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.

Jose Abreu Ties MLB Record with Sixth Homer in the Series Against the Chicago Cubs

Jose Abreu has made Major League Baseball history…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player and Chicago White Sox first baseman tied an MLB record on Sunday, when he homered in his first at-bat against the Chicago Cubs, marking his fourth straight plate appearance with a home run and sixth homer in the series.

Jose Abreu

“I’m never satisfied with what I do,” Abreu said after the Sox’s 2-1 loss to the Cubs. “I can do better. I can do more. That’s why I work so hard. But it definitely feels good to do something like that. I’d rather have the win today.”

The home run was the only tally of the game for the White Sox, who have scored their past 20 runs via the long ball. That’s three runs shy of a record set by the Milwaukee Brewers last season.

Abreu hit a 2-1 cutter from Yu Darvish to left-center in the second inning, one day after he hit home runs in his final three at-bats against three different pitchers. His six home runs over the weekend tie him with four others for the most in a three-game series in the live ball era, which dates to 1920. It’s also the most home runs by any player in any series this season.

Entering the series with the Cubs, Abreu was tied for 20th in the American League in home runs. He now leads the AL in homers, with 11.

The loss snapped the White Sox’s seven-game win streak but continued a home run streak for the club. They’ve hit 30 home runs in the past nine games. That’s by far the most in baseball in that span.

“We know what we’re capable of doing,” Abreu said. “We can’t fast-forward from here to the playoffs. At the end of the season, we’ll see what the result is.”

“Long Gone Summer” Documentary, Highlighting Sammy Sosa’s 1998 Home Run Chase, Headed to ESPN

Sammy Sosa’s summeris heating up…

The 51-year-old Dominican former professional baseball right fielder will be the focus of a special documentary to air on ESPN.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa, who played in the Major League Baseballfor 19 seasons, primarily with the Chicago Cubs, is part of the focus of AJ Schnack’s, Long Gone Summer, an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.

It chronicles Mark McGwire and Sosa’s storied 1998 home run chase. For the first time, both men discuss that summer at length, including its undeniable complications.

The 1998MLB home run chase was between McGwire, a first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr., and Sosa, a right fielder for the Cubs. It resulted in McGwire and Sosa breaking Roger Maris‘ long-standing and highly coveted record of 61 home runs. 

McGwire broke Maris’s record on September 8 against the Cubs and finished with 70 home runs. Sosa finished with 66.

The documentary will air on Sunday, June 14 at 9:00 pm ET.

The film will be made available on ESPN+immediately after its premiere, along with the rest of the 30 for 30 library.

Hector Rondon Agrees to One-Year Deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks

Hector Rondonis heading to the Grand Canyon State

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball relief pitcher has reportedly agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to ESPN.

Hector Rondon

Rondon would get a $2.5 million salary next season and would include a team option for 2021 with a $500,000 buyout.

Rondon, a right-hander, is a seven-year veteran who helped the Chicago Cubs win the World Seriesin 2016. He pitched last season for the Houston Astros and had a 3.71 ERA over 62 appearances, including one start.

Rondon has 92 saves and could be a candidate to close games for the D-backs, though Archie Bradley returns after handling the closer role for much of the second half of last season.

The Arizona Republic first reported Rondon’s signing.

Starlin Castro Agrees to Two-Year Deal with the Washington Nationals

Starlin Castro is headed to The District

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball infielder and free-agent second baseman, a four-time MLB All-Star, has reached a two-year, $12 million deal with the Washington Nationals, according to ESPN.

Starlin Castro

The deal is pending a physical, ESPNsaid. The Athleticwas the first to report the agreement.

Castro had a .270 batting average with 22 home runs and 86 RBIs last season for the Miami Marlins, who declined his $16 million option and instead paid a $1 million buyout on November 1.The 10-year veteran spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chicago Cubs before playing two seasons each with the New York Yankeesand the Marlins. Castro has a .280 career average with 133 home runs and 636 RBIs.

Jake Arrieta Accepts $20 Million Player Option to Stay with Philadelphia Phillies Next Season

Jake Arrieta isn’t leaving The Keystone State

The 33-year-old part-Puerto Rican Major League Baseball pitcher is staying with the Philadelphia Phillies, exercising a $20 million player option for 2020.

Jake Arrieta

A right-hander, Arrieta was 8-8 with a 4.64 ERA in 24 starts this year. He didn’t pitch after August 11 because of surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.

Arrieta was the 2015 National League Cy Young Awardwinner with the Chicago Cubs. He made the MLB All-Starteam the following season and helped the Cubs win their first World Seriestitle since 1908. 

He left as a free agent after the 2017 season and signed a deal with the Phillies that will wind up paying $75 million over three seasons.

Arrieta was 10-11 with a 3.96 ERA in 31 starts for Philadelphia in 2018.

Pete Alonso Sets New York Mets Single-Season Home Run Record

Pete Alonso has reached anothermilestone in his young Major League Baseball career…

The 24-year-old part-Spanish American New York Mets first baseman, the odds-on favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year, set the single-season franchise record by hitting his 42nd home run on Tuesday.

Alonso took an outside fastball from Chicago Cubs starter Yu Darvish deep to right field to lead off the fourth inning. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Alonso is the first rookie to set the franchise mark for his team since Johnny Rizzo did it for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1938.

