Carlos Correa Looking for Long-Term Contract with Houston Astros

Carlos Correa is looking for a long-term deal…

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop says he’s hoping for a long-term contract with the Houston Astros, but wants to seal any deal before Opening Day.

Carlos Correa

“I feel so good, my body feels so great and I feel like I’m going to have such a great season that once the season starts, I don’t want to be involved with or distracted with those conversations,” said Correa after the Astros held their first full-squad workout of the spring.

The Astros avoided arbitration with Correa, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, by signing him to a one-year, $11.7 million contract.

Correa has spent his entire career with the Astros after they selected him with the first overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He said he’d like to stay in Houston, but so far, the team hasn’t talked to him about an extension.

“There’s no talks right now about that,” he said. “Talks are nowhere right now. I leave that up to my agent and the organization, but right now, there’s no talks about it. I haven’t heard from them since the arbitration was settled. That’s where we are right now.”

If Correa does hit the free-agent market, he’ll do it with a strong group of shortstops that could include Javier BáezFrancisco Lindor, Trevor Story and Corey Seager. Correa will be just 27 years old when he’s eligible for free agency if he doesn’t agree to an extension with the Astros.

 

“I’ll be really young. I’ll be one of the youngest players going to free agency next year,” he said. “I feel like it would take the right deal to stay here. I’m not going to sell myself short, but at the same time, I know what I’m worth. … I’m expecting to have a great, healthy season, which will help my case for free agency being the youngest shortstop out there. We’ll see how it goes.”

Houston’s other two stars on the infield have already agreed to long-term contracts — second baseman Jose Altuve signed a five-year, $151 million deal in 2018 and third baseman Alex Bregman agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract in 2019. The Astros lost star outfielder George Springer this offseason when he signed a six-year, $150 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Correa, who was the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year, is a career .276 hitter with 107 homers and 397 RBIs in six major league seasons. He hit .264 with five homers and 25 RBIs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but he heated up in the postseason where he had six homers and 17 RBIs to help the Astros to the America League Championship Series.

Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Deal with Baltimore Orioles

Felix Hernandez has a new deal…

The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign the 34-year-old Venezuelan-American veteran professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “King Félix,” to a minor league contract.

Felix Hernandez

Hernandez won an American League Cy Young Award, two ERA titles and made six MLB All-Star teams over 15 seasons with the Seattle Mariners before becoming a free agent last offseason.

Hernandez signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves and looked sharp during spring training, but he ultimately opted out of the pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

In his most recent big league action, Hernandez went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 2019. He hasn’t finished with an ERA under 4.00 since 2016, and his last All-Star appearance was in 2015. He has won 169 games and owns a 3.42 career ERA.

Hernandez could earn a rotation spot with the rebuilding Orioles, who have 2019 All-Star left-hander John Means locked in as a starter but not much else. They traded Alex Cobb to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, leaving Keegan AkinDean KremerJorge LopezWade LeBlancThomas Eshelman and Bruce Zimmermann as the only returning players to start at least one game in 2020.

 

Baltimore has also announced it has agreed to minor league deals with infielders Seth Mejias-Brean and Malquin Canelo, right-handers Dusten Knight, Konner Wade and Spenser Watkins, and left-hander LeBlanc.

Nelson Cruz Reportedly Agrees to One-Year, $13 Million Contract with Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz is twinning again…

The 40-year-old professional baseball player, a designated hitter and right fielder, and the Minnesota Twins are reportedly in agreement on a one-year, $13 million contract, according to ESPN.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz has been a linchpin of the Bomba Squad Twins‘ lineup. And he’ll be back right in the middle of it in 2021.

The slugger, who hit .303 with 16 home runs, 33 RBIs and a career-high OPS+ (169) in the pandemic-shortened season, finished sixth in the American League MVP voting and was selected as the Marvin Miller Man of Year in the annual Players Choice Awards.

The award goes to the player whom his peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.” Cruz donated a fire engine and an ambulance and helped build a police station in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic, and his Boomstick 23 Foundation has contributed wheelchairs and crutches, and he set up a clinic to provide medical and dental care.

His mission to help his hometown and other towns in the Dominican Republic led to him receiving the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the 2020 ESPYS.

Cruz played last season on a $12 million deal after swatting a team-high 41 home runs while reaching 108 RBIs in 2019, despite two stints on the injured list for a wrist problem. He has reached the 40-homer mark four times in his career; Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth hold the all-time mark with five seasons. Cruz also was the 57th player in major league history to reach 400 career home runs.

His .992 OPS in 2020 ranked fourth in the AL and was the fifth-best mark in MLB history by a player in his age-39 season or older, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. And he led all major leaguers with a 1.182 OPS on pitches in the strike zone over the past two seasons.

