Category Archives: MLB

Mariners´ Mitch Haniger likely needs core-muscle surgery

This was already going to be a year where the Seattle Mariners would be relying heavily on young players and some of their top prospects right from the beginning of the campaign.

Now the Mariners expect to be without one of their few veterans – likely for the first month.

Outfielder Mitch Haniger is expected to miss the start of the regular season and likely needs to undergo core muscle surgery, general manager Jerry Dipoto said Thursday.

Haniger suffered the injury during one of his offseason workouts earlier this week. Dipoto said the latest setback is tied to Haniger’s injury issues from last season.

“I was expecting him to show up for the first day of spring training ready to go but that does not appear to be the case,” Dipoto said.

Haniger missed the final 3 1/2 months of the season after suffering a ruptured testicle and then experiencing back and core issues during his recovery. Haniger was limited to 63 matches and batted .220 with 15 homers and 32 RBIs.

A year earlier, Haniger was an All-Star after hitting .285 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs and an OPS of .859.

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Dipoto said the expectation is that Haniger’s recovery will take about six to eight weeks following the surgery.

He could be ready to join the major league club sometime in late April.

The loss of Haniger is two-fold for the Mariners. Along with Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager, Haniger was expected to be one of the few experienced veterans the Mariners could lean on early in a season where the next phase of Seattle’s rebuild will starts.

The Mariners are likely to field one of the youngest teams in the American League, with a handful of rookies or second-year players expected to be in the everyday lineup. Seattle expects the likes of outfielder Kyle Lewis, first baseman Evan White, second baseman Shed Long and pitchers Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn to be key pieces of the upcoming campaign.

The injury to Haniger may also allow Jake Fraley or Braden Bishop to earn more playing time early on.

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Bostons´ Dustin Pedroia has serious setback in recovery

Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has suffered a “significant setback” while rehabbing his left knee injury, a team spokesman confirmed.

“As a result, his status for spring training is uncertain,” said Kevin Gregg.

Gregg did not elaborate on the nature of this setback, which exacerbated an injury that has plagued Pedroia for several campaigns.

The 2008 American League MVP’s knee troubles started in 2017, when his left knee was injured in a play involving Baltimore’s Manny Machado. Pedroia underwent surgery in October of that year.

He also underwent a joint preservation procedure in July 2018 to remove scar tissue and another in August 2019, in which bone spurs were removed.

Pedroia’s contract includes salaries of $13 million this season and $12 million in 2021, and he counts $13.28 million toward Boston’s luxury tax payroll.

Pedroia is a four-time All-Star, was the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and has played for two World Series championship teams in 2007 and 2013.

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The news comes at a difficult time for the Red Sox organization, which is adjusting to a new head of baseball operations and lost manager Alex Cora after he was implicated in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme during their run to the 2017 World Series title.

After the surgery, Pedroia’s mindset shifted, and he indicated to the Red Sox that he hoped to return to the field and become an everyday player again. But news of his latest setback brings up the question of retirement, given that he is now three campaigns removed from a fully healthy season, when he played 154 matches for Boston in 2016.

Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran expressed optimism for Pedroia’s return as recently as the GM meetings in November.

“He’s been working out and doing well by his own account and we’re going to talk to him and learn more,” O’Halloran said. “I don’t think anything specifically has changed. I think it’s more that time has passed and he’s been feeling better.”

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Astros´ Jeff Luhnow, AJ Hinch fired for sign stealing

Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow will likely forever be tied to the team’s sign-stealing polemic, but he insisted he is not a cheater.

Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle shared Luhnow’s statement in which he accepted responsibility for the violations that occurred under him but clarified: “I am not a cheater. Anybody who has worked closely with me during my 32-year career inside and outside baseball can attest to my integrity. I did not know rules were being broken.”

Former manager AJ Hinch also released a statement that was not as brazen but said, “while the evidence consistently showed I didn’t endorse or participate in the sign stealing practices, I failed to stop them and I am deeply sorry.”

