Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Deal with the Atlanta Braves

Felix Hernandezis getting a second chance…

The 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “King Félix“, has reached a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves on Monday that includes an invite to big league spring training.

Felix Hernandez

The longtime Seattle Marinersright-hander would get a $1 million, one-year contract if added to Atlanta’s 40-man roster.

Hernandez is coming off his worst season in the majors. King Felix went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts for the Mariners and lost his place in the rotation.

Hernandez was among the best and more durable pitchers in Major League Baseball for more than a decade, a stretch that included six All-Star selections and the 2010 American League Cy Young Award. He was a huge crowd favorite at Safeco Field, with fans holding up K cards in The King’s Courtto mark his many strikeouts.

The two-time NL East champion Braves hold their first workout for pitchers and catchers on February 13.

Edwin Encarnacion Agrees to One-Year Deal with the Chicago White Sox

Edwin Encarnacionis headed to The Windy City…

The 36-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter and the Chicago White Sox have reached an agreement on a one-year deal for $12 million with a club option for 2021 at $12 million, according to ESPN.

Edwin Encarnacion

Encarnacion batted .244 in 109 games last season with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. The Yankees acquired the three-time All-Star from Seattle in June to bolster a lineup sapped by injuries. With cash from the Mariners in the trade, the deal cost New York just $8 million of the $25 million he was owed in 2020, including a $5 million buyout.

Encarnacion was leading the American Leaguewith 21 homers at the time, but a strained left oblique limited the first baseman/designated hitter down the stretch. He hit .249 with 13 homers, 37 RBIs and an .856 OPS in 44 regular-season games with New York.

He hit .308 while the Yankees pounded the Minnesota Twins in the AL Division Series, but he slumped badly in the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros.

Encarnacion has averaged 37 homers and 106 RBIs since 2012 and helped slug the Toronto Blue Jaysto back-to-back appearances in the ALCS in 2015 and 2016. His 239 homers in Toronto ranks third behind Carlos Delgado(336) and Jose Bautista(265) on the Blue Jays’ career list.

His three-run drive in the 11th inning to beat the Baltimore Oriolesin the wild-card game in the 2016 playoffs gave Toronto one of its most indelible moments since Joe Carter‘s World Serieswalk-off handed the Blue Jays a second consecutive title in 1993.

Through his 14th season, Encarnacion has a career .263 average with 414 home runs and 1,242 RBIs for Cincinnati Reds, Toronto, Cleveland Indians, Seattle and the Yankees.

Dellin Betances Agrees to One-Year Deal with the New York Mets

Dellin Betances has Metshis match…

The 31-year-old Dominican American professional baseball player and right-handed reliever has reached a one-year deal with the New York Mets, according to ESPN.

Dellin Betances

The deal is worth $10.5 million, but Betances could earn $13 million if he appears in 70 games. There’s a player option in 2021 and a vesting player option for 2022, according to ESPN.

The 6-foot-8 Betances, who has 621 strikeouts in 381 2/3 career innings, is a flamethrower with a fastball that clocks close to 100 mph, but injury problems kept him out almost all of last season. He was diagnosed with an impingement in his pitching shoulder after his fourth spring training appearance on March 17. His rehabilitation stopped when the team said June 11 that he had strained his right latissimus dorsi muscle, and Betances did not start a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment until September.

Betances finally made it back into a big league game before the end of the season, when a partially torn left Achilles tendon suffered when he hopped on the mound after celebrating a strikeout ended his comeback after just eight pitches.

But Betances has been one of the American League‘s most reliable setup men during his run of seven seasons with the New York Yankees. A four-time All-Star, Betances is 21-22 with a 2.36 career ERA in 358 relief appearances over his seven big-league seasons. During one three-year stretch in the Bronx, he chalked up an incredible 392 strikeouts to lead the league three times in that category, with an earned-run average of 1.93.

Betances began his major league career in 2011 with the Yankees; he mostly was used as a starter in his early years, then began moving into a relief role.

Sergio Romo Agrees to One-Year Deal with the Minnesota Twins

Sergio Romo is Twinning

The 36-year-old Mexican American professional baseball pitcher has agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, according to multiple reports.

Sergio Romo

The deal includes a club option and $5 million guaranteed with a chance to earn $10 million. MLB.comwas first to report the deal; MLB Networkwas first to report terms.

Romo was 2-1 with 20 saves and 60 strikeouts over 60⅓ innings in 65 relief appearances last season for the Miami Marlins and the Twins — who acquired him, minor league pitcher Chris Vallimontand a player to be named for minor league first baseman Lewin Diazat the July 31 trade deadline.

