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NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers will pay baseball’s highest luxury tax for the fourth straight year, and the New York Yankees owe a penalty for a 15th consecutive season, streaks that could end as the sport’s biggest spenders slash payroll for 2018.

The Dodgers owe $36.2 million, according to final figures compiled by the commissioner’s office and obtained by The Associated Press. That raises their five-year tax total to nearly $150 million.

New York was second at $15.7 million, its lowest amount since 2011, but a figure that increased its total amount paid since the tax began to $341 million. San Francisco was next at $4.1 million, followed by Detroit at almost $3.7 million and Washington — which is paying tax for the first time — at just under $1.45 million.


Olney: Dodgers, Braves both profit from creative, debt-defying deal
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos struck a deal with the Dodgers that did more than fix the two teams’ payroll problems — it set up future moves for both.
The Dodgers and Yankees vow to get below next year’s tax threshold of $197 million. That would reset their base tax rate from 50 percent to 20 percent going into the 2018-19 offseason, when Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and possibly Clayton Kershaw head a potentially illustrious free-agent class.

“We know going in that the structure we have in place allows for flexibility for teams to make decisions in the near term and for the longer term,” players’ association head Tony Clark said Tuesday. “It is something obviously we watch, something that we’re very cognizant of.”

Los Angeles’ 2018 payroll for tax purposes currently projects to about $181 million and New York’s to $177 million.

“My goal is still to be under the threshold,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said last week after the team acquired high-priced slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Miami in a trade. “Even with him added. We’re comfortably under the threshold with some more money to spend, whenever we deem we want to spend it.”

Additional surtaxes began this season: 12 percent on amounts $20 million to $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent on amounts over $40 million for repeat offenders. But there were special transition rules between the old and new labor contracts.

Starting next year, teams more than $40 million above the threshold would have their top amateur draft pick dropped back 10 slots — with the top six overall selections protected and the extra penalty applied to the second-highest pick of those teams.

Los Angeles lowered its regular payroll to $243.7 million from a record $291.1 million in 2015 and $254.9 million last year. For purposes of the tax, which uses average annual values and includes benefits, the Dodgers’ payroll was nearly $253.6 million, an increase of $2 million.

The Yankees’ regular payroll was second at $208.4 million, down from $224.5 million last year and their lowest since 2006. Detroit was third at $190.8 million after falling $8.5 million, and Boston fourth at $189.2 million after falling $11.3 million. San Francisco was fifth at $186.6 million, followed by the Chicago Cubs at $186.2 million.

World Series-champion Houston was 18th at $134.1 million, an increase of $30 million.

Other teams with big boosts included Washington (up $23 million to $179 million), Texas (up $20 million to $174.7 million), Colorado (up nearly $33 million to $142.7 million) and Cleveland (up nearly $36 million to $136.1 million).
The Chicago White Sox dropped by almost $37 million to $87.8 million and San Diego by nearly $26 million to $71.3 million.

Milwaukee, at $68.2 million, was last for the second straight season. Just above the Brewers were the Padres and Athletics at $76.3 million.

“We’re watching. We’ll continue to watch,” Clark said. “We have some concerns in some areas, which I won’t go into.”

Spending on 40-man major league payrolls totaled $4.24 billion, an increase of $164 million, down from a $186 million increase last year. Regular payrolls include 2017 salaries, earned bonuses and prorated shares of signing bonuses.

Luxury tax checks to the commissioner’s office are due by Jan. 21. The first $13 million of tax money is used to fund player benefits, and starting this year, 50 percent of the remainder will be used to fund player Individual Retirement Accounts. The other 50 percent of the remainder will be given to teams not over the tax threshold.

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Here’s the Bills news of note for Dec. 11th.

1 – Webb quarterbacks Bills to Week 14 win

Prior to Sunday’s game, it was unclear whether Nathan Peterman or Tyrod Taylorwould be the starting quarterback against the Colts. Due to injuries, Joe Webb was behind center leading the Bills to victory.