ESPN’s Jeff Passan stated Luhnow and Hinch were both suspended for one year as part of the penalties levied against the Astros. The team was also fined $5 million and stripped of its first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.

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Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reported Astros owner Jim Crane adopted to fire Hinch and Luhnow in the aftermath of the punishments.

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported on the Astros’ sign stealing in November. Four people who were with the team during the 2017 championship campaign, including pitcher Mike Fiers, said the American League West club used a camera positioned in the outfield as a way of stealing opponents’ signs in real time.

Gabe Lacques of USA Today noted the league interviewed 68 witnesses and also sent out memos in 2017, 2018 and 2019 warning against electronic sign stealing and saying general managers and managers would be held most accountable.

Rosenthal and Drellich also reported the 2018 Red Sox used technology to help steal opponents’ signs on their way to a World Series title. Luhnow became the Astros’ general manager in 2011, while Hinch was the manager since the 2015 campaign.

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Mookie Betts agree deal with Red Sox

In his final year of arbitration, Mookie Betts reportedly has received a record-breaking one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the 2018 American League MVP will earn $27 million in 2020. 

Betts’ deal breaks the previous arbitration record of $26 million signed by Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado last January, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. 

The Red Sox entered this offseason in a state of insecurity with Chaim Bloom taking over as team president after Dave Dombrowski was fired in September and Brian O’Halloran being hired as general manager. 

Team owner John Henry told reporters in September they needed to cut payroll to get under the luxury-tax threshold. 

“This year we need to be under the CBT and that was something we’ve known for more than a year now,” he said. “If you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

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Betts and J.D. Martinez were the two most obvious trade candidates since they are the Red Sox two most expensive position players and could net a strong return given their consistent year to year performances. 

It’s still possible for the Red Sox to move Betts before the start of the campaign. MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported on Jan. 2 the Los Angeles Dodgers have had discussions with Boston about the four-time All-Star. 

At the very least, Betts got his deal for 2020 done and can get ready for spring training next month. The 27-year-old hit .295/.391/.524 with 29 homers and 16 stolen bases in 150 games last campaign.

Acquired by Boston in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, Betts is a career .301 hitter with an .893 OPS. Since making his major league debut in June 2014, Betts has led the major leagues in runs scored (613) and is second in extra-base hits (394) and fourth in hits (965).

He also has led the Red Sox in home runs (139) and is second in RBIs (470) during that span. Three times, Betts has hit three home runs in a game — more than any other MLB player since 2014.

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Rangers bring back catcher Robinson Chirinos

The Texas Rangers are signing free-agent catcher Robinson Chirinos to a one-year deal.

League sources told ESPN and MLB Media on Tuesday night that Chirinos agreed to a one-year, $6.75 million deal with the Rangers. The club hasn’t confirmed the agreement, which is pending a physical.

The contract includes a $5.75 million base salary for the 2020 campaign, according to ESPN. Chirinos’ deal also has a club option for 2021 that is worth $6.5 million with a $1 million buyout.

Chirinos made his MLB debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He was traded to the Rangers in April 2013 and spent six seasons with Texas before joining the Houston Astros in free agency last off-season.

Chirinos played in a career-high 114 regular-season games in Houston last season and recorded a .238 batting average with 17 home runs and 58 RBIs. In his final season before leaving the Rangers in 2018, he set career highs in homers (18) and RBIs (65).

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In 576 career games between the Rays, Rangers and Astros, Chirinos has a career .234 batting average with 85 home runs and 262 RBIs.

The Rangers did not exercise a friendly club option on Chirinos in November 2019 and quickly signed veteran Jeff Mathis to a two-year deal, saying they were placing more value on defense than offense.

Mathis’ struggled to one of the worst offensive seasons in baseball, batting only .158 with a meager .433 OPS, and the Rangers had the worst offensive production at the position.

Chirinos, 35, had the good fortune of catching Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and runner-up Gerrit Cole last season as the Astros went to the World Series, losing in seven games to the Washington Nationals.

