Stacks of money are pictured as an employee counts them at a bank in Cairo
Stacks of money are pictured as an employee counts them at a bank in Cairo September 4, 2014. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

March 25, 2019

By Yousef Saba

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s central bank is likely to maintain interest rates at its meeting on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed on Monday, although some analysts predicted a cut ahead of expected fuel price increases this summer.

Eight out of 12 economists polled by Reuters said the bank’s monetary policy committee was unlikely to change its overnight rates, with deposits at 15.75 percent and lending at 16.75 percent.

Four analysts predicted that the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) would cut rates by 100 basis points (bps), following a cut of the same size last month, which was the first since March 2017.

“We anticipate that the CBE will keep interest rates on hold this month due to the recent uptick in price inflation,” said Nadene Johnson, an economist at NKC African Economics.

“But considering the need for private sector stimulus, the CBE is expected to reduce rates by 100 bps before year end.”

Headline inflation quickened in February to 14.4 percent from 12.7 percent in January. It had cooled to 12.0 in December from 15.7 percent the month prior. The bank’s target range is 10 to 16 percent.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food, also rose in February to 9.2 percent from 8.6 percent the previous month.

“The CBE I believe would need to capitalize on the cut that took place last month with another 1 percent cut this month,” said Hany Farahat, senior economist at Egyptian investment bank CI Capital.

The Egyptian pound’s continued appreciation, sustained foreign inflows in treasuries and the U.S. Federal Reserve holding rates all position Thursday’s meeting as a “golden window” for a further cut, he added.

Furthermore, an expected fuel subsidy cut in the summer, tied to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, would naturally prevent the central bank from cutting rates in Q3, he said.

“And the meeting in Q2 is in May, which is very close to the subsidy cut decision,” said Farahat. “I would think right now is optimal.”

Egypt raised fuel and electricity prices last summer, reforms linked to a $12 billion IMF loan program agreed in late 2016. Those measures included a currency float, fuel and energy subsidy cuts and the introduction of a value-added tax.

Remaining fuel subsidies are expected to be cut around mid-2019, and the petroleum minister said last month that Egypt would implement an automatic price indexation mechanism on 95 octane petrol starting in April.

To curtail inflation, the central bank’s monetary policy committee raised interest rates by 700 basis points over eight months following the IMF deal. It cut them by 100 bps last month. Prior to that, it had cut them in February and March last year by a combined 200 bps.

“We are looking for no move by the CBE, but we are very uncertain,” said Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital.

“A 100 bps cut may be the only way to stop EGP appreciation, but a cut might backfire if investors lose confidence in the authorities’ determination to cut inflation in 2020.”

The pound has strengthened more than 3 percent against the dollar in the year to date.

(Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels
Mar 24, 2019; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) follows through on a double in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

March 25, 2019

Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout might call the East Coast his home, but he left no doubt where his baseball home is: Anaheim.

With a handful of players signing record or near-record contracts this offseason, attention turned to Trout, the two-time Most Valuable Player, who could have become a free agent after the 2020 season. Instead, he signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract extension this week.

“That was one thing on my mind, talking to people — if I did leave in two years, maybe looking back I would’ve probably regretted it a little bit, because I love it here,” Trout, a six-time All-Star, told a few thousand fans who arrived early for the Angels’ home exhibition game with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

He was emotional at times in making comments publicly for the first time since signing the extension this week.

With his possible free agency still two seasons away, Trout was nonetheless the subject of speculation. Bryce Harper, who just signed his own megadeal with the Phillies, made no attempt to hide his desire to lure Trout to Philadelphia, where Trout — a noted Philadelphia Eagles fan — would be close to his New Jersey home.

On Sunday, Trout made it clear he had always intended to stay put. Talks between the team and agent Craig Landis began in late February.

“Spending your whole career with one team I think is pretty cool,” Trout said.

