Category Archives: MLB

New York Mets outfielder Tim Tebow retiring from pro baseball

Tim Tebow is retiring from baseball after five years as a minor leaguer with the New York Mets.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner returned to baseball in 2016 for the first time since his junior year of high school and reached Triple-A, encouraged by then-general manager and current team president Sandy Alderson.

Tebow, who works for ESPN’s SEC Network as a football analyst during the offseason, played 77 matches at baseball’s highest minor league level in 2019, batting .163 with four home runs.

He concluded his career with a .223 average over 287 games.

“I want to thank the Mets, Alderson, the fans and all my teammates for the chance to be a part of such a great organization,” Tebow said in a statement released by the Mets on Wednesday. “I loved every minute of the journey, but at this time I feel called in other directions.

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“I never want to be partially in on anything. I always want to be 100% in on whatever I choose. Thank you again for everyone’s support of this awesome journey in baseball, I’ll always cherish my time.”

A lefty-hitting outfielder, the 33-year-old was invited to major league spring training this season, taking one of New York’s 75 spots after Major League Baseball limited spring roster sizes as a coronavirus precaution. Position players aren’t slated to report to the Mets’ spring complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, until next week.

Over four big league spring trainings, Tebow batted .151 in 34 games, connecting for his first and only homer last spring before camps were closed because of the pandemic.

“It has been a pleasure to have Tim in our organization, as he’s been a consummate professional during his four years with the Mets,” Alderson said.

“By reaching the Triple-A level in 2019, he far exceeded expectations when he first entered the system in 2016 and he should be very proud of his accomplishments.”

Tebow’s baseball career started with a bang — he homered in his first professional at-bat during an instructional league game versus the St. Louis Cardinals in the fall of 2016. Later that fall, he made headlines by comforting a fan who had a seizure in the front row during Tebow’s Arizona Fall League debut.

The former NFL quarterback — a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010 — was an All-Star at Double-A in 2018, when he batted .273 with six homers in 84 games. He struggled the next year at Triple-A and had his season cut short by a laceration on his left hand.

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New York Yankees agree to deal with LHP Justin Wilson

Left-hander Justin Wilson returned to the New York Yankees after two seasons with the Mets, agreeing Monday to a deal, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Wilson joins a bullpen headed by closer Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, both left-handers. Hard-throwing right-hander Chad Green is joined by side-arming right-hander Darren O’Day, who was signed after the Yankees dealt Adam Ottavino to Boston in a cost-cutting move.

The 33-year-old Wilson was 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 74 appearances for the Yankees in 2015, then moved on to Detroit and the Chicago Cubs before spending 2019 and 2020 with the Mets.

He was 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over 23 appearances last season. He struck out 23 and walked nine

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Wilson averaged 95 mph with his fastball, throwing it slightly more often than on half his pitches. He also throws cutters, mixing in an occasional slider and curveball.

Wilson is a nine-year major league veteran who spent his first three campaigns with Pittsburgh.

His deal with the Yankees was first reported by WFAN in New York.

New York also is also finalizing a minor league contract with catcher Robinson Chirinos, who would report to big league spring training, according to multiple reports.

The 36-year-old split last season with Texas and the Mets, who attained him on Aug. 31. He hit .162 with one homer and seven RBIs in 74 at-bats over 26 matches.

Chirinos also is a nine-year big league veteran who had two homers and three RBIs for Houston in its 2019 World Series loss to Washington. His best campaigns were with Texas in 2018, when he batted .222 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs, and with Houston in 2019, when he hit .238 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs.

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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner staying on 2-year, $34M deal

Third baseman Justin Turner is staying put with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he revealed Saturday on Twitter.

Turner’s deal is for two years and $34 million guaranteed, and it includes a club option for a third year, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Turner, 36, became a free agent when his four-year, $64 million contract expired following the Dodgers’ World Series triumph in October. A member of the Dodgers since 2014, Turner is the longest-tenured position player on the team and the third longest overall, behind Clayton Kershaw (2008) and Kenley Jansen (2010).

Turner was a journeyman for the first half of his major league career. He was non-tendered by the New York Mets in December 2013, went unsigned for the next two months and then agreed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers. At 29, he started to establish himself among the game’s most productive third basemen.