The veteran right-hander was acquired by Minnesota to serve as a playoff-tested performer to fortify the back end of its bullpen, and the Twins held off the Cleveland Indians to win their first American League Centraltitle since 2010.

Romo spent the first half of the year as the Marlins’ closer, racking up 17 saves to go along with a 3.58 ERA in 37⅔ innings.

Romo won three championships with the San Francisco Giants, closing out the final game of the 2012 World Series in memorable fashion when he froze Miguel Cabrera on a down-the-middle fastball. In 25⅓ career playoff innings, Romo has a 3.55 ERA.

Romo was drafted by the Giants in 2005 and worked his way up the team’s minor league system before landing in the big leagues in 2008.

Jonathan Villar Traded to the Miami Marlins

Jonathan Villar is headed to the Sunshine State…

The Miami Marlins have acquired the 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball player from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league left-handed pitcher Easton Lucas.

Jonathan Villar

Villar, an infielder, was reportedly placed on waivers last week as the team sought a trade partner.

The Marlins also claimed first baseman Jesus Aguilaroff waivers after he was designated for assignment last week by the Tampa Bay Rays.

A switch-hitter, Villar turned in a career year for Baltimore last season, hitting .274 with career highs in hits (176), home runs (24) and RBIs (73) in 162 games. He ranked third in stolen bases in the American League, with 40.

“He was a tremendously exciting player for us, a joy to have,” general manager Mike Elias said Monday. “It was hard to let him go, but we’ve got to keep an eye on our strategic objectives, which is prioritize the future right now.”

Villar was too expensive to keep around. He’s eligible for arbitration and likely to earn about $10 million next year, so Elias opted to trade the 28-year-old as part of a more substantial teardown.

“It makes a lot of sense, and it’s something you have to do,” Elias said.

The GM described Villar as “a guy who’s going into his last year of arbitration with the team and facing free agency who is set to command a large salary with his play this year and years past” — qualities that don’t fit with the master plan for rebuilding the team.

“We’re going to miss him, but this is the right move,” Elias said.

Baltimore finished last in the AL East in 2019, the first season with Elias at the helm. From the outset, Elias made it clear that the roster will be overhauled before being injected with young talent.

The Orioles also reached a one-year agreement with lefty Richard Bleier and offered 2020 contracts to first baseman Trey Mancini, infielder Hanser Alberto and right-handers Dylan BundyMiguel Castro and Mychal Givens.

“These are guys that had good years and continue to grow and are deserving of the opportunity to keep going forward,” Elias said.

Aguilar was an All-Star for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, when he had 35 home runs and 108 RBIs. This season, he had 12 homers and 50 RBIs for the Milwaukee and Rays.

Aguilar, 29, is expected to share time at first with Garrett Cooper, who had 15 homers and 50 RBIs for Miami this season.

Aguilar has a .256 average, with 63 homers and 215 RBIs in six seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.

To make room on Miami’s 40-man roster, infielder JT Riddle and right-handed pitcher Tayron Guerrero were designated for assignment. Riddle then was not offered a contract, making him a free agent.

Yuli Gurriel Agrees to One-Year, $8.3 Million Contract with Houston Astros

Yuli Gurriel has agreed to an Astros-nomicaldeal…

The 35-year-old Cuban Major League Baseball first baseman has agreed to an $8.3 million, one-year contract with the Houston Astros, giving him a $300,000 raise from his scheduled salary for next season.

Yuli Gurriel

Gurriel hit .298 and set career bests with 31 homers and 104 RBIs in 2019 as the Astros won the American League pennant for the second time in three seasons. He hit .310 with one homer and five RBIs in the team’s seven-game World Series loss to the Washington Nationals.

Gurriel, who defected from Cuba, agreed in July 2016 to a $47.5 million, five-year contract with the Astros that included an $8 million salary for 2020. That deal allowed Gurriel to void the remainder of his contract when he became eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, and he reached that eligibility this offseason with 3 years, 43 days of MLB service.

His new contract allows him to become a free agent after the 2020 season, preserving a right contained in his original major league contract. It also includes the same award bonus provisions: $100,000 for MVP, $50,000 for second and $25,000 for third; $50,000 for World Series MVP, and $25,000 each for League Championship Series MVP, Silver SluggerGold Gloveand being selected an All-Star.

Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez Named American League Rookie of the Year

Yordan Alvarez has slugged his way to the top…

The 22-year-old Cuban Major League Baseball player and Houston Astros slugger has capped off his meteoric rise by becoming the franchise’s third Rookie of the Year winner and second since the club moved to the American League.

