...this player gets 40 million

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...this player gets 40 million

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean can check two big boxes off his winter to-do list.San Francisco and free-agent center fielder Angel Pagan agreed to a 40 million, four-year contract Monday as the winter meetings got under way in Nashville, Tenn.Bobby Evans, the team's vice president of baseball operations, said the deal with Pagan was "very close" and the leadoff hitter would be subject to a physical to finalize his return to the reigning World Series champions.Retaining Pagan was among the top priorities for Sabean this offseason, along with keeping recently re-signed left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt and second baseman Marco Scutaro. Affeldt received an 18 million, three-year contract Nov. 14.The 31-year-old Pagan batted .288 with eight home runs, 56 RBIs and a San Francisco-best 15 triples in his first season with the Giants. Pagan said late in the season and again after the World Series parade that he hoped to return, but wanted to test free agency and sought some job security in the form of a multiyear deal.On Friday, Sabean said the club had made backup plans to move forward without Pagan or Scutaro in case neither decided to re-sign -- but progress with Pagan apparently happened during the weekend after Sabean said, "We don't have a deal, so that tells you we're not close."Whether NL championship series MVP Scutaro returns is still a question. He very well could have a new suitor in the mix after the New York Yankees said Monday that third baseman Alex Rodriguez will have surgery on his left hip and could be lost until the 2013 All-Star break.Sabean said he likely wouldn't address his bullpen until after first negotiating with the representatives for Pagan and Scutaro.The 37-year-old Scutaro hit .362 with three homers and 44 RBIs in 61 games with the Giants after he was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies.San Francisco declined Friday to tender a contract to closer Brian Wilson, who is recovering from a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.NOTES:Giants senior vice president of communications Staci Slaughter received the 2012 Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence on Monday night in Nashville.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.