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Turner batted .297/.378/.508 from 2015 to 2019, accumulating 105 homers, 147 doubles and 21.9 FanGraphs wins above replacement in 645 regular-season games.

He made an All-Star team, concluded within the top 10 in National League MVP voting on two occasions and set the tone for the Dodgers’ hitting philosophy as their most consistent performer.

Along the way, Turner contributed several memorable postseason moments, most notably his walk-off home run versus the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the 2017 NL Championship Series. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he ranks first in Dodgers postseason history in hits (79), home runs (12), runs (40) and RBIs (41).

His crowning achievement finally came last season, when Turner — a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in Lakewood, California, and identifies Kirk Gibson’s famous pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series as his first baseball memory — helped lead the franchise to its first championship in more than 30 years.

Turner posted a 1.066 OPS in six World Series games versus the Tampa Bay Rays, but his career highlight became tarnished after Major League Baseball informed the Dodgers in the late stages of the eventual clincher that Turner had tested positive for COVID-19.

Turner, the Dodgers’ player rep, was removed to start the eighth inning of Game 6 and wasn’t on the field to celebrate the final out. But he broke protocol and reentered the field to take pictures with the World Series trophy and was seen around teammates without a mask, drawing the ire of MLB officials and rampant criticism from people throughout the country. MLB ultimately decided not to discipline him.

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Trevor Bauer says he is ‘committed to being better’ in Los Angeles Dodgers introduction

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ landmark agreement with Trevor Bauer has been met with clear reservation, and in some instances disdain, by some of the team’s fans, none of which includes his projected on-field performance.

Bauer’s boundless social media activity includes instances that have prompted accusations of online bullying, two of which involved women who became subject to harassment by Bauer’s followers. He has made an anti-transgender joke — something he subsequently denied doing consciously — and has dismissed sensitivities around the Cleveland Indians’ logo, prompting questions about his fit within a liberal market and inside a tight-knit clubhouse that has become increasingly socially conscious.

Bauer, signed to a three-year, $102 million contract with opt-outs throughout, said Thursday that he is evolving.

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“All the conversations I’ve had with people across all walks of life over the last couple of years and all the things I’ve learned — I can say that I have learned from those,” Bauer stated after being presented with his No. 27 jersey during a virtual news conference from Dodger Stadium.

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking to other people to try to understand other perspectives, and I’m doing my best to be better, as I do in all walks of my life. I don’t think that it makes any sense to dive into specific issues in this forum, but I am committed to being better on social media, being better on the field, being better in the clubhouse, being better in life in general.”

Bauer said joining the Dodgers was “a long time coming” and recalled how he used to sit in the left-field bleachers listening to Vin Scully on the radio. Adding Bauer will push the Dodgers well past the 2021 luxury-tax threshold, but Friedman said it would not impact the team’s ability to re-sign Justin Turner or add another right-handed hitter.

The move marks only the second time that a reigning Cy Young Award winner has joined the reigning World Series champions, the other being Roger Clemens with the New York Yankees in 1999.

Bauer probably won’t fulfill his desire to pitch every fourth day, but he’ll join a starting rotation that is legitimately seven-deep, with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price, Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin.

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Two-time All-Star pitcher Jordan Zimmermann signs minor league deal with Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed former All-Star pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a minor league contract that incorporates an invitation to major league camp, the team informed Tuesday.

Zimmermann, who turns 35 on May 23, pitched in just three matches for the Detroit Tigers last season due to a forearm injury after going 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA in 2019. He was a two-time All-Star with the Washington Nationals, who selected him from Division III school Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the second round of the 2007 draft.

He described his injury as a “forearm flexor thing” and returned to make three September appearances last year, going 0-0 with a 7.94 ERA. Zimmermann says he now is as healthy as he’s been in a few years. “If I didn’t feel good or I didn’t feel healthy, I was probably thinking about retiring,” Zimmermann said.

“But I started working out, started running, started throwing and doing everything I normally do. The body feels good and the mind is telling me to keep going. I’m going to definitely give it another year, and we’ll see what happens after this year.”

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Zimmermann went 70-50 with a 3.32 ERA with the Nationals from 2009 to 2015, and he concluded seventh in the Cy Young Award voting in 2013 and fifth in 2014 while making the NL All-Star team both of those seasons.

He threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history when Washington beat the Miami Marlins 1-0 in the 2014 regular-season finale.

Zimmermann wasn’t nearly as effective after moving to the American League, posting a 25-41 record with a 5.63 ERA for Detroit over the past five seasons.

“If I didn’t have anything left, I probably would have retired and gone out on my own terms,” Zimmermann said. “But my body and my mind tell me, ‘You still have more left.’ Obviously, I want to go out there and stay healthy. I know I can get guys out. It’s definitely going to be nice getting back in the NL because I feel a lot more comfortable there than where I was.”

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St. Louis Cardinals bring Yadier Molina back on 1-year deal

The St. Louis Cardinals are bringing back Yadier Molina for an 18th season, the team revealed Monday.

St. Louis agreed to a one-year deal with the catcher, a source told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, confirming multiple reports.

Molina is a rarity, having spent his entire career — 2,025 games — with the Cardinals. The only two players to play more games in a Cardinals uniform in franchise history are Hall of Famers Stan Musial (3,026) and Lou Brock (2,289).

Molina shared a video of his career highlight on Instagram on Monday and ended it with the words “I’m back.”

The nine-time All-Star played 42 of 60 games during the pandemic-shortened campaign, hitting .262 with four home runs and 16 RBIs.

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Molina also became the 12th catcher in major league history to join the 2,000-hit club, and his 2,001 hits currently rank fifth among all active players (and sixth in Cardinals franchise history). Behind the plate, Molina has been a steadying influence for the Cardinals’ pitching staff while also being credited with 170 defensive runs saved as a catcher since 2004.

He has caught 1,989 games, the most with a single franchise in major league history and No. 6 all time among all catchers.

“I think about [the Hall of Fame],” Molina told ESPN before last season. “When I started my career, I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. … All I’ve done is work hard to get better and better every single year to become the best catcher I can be. And my numbers are obviously there. I think that, because of the way I catch, that I’m one of the best catchers to have ever played in baseball.”

Molina, 38, tested positive for COVID-19 in August as the Cardinals were hit by an outbreak just three games into the 2020 season.

He was critical of the statistical-based process — without the usual input from managers or coaches — used to determine the Gold Glove finalists in 2020. The nine-time winner, which ranks third among catchers, had hoped to tie Hall of Famer Johnny Bench for second with 10.

Molina has been a key component to the Cardinals’ success over the years, having helped lead the team to four National League pennants and two World Series titles.

He has a career .281 average with 160 home runs, 932 RBIs, 66 stolen bases and has caught 350 of the would-be 869 baserunners trying to steal a base (40% success rate).

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St. Louis Cardinals officially acquire Nolan Arenado from Colorado Rockies

The St. Louis Cardinals completed their blockbuster trade to obtain All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

St. Louis dealt left-hander Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers to the Rockies: infielders Elehuris Montero and Mateo Gil along with right-handers Tony Locey and Jake Sommers.

As part of the trade, Colorado will send cash to St. Louis to offset part of the money Arenado is due in his contract.

Arenado had been set to be paid $199 million over the remaining six seasons of a $260 million, eight-year contract. As part of his agreement to waive a no-trade provision, Arenado agreed to add a season to his deal, which now extends for seven seasons through 2027.

His deal had given him the right to opt out and become a free agent after the 2021 season. His new contract gives him the right to opt out and become a free agent after either the 2022 or 2023 season.

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“Many have heard me say that one of the great things about baseball is that you always have a chance to get better,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said in a statement. “Today we got better! A deal of this nature, acquiring a player of Nolan’s considerable talents, are the ones that can set you apart in many ways.”

The 29-year-old Arenado has hit .293 with an .890 OPS over eight seasons, averaging 35 home runs and 114 RBIs per 162 games. Aided in part by hitter-friendly Coors Field, he has led the National League in home runs three times and topped the majors in RBIs twice.

The Cardinals concluded second in the NL Central last season and lost a first-round playoff matchup versus the San Diego Padres.

Arenado will bump Matt Carpenter out of his role as the starting third baseman and play in an infield with All-Stars Paul DeJong at shortstop and Paul Goldschmidt at first base.

