Tagged in: major leagues

Pittsburgh Pirates trade Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings to Miami Marlins

Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings is coming to the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins obtained Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday in exchange for pitcher Zach Thompson and prospects Kyle Nicolas and Connor Scott.

Stallings, 31, is coming off the best season of his career. He earned his first Gold Glove for his handling of an inexperienced pitching staff that ranked among the worst in the major leagues while hitting .246 with career-highs in home runs (8) and RBIs (53) in 112 matches.

Stallings joins a team that is trying to elbow its way into contention in the NL East. Miami signed outfielder Avisail Garcia to a five-year deal worth $56-million and agreed to terms with pitcher Sandy Alcantara.

Stallings finds himself going from handling a staff that pitched to a 5.08 ERA — 28th in the majors — to one that posted a respectable 3.98 ERA and is anchored by Alcantara.

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The 26-year-old Alcantara has gone 20-34 with a 3.48 ERA in four campaigns with the Marlins. He started 33 games this past season for Miami, going 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA and had 201 strikeouts in 205 2-3 innings.

The only other pitchers with at least 200 innings and 200 strikeouts in 2021 were Zach Wheeler and Walker Buehler.

Pittsburgh is in the middle of a franchise-wide reboot focused on hoarding as many prospects as possible. Nicolas and Scott, both 22, fit that mold.

Nicolas, a right-handed pitcher, made 21 appearances between Class A and Double-A in 2021 and struck out 136 batters, the most among players in Miami’s minor-league system.

Scott, an outfielder, hit .276 with 25 doubles and 10 home runs in 2021 while playing for Class-A Beloit.

Thompson, originally drafted by the Pirates in the 48th round of the 2011 draft, went 3-7 with a 3.24 ERA in 75 innings for Miami in 2021. He began the season as a starter before shifting to the bullpen in September.

Pittsburgh also finalized a $4 million, one-year deal with first baseman/outfielder Yoshi Tsutsugo and one-year deals with left-hander Jose Quintana and outfielder Ben Gamel.

Gamel had been eligible for arbitration.

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Noah Syndergaard, Los Angeles Angels reach 1-year, $21 million deal

Right-hander Noah Syndergaard and the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a one-year, $21 million deal, pending a physical, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

Syndergaard, 29, spent the first seven campaigns of his career with the New York Mets, making one All-Star team and displaying perhaps the nastiest array of pitches for a starter in the major leagues.

Having pitched only two innings since 2019 because of Tommy John surgery, Syndergaard will join an Angels rotation that was among the worst in the big leagues last season.

The Angels’ pursuit of starting pitching this winter was their top priority, with two-way star Shohei Ohtani coming off a season that will end with the American League MVP award and outfielder Mike Trout returning from an injury-plagued 2021.

The cost is hefty: Beyond the $21 million, the Angels will forfeit their second-round draft pick in 2022 because Syndergaard had been tendered a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer by the Mets. They will receive a pick after the draft’s competitive balance Round B (around 70th overall).

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While some in the industry expected Syndergaard to take the qualifying offer, the market proved healthier. The Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees were among the teams that showed the greatest interest in Syndergaard, sources told ESPN.

All of them saw enough in Syndergaard’s late-September return, which involved a pair of one-inning outings in which he didn’t throw his slider or curveball. Though Syndergaard’s average fastball velocity during the outings was down more than 3 mph from his 2017 peak, the promise of plenty more prompted the Angels to pay a premium.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Syndergaard’s deal, by average annual value, is the largest doled out by the franchise for a pitcher. C.J. Wilson signed a five-year, $77.5 million deal ($15.5 million AAV) prior to the 2012 season.

The Angels’ need for pitching is no secret.

Ohtani led the team with 130.1 innings; no other Angels pitcher exceeded 100. Syndergaard has never pitched 200 innings in a season; he’s made 30 or more starts in a season twice (2016 and 2019).

However, a rotation that includes Ohtani, Syndergaard and left-hander Patrick Sandoval has the makings of something good — particularly if general manager Perry Minasian can complement it with a top-of-the-rotation arm like free-agent right-hander Max Scherzer.

Syndergaard, a 6-foot-6 leviathan nicknamed Thor, looked superheroic early in his career, constantly ripping off 100-mph fastballs and pairing them with 93-mph sliders.

During the Mets’ run to the 2015 National League pennant, Syndergaard was among their best pitchers, and the next year he was even better, posting a 2.60 ERA, striking out 218 in 183.2 innings and looking every bit a star.

When Syndergaard was healthy, he was typically excellent, pairing his strikeout stuff with a tendency to generate groundballs. Over 718 career innings, he has a 3.32 ERA and has struck out 777, walked 166 and permitted just 64 home runs.

His return from elbow reconstruction in March 2020 hit roadblocks and culminated with the September showcases, during which he allowed two runs in two innings. That was enough for the Angels to see — and pay.

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Royals announce Alex Gordon’s retirement after 14 years

Alex Gordon, who hit one of the biggest home runs in Royals history and gained seven Gold Gloves in left field, announced his retirement on Thursday.

The Royals stated Gordon will play out the final four matches of the season, making Sunday his last game in the major leagues.

Gordon, who was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, played his entire 14-year career (2007-20) with the Royals. He is one of three Royals position players to play at least 14 campaigns in Kansas City, joining George Brett (21 seasons) and Frank White (18).

Both of those players have had their number retired by the team. Gordon is the Royals’ all-time leader in leadoff home runs (14) and hit-by-pitches (121). He is also in the top 10 for multiple franchise career statistics. That contains home runs (190, 4th), doubles (357, 5th), extra-base hits (573, 5th), hits (1,641, 6th) and RBIs (749, 6th).

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After making his debut as a third baseman, Gordon was sent to Triple-A following a slow start and moved to left field. Gordon thrived in this new position, winning seven Gold Glove awards.

Gordon’s biggest moment came in the 2015 World Series. With the Royals trailing 3-2 in Game 1, Gordon stepped to the plate with one out and crushed a home run to center field off Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

The Royals went on to win in 14 innings and took the championship in five games.

Gordon re-signed with the Royals on a $4 million, one-year contract after his $72 million, four-year deal expired following the 2019 season.

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Royals and has since become one of the most popular players in the franchise’s half-century existence.

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