Among those also on the dais at the news conference were Landis and Angels owner Arte Moreno, who acknowledged that the next goal is to build a championship team around Trout.

Trout has been in the top two in AL MVP voting in six of his seven full seasons with the Angels — he was fourth in 2017 — but the team has reached the playoffs just once, getting swept in the divisional round in 2014.

Moreno on Sunday commented to Trout how he “needs some jewelry,” referring to World Series championship rings.

Trout said he envisions success with how general manager Billy Eppler, who was also on the dais, and the front office are focused simultaneously on building a winning team while beefing up the farm system for the future.

“There’s going to be some ups and downs in the 12 years, but the direction was huge for me,” Trout said. “I’m happy and excited for the direction they’re going.”

Over his 7 1/2 seasons in the majors, Trout is a .307 hitter with 240 home runs and 648 RBIs. His wins above replacement (WAR) total of 64.2 is the highest ever for a player at his experience level.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he returns to the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as the president returns from a weekend in Florida at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 25, 2019

By Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that Donald Trump did not collude with Russia to win the presidency in 2016 gives the president a powerful weapon to use against his Democratic opponents and a potential boost to what is shaping up to be a tough bid for re-election in 2020.

Mueller’s conclusion that neither Trump nor his aides conspired with Russia in 2016 takes away a central charge that Democrats have flung at Trump for two years – that he did not win the presidency fairly or cleanly. The allegations have played out on an endless loop on cable TV news shows, overshadowing Trump’s presidency from day one.

Democrats have vowed to continue congressional investigations into the 2016 election campaign and Trump’s business practices. But without the solid foundation of a Mueller report that found evidence of any crimes by the president, they now risk seeming to overplay their hand.

“This is a gold star day for Donald Trump,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “Now the shackles are off. He’s able to demonize the news media and Democrats as perpetuating what he calls a hoax. And he’ll be able to use his innocence as fodder for the campaign trail.”

The question for Trump now is whether he will be able to bring a minimum of discipline to his campaign messaging and to the presidency itself.

History suggests he will have trouble with self-discipline. Just last week, he was immersed in a strange fight with a dead man, sharply criticizing the late Republican Senator John McCain and falsely accusing him of being at the root of some of the collusion allegations against him.

He has also been prone to making baffling abrupt decisions, such as occurred last week when he called off a round of sanctions against North Korea before they had even been imposed.

Despite the Mueller report’s conclusions, Trump remains an intemperate president, eager to lash out at any and all critics and perceived slights.

“This was an illegal takedown that failed,” Trump said on Sunday, even though Mueller left open the question of whether the former real estate magnate had attempted to obstruct the Russia probe, which did find extensive evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

“Now is the time to get back on the offense on the economy and growth,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed. “This is a good time to get back to a real healthy dose of message discipline for the entire administration, department-wide and the White House. That’s what you do when something like this happens.”

Trump, on a golfing weekend in Palm Beach, Florida, got the news in his private quarters at his Mar-a-Lago retreat from White House counsel Emmett Flood, and watched TV coverage of the Mueller report in his cabin on Air Force One.

Trump’s initial comments in reacting to the Mueller conclusion suggests he is not inclined to move past the investigation.

Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One for the flight back to Washington, Trump called for Democrats to be investigated, expanding on his often repeated assertion that the Mueller probe was Democrat-inspired. Mueller was appointed by Trump’s Department of Justice in 2017 after he fired FBI director James Comey.

“It’s a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this,” Trump said. “Before I even got elected it began, and it began illegally.”

Trump’s comments could foreshadow an effort by his supporters to seek payback for the cloud that has hung over his time in the White House.

“I’m interested in moving on and trying to get this behind us, but people have to pay for what they’ve done for the past two years,” said former Trump campaign aide David Bossie. “We must investigate the investigators.”


Trump’s path to re-election remains a perilous one. Analysts say he will probably need to win the Midwestern states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, just as he did in his improbable 2016 victory, and Democrats are already pouring resources into those states.

