Marcell Ozuna Agrees to Four-Year, $64 Million Deal with Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna is returning to a Brave world…

The Atlanta Braves are bringing back the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter, signing Ozuna to a $64 million, four-year contract.

Marcell Ozuna

The Braves announced the deal for the 2020 NL home run and RBI leader on Friday night, less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring training.

The contract includes a fifth-year club option for $16 million that would take it to $80 million with a $1 million buyout, which would yield Ozuna $65 million in guaranteed money.

Ozuna took a gamble on himself after the 2019 season, turning down a $17.8 million qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals, and signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves in late January.

The move paid off handsomely, as the slugger finished sixth in the National League MVP voting after leading the league with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs and 145 total bases. He was third in the NL with a career-best .338 batting average and .636 slugging percentage.

The bet? The $17.8 million qualifying offer by the Cardinals would’ve represented 41% of his career earnings to that point.

While considered somewhat of a defensive liability after suffering a shoulder injury in 2018, Ozuna, who turned 30 in November, did see some action in left field for the Braves while playing all 60 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

However, most of his at-bats for Atlanta came as the team’s designated hitter, slotted after MVP Freddie Freeman in the lineup as the Braves won the NL East title after putting up some of the best offensive numbers in team history.

Before joining the Braves, Ozuna spent two seasons with the Cardinals, protecting Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup as they made it back to the playoffs in 2019. Over the past five seasons, including the 60-game season in 2020, Ozuna has hit 130 home runs, making two All-Star Games on the strength of his bat.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Ozuna has 357 RBIs, second only to the Colorado Rockies‘ Nolan Arenado (384) and just ahead of Freeman (343) among National League players, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

In eight MLB seasons, he has a .276 batting average with 166 home runs, 594 RBIs and 505 runs scored for the Seattle Marlins, Cardinals and Braves.

St. Louis Cardinals Finalizing Trade Plan to Acquire Nolan Arenado

It looks like Nolan Arenado is ready to fly east…

The St. Louis Cardinals are finalizing a trade to acquire the 29-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American third baseman from the Colorado Rockies, according to ESPN.

Nolan Arenado

Since the trade involves significant amounts of money — the Rockies are expected to send around $50 million to cover a portion of the six years and $199 million remaining on Arenado’s contract — as well as Arenado waiving his no-trade clause and deferring money, the deal isn’t yet official.

The remaining hurdles are expected to be merely procedural, and with Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and Arenado’s approval, the long-talked-about trade would become a reality.

The return for the Rockies is not expected to be significant, with pitcher Austin Gomber and low-level prospects among the names that have been discussed.

Arenado has won a Gold Glove in each of his eight seasons with the Rockies, where he developed into one of the best players in baseball. Before the 2019 season, he signed an eight-year, $260 million extension with the Rockies, who drafted him 2009 and were committing to build a contender around him.

The team almost immediately struggled, frustrating Arenado and carving the path for a deal to St. Louis, which tried to trade for him before the 2020 season and finally succeeded a year later.

In Arenado, the Cardinals get an across-the-diamond complement to Paul Goldschmidt, another veteran right-handed hitter they acquired via trade. The market for Arenado wasn’t altogether robust because of the significant money remaining on his deal. For months, the Cardinals and Rockies haggled before coming to an agreement Friday night.

The Cardinals locked up longtime starter Adam Wainwright on an $8 million deal on Thursday, and longtime catcher Yadier Molina has indicated in recent days he is likely to return to the Cardinals, particularly if they could acquire Arenado, sources said.

The Rockies were looking both to escape from the significant commitment to Arenado and avoid the possibility of him triggering the opt-out clause in his contract that follows the upcoming season. As part of a restructured deal — in which Arenado would also defer money — he could receive another opt-out clause and maintain his no-trade clause.

Because of the deferrals, the MLBPA needs to give the deal the go-ahead, and due to the cash exchanging hands, MLB must rubber-stamp it as well.