Taylor was ruled inactive as he’s battling back from a knee injury suffered in Week 13. Peterman, who started the game, left with a head injury with 5:25 remaining in the third quarter. He’s currently in the concussion protocol. With Peterman and Taylor down, all eyes were on Webb to secure a win.

Running back, LeSean McCoy, shared a story after Sunday’s win when he was playing in Philadelphia and went against Webb when he was the third-string quarterback in Minnesota.

“Listen to this story. We played the Vikings. If we win, we get a bye into the playoffs. Brett Favre was out, backup was out and Adrian Peterson was out. It was just him [Webb] and Percy [Harvin]. I never heard of Joe Webb,” said McCoy. “I’m like, ‘This is going to be an easy game.’ Man, this dude was killing us. Read options, fake passing and running, throwing bombs. So when Joe came in the game [on Sunday] I said, ‘Joe, look, do the same stuff you did when you beat us. Nothing else.’”
Webb finished the game completing two-of-six passes for 35 yards. He added five carries for 27 yards as well. He threw an interception with one minute remaining in the fourth quarter, but fortunately Indianapolis missed a field goal to push the game to overtime. Buffalo would score the first touchdown of OT to tally a 13-7 win.

“It felt good. In this league, you don’t get second chances a lot,” said Webb. “For me to get that second chance was a blessing. The team rallied around it. Great job by the defense getting the offense the ball back.”

Buffalo’s first drive of OT resulted in a punt. Colton Schmidt pinned the Colts on their 10-yard line and they would punt back to the Bills six plays later. On the Bills second drive of OT, Webb tossed a 34-yard pass to Deonte Thompson deep in Indianapolis territory. Three plays later, LeSean McCoy ended the game on a 21-yard run.

“Joe Webb, we’re down to our third quarterback and what a gutsy performance,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “He had some key conversions for first downs with his feet and then one with his arm as well. Just a big-time performance.”

Webb’s spot on the quarterback depth chart could be elevated again this coming week with Tyrod Taylor still nursing a knee injury and Peterman in the concussion protocol.

“We’ll see what coach McDermott has in store. We’ll see what’s going on with Tyrod [Taylor] and Nate [Peterman],” Webb said. “I will always be ready if my number is called. If that be the case, I’m prepared for it.”

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2 – Regular football impossible in measurable snowfall
Snow football may’ve been fun to play with your buddies, but real NFL football is impossible when the snow accumulates faster than it can be cleared off the field. This was the case in Sunday’s game between the Bills and Colts.

For Bills head coach, Sean McDermott, Sunday’s sloppy conditions were something he hasn’t experienced before.

“I really haven’t. Twenty-some years around the NFL and I haven’t,” said McDermott. “I think we had it all but sun on Sunday. We had some lightning, thunder, and a lot of snow.”

The lake effect snow band bombarded New Era Field, dumping snow at a rate of two to three inches an hour. The snow under foot, which at times was up to players’ ankles, made life difficult for every player on the field. That’s why the two teams relied largely on the ground game. The Bills and Colts combined for 46 run plays versus 11 pass plays in the first half. By game’s end, Buffalo had twice as many rushing yards (227) as passing yards (92).

“To be honest, this game was a lot harder than the Philadelphia game where I had 200 yards. I think the biggest reason was that the snow never stopped, the wind never stopped,” said McCoy. “This game, it continued to snow and snow and snow. I think this was the worst one.”

“It was definitely hard, especially when we were going away from tunnel with the wind coming at us,” said Jordan Poyer. “Snow in your eyeballs. It was tough at times. But we found a way. Everybody stepped up and we got a huge win for our football team.”

Nobody appeared to be having more fun in the frigid conditions than rookie Tre’Davious White. He was dancing and jumping around in route to Buffalo’s 13-7 victory.

“Everybody in this locker room thinks the snow bothers me because I’m from Louisiana,” said White. “I had to show them I can weather the storm and go out there and perform at a high level in any conditions.”
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Bills vs Colts – Week 14

3 – Milano makes most out of Sunday’s start
Rookie linebacker, Matt Milano, was informed at the beginning of the week that he would be starting against the Colts. Shouldering that responsibility throughout the week wasn’t a problem as he made the most of his opportunity.

