Tagged in: MLB

Reds get OF Nick Castellanos on 4 year deal

Free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos has signed a $64 million, four-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday.

It was Cincinnati’s latest big-money move to emerge from years of losing.

The deal allows Castellanos to opt out and become a free agent after the 2020 or 2021 campaigns. He gets salaries of $16 million in 2020, $14 million in 2021, and $16 million in 2022 and 2023. There’s a mutual option for 2024 at $20 million with a buyout of $2 million.

It was the fourth significant move by the Reds, among the most active teams in free agency since their sixth straight losing season.

“This is an off-season where we have prioritized adding to the offensive side of the club,” said Dick Williams, the team’s president of baseball operations. “Nick was one of the most attractive options on the market. He has been a consistently elite producer offensively and that complements our existing team well.”

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The Reds have has committed $164 million to new players, including the two biggest free agent deals in club history.

Cincinnati signed second baseman Mike Moustakas to a $64 million, four-year contract and added left-handed starter Wade Miley on a $15 million, two-year deal. Outfielder Shogo Akiyama, a five-time NPB All-Star, got a $21 million, three-year deal.

Cincinnati’s biggest weakness last season was offense. The Reds ended near the bottom of the National League in runs despite playing in one of its most hitter-friendly ballparks.

Castellanos batted .289 last season with the Tigers and Cubs, who got him in a midseason trade. He hit 27 homers overall, drove in 73 runs and had a major league-leading 58 doubles while playing mostly in right field for Detroit and Chicago.

Castellanos became only the 10th player with 58 doubles in a season. He has 229 doubles since the start of the 2014 season, tied with Boston’s Mookie Betts for most in the majors over that span.

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Astros interview Buck Showalter and John Gibbons for managerial vacancy

The Houston Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for their managerial vacancy, ESPN has confirmed.

The Astros interviewed Showalter on Wednesday, two days after they released manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

The Astros also will interview former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Showalter has 20 campaigns of major-league managerial experience under his belt. The three-time Manager of the Year also interviewed earlier this offseason for the manager job with the Phillies, who lastly hired Joe Girardi.

Showalter, 63, last managed in 2018 with the Orioles, who went 47-115 and parted ways with him after the season. He owns a career record of 1,551-1,517.

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Gibbons, 57, is 793-789 over parts of 11 seasons in two different stints with Toronto. He managed the Blue Jays to back-to-back appearances in the ALCS in 2015 and 2016 but did not return to the club after going 73-89 in 2018.

The laid back Gibby who usually appears calm and collected could be just what the doctor ordered for a Houston squad seeking new leadership.

Gibbons was in the Manager’s chair when Astros closer Roberto Osuna went through his legal troubles following a domestic abuse allegation while a member of the Blue Jays in 2018.

Owner Jim Crane in his press conference stated the team needs to move forward with a clean slate and always do the right thing. Gibby’s undeniable character and ability to manage players from all walks of life may be just what Crane and company need to build the Astros back up.

Hinch and Luhnow were released Monday after being suspended by Major League Baseball for the Astros’ illicit use of electronics to steal signs during Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season.

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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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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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Cubs are not working on Anthony Rizzo extension

One of the most critical parts of this Cubs’ offseason is figuring out which players will be sticking around for the long haul.

That’s because a number of the team’s young core players will be due for new contracts coming up in the next two years. That includes the leader of this current era of the team, who has been with the group since the early days of the Theo Epstein rebuild back in 2012.

Anthony Rizzo’s contract runs through the 2021 season, with that last year being a club option for $16.5 million in that final season. It’s the same time which Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber have their deals coming up, with Willson Contreras up after that, so the Cubs will have some tough options coming up soon.

Many believe a few could be mad this offseason, but one that reportedly won’t take place is a long-term extension for Rizzo.

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Rizzo is currently on a seven-year, $41 million contract extension that he signed back in May of 2013 that included two club option years for $16.5 million.

Naturally, the Cubs picked it up for the 2020 season to keep one of their leaders in the clubhouse around.

Joining the team via trade from the Padres in January of 2012 as one of the first major moves after Epstein took over the club in October of 2011. Since then, Rizzo has been an All-Star and Gold Gold Glove winner at first base while also winning the Silver Slugger Award in 2016 along with the Robert Clemente Award for service in 2017.

He’s was the anchor of this era of the franchise that brought the club their first World Series championship in 108 years in November, 2016.

While the desire may be there on both sides to have Rizzo finish his career with the Cubs, the time is not right for either side to make that happen.

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Zack Wheeler joins Phillies on five year deal

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed free-agent starting pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year deal worth $118 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Wheeler, 29, ended the 2019 season with a 11-8 record and a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts (in a career-high 195 1/3 innings) for the Mets. The right-hander posted a 1.26 WHIP with a career-high 195 strikeouts last season. 

Wheeler, whose fastball averaged nearly 97 mph in 2019, was considered one of the top second-tier starters on the free-agent market behind top-end arms Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.

CBS Sports ranked Wheeler as the seventh-best available free agent on the market this offseason. He became the second notable starting pitcher to sign with an NL East team on Wednesday after veteran lefty Cole Hamels agreed on a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves.

Wheeler ended 2019 averaging 8.98 strikeouts per nine innings and struck out 23.6 percent of the batters he faced, compared to just 2.30 walks per nine innings. The 2019 season also saw Wheeler post double-digit wins for the second year in a row.

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Wheeler rejected his one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Mets in November, and the club will now receive third-round draft-pick compensation.

Over the last two seasons, Wheeler has proved to be a solid starter, averaging 30 starts while posting a 3.65 ERA and a 3.37 WHIP.

He missed both the 2015 and 2016 seasons following Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks, but worked his way back to earn a spot in New York’s rotation.

Wheeler was a highly coveted arm this winter and also reportedly had interest from the White Sox, Reds and Rangers. The White Sox offered Wheeler more than $118 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Wheeler’s wife is from New Jersey and the proximity to Philadelphia played a role in Wheeler’s decision, Rosenthal reported.

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