Trump will foreshadow his campaign message on Thursday night when he headlines a “Make America Great Again” rally in Michigan.

Trump supporters viewed the Mueller report as a blow to the more than a dozen Democrats who are campaigning for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

“This is very problematic for any Democrat who’s running for president in 2020 that was hoping they would face a weakened or beaten-down President Trump,” former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said. “In fact, President Trump will likely see a ratings boost coming out of this and a strong tailwind pushing him toward the upcoming election.”

Reuters/Ipsos polling has shown that Americans decided early on in Mueller’s investigation whether they thought Trump was guilty of collusion or not. The polling found few undecided voters.

Brinkley said Democrats will need to adjust their tactics and emphasize their differences with Trump’s record on issues ranging from healthcare and climate change to immigration.

“Some of those charges are going to have to rise to be the main charges against Trump,” he said, noting there was fatigue with the Russia issue.

(Reporting By Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Ross Colvin and Chris Reese)

Source: OANN

Illustration photo of a Japan Yen note
A Japan Yen note is seen in this illustration photo taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

March 24, 2019

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Japanese yen hovered near a six-week high on Monday while Asian shares are expected to start lower as risk assets fell out of favor on growing worries about an impending U.S. recession, sending global bond yields plunging.

In Asia, Nikkei futures pointed to a weak start for Japan. Australian shares fell 0.3 percent at the open while New Zealand’s benchmark index faltered 0.9 percent.

Investors also kept one eye on the details of a nearly two-year U.S. investigation which found no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s election team and Russia, in a major political victory for the U.S. President.

U.S. stock futures were marginally higher during early Asian hours.

On Friday, all three major U.S. stock indexes registered their biggest one-day percentage losses since Jan.3 with the Dow sliding 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 off 1.9 percent and the Nasdaq dropping 2.5 percent.

Concerns about the health of the world economy heightened last week after cautious remarks by the U.S. Federal Reserve sent 10-year treasury yields to the lowest since early 2018. Adding to the fears of a more widespread global downturn, manufacturing output data from Germany showed a contraction for the third straight month.

In response, 10-year treasury yields slipped below the three-month rate for the first time since 2007. Historically, an inverted yield curve – where long-term rates fall below short-term – has signaled an upcoming recession.

“We have re-run our preferred yield curve recession models, which now suggest a 30-35 percent chance of a U.S. recession occurring over the next 10‑18 months,” said Tapas Strickland, markets strategist at National Australia Bank.

Typically a 40-60 percent probability sees a recession within the next 10-18 months, Strickland added, basing the analysis on previous recessions.

“The risk of a U.S. recession has risen and is flashing amber and this will keep markets pricing a high chance of the Fed cutting rates.”

Much of the concerns around global growth is stemming from Europe and China which are battling separate tariff wars with the United States. Political turmoil in Britain over the country’s exit from the European Union is also a major overhang for risk assets.

On Sunday, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper said in a front page editorial British Prime Minister Theresa May must announce on Monday she will stand down as soon as her Brexit deal is approved.

The British pound was last flat at $1.3209 after three straight days of wild gyrations. The currency slipped 0.7 percent last week.

Politics was also in focus in the United States.

The long-awaited Mueller report into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to help Trump defeat his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, marked a major milestone of his presidency as he prepares for his 2020 re-election battle.

In currency markets, the Japanese yen – a perceived safe haven – held near its highest since Feb. 11. It was last off 0.1 percent at 110.04 per dollar.

The Australian dollar, a liquid proxy for risk play, was down for its third straight session of losses at $0.7072.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

While spending the weekend with President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., celebrated the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's report with a series of tweets, saying it was a "bad day for those hoping [the report] would take President Trump down."

"I have just received topline findings from Attorney General [William] Barr. Good day for the rule of law. Great day for President Trump and his team. No collusion and no obstruction. The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report.