Head coach, Sean McDermott, thought his 2017 fifth-round pick played well.

“I thought Matt did,” said McDermott. “He and Ramon combined for some really good play from the linebacker position.”

Milano was making plays all over the field against the Colts. His 11 tackles were a game-high between both teams.
“I was out there trying to make plays,” said Milano. “Every time I’m on the field I try to make plays. As many as I can.”

His double-digit tackles came in conditions he’s never played in before. With two to three inches of snowing accumulation an hour and winds whipping through the air, Milano played arguably his best game as a Bill.

“You just have to embrace it, be unconditional,” said Milano. “It can be hot as hell, it can be like it was on Sunday. You just have to play and not let it affect you.”

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PHILADELPHIA — Devin Booker was unguarded as he swished a 26-foot 3-pointer, and he shrugged as he tossed up his hands.

The Suns were surely impressed.

The 76ers? Well, they likely wished they could have stayed in bed and called out sick.

Booker scored 46 points, outplayed a flu-ridden Ben Simmons in a battle of 21-year-old stars and led the Phoenix Suns to a 115-101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.

Booker and Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, have positioned themselves as future faces of the league. Booker was the one who left Monday’s game all smiles.

“I know there’s more things I have to work on,” Booker said. “Turn around this franchise, start to get wins and make the playoffs. Whatever I have to do to do that, I’m with it.”

He shook off a wretched start (2-of-11 in the first quarter) and rallied for perhaps his best game of the season. Booker, who once scored 70 points in a game, made a whopping 11 of 17 shots in the second half for 32 points. His three 3s in the fourth helped the Suns put away an on-the-rise Sixers team that played one of its worst games of the season. Booker made five of eight 3s.

“Devin had quite a night,” 76ers center Joel Embiid said. “We took them lightly, and we paid for it.”

TJ Warren scored 25 points, and Tyler Ulis had 12 points and 12 assists for the Suns.

Embiid had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Simmons scored 20 points. JJ Redick led the Sixers with 25 points.

Redick rallied the Sixers from 17 down and hit consecutive 3s in the fourth that sliced the deficit to five. Ulis pushed back the Sixers with a 3, and Booker buried two on the next two possessions that squashed the 76ers’ comeback. Booker let out a big yell after a fast-break dunk that made it 110-94 and sent The Process fans toward the exits. Booker added one more 3 and a shrug for good measure.

Simmons had the flu and covered his head with his hoodie as he trudged off the court from pregame warm-ups to the locker room.

“I feel like my body kind of hit a wall,” Simmons said. “I woke up, and I didn’t feel like I could play.”

Simmons, who is averaging 23.1 points and 9.4 rebounds, was sick for most of the past three days and didn’t leave his place at all on Sunday.

“Out of kindness, I’ve decided to still start him,” coach Brett Brown.

Simmons made his first four shots and played 17 minutes in the first half. Fittingly, his first-half highlight was a sick dunk: He reached high, snared a low lob pass from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot that skimmed Dragan Bender’s outstretched finger and completed the alley-oop. Simmons also scored on an up-and-under layup that brought the crowd to its feet. It just wasn’t enough to bring the Sixers a victory.

Embiid tried to make it a game in the third. He routinely punished Alex Len defensively; Embiid used his right hand to smack a shot into the backboard in the third. The Sixers recovered the ball, Embiid scored, and it was 82-75. The Sixers trailed by 10 through three.
The Sixers, shooting 36 percent on 3s this season, missed a whopping 23 of 30 3s.


Suns: The Suns expect to travel 4,987 miles during the six-game road trip. … Tyson Chandler had 12 rebounds.

76ers: G T.J. McConnell could return this week against the Lakers. McConnell, averaging 7.1 points and 5.4 assists, missed his third straight game with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. He shot before the game for the first time since he was hurt.


Booker shot 7-of-8 from the free throw line, grabbed eight rebounds and had two steals.


Sunday: At Toronto on Tuesday.

76ers: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

Check out the team sites for the Phoenix Suns and the Philadelphia 76ers for more game coverage.