Arenado slumped during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, hitting .253 with eight home runs and a .738 OPS over 48 games before going on the injured list Sept. 21 with a bruised left shoulder. He earned $12,962,963 in prorated pay and won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove. Arenado led the majors with 15 defensive runs saved.

St. Louis brings back much of the same team that made last year’s postseason, including veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright, who finalized an $8 million, one-year deal Friday.

Wainwright is returning for his 17th season with St. Louis, matching Bob Gibson (1959-75) for the second-most seasons with the Cardinals among pitchers, one behind Jesse Haines (1920-37).

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Corey Kluber excited to join Yanks

Limited to one inning in two years, Corey Kluber considers his ability will show with the New York Yankees.

“I consider myself to be healthy at this point. I’m not rehabbing anything or tending to any issues with anything lingering or anything like that,” the right-hander said Thursday, a day after finalizing an $11 million, one-year contract. “I’m basically at a normal stage of my offseason right now.”

Kluber completed his contract on the day AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu finalized a $90 million, six-year contract to remain in pinstripes.

“It’s no secret that I wanted to be back with the Yankees, I wanted to be back in New York. It was frustrating at times because it took so long,” the relieved second baseman said. “I just think the whole free-agent market in general was just slow.”

A three-time All-Star who turns 35 on April 10, Kluber joins a new-look rotation that contains returnees Gerrit Cole, Deivi García and Jordan Montgomery along with Jameson Taillon, who was acquired from Pittsburgh last weekend after missing most of the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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Kluber won the 2014 and 2017 AL Cy Young Awards with Cleveland, going 56-20 over the 2016-18 seasons. He was hit on the right forearm on May 1, 2019, by a comebacker off the bat of Miami’s Brian Anderson and concluded 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts, then was traded to Texas. Kluber tore a muscle in his right shoulder in his Rangers debut on July 26, ending his season after one inning. The injury healed without surgery.

“That was extremely frustrating time for me, but I don’t think I ever got down on myself,” Kluber said. “I think that it’s probably more of overcoming the mental aspect of it as opposed to physical … getting out of that rehab mindset where you’re trying to work through things or feel for things.”

A three-time All-Star who is 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 seasons, Kluber has worked with Eric Cressey, who started last year as New York’s director of player health and performance.

With age, Kluber has been prepared to make variations to his preparation.

“The biggest thing with those adjustments is listening to my body when something is telling you something, you got to listen to it,” he stated. “I think that there are times when you have to be smart and probably not try to have that mentality just to push through, push through, push through. I think that there’s times when you’re going to get in a little more treatment or maybe back off.”

He already has prepared for reporting to the Yankees by shaving his beard to comply with a team rule.

“It feels a little bit naked but I’m getting used to it,” Kluber said.

He is one of a few additions to the Yankees, who traded reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston and have a pending $2.5 million agreement with Darren O’Day, a bullpen switch that helps them remain below the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

In addition, Luis Severino is expected to return at some point this season from Tommy John surgery last Feb. 27 and Domingo Germán is expected back from a domestic violence suspension that caused him to miss last season.

New York said goodbye to Masahiro Tanaka, who revealed Thursday he had agreed to a two-year contract to return to Japan with the Pacific League’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

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Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays reach agreement on 1-year, $18M deal

Infielder Marcus Semien is in agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year, $18 million contract, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Semien will become the second star and fourth free agent added by the Blue Jays during a slow offseason amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Toronto gave outfielder George Springer a $150 million, six-year deal. Toronto also agreed to one-year contracts with right-handers Kirby Yates ($5.5 million) and Tyler Chatwood ($3 million) and re-signed left-hander Robbie Ray to an $8 million, one-year contract.

Coming off a career year in 2019, Semien struggled in 2020 while dealing with a rib injury, as the shortstop hit just .223 with 7 home runs, 28 runs, 23 RBIs and 4 stolen bases for the Oakland Athletics. His production was down largely due to his strikeouts being up, as he fanned on 21.2% of his plate appearances.

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It was a different story for Semien in 2019, when he concluded third in AL MVP voting after posting personal bests with 33 home runs, 92 RBIs and a .285 batting average while playing in all 162 matches. His WAR (8.9) was third in the majors that season, and he parlayed that into a one-year, $13 million deal — more than double his contract after earning $5.9 million in 2018. He earned $4,814,815 in prorated pay for 2020.

