Yuli Gurriel Agrees to One-Year Deal with Houston Astros

Yuli Gurriel is ready to slash and stay…

The 36-year-old Cuban professional baseball player nicknamed “La Piña“, the Houston Astros’ first baseman, has agreed to a one-year contract with an option for 2022 that guarantees $7 million, a cut of nearly 20% from his 2020 deal.

Yuli Gurriel

The agreement was announced hours before the defending American League champions started their first-round playoff matchup at the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, an odd time to reach a contract for a future season.

Gurriel’s 2020 contract called for an $8.3 million salary and wound up being worth $3,074,074 prorated.

His new deal includes a $6.5 million salary for 2021 and an $8 million club option for 2021 with a $500,000 buyout. Gurriel can earn $2 million in performance bonuses each year based on plate appearances: $250,000 each for 300 and 350, $350,000 apiece for 400 and 450, and $400,000 each for 500 and 550.

He also would get $50,000 for becoming an All-Star, $50,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $100,000 for Word Series MVP, $200,000 for league MVP, $100,000 for second and $50,000 for third. There is a $50,000 bonus for Gold Glove and another $50,000 for Silver Slugger.

Gurriel would’ve been eligible for free agency under a provision in his 2020 contract, even though he does not have the six years of major league service usually required.

His new deal includes the same provision.

He hit .232 with six homers and 22 RBIs in 57 games during the pandemic-shortened season, down from a career-best .298 with 31 homers and 104 RBIs in 2019. He helped Houston reach the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

In five seasons in Houston that followed a stellar career in Cuba, Gurriel has hit .287 with 71 homers and 301 RBIs.

Yadier Molina Leads MLB All-Stars to Victory Over Japan

Yadier Molina has help the MLB All-Stars get an important win against Japan…

The 36-year-old Puerto Rican Major League Baseball player, a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, had three hits, including a three-run homer, to help the MLB All-Stars defeat Japan 7-3 on Sunday for their first win of the six-game exhibition series after a pair of defeats.

Yadier MolinaJ.T. Realmuto hit an opposite-field solo home run to right field in the fourth at Tokyo Dome, and Mitch Haniger scored the go-ahead run from second in a four-run fifth when Japan starter Shinsaburo Tawata threw wildly for an error.

One out later, Molina chased Tawata with an opposite-field, three-run homer to right for a 5-1 lead.

The nine-time Gold Glove catcher picked off Seiji Uebayashi in the fourth inning.

“I felt like Yadi’s pick at first was huge,” MLB manager Don Mattingly said. “We got in a little bit of a jam, pitch count is starting to climb, then Yadi’s pick.”

Rookie Juan Soto hit a fly ball in the fourth that was headed for the seats but hit the roof and was caught by right fielder Shogo Akiyama. Soto also hit the roof in Thursday’s warm-up game against the Yomiuri Giants.

Winner Scott Barlow allowed one run and five hits in 4 1/3 innings and 65 pitches, striking out four.

“Having Yadi back there makes my life a lot easier,” Barlow said. “I trust him very much, and I trusted my defense as well. Not being afraid of contact and letting them run down balls and make their plays.”

Eugenio Suarez hit an RBI double over Uebayashi in left in a two-run seventh then scored on Haniger’s single to open a 7-1 lead.

Hotaka Yamakawa and Ryosuke Kikuchi hit run-scoring doubles in the ninth against John Brebbia. Tawata took the loss.

The teams play Tuesday in Hiroshima then conclude the following two days in Nagoya.

Baltimore Orioles Move Manny Machado to Shortstop

Manny Machado has found himself in a new position…

The 25-year-old Dominican American professional baseball player will play shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles this season after spending the majority of his career at third base.

Manny Machado

Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Machado will switch positions Saturday during the team’s FanFest.

“There could be some adjustments if we don’t like the feel of it, but that’s where we’re going to head into it,” Showalter said.

Tim Beckham, who has primarily played shortstop throughout his career, will swap positions with Machado and play third base, according to Showalter.

“I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would,” Showalter said. “Tim’s big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it.”

Machado broke into Major League Baseball at shortstop as the third overall pick in the June 2010 first-year player draft. The three-time All-Star moved to third base as a rookie in 2013 in deference to veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy, and he has won two Gold Gloves at the position.

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

“All indications are, he’s really excited about this,” Showalter said. “I can’t imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he’s been very professional about it. But it’s not like he’s changing positions. He’s going back to the position he’s equipped to play.”

Machado finished in a tie for ninth among MLB third basemen in 2017 with six defensive runs saved, according to Baseball Info Solutions.

He avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

“That’s a big decision for the organization, obviously,” Duquette said. “But we’re planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub.”

Alcides Escobar Agrees to One-Year Contract with the Kansas City Royals

Alcides Escobar is still Royal-ty.

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop has agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal to remain with the Kansas City Royals, according to ESPN.

Alcides Escobar

Escobar batted .250 in 162 games with 150 hits and a career-high 36 doubles with Kansas City last season. The solid defensive shortstop, one of a quartet of Royals who debuted with Kansas City in 2011 and keyed the team’s run to a Major League Baseball championship in 2015, ranked sixth in the American League with a .978 fielding percentage.

A career .260 hitter, Escobar won a Gold Glove and was an AL All-Star during that championship season, as the Royals won their first World Series title in 30 years. His best offensive season came in 2012, when he batted .293 with a career-high 177 hits, 30 doubles, 35 steals and 52 RBIs.

Escobar broke into the MLB with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008.

His agreement with the Royals was first reported by FanRag Sports.

Carlos Santana Agrees to $60 Million Deal with Philadelphia Phillies

Carlos Santana is crossing state lines for a big paycheck…

The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the 31-year-old professional baseball player and free agent first baseman, according to multiple reports.