Colorado could receive Gomber, a 27-year-old left-hander who was excellent in a swing role last season. Multiple prospects have been discussed, according to The Athletic, which first reported the deal was done. While power-hitting first baseman Luken Baker‘s name was reported as part of the potential prospect package, he is not expected to be in the deal, according to a source.

With Colorado paying down a significant portion of Arenado’s future salary, St. Louis will pay him about $25 million a year and bump its payroll to around $160 million. The Cardinals also position themselves as the clear favorite in the National League Central a year after making the playoffs despite a frenzied schedule caused by a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

A five-time MLB All-Star, Arenado struggled at the plate during the abbreviated 2020 season, hitting .253 with eight homers before missing the final nine games with a left shoulder bone bruise. The down year came after he hit a career-best .315 with 41 homers and 118 RBIs in 2019.

Dereck Rodriguez Agrees to Minor League Deal with Colorado Rockies 

Dereck Rodriguez has a new deal…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican baseball pitcher, the son of MLB Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, has signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies that includes an invitation to spring training.

Dereck Rodriguez

Rodriguez appeared in 51 games over three seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He compiled a 12-15 record with a 4.27 ERA before being designated for assignment by the Giants on August 26. He was claimed five days later off waivers by the Detroit Tigers before recently becoming a free agent.

Rodriguez made his major league debut at Coors Field on May 29, 2018. He allowed four runs, one earned, over 3⅓ innings. He also had an RBI double off Kyle Freeland.

Rodriguez was originally a sixth-round pick by the Minnesota Twins in 2011.

Ubaldo Jimenez to Appear at the Colorado Rockies’ Spring Training

Ubaldo Jimenez will be attending spring training…

The 36-year-old Dominican baseball player will return to the mound for the Colorado Rockies in spring training after being signed to a minor league contract with the team.

Ubaldo Jimenez 

The hard-throwing right-hander with the distinctive delivery was one of 21 players to receive a non-roster invitation to spring training from the Rockies on Wednesday. The list also includes catcher Drew Butera and infielder Chris Owings.

Jimenez hasn’t pitched in the majors since September 22, 2017, with the Baltimore Orioles. He was originally signed by Colorado as an amateur free agent while a teenager.

Jimenez became a fan favorite at Coors Fieldafter bursting on the scene in September 2006. The affable pitcher tossed Colorado’s only no-hitter on April 7, 2010, against the Atlanta Braves. He wound up 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA that season and finished third in the National League Cy Youngvoting.

His 19 wins remain a single-season Rockies record.

Jimenez was dealt to the Cleveland Indiansin July 2011, where he spent two more seasons before signing a free-agent deal with Baltimore prior to 2014.

He’s 114-117 over his career with a 4.34 ERA. Jimenez has struck out 1,720 in 1,870 innings.

Colorado’s pitchers and catchers are scheduled to have their first workout February 12. The first full-squad workout is set for February 17.

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.

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.

Houston Astros Slugger Yuli Gurriel Ties Team Record with Eight Runs Against Colorado Rockies

Yuli Gurriel is making a smashing impression in theLone Star State

This week, the 35-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a first baseman for the Houston Astros, drove in a team-record-tying eight runs as his team routed the Colorado Rockies 14-3 for their sixth victory in a row.

Yuli Gurriel 

“It’s really incredible with this team, and I feel a big responsibility to drive runners in when they are on base,” Gurriel said in Spanish through an interpreter. “To be in that spot, I’m always focused and concentrating to get those runners in.”

A day after homering twice with three RBIs, Gurriel again teed off for the American League Westleaders. He hit a three-run homer in the first inning, a sacrifice fly in the third, a three-run double in the fourth and an RBI grounder in the sixth to give him the most RBIs since he knocked in eight twice while playing in Cuba.

Gurriel tied Houston’s RBI record set by J.R. Towles in 2007 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Gurriel, who leads the Astros with 80 RBIs, surpassed the seven RBIs he had last season against the Los Angeles Angels and tied the major league record for most RBIs by a player born in Cuba. It’s his 11th game this season with at least three RBIs, and he joins Hall of FameJeff Bagwell as the only Astros to have two games with at least seven runs knocked in.