Semien was tied for 190th among batters in WAR in 2020, with 0.5. Even with the decline in 2020, he is one of just six hitters to account for at least 9.0 WAR in the past two seasons combined.

Semien’s 151 runs scored since the start of the 2019 season rank second among all American League players, and his 100 extra-base hits rank fifth.

In eight MLB campaigns, Semien, who is above average when it comes to base running, has a .254 batting average with 115 home runs, 380 RBIs, 467 runs scored and 66 stolen bases — but with 731 strikeouts in 3,266 at-bats — for the Chicago White Sox and A’s.

Toronto went 32-28 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, concluding third in the AL East behind the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees and qualifying for the expanded postseason despite behind forced to play home matches in Buffalo, New York, due to Canadian government restrictions on travel. The Blue Jays were swept in two games by the AL champion Rays in a first-round series.

Toronto has an emerging young core and is adding major contracts, while younger players such as Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. have relatively low salaries because they remain shy of eligibility for arbitration.

It is not clear where the Blue Jays will play home games when the 2021 season starts.

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Jameson Taillon excited to join Yankees, reunite with Gerrit Cole

As Jameson Taillon’s trade from Pittsburgh to the New York Yankees started to sink in, he thought about reuniting with former roommate Gerrit Cole.

“Every night you get a five-star cooked meal,” Taillon stated. “Even if he’s cooking for himself, he’s going to marinate whatever he’s cooking properly. He’s going to do everything with the perfect execution. He’s going to have a perfect wine pairing for it.”

Taillon, recuperating from his second Tommy John surgery, was acquired Sunday for four prospects. He joins a revamped rotation headed by Cole and projected to include Deivi García, Jordan Montgomery and Corey Kluber, who’s pending $11 million, one-year deal is expected to be finalized this week.

A 29-year-old right-hander, Taillon has not pitched since May 1, 2019. In addition to the elbow operations with New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek on April 9, 2014, and on Aug. 13, 2019, he also had procedures for a sports hernia on July 8, 2015, and for testicular cancer on May 8, 2017.

He was hit on the head by a 105 mph line drive off the bat of Milwaukee’s Hernán Pérez on July 19, 2016, and stayed in the game.

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“When you’re going through it, it doesn’t seem like as much as it sounds. That sounds crazy. But each injury is separate. Each experience is separate,” he said.

Taillon felt he didn’t fulfill the confidence Pittsburgh showed when he was selected with the second overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft.

He was disappointed the Pirates blew up a group that came through the minors together and admitted “seeing all my good friends get traded in Pittsburgh and to see the direction we were headed … didn’t necessarily light a fire” and he thought a trade “was necessary.”

“I’m jumping into a legendary franchise, a legendary organization,” he said. “I overnight went from a rebuilding organization to a team like the Yankees where I’m stepping in and the only thing they care about is to win. So that’s kind of lit a fire under me.”

When he awoke from his last operation, he decided he needed to relieve pressure on his elbow, putting more work on his legs and shortening his arm motion. He reworked his mechanics with Ben Fairchild, a sports performance manager in Houston who has assisted Andy Pettitte, Mark Melancon, and Anthony Rendon; Pirates director of sports performance A.J. Patrick; Pirates pitching coach Oscar Marin; Pirates bullpen coach Justin Meccage and the Florida Baseball Ranch in Lakeland.

He started throwing bullpen sessions last July and got up to about three innings of batting practice. Taillon thinks his fastball velocity is about 95 mph, where it was before the latest injury, and he gained deception. Taillon plans to leave heavily on his four-seam fastball, alternating curveballs and sliders along with occasional changeups.

Taillon was inspired watching former Pirates teammate Daniel Hudson overcome two Tommy John operations and strike out Houston’s Michael Brantley for the final out of the 2019 World Series for Washington. Taillon looks forward to getting the big league playoffs for the first time with the Yankees.

“New York’s one of those organizations where it’s all about winning. From what I’ve heard, nothing else matters in that clubhouse,” he said.

“It’s a group of guys trying to make each other better, trying to push for October. And I mean, seriously, ever since I got the news that the Yankees are where I was headed, I can’t stop thinking about that. I’ve heard Yankee Stadium in October is just absolutely incredible.”

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