Yordan Alvarez

Alvarez was a unanimous selection of the award’s 30 voters. Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Means finished second, with Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe third, Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez fourth and Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio fifth.

Alvarez began the past season with Triple-A Round Rock after entering the year ranked as the 34th-best prospect by Baseball America and Houston’s eighth-best prospect by ESPN‘s Keith Law. He provided an early glimpse of things to come by hitting three homers for Round Rock in his second game of the season. By the end of April, Alvarez had mashed 12 homers, hit .354 and driven in 30 runs in just 22 games, spurring calls for a promotion to the big league club.

That call finally came in early June. In his big league debut against the Baltimore Orioles on June 9, Alvarez homered off of Dylan Bundy. He never stopped hitting, finishing with 27 home runs in 87 games, tying the mark for most home runs by a rookie who played in 100 games or fewer. He served as Houston’s designated hitter in 74 of his 87 outings and helped the Astros win the ALpennant.

Across two levels this season, Alvarez hit .324 with a .690 slugging percentage, 50 home runs and 149 RBIs in 143 games. His 1.067 OPS in the MLB was the highest ever for a rookie with at least 350 plate appearances.

Alvarez’s consistency was remarkable: He had an OPS of 1.140 at home and .985 away, 1.083 against righties and 1.038 against lefties and at least .999 in each of the four months in which he appeared in the majors.

“The humility he has in handling success at this level, and the coverage that he’s getting and all the attention, he’s just been very humble,” Astros manager AJ Hinch told ESPN during the season. “He’s also hungry to learn. He’s a quiet man by nature, and his demeanor is very low-key. But he’s always in tune with other players and other people and the information.”

Hinch also tweeted congratulations to Alvarez after he was announced as the winner on Monday.

An imposing 6-foot-5, Alvarez hit a 474-foot homer off Texas Rangers‘ Mike Minor on July 19. In early September, he homered into the third deck at Minute Maid Park, a shot so prodigious that the Astros wrapped the seat in vinyl to commemorate it.

After going just 1-for-22 during Houston’s six-game win over the New York Yankeesin the AL Championship Series, Alvarez rebounded to hit .412 with a home run during the Astros’ seven-game loss to the Washington Nationals in the World Series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Alvarez out of Las Tunas, Cuba, on June 15, 2016. The Astros acquired him six weeks later in exchange for reliever Josh Fields. As Alvarez began to make his way through the Houston organization, his offensive reputation began to spread through one of baseball’s most bountiful farm systems.

“When he was brought over to the States, we started to hear some chatter from the backfields that, at one point, I think he hit a car with one of his home runs,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told ESPN this season. “It was one of those things where if you’re around and you have a half day to go watch the back field, find this guy and watch him hit. Because it’s pretty special. It snowballed from there.”

Shortstop Carlos Correa was the Astros’ last AL Rookie of the Year winner, taking the honors in 2015. The only other Rookie of the Year recipient in franchise history was Hall of Famefirst baseman Jeff Bagwell, who won the award in 1991, when the Astros were in the National League.

Ronald Acuña Jr. Receives First-Ever Silver Slugger Award

It’s a silverfirst for Ronald Acuña Jr.

The 21-year-old Venezuelan Major League Baseball baseball outfielder for the Atlanta Braves has received his first Silver Slugger Award, awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers. 

Ronald Acuna Jr.

For the year, Acuña hit .280/.365/.883, with 127 runs (leading the National League), 41 home runs, and 37 stolen bases (leading the league). He missed the 40–40 club by three stolen bases.

Acuña’s Braves teammates Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies are among the first-time winners on the National League side, along with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger.

First-timers for the American League are Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos SantanaNew York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieuHouston Astros infielder Alex Bregman and Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout was awarded his seventh Silver Slugger Award after batting .291 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs this season.

World Series champion and Washington Nationals slugger Anthony Rendon, a two-time winner, Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. RealmutoColorado Rockies shortstop Trevor StoryMilwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich and former Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke, who was dealt by the D-backs to the Astros at the trade deadline, completed the National League list.

Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, a three-time winner, Astros outfielder George Springer and Boston Red Sox teammates Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts rounded out the American League winners.

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.