From 2014 to 2018, no player in the majors hit more home runs than Cruz (203). In 16 major league seasons, Cruz, a six-time MLB All-Star who has three Silver Slugger Awards, has hit 417 home runs with 1,152 RBIs and a .278 batting average for the Twins, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers.

Jose Abreu Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Abreu is this season’s American League star…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, has won the American League MVP award after helping power the team to its first playoff berth in 12 years.

Jose Abreu

Abreu received 21 of 30 first-place votes and 374 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez was second with eight first-place votes and 303 points, and New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who won the AL batting crown, followed with one first-place vote and 230 points. 

Voting by the BBWAA was completed by the start of the playoffs. It has voted for the award since 1931.

Abreu led the majors with 60 RBIs and 148 total bases, and topped the AL with 76 hits and a .617 slugging percentage. He played in all 60 games during the virus-shortened season as Chicago claimed a wild-card spot.

Surrounded by family members, Abreu put his head down for a minute after hearing he’d won and teared up.

“That was a very special moment,” he said through an interpreter.

Abreu batted .317 with 19 home runs, connecting six times in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs in late August. That barrage of long balls at Wrigley Field was part of his 22-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors this year.

Abreu gave credit to manager Rick Renteria, who left the team after the season in what was described as a mutual decision. Recently hired Hall of Fame skipper Tony La Russa is now facing charges in a drunken driving arrest; Abreu said he was eager to play for La Russa.

“Keep pushing forward, keep moving forward,” Abreu said.

Abreu was the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year and is a three-time MLB All-Star. He became the fourth White Sox player to win the AL MVP, joining Frank Thomas (1993-94), Dick Allen (1972) and Nellie Fox (1959).

Abreu was the third Cuban-born player to be an MVP, along with Jose Canseco and Zoilo Versalles.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Randy Arozarena Named American League Championship Series MVP After Hitting Four Homers vs. Houston Astros

Randy Arozarena is the man of  the hour…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder continued his historic postseason run on Saturday with his seventh homer, a two-run shot in the first inning that gave theTampa Bay Rays a lead it never relinquished against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena was named MVP of the ALCS, becoming the fourth rookie — and first rookie position player — to be named MVP of a league championship series.

He has homered seven times during this year’s playoffs, just one shy of the Major League Baseball record, and now has 47 total bases since the regular season ended.

Tampa Baywill now head to the World Series after holding off baseball’s most infamous team. The Rays beat the Astros 4-2 in Game 7, ending Houston’s bid to become the second team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series.

“It goes without saying this has been a weird year,” Rays Game 7 starter — and winner — Charlie Morton said. “It was pretty apparent early on the guys had bought into each other during this time.

“It was very challenging, because at first everything was about the protocols and trying to keep guys safe. Just guys come onto the field every day, knowing they could get sick, and staff coming in, and just a ton of work by people behind the scenes. I am so proud of these guys.”

The formula for the Rays is consistency, and it was very much evident in Game 7. They stifle the opposition. They catch the ball on defense. And they ride just enough home runs on offense to bring home the win.

The Rays now head to their second World Series in franchise history. The last time they played in the Fall Classic was in 2008, when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tampa Bay entered the first 16-team playoff format in baseball history with a 40-20 record, tops in the AL, and thus earned the Junior Circuit’s No. 1 seed. That top seed held up, even though the Rays had to recover from losing three straight to Houston after winning the first three contests.

“Pretty special feeling,” Cash said. “I don’t know if I’ve had many better [moments] other than getting married and having three kids. This is right there below that. It can’t get much better than that. This is a special group to be a part of.”

For Houston, it was an emotional loss after a tumultuous season for the organization. The Astros were embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal last winter that tainted their 2017 World Series title and cost manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs.

“The legacy of this group is that these guys are ballplayers,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “These guys are men; they have been through a whole bunch other than on the ballfield. [Now] these guys can forget the problems they had that is out there and come together as a group and be forever friends.”

Hinch’s replacement, the 71-year-old Baker, helped restore some of the goodwill the Astros squandered. But with the Game 7 loss, Baker is still looking for the first championship of a managerial career that began in 1993. Yet, in 2020, there was much more that was brought into perspective.

“You go home and you regroup,” Baker said. “Personally, when I think of [former MLB executive Jimmie Lee Solomon, whose] funeral was today, and you think about the many friends I have lost over the last month, six months. That is the reality of life. Those are far greater losses than losing a ballgame.”

