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NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets have bolstered their lineup with three free-agent deals, adding speedy center fielder Starling Marte to go along with Mark Canha and All-Star infielder Eduardo Escobar.

Marte’s four-year contract is worth $78 million, according to a person familiar with the deal. New York also has agreements in place with Canha, a veteran outfielder who also can play first base, and Escobar, who hit 28 homers this season.

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The person spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday on condition of anonymity because the contracts are pending physicals and haven’t been announced by the team.

It’s the first set of big moves by New York since Billy Eppler took over as general manager, promising on his first day to pursue pricey free agents and create a perennial World Series contender.

The spending spree for Mets owner Steve Cohen also comes after he publicly criticized the representation for pitcher Steven Matz, who has agreed to a $44 million, four-year contract with St. Louis.

“I’m not happy this morning. I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior exhibited by a player’s agent. I guess words and promises don’t matter,” Cohen wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

I’m not happy this morning . I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior exhibited by a player’s agent.I guess words and promises don’t matter.

— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 24, 2021

Rob Martin, the pitcher’s agent, wrote in a text to The Associated Press: “We handle things the right way and so does Steven.”

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New York went 77-85 this season, fading to third in the NL East after a strong start.

Marte, 33, played for Miami and Oakland this year, batting .310 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and a major league-high 47 steals in 120 games.

Marte made his big league debut in 2012 with Pittsburgh. He is a .289 hitter with 126 homers, 46 triples, 502 RBIs and 296 steals in 10 years in the majors.

The 32-year-old Canha hit .231 with 17 homers, 61 RBIs and 12 steals in 141 games with Oakland this year. He spent his first seven big league seasons with the Athletics, batting .244 with 89 homers and 294 RBIs.

The 32-year-old Escobar was a first-time All-Star in 2021, when he batted .253 with 90 RBIs and a .786 OPS for Arizona and Milwaukee. The switch-hitter has been a solid offensive contributor and a steady defender at third base the past four seasons, except for a slump during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Escobar has spent most of his time at third base, but he has experience all over the infield. His versatility could be key for the Mets if they don’t bring back free agent Javier Báez.

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Tags: mlb new york mets starling marte starling marte i’m not happy this a player’s agent i’ve never seen player’s agent promises don’t i’m not happy by a player’s don’t matter to the associated press a player’s i’ve never four year contract oakland this year at third base this season all star

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Southwest Airlines says omicron will drive a loss in the first quarter, but expects 2022 profit

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Southwest Airlines expects to lose money in the first quarter after the omicron variant of Covid-19 hurt staffing and bookings, but it said profits are on the table by March and for the rest of the year.

Southwest's rivals Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines earlier this month also said they expect that the fast-spreading variant would further delay a recovery in travel demand but that bookings for spring and summer were strong.

"While we made significant progress in 2021, the Omicron variant has delayed the demand improvement we were previously expecting in early 2022," Bob Jordan, Southwest's executive vice president who takes the reins as CEO on Feb. 1, said in an earnings release. "With COVID-19 cases trending downward, the worst appears to be behind us, and we are optimistic about current bookings and revenue trends for March 2022."

Carriers had canceled more than 20,000 flights between Christmas Eve and the first week of the year, hit by a combination of bad weather and a lack of available crews as omicron spread through employee ranks and nationwide.

Both leisure and business travel bookings are weaker than expected and will likely cut operating revenue in January and February by a total of $330 million, Southwest said Thursday. For the first three months of the year, Southwest expects revenue of 10% to 15% below the first quarter of 2019, when it generated $5.15 billion.

Southwest and other airlines offered extra to crews to help ease staffing shortages and the Dallas-based carrier said that would extend into February.

Costs are also on the rise. Southwest said first-quarter expenses, excluding fuel, will likely rise 20% to 24% from 2019, up from a previous estimate of a 10% to 14% increase. The carrier is pulling back on its capacity plans for the first quarter, expecting to restore 91% of its pre-pandemic flying in 2019 compared with a previous estimate of 94%.

Southwest, like competitors, is on a hiring spree and has said it expects to add some 8,000 employees this year up from 5,000 last year. In its quarterly release Thursday, Southwest said it would raise starting wages to $17 an hour — up from $15 an hour it set as a floor last year.

Strong holiday bookings helped more than double revenue to $5.05 billion in the fourth quarter from $2.01 billion in 2020 and drove the carrier to a $68 million profit compared with a $908 million loss during the same period the year before.


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