"Bad day for those hoping the Mueller investigation would take President Trump down.

"Great job by Mr. Mueller and his team to thoroughly examine all things Russia. Now it is time to move on, govern the country, and get ready to combat Russia and other foreign actors ahead of 2020."

Source: NewsMax Politics

Charles Kolb | Deputy Assistant to George H.W. Bush

If only Christopher Hitchens were still alive!

The Vanity Fair and former Nation journalist died of esophageal cancer at age 62 in December 2011. He would have a field day with today’s strange new world: the 2016 election, the Clintons (whom he detested), Trump’s presidential antics, Brexit (born a Brit, Hitchens became an American citizen), social media, artificial intelligence, and the 2020 presidential candidates.

Hitch was a great debunker. His irreverence was exceeded only by his intelligence, his eclectic reading, and his remarkable memory. He seemed to know just about everything, and his book titles trumpeted his strong verdicts. Bill Clinton was skewered in “No One Left to Lie To,” and his slim, scathing volume about Mother Teresa was titled “The Missionary Position.” There was, however, one unassailable Hitchens Hero: novelist and essayist George Orwell.

Hitchens’s 2002 book, “Why Orwell Matters,” is worth reading today. Hitchens praised Orwell as a relentless champion of liberty and equality whose vision embraced “a society of free and equal human beings.” Orwell despised communism and fascism, and his novels “Animal Farm” (1946) and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”(1949) warned about the danger of “Big Brother” governments that adopt authoritarian tactics against the governed.

Orwell never knew the Internet, but he surely would have been concerned about how social media platforms operate, with business models heavily reliant on algorithms that maximize profits by freely mining individual data at the expense of privacy. And that’s the problem: a Faustian bargain that says “give us your personal data in exchange for free services.” Governments now justify enhanced surveillance in exchange for enhanced security. As Hitchens wrote, Orwell believed deeply that “there should be no utilitarian tradeoff between freedom and security.”

To her credit, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recognizes the dangers described by Orwell, and that is why she pledges to break up the big data-driven tech companies if she becomes president. Warren is not alone. The pushback is already starting: the European Union has adopted internet rules (the General Data Protection Regulation) that strengthen individual privacy, is pursuing vigorous antitrust enforcement, and has levied substantial fines against Facebook and Google. We can expect continued congressional hearings that will examine these firms’ business practices, their privacy protections, and their profits.

Hitchens probably would have panned Warren’s fake populism (“I’m a gonna get me a beer”) and her ludicrous Cherokee-heritage claims (“my papaw had high cheekbones”). But the irreverent journalist and the consumer-oriented senator probably would have agreed on curbing social media platforms, enforcing antitrust laws, and forcing changes to existing business models that mine “free data” while offering inadequate privacy guarantees. Warren deserves credit for pressing these issues.

Machines governed by algorithms (mathematical problem-solving formulas that impose a set of rules designed to seek, identify, and capture patterns) now impact increasing aspects of contemporary life. This development is not inherently bad. Algorithms drive a significant portion of daily stock-market trading. Driverless cars use algorithms to process information faster than human brains. Algorithms now fly planes and track our Internet activity, including our daily movements based on our cellphone locations.

Edward Snowden’s massive data dump revealed that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress when he told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) that the government was not collecting personal data on American citizens. The government was scooping up everything it could find and relying on algorithms to search that information for potential terrorist threats.

When algorithms become linked with the brave new emerging world of artificial intelligence, however, there is the potential for both good (health care, fraud prevention, driverless cars, airport facial recognition) and bad (China’s plans to use AI for political monitoring through a “social credit system” that tracks citizens and bolsters Communist one-party political control).

Along with Hitchens and Orwell, Elizabeth Warren worries about tradeoffs between freedom and security. We need to tame the use of algorithms and make them work for us, not against us. What makes us human is our personal interaction with other humans, not with machines.