“You get that feel every time he comes up that something positive is going to happen,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s locked in on pitch recognition and staying in on the at-bat. His production has been through the roof the last six weeks.”

Javier Baez to Bat Second for National League in the MLB All-Star Game

It’s batter up for Javier Baez

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball player and shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, nicknamed “El Mago,” is slated to bat second for the National League in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game.

Javier Baez

Baez, in his second straight All-Star Game, will follow lead-off hitter and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich, who bowed out of the Home Run Derbywith a back issue. Yelich leads the majors with 31 home runs.

He’ll befollowed by Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie FreemanLos Angeles Dodgersright fielder Cody BellingerColorado Rockiesthird baseman Nolan ArenadoPittsburgh Pirates‘ Josh Bell at designated hitter, Cubs catcher Willson ContrerasArizona Diamondbackssecond baseman Ketel Marte and Atlanta center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr.

The National League has the youngest starting lineup in All-Star Gamehistory, with an average age of 25.75. The previous record was 26.4 by the 2017 ALstarters.

Houston Astros‘ George Springer leads off and plays right field for the American League and is followed in the order by New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieuLos Angeles Angels center fielder Mike TroutCleveland Indians’ first baseman Carlos SantanaBoston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, Astros left fielder Michael Brantley and Minnesota Twins’ shortstop Jorge Polanco.

Cora joked about LeMahieu’s success against the Red Sox in his first season after leaving the Rockies for New York — especially when Boston played the Yankees in London last month.

“People in the offseason thought that he wasn’t going to be able to hit outside of Colorado. Well, he hits outside of Colorado and in Europe, too,” Cora said.

Nolan Arenado Agrees to Lucrative Eight-Year Deal with the Colorado Rockies

Nolan Arenadois still planning toRockies & roll…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American Major League Baseball player has agreed to an eight-year, contract extension with the Colorado Rockies worth $260 million, according to Yahoo Sports.

Nolan Arenado

Arenado says he wants to spend his entire major league career with the Rockies and had no desire to become a free agent after this season.

“At the end of the day my heart was here,” he said Wednesday, a day after agreeing to the deal.

Arenado’s deal has a $32.5 million average annual value, second behind the $34.42 million for pitcher Zack Greinke in a $206.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacksthat began in 2016.

He said he wants to emulate Colorado’s Todd Helton and former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter by spending his entireMLB  career with one team.

Arenado says the cold free-agent market the past two seasons wasn’t a big factor but “obviously it’s in your head.”

He agreed in January to a one-year, $26 million contract with the Rockies. His new deal keeps that salary, calls for $35 million annually from 2020 to 2024, $32 million in 2025 and $27 million in 2026. He must decide after the 2021 season whether to opt in for the remainder of the contract.

He can earn an additional $25,000 each time he is anAll-Star or wins aGoldGlove, $50,000 forSilver Sluggeraward, $75,000 for league championship series MVP, $75,000 for World SeriesMVP, $100,000 for MVP and $50,000 for second through fifth in the voting, and $100,000 for comeback player of the year.

Manny Machado Notches the First 100-RBI Season of His MLB Career

It’s a memorable first for Manny Machado

The 26-year-old Dominican-Americanhit a three-run home run to notch the first 100-RBI season of his Major League Baseball career during the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 7-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Manny Machado

The win kept the Dodgers’ National League West lead at 1½ games over the Colorado Rockies, which won 5-1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Machado had been eager for a memorable moment since he was traded to the Dodgers on July 18 from the Baltimore Orioles. He borrowed a page from a popular script: homering on his bobblehead night.

“We fed off that,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s trying like heck, and he wants that signature moment. Hopefully tonight alleviated some of the pressure for him.”

Machado’s homer was one of three by the Dodgers in the game, giving them a National League-leading 222 on the season and breaking the club record of 221, set last year.

“We have great hitters here,” Machado said. “We’re all confident. We know the team we have.”