Carlos Correa Hits Game-Winning Home Run to Keep the Houston Astros Alive in the American League Championship Series

It’s a swing and a win for Carlos Correa

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball player and Houston Astros shortstop smacked his sixth home run of the postseason, a walk-off homer to centerfield, to propel his team to a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday at San Diego’s Petco Park.

Carlos Correa

 

Game 6 of the series, which the Rays lead 3-2, will take place at 5:07 p.m. on Friday.

“I don’t want to go home yet,” Correa said in TBS‘ on-field interview. “We were down 0-3, we had a players meeting in the clubhouse and we said we don’t want to go home yet, so we better do something about it. We’re down 2-3 and still have a lot of work to do, but it’s a good start.”

The Astros held on a to slim 3-2 lead heading into the eighth before Ji-Man Choi blasted a ball off Astros reliever Josh James 447 feet to right field to tie the game.

The Astros got off to a quick start when George Springer took the first pitch from Rays starter John Curtiss deep to left field for a solo home run.

The Rays tied things up with a Brandon Lowe homer off reliever Blake Taylor in the third.

The Astros regained the lead with a Michael Brantley single to right that scored Josh Reddick and Martin Maldonado.

The Rays’ Randy Arozarena hit a solo homer off Astros reliever Enoli Paredes in the fifth.

The Astros used seven different pitches with the first five being rookies. Luis Garcia, who had made just one start in his big league career, pitched two shutout innings, despite loading the bases in the second. From there, Taylor got a couple outs before handing off to Paredes, who got five outs. Andre Scrubb got four outs, then Brooks Raley threw a scoreless inning. James gave up the homer in the eighth before Ryan Pressly entered to get the game’s final four outs.

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The Astros will have Framber Valdez on the mound for Game 6 with a fully rested Lance McCullers ready to go in a Game 7 if they get that far.

Deivi Garcia to Become Youngest Pitcher to Start a Playoff Game in New York Yankees’ Postseason History

Deivi Garcia is set to make baseball history…

The 21-year-old Dominican-born professional baseball player will start in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, making him the youngest pitcher to start a playoff game in Yankees’ postseason history and the 5th-youngest in AL postseason history, per ESPN Stats Info.

It’s a bold stroke for manager Aaron Boone. Garcia made just six starts during the regular season in his first taste of MLB action. Garcia held his own, going 3-2 with a 4.98 ERA/4.15 FIP and 8.7 K/9 to 1.6 BB/9. His command was particularly impressive, never having limited free passes at such a stringent rate at any point in his minor league career when it’s typical for young players to struggle more with their command upon promotion to the big league.

“We deliberated on that a lot over the last several days,” Boone said ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS at Petco Park. “Masa [Masahiro Tanaka] will now go in Game 3. So just like slot and Deivi in between Cole and Masa was the way we wanted to go.

“I think the way he’s pitched, and the way he’s handled himself and handled every situation so far. I felt like I wanted to go this way a couple days ago but wanted to continue to flesh it out because we could. Ultimately today, this morning, decided this the way I wanted to go. I just felt [we had] a lot of good options there, [different] ways we could have gone. I don’t worry about him not being able to handle it, mentally, emotionally and all those things and I know he’s looking forward to it.”

The rookie concurred.

“Super excited,” Garcia said of his reaction upon hearing the news from Boone. “When they finally told me that I was going to get the ball for Game 2. What can I say? Just so excited about it. At the same time, very thankful for the opportunity and I will try to go out there and do the best I can.”

Garcia’s 5’9″ stature and electric stuff has drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez early in his career, and while that’s quite a lofty comparison at this stage, he certainly looks more and more like a player with cult potential in New York.

Over the small sample of major league innings we’ve seen so far, Garcia averages a 91.9 mph four-seamer that serves as the bedrock offering in his arsenal, throwing it about 60% of the time, often up. The Dominican righty utilizes an 80.6 mph change-up away against lefties while mixing in a breaking ball about 12.5% of the time. Against right-handed batters, he goes to a slider/curveball combo more frequently, giving equal love to the slider and curve for a total usage rate of about 33%. He was the Yankees No. 1 prospect coming into the season.

Miami Marlins Trade Jonathan Villar to the Toronto Blue Jays

Jonathan Villar is headed to the Great White North

The Miami Marlins have traded the 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jonathan Villar

Villar is hitting .272 with two home runs and nine RBIs. He also is tied for the National League lead with nine stolen bases.

Last season he hit a career-high 24 home runs while with the Baltimore Orioles.

Villar is scheduled to be a free agent in the offseason.

The Blue Jays (18-14) entered Monday’s games in third place in the AL East standings.

In addition to the Marlins and Orioles, Villar previously played in the MLB for the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. Prior to 2017, Villar was primarily a shortstop.