“As soon as that ball came off my bat, I knew right away,” Alonso said after the game. “I mean it’s become a dream come true so far this year and I just feel really blessed.”

Alonso received a curtain call for his record-setting blast, which gave the Mets a 1-0 lead.

The previous franchise mark of 41 home runs was set by Todd Hundleyin 1996 and matched by Carlos Beltranin 2006.

“It’s a pleasure to have a fine young player like Pete Alonso break my record,” Beltran said in a statement. “I have not met Pete personally, but people have told me he plays the game with passion and doesn’t give up on any at-bat. He has had great success in his first year. Again, my congrats, Pete.”

Hundley also praised Alonso.

“To me, he’s more than a power hitter, he’s a pure hitter,” Hundley said in a statement. “I have seen five or six of his games and he keeps getting better and better. He has just had a tremendous year. Congrats, Pete, you deserve all the records you have broken.”

Alonso’s homer was his lone hit in four at-bats, and the Cubs rallied to win 5-2.

Earlier this month, Alonso set the National League rookie record for homers in a season, previously set by Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgersin 2017. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees holds the major league record for home runs in a season by a rookie with 52 in 2017.

“It’s crazy to think the small selection of people that get to actually play in the big leagues and the even smaller selection of people that get to those milestones and it’s mind-boggling,” Alonso said. “I just wanna keep being Pete Alonso and just stay true to who I am and stay true to who I am not just as a person but as a player.”

Martin Maldonado Traded to the Houston Astros

Martin Maldonadois seeing stars…

The 32-year-old  Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher has been traded to the Houston Astros by the Chicago Cubs.

Martin Maldonado

In exchange, the Cubs will receive utility man Tony Kemp.

The move for Kemp fills a hole the Cubs have had since they traded Tommy La Stella to the Angels over the winter.

“Our position player group has felt a little short,” Hoyer said. “We’ve lacked the depth of at-bats recently. That was something we were looking to restore at the deadline.”

Kemp has a less than 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and his contact rate has never been below 82%.

“Our swing-and-miss rates are too high,” Hoyer said. “Finding a guy that put the ball in play, that’s really important for us. It’s something we’ve lacked, especially coming off the bench.”

In addition to the Cubs, the Golden Glove Award winner has previously played in MLBfor the Milwaukee Brewers, the Los Angeles Angels and the Kansas City Royals.

Nicholas Castellanos Traded to the Chicago Cubs

Nicholas Castellanos is headed to the Windy City…

The Chicago Cubs have acquired the 27-year-old Latino professional baseball player and outfielder from the Detroit Tigers, a move they hope fortifies their lineup amid a playoff push.

Nicholas Castellanos

The Tigers received right-handed pitching prospects Alex Langeand Paul Richanin the deal. The Cubs also will receive cash considerations.

“The guy is a good hitter,” Cubs manager Joe Maddonsaid of Castellanos. “I always thought he patterned himself after [Miguel]Cabrera, early on. Saw a lot of balls go into the gap.”

Castellanos is hitting .273 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs this season. His best season came in 2017, when he hit 26 home runs and drove in 101 runs with a .272 average.

He was a late scratch Wednesday afternoon, informed of the trade just before the Tigers played the Angels.

“I’m very excited to be able to go to Chicago and help this team in a pennant race any way that I can,” Castellanos told reporters in Detroit.

He should provide a big boost offensively to a Chicago team that entered Wednesday’s action a game behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central and tied atop the wild-card standings. His 119 doubles the past three seasons trail only Red Sox star Mookie Betts‘ total in that span. Castellanos has 37 doubles this season, which puts him tied with Boston‘s Rafael Devers for the most in the majors.

“When you watched us play over the last few months, it felt, at times, we were a bat short in the lineup,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said in a conference call. “He kills lefties. That’s something we’ve really struggled with. We think he’s going to give a pro at-bat versus righties and lefties.”

The Cubs are 9-13 when a left-hander starts against them and have the third-worst batting average against lefties this season, at .235. Castellanos has mashed lefties throughout his career, especially this season, in which he is hitting .347 against them.

Maddon isn’t sure where he’ll hit Castellanos in the order, but his .357 on-base percentage while batting second this year is very enticing. He’ll be in uniform on Thursday when the Cubs complete a series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The move was completed just ahead of Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.

Martin Maldonado Acquired by the Chicago Cubs

Martin Maldonado is joining the Cub

The Chicago Cubs have acquired the 32-year-old Puerto Rican MLB catcher for left-hander Mike Montgomery, the reliever who secured the last out in the Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship season.

Martin Maldonado

Maldonado, a defensive-minded catcher, should be an immediate replacement for All-Starcatcher Willson Contreras, who hit the injured list on Monday with a strain in the arch of his right foot. While Contreras isn’t expected to miss a significant amount of time, Maldonado serves as a solid insurance policy.

He has been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball this season and was traded last July, too, going from the Los Angeles Angels to the Houston Astros. He signed a one-year, $2.5 million with the Kansas City Royals and started in place of Salvador Perez, who’s out for the year with Tommy John surgery.

Once Contreras returns, Maldonado will serve as a backup. The move could free the Cubs to use backup catcher Victor Caratini in more of a utility role to get him more plate appearances.

Maldonado made his Major League Baseball debut in September 2011 for the Milwaukee Brewers. He was a Gold Glove Awardwinner in 2017.