Anthony Rendon Among This Year’s MLB National League MVP Finalists

Anthony Rendonhas made the final cut…

The 29-year-old Mexican American Major League Baseball star has been named a finalist for the National League MVP award.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon, who hit key home runs in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series to help lead his Washington Nationals team to their first championship, will face off against Los Angeles Dodgersoutfielder Cody Bellingerand Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelichfor the MLB honor. Yelich won last year’s NL MVPaward with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike TroutHouston Astros third baseman Alex Bregmanand Oakland Athleticsshortstop Marcus Semienare finalists for the American League MVPaward. Trout is seeking his third MVP award after winning in 2014 and ’16. He finished second in 2012, ’13, ’15 and ’18.

Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are finalists for the AL Cy Young Award along with Tampa Bay Rays’ Charlie Morton, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America said. Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young with the Detroit Tigers, when he also was voted MVP.

New York Metsace Jacob deGromis a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award after getting 29 of 30 first-place votes last year. He is competing with Washington’s Max Scherzerand the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu. Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner.

New York Mets first baseman Pete AlonsoAtlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.are finalists for the NL Rookie of the Year. Houston designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe and Baltimore Orioles‘ left-hander John Means are the top candidates in the AL.

The New York Yankees‘ Aaron BooneMinnesota Twins‘ Rocco Baldelliand Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash are finalists for AL Manager of the Year. Atlanta’s Brian Snitker is a finalist to win the NL award for the second straight season, joined by the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Craig Counsell and St. Louis CardinalsMike Shildt.

Rookies of the Year will be announced on November 11, followed by Managers of the Year on November 12. Cy Young winners will be announced on November 13, and MVPs on November 14.

Nolan Arenado Wins Seventh Straight Golden Glove Award

The golden streak continues for Nolan Arenado

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American Major League Baseball player has extended his streak of winning a Gold Glove Award in every season of his career on Sunday, when the Colorado Rockies star earned the award for National Leaguet hird basemen for the seventh consecutive year.

Nolan Arenado

Arenado has won the award each year since he debuted in 2013. With this year’s win, he moved into sole possession of fourth place for the most Gold Glovesamong third basemen and just one behind Scott Rolenfor third place all time.

Only Baltimore Orioles legend Brooks Robinson, who won 16 Gold Gloves in a row from 1960 to ’75, and Mike Schmidt, who won 10, have more than Arenado. Robinson has the most Gold Gloves among all position players, but at just 28 years old, Arenado has a chance to catch him.

Kansas City Royals veteran Alex Gordon also won his seventh career Gold Glove, claiming the ALleft fielder award for the third straight year to move into a tie for 14th-most among outfielders.

2019 Gold Glove Winners

POS.ALNL
CRoberto Perez, IndiansJ.T. Realmuto, Phillies
1BMatt Olson, AthleticsAnthony Rizzo, Cubs
2BYolmer Sanchez, White SoxKolten Wong, Cardinals
SSFrancisco Lindor, IndiansNick Ahmed, Diamondbacks
3BMatt Chapman, AthleticsNolan Arenado, Rockies
LFAlex Gordon, RoyalsDavid Peralta, Diamondbacks
CFKevin Kiermaier, RaysLorenzo Cain, Brewers
RFMookie Betts, Red SoxCody Bellinger, Dodgers
PMike Leake, MarinersZack Greinke, Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks had four Gold Glove winners on their team this season, including both pitchers, Mike Leake and Zack Greinke, though the two never played with each other. Leake won the American League pitcher’s award for his time with the Seattle Mariners before Arizona acquired him at the trade deadline on July 31, the day the Diamondbacks dealt Greinke to the Houston Astros.

Shortstop Nick Ahmed, who won his second straight Gold Glove, and left fielder David Peralta were the other Diamondbacks honored Sunday. Peralta was one of three National League outfielders who won their first Gold Gloves, joining the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Lorenzo Cain and the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Cody Bellinger.

The Oakland Athletics had a pair of winners, as first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman both won for the second straight season. The Cleveland Indians had two Gold Glovers in shortstop Francisco Lindor, who won the second of his career, and catcher Roberto Perez, a first-time winner.

The second baseman awards went to the Chicago White Sox‘s Yolmer Sanchez and the St. Louis Cardinals‘ Kolten Wong, who both won for the first time.

Also in the American League, Boston Red Soxright fielder Mookie Betts won for the fourth straight season, and Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier won his third career Gold Glove after a two-year absence.

In the National League, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo won his third career Gold Glove and second in a row, while catcher J.T. Realmuto earned his first award in his first season with the Philadelphia Philliesafter a preseason trade from the Marlins.

Managers and up to six coaches per team vote for the awards in their league and cannot choose their own players. For the first time, the defensive index from the Society for American Baseball Research was used, and it comprised about 25% of the vote, with the managers and coaches ballots the rest.