of HIV transmission,” the agency added, CNN reported.

The FDA changed those guidelines in 2020 as the need for blood donations grew during the pandemic, CNN reported.

“While today’s reports of an overdue move from the FDA is an important step, our community and leading medical experts will not stop advocating for the FDA to lift all restrictions against qualified LGBTQ blood donor candidates,” Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, an LGBTQ media advocacy organization, said in a statement.

Other countries have already made similar moves: Since 2020, men in a long-term relationship with another man have been allowed to donate blood in the United Kingdom, though other men who have sex with men must still wait to donate for three months.

A Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday cited sources familiar with the FDA plan, saying that men who are in monogamous relationships with other men would be allowed to donate blood. Those who have had a new sexual partner and have had anal intercourse in the past three months would not be allowed to make a donation, CNN reported.

“As LGBTQ leaders and medical experts have been saying for years: bans and restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men are rooted in stigma, not science,” Ellis said.

Medical and blood donation organizations voiced their support of the plan.

“The AMA [American Medical Association] relentlessly advocates for eliminating public policies that do not align with scientific evidence and best ethical practices, which is why we have urged the FDA to use rational, scientifically-based deferral periods for donation of blood, corneas and other tissues that are fairly and consistently applied to donors according to their individual risk,” AMA President Dr. Jack Resneck Jr. told CNN.

The American Red Cross said Wednesday it “believes blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation and is committed to working with partners toward achieving this goal.”

The Red Cross added that it has been involved in the FDA-funded ADVANCE study to determine whether a questionnaire that assessed individual risks in gay and bisexual donors could replace a blanket time-based policy.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on donating blood.

SOURCE: CNN; statements, Nov 30, 2022, GLAAD, American Red Cross

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I Have Type 2 Diabetes – Here’s What I Eat in a Week

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I Have Type 2 Diabetes – Here’s What I Eat in a Week

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English muffin (lite) with cherry sugarless jam and cream cheese, ½ cup of plain nonfat yogurt

Pea soup with kale and a skim milk cappuccino

Hummus and carrots

Salmon, zucchini noodles with shiitake mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts

Day 2: Steel cut oatmeal is my breakfast go-to. High in soluble fiber, it fills me up so I’m not starved by lunch. For fruit, I usually opt for berries, particularly blueberries, which are high in antioxidants. My morning sugar was 105; before lunch was 98.

Steel cut oats with blueberries

Leftover salmon and salad

Halibut, spinach salad with blue cheese, Brussels sprouts

Day 3: You might notice the repetition in my diet, but I think having fewer choices keeps it easy. Although I do eat regular bacon and eggs when I’m dining out, at home I limit myself to turkey bacon and egg whites. For a bit of sweetness, I added dried cranberries to my spinach salad at lunch. Woke to a 111, with a blood glucose reading of 84 at lunch and 107 before dinner.

Steel cut oats and blueberries

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