Mathis and rookie Jose Trevino are on the 40-man roster. Daniels said on Monday that the Rangers would bring both to spring training even if a catcher was added to a big-league deal.

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Yankees´ Domingo German gets 81 game ban for violation domestic violence policy

New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German has been given an 81-game suspension for violating the MLB domestic violence policy, commissioner Rob Manfred announced Thursday.

German, who had already been placed on administrative leave for the last 18 games of the 2019 season, including nine postseason games, will sit out the first 63 games of the 2020 season.

German was put on administrative leave on Sept. 19 while MLB investigated alleged domestic violence involving his girlfriend, with whom he has at least one child.

“My office has completed its investigation into the allegations that Domingo German violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy,” Manfred said in a statement. “Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. German violated our Policy and that discipline is appropriate.”

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German will not appeal the discipline, which also includes participation in an evaluation and treatment program supervised by MLB’s Joint Policy Board.

He also has agreed to make a contribution to Sanctuary for Families, a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding victims of domestic violence.

“We remain steadfast in our support of Major League Baseball’s investigative process and the disciplinary action taken regarding Domingo German,” the Yankees said in a statement issued Thursday. “Domestic violence — in any form — is a gravely serious matter that affects every segment of our society.

Major League Baseball has taken the lead in our industry to make domestic violence awareness and prevention a priority, and we will continue to back those efforts. We are encouraged by Domingo’s acceptance of his discipline, and we sincerely hope this indicates a commitment to making a meaningful and positive change in his personal conduct.”

Because German already sat out the 2019 postseason, he will be eligible for the 2020 postseason, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney.

He is not eligible to participate in spring training games prior to next season, however.

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Mets, reliever Dellin Betances agree to one year deal

The New York Mets have reached an agreement with free-agent reliever Dellin Betances on a one-year contract with a player option for 2021.

The Mets announced the deal with the four-time All Star on Tuesday. The deal is worth $10.5 million, but Betances could earn $13 million if he appears in 70 games. There is a player option in 2021 and a vesting player option for 2022, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The 31-year-old, who is from New York, is staying in his hometown after spending his first eight seasons in the majors with the Yankees.

He missed most of 2019 because of injuries. Betances’ season ended after just eight pitches. He tore an Achilles tendon in his first appearance back from a lat injury that had sidelined him since spring training.

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Betances was the first reliever in baseball history to have 100 or more strikeouts in five consecutive seasons (2014-2018). The right-hander led all major league relievers in strikeouts in each year from 2014-2016.

“Dellin is one of the elite relievers in the game with an incredible track record of pitching on the biggest stage and in playoff games,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement.

In 2018, Betances made 66 appearances, with a 2.70 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. He has made nine career playoff appearances, with a 3.27 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings.

“I love New York,” Betances said. “I grew up in Manhattan. Went to high school in Brooklyn. Played minor league ball in Staten Island. Made it to the big leagues in the Bronx. Now, I’m excited to go win a World Series with the Mets in Queens.”

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Mets designated infielder Sam Haggerty for assignment.

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Julio Teheran agrees to one year deal to Angels

Free-agent pitcher Julio Teheran and the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a one-year, $9 million contract, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Thursday.

Teheran, the first pitcher to make six consecutive Opening Day starts for the Atlanta Braves, became a free agent after the Braves declined a $12 million club option for 2020.

The 28-year-old Teheran joins Dylan Bundy as right-handers who have joined the Angels’ staff this winter. Teheran, Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Shohei Ohtani and Griffin Canningarethe likeliest five to be in an Opening Day rotation at present, though the Angels still could add pitchers.

The Angels had the second-highest ERA in the major leagues last season at 5.64 ERA and have made pitching a major priority during the offseason.