“Orwellian” is now applied to situations involving official government deception, extensive secret surveillance, and evading reality through lies and misleading information. George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens are no longer with us, so we need crusaders like Elizabeth Warren (and others) to ensure that our world remains governed by humans and not by machines responding to impersonal mathematical formulas.

Charles Kolb served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy in the Bush White House from 1990-92.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand delivered her presidential campaign kickoff speech in front of the Trump International Hotel Sunday as she struggles to stand out among an increasingly crowded field of candidates.

Gillibrand spent the bulk of her speech excoriating President Donald Trump for being a “coward” who crafted a career building “a shrine to greed, division and vanity,” referring to hotel she was standing beside. She also applauded those who attended her speech for being “brave.”

“The people of this country deserve a president worthy of your bravery,” Gillibrand said, referring to the audience. “A president who not only sets an example, but follows yours. Your bravery inspires me every day, and that is why I’m running for president of the United States.” (RELATED: 2020 Democratic Hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand Can’t Even Get Her Home Delegation To Back Her) 

She added: “He (Trump) demonized the vulnerable, and he punches down. He puts his name in bold on every building. He does all of this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not. Our President is a coward.” Gillibrand and other female 2020 candidates have struggled to make a name for themselves as their male counterparts continue to soak up most of the media attention.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announces he will not seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination with his wife Jill (R) at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announces he will not seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination with his wife Jill (R) at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Polls show that former Vice President Joe Biden and self-avowed socialist Democratic Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading in Iowa. The two septuagenarians are so far besting the likes of Gillibrand and Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris as they compete to see who can knock off Trump come 2020. Some Democratic operatives believe the media are giving preferential treatment to Gillibrand’s male opponents.

“I feel like the media is always captivated by the person they seem to think is a phenom: Bernie, Trump, Beto. But they always seem to be white men who are phenoms,” Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic political consultant, told reporters March 15. “In a year where we have more choices than ever, more women and more persons of color than ever, none of them seem to be deemed a phenom.”

Gillibrand has garnered one endorsement from a sitting member of Congress since announcing her 2020 run. Democratic New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney is the only member of Congress who had endorsed Gillibrand as of March 18. Democratic New York Reps. Sean Maloney and Kathleen Rice opted to endorse her rival, former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, instead.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

ATLANTA — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris invoked the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday during a youth day service at the civil rights icon’s pastoral home of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The California Democrat referenced how King was only 26 at the start of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama.

“We stand on the shoulders of great men and women who came before us and I think of it as being a relay race, young leaders, where they came before us, and they were running the relay race, and they had the baton, and then they passed that baton to us,” Harris, 54, said. “And the question for our lives will be, what do we do during that period of time?”

The former California attorney general joked that established leaders also should recognize when to hand off to the next generation, which doubled as a thinly veiled swipe at some of her top 2020 rivals: former Vice President Joe Biden, 76; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 77; and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 69.

“And, I’ll just say to the older leaders, that it also becomes question of let’s also know when to pass the baton,” Harris said.

The daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, the Oakland native touched on her parents’ active role in the civil rights movement, saying she was raised by “adults who spent full time marching and shouting.”

“We know that we still have a fight for justice in our country,” she said, alluding to economic and criminal justice issues. “We see injustice when we know in America today parents have to sit down with their son when he turns 12 years old and have the talk, and explain to him how he may be stopped, arrested, chased, or even shot because of the color of his skin.”

Harris, who announced her White House bid in January on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, repeated advice she often gives young people on the campaign trail, urging them to be “unburdened” by history.

“We are a nation that is aspirational in nature,” she said. “We are also clear-eyed. We have never yet met those ideals, but our strength is that we fight to reach them.”

Harris currently places third in the RealClearPolitics average of polls for 2020 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. With 10 percent support, Harris trails only Biden (29.6 percent), and Sanders (24.2 percent).

