Reliever Junichi Tazawa has finalized a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs and will report to big league spring training, the team announced Wednesday.

The 32-year-old right-hander was 1-1 with a 7.07 ERA in 31 games last season for Miami and the Los Angeles Angels.

The former Portland Sea Dog is 21-26 with a 4.12 ERA in nine big league seasons, primarily with Boston.

Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and the Washington Nationals agreed to a $1.3 million, one-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Hellickson, 31, could earn up to $4 million more in bonuses, based on the number of games he starts.

He was 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 19 starts for Washington last season.

Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech is throwing again after the touted prospect had Tommy John surgery in September.

The 22-year-old will miss the upcoming season after making four starts for the White Sox last year. He is expected to be ready for spring training in 2020.

The Red Sox traded Kopech to Chicago in 2016 as part of the deal to acquire Chris Sale.

Major League Baseball said in a statement that its independent investigation found no credible evidence to support claims of disparaging comments and discriminatory treatment by members of the Seattle Mariners’ front office.


NFL: The Atlanta Falcons released kicker Matt Bryant, ending the 10-year run of the team’s all-time leading scorer.

The decision to not pick up the team’s option on the 43-year-old Bryant comes despite another strong season. Bryant made 20 of 21 field goals and 33 of 35 extra points, but missed three games with a hamstring injury.

The Falcons also released cornerback Robert Alford on Tuesday night. The 2013 second-round pick has 10 career interceptions but had none this season.

His career highlight came when he returned an interception of Tom Brady for a touchdown in Atlanta’s Super Bowl 51 loss to the Patriots.


OPEN SUD DE FRANCE: Former champion Tomas Berdych swept aside Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-0 in less than one hour to reach the quarterfinals at Montpellier.

Berdych, who won the event in 2012, next faces Filip Krajinovic, who beat second-seeded David Goffin 6-4, 6-4.


RULE ADJUSTMENT: Six weeks into the new year, the new set of golf rules have their first adjustment on caddies standing behind their players.

Golf’s two governing bodies released a clarification on the rule to prevent caddies from helping players line up a shot. The rule now says a player can avoid the penalty if he backs away from his stance and starts over anywhere on the golf course, and not just the putting green.