They tried to sign Gerrit Cole, who joined the New York Yankees, and have turned their attention toward Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

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Atlanta’s move to decline Teheran’s option was not unexpected on the heels of him being left off the postseason roster after going 10-11 with a 3.81 ERA, though he was added back to the squad as an injury replacement when Chris Martin went down in Game 1 of the NL Division Series versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

Teheran wound up taking the loss coming out of the bullpen in Game 4. That forced a deciding match, in which the Braves gave up a record 10 runs in the first inning and ended the season with a 13-1 defeat.

The right-hander has had higher walk rates and no longer has the huge velocity that led to him getting a six-year, $32.4 million deal in 2013.

Teheran is one of the only true sinkerballers among MLB starters, which has improved his ground-ball rate after hitters have caught up with his four-seamer.

Teheran had an eight-start stretch in May and June, covering 44 innings, when he didn’t allow a home run and posted a 0.81 ERA.

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Madison Bumgarner reaches 5 year deal with D-backs

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal, sources familiar with the agreement told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The value of the deal was first reported by The Athletic.

The 30-year-old Bumgarner, the MVP of the 2014 World Series for the San Francisco Giants, went 9-9 with a 3.90 ERA last campaign, following two somewhat forgettable injury-shortened seasons.

In 2019, Bumgarner bounced back to tie for the National League lead with 34 starts and was second with 207 innings pitched, which erased many doubts that the Giants icon could again showcase his trademark durability.

A 10-year veteran, “MadBum” logged six straight seasons with double-digit victories, more than 200 innings and 30-plus starts — finishing with 18, 18 and 15 wins, respectively, in 2012, 2013and 2014. But the 6-foot-4 left-hander went 4-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 17 starts in 2017, when he missed nearly three months following a dirt bike accident during an off day in Colorado.

He threw just 111 innings that season to match his career-low total from 2010, when he was promoted to the majors in June.

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Then Bumgarner broke the pinkie on his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive from Kansas City Royals hitter Whit Merrifield in his final 2018 spring training start, undergoing surgery to insert pins into the finger.

He returned in June and wound up going 6-7 with a 3.26 ERA in 21 starts and 129 innings.

In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a $35.56 million, six-year deal through 2017 that included $12 million in club options for both 2018 and ’19.

Before San Francisco staged a bit of a midseason surge to get into playoff contention this past season, Bumgarner had been mentioned as a potential top trade target prior to the July 31 deadline.

Bumgarner has 1,794 strikeouts, which ranks 14th on the active list, and has a career record of 119-92 with a 3.13 ERA. He has been a clutch postseason pitcher in each of San Francisco’s World Series title-winning seasons in 2010, ’12 and ’14.

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Ex Reds Jose Peraza agrees to join Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox bolstered their infield depth Thursday by agreeing to sign Jose Peraza to a one-year contract worth about $3 million plus incentives, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Peraza made his Major League debut in 2015 with the Los Angeles Dodgers but spent the last four years with the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .239 with six home runs, 33 RBI and a .285 on-base percentage in 141 games during the 2019 season.

His best season came in 2018 when he batted .288 with 14 homers, 58 RBI and a .326 on-base percentage in 157 matches for the Reds. All things considered, Peraza is a good buy-low candidate for the Red Sox, who also could help Boston replace Brock Holt if he departs in free agency.

The 25-year-old infielder brings plenty of positional versatility to the Red Sox. Peraza mostly played second base for Cincinnati this past season, but he also saw time at third base, left field and center field.

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Brock Holt seems unlikely to return as the Sox have piled up options for the position.

Candidates include Peraza, Marco Hernandez, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Arauz, who they picked in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. Dustin Pedroia is also still trying to make a comeback.

At just $3 million, Peraza seems like a low-risk, high-reward option given his potential. He was once ranked the Braves’ top prospect and was named the Braves’ minor league player of the year in 2014.

They traded him to the DOdgers in 2015, when he played in just seven matches before being traded to the Reds. Peraza showed flashes of potential over four years with the Reds, batting .288 with 14 homers, 31 doubles and 58 RBI in 2018. But he regressed offensively in 2019, and he’s still improving defensively.

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