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins ripped apart plans by House Democrats to continue investigating President Donald Trump over allegations of collusion.


“There was no collusion,” Collins said on Fox News Sunday. “I’m waiting to see the conclusions that Bill Barr is going to give us, hopefully as early as today. Then we can actually show to the American people what the investigation meant, and how far it went, and also the fact that now we can hopefully begin to move on from this two-year cloud of an investigation.”

However, host Chris Wallace pushed back on Collins’ suggestion that Congress can “move on,” pointing out that the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democratic New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has vowed to keep investigating the same issues special counsel Robert Mueller looked into for 22 months.

“Well, that’s all they have,” Collins, a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, responded. “As we’ve seen in the first two months of this Congress, [Democrats] really don’t have a policy agenda. They have an agenda against the President. They have an agenda to try and win 2020.”

“And so what we’re seeing is they think that they can go into the Judiciary Committee or any other committee and have a limited budget, limited subpoena power, limited staff and go up against an investigation that lasted 22 months, had unlimited power, unlimited subpoena power, had plenty of investigators and they think they can find something more than what they did, then I think they’re sadly mistaken,” the congressman continued.

New York Democrat Jerry Nadler delivered opening remarks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Google on Dec. 11, 2018. Grabien screenshot

New York Democrat Jerry Nadler delivered opening remarks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Google on Dec. 11, 2018. Grabien screenshot

Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General Bob Barr on Friday, concluding an investigation that lasted nearly two years. The end of the investigation is seen as good news for the Trump administration because it comes with no new indictments, undercutting accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. (RELATED: Many Claimed Countless Times Over The Last 2 Years That ‘Mueller Is Closing In’ — Then He Filed His Report)

Despite this, Democratic leaders in Congress have pledged to keep probing Trump and his campaign.

During a Sunday morning interview on CNN, Nadler insisted that “we know there is some collusion,” referring to the Trump Tower meeting that has been the target of numerous false reports. “We know there was collusion. Why there has been no indictments, we don’t know.”

Nadler made similar comments when appearing on Fox News, saying that “we know a lot of things and maybe it’s not indictable, but we know there was collusion. The question is the degree.”

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Source: The Daily Caller

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at New York Mets
Mar 2, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the New York Mets at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 24, 2019

The Houston Astros have finalized a two-year extension with ace pitcher Justin Verlander, the team announced on Sunday.

“Justin Verlander is one of the elite pitchers in baseball,” said general manager Jeff Luhnow in announcing the deal. “His late-season arrival in 2017 helped the Astros deliver its first ever championship to the city of Houston. Our fans share in my excitement that Justin will be in an Astros uniform for at least three more years.”

The extension adds two years and $66 million to Verlander’s current deal, which had one year remaining. It makes Verlander the highest-paid pitcher in terms of annual average value ($33 million).

Only outfielder Mike Trout, who will average nearly $36 million annually on his recently signed 12-year, $430 million deal, has a deal with a higher per-annum payout.

Verlander, 36, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and an American League-leading 290 strikeouts in 34 starts last season, his first full season in Houston since coming over from Detroit in a trade in 2017.

Last season, the 2011 AL Cy Young winner finished second for the third time in voting for that award and was part of the top five for the seventh time. He also was the league Most Valuable Player in 2011.

Overall, Verlander is 21-9 in 39 starts with the Astros, posting a 2.32 ERA and striking out 333 batters in 248 innings. The Astros won the World Series in 2017 following the trade for Verlander.

The Astros already had reached extensions with All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman (six years, $100 million) and righty reliever Ryan Pressly (two years, $17.5 million) in the past few days.

Bregman, who turns 25 on Friday, finished fifth in the American League MVP voting last season after batting .286 with a league-high 51 doubles, 31 homers, 103 RBIs and 105 runs scored.

Pressley, 30, is under contract for $2.9 million in 2019 and would have been eligible for free agency after this season. The deal covers the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

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