Why the Vikings might have rewarded Riley Reiff, Karl-Anthony Towns is absolutely right about the NBA All-Star Game and Jake Odorizzi’s terrible timing.
- Item: The Vikings gave left tackle Riley Reiff a $1 million signing bonus, making up for the $1 million playing time incentive he narrowly missed because he sat out the season finale on the COVID-19 list, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
- Reaction: The Vikings’ attempt to build goodwill with Reiff comes as no surprise. Remember, the team offered him the alternative of being cut or taking a pay cut from $11 million to $6 million in his base salary just before last season. Reiff, 32, had few options at that late date and decided to remain in Minnesota. Reiff had a solid year and is due to make $6.65 million in base salary and count $13.95 million against the salary cap on the Vikings’ books next season. That means the team is likely to go back to Reiff and ask for another restructure. This time, however, he should be the one with the leverage. According to Pelissero, Reiff has a $5 million roster bonus due on March 19 so his future should be decided by then. Will Reiff be willing to help an organization that played hardball with him last summer? Perhaps, giving him an extra million now will help.
- Item: Karl-Anthony Towns, who returned to the Timberwolves’ lineup on Wednesday night after being out since mid-January because of COVID-19, addressed what he went through in battling the virus and also weighed in on the NBA’s plan to hold an All-Star Game this season. “I personally don’t believe there should be an All-Star Game, but what the hell do I know?” Towns said, clearly being sarcastic. “I obviously haven’t dealt with COVID, probably a guy who has some insight into that. What should I know about COVID, right?”
- Reaction: NBA commissioner Adam Silver is about as smart as they come and the relationship between the NBA and the NBA Players’ Association might be the best there is between a league and a union in professional sports. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when greed wins out over common sense and this appears to be one of those cases. The NBA has shortened its regular season to 72 games and is attempting to make it through this pandemic and, yet, still wants to play an All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. Why? Money, of course. Towns is the latest star to question this decision. Who wants this game played? The television network that carries it and the sponsors. The game should be scrapped, but when there is money to be made what’s a little thing like a pandemic?
- Item: Derek Falvey, the Twins’ president of baseball operations, said Wednesday that the “heavy lifting is done,” when it comes to building the team’s roster for 2021, meaning that righthanded starter Jake Odorizzi almost certainly will end up elsewhere.
- Reaction: The Twins’ Opening Day rotation figures to be Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, J.A. Happ, Michael Pineda and Randy Dobnak. Could Odorizzi, an All-Star two years ago, be an asset? Absolutely. But the question is how much of a payday is he looking to get? The 30-year-old Odorizzi has had terrible timing the past two years. A year ago, with a chance to become a free agent, Odorizzi accepted the Twins’ $17.8 million qualifying offer instead of taking a chance at trying to sign while he had draft pick compensation tied to him. That appeared to be a wise move because Odorizzi would then hit the market again this offseason and teams would not have to give up a draft pick to get him. But then the pandemic hit, the season was shortened, and Odorizzi ended up making only four starts as he battled injury issues. That leaves him still trying to find a job and faced with the prospect of signing another one-year deal where he must prove himself. Odorizzi’s familiarity with the Twins organization — not to mention his past success in Minnesota — means it would make a lot of sense for him to return on a reasonable one-year deal.