Carlos Santana

Santana became the first to reach a deal among the nine free agents who last month rejected $17.4 million qualifying offers from their former teams.

Santana has played his entire Major League Baseball career with the Cleveland Indians, who acquired him in a 2009 trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Santana has developed into a consistent run producer, and after catching and playing third base, he has become one of the league’s best fielding first basemen. He was a Gold Glove finalist this year.

The switch-hitter batted .259 with 23 homers and 79 RBIs last season for the American League Central champion Indians. He has a career .249 average with 174 home runs in eight seasons for Cleveland.

Santana will join a rebuilding Phillies lineup that also includes slugger Rhys Hoskins, outfielders Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams and Odubel Herrera, and third baseman Maikel Franco.

Nearly 150 of Santana’s 571 at-bats last season came in the leadoff spot, and with a career on-base percentage of .365, he can help provide RBI opportunities for Philadelphia’s other top hitters in the middle of the order.

Santana’s departure is a big loss for Cleveland, which led the AL with 102 wins during the regular season but lost to the New York Yankees in a Division Series.

Santana has a .213 average with four homers and eight RBI in 21 career postseason games.

The addition of Santana would be the second major deal completed Friday by the Phillies, who also traded shortstop Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres in a move that likely opens the shortstop job for top prospect J.P. Crawford.

Molina Agrees to Three-Year, $60 Million Extension with St. Louis Cardinals

Yadier Molina is embracing the spirit of St. Louis for longer…

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher has agreed to a three-year, $60 million extension with the St. Louis Cardinals, the multiple Gold Glove winner told ESPN.

Yadier Molina

The Cardinals have scheduled a 2 p.m. ET media conference Sunday at Busch Stadium, presumably to discuss Molina’s contract extension.

The deal will keep Molina in St. Louis through at least 2020.

General manager John Mozeliak said Friday that he was optimistic a deal would get done by the first pitch of the Cardinals’ Sunday Night Baseball game against the World Series champion Chicago Cubs, scheduled for 8:35 p.m. ET.

Mozeliak said over the past few days that he worried Molina’s contract extension could be a distraction if it wasn’t taken care of by Sunday.

Molina’s current contract, signed ahead of the 2012 season, contained a mutual $15 million option for 2018 with a $2 million buyout.

His strong play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, coupled with his hot hitting following the 2016 All-Star break and his comments after returning from the competition, had put pressure on the Cardinals to get a deal done as quickly as possible.

Molina’s biggest impact to the Cardinals over the years has been in run prevention. He became the full-time starter in 2005 and made seven All-Star teams while winning eight Gold Gloves.

Just when his hitting seemed to be in serious decline, Molina, 34, batted .365 with a .926 OPS following last season’s All-Star break.

Stanton Returns to the U.S. World Baseball Classic Roster

Giancarlo Stanton is back on Team USA

The 27-year-old part-Puerto Rican baseball star, a right fielder for the Miami Marlins, is among the returnees on the 28-man U.S. World Baseball Classic roster, which also includes Colorado Rockies‘ Nolan Arenado, Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Paul Goldschmidt, San Francisco Giants‘ Buster Posey and Pittsburgh Pirates‘ Andrew McCutchen.

Giancarlo Stanton

The roster, announced Wednesday by USA Baseball, includes 18 All-Stars, two MVPs and nine Gold Glove winners.

Stanton, a three-time Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star, won the Silver Slugger Award and National League Hank Aaron Award in 2014.

Stanton was the Home Run Derby champion in 2016.

Aybar Traded to the Atlanta Braves

It’s a Brave(s) new world for Erick Aybar

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has been traded to the Atlanta Braves from the Los Angeles Angels.

Erick Aybar

The Braves traded Andrelton Simmons to the Angels for Aybar and top pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis late last week.

The Braves also get $2.5 million, and the Angels get minor league catcher Jose Briceno in a deal headlined by two quality MLB shortstops trading places on teams with differing needs.

Simmons is arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball, offsetting his mediocre offensive skills. He won the Gold Glove in 2013 and 2014, and was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday.

Simmons also is under contract through 2020, whereas Aybar could become a free agent next winter.

“We are extremely excited to acquire an impact shortstop and one that fits our championship standards,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement. “Andrelton provides us up-the-middle foundation at a premium position for years to come. To know we have a player with Andrelton’s talents, drive and competitiveness at such a young age signed through 2020 is a vital step in adding to our core group.”

Coming off a 97-loss season, the Braves got an offer they couldn’t pass up, according to new general manager John Coppolella, who dealt away one of the team’s most popular players in his first trade since his promotion.

“We need more talent,” Coppolella said. “We think all three players in the trade will have an impact on our major league team for the 2016 season.”

Over the past year, the Braves have undergone a massive rebuilding job, loading up on pitching prospects and trying to set their team for a return to playoff contention when they move into a new suburban stadium in 2017.

But Coppolella insisted this deal wasn’t entirely geared to the future. Aybar should be an upgrade offensively over Simmons, no small consideration, given Atlanta’s feeble offense. Also, the glut of young pitchers gives the Braves a chance to pursue future deals to upgrade the offense.

“You can make an argument that we’ll win more games with Aybar,” Coppolella said. “This wasn’t a prospect trade. This was a value-for-value trade with two really good prospects in it.”

Aybar had been the Angels’ starting shortstop since 2008 and a key player in Anaheim for a decade, making the American League All-Star team in 2014 while batting .276 in 1,220 regular-season games since 2006. He has been dependable in the field and at the plate, although his offensive contributions slipped slightly last season to his lowest average (.270) and RBI total (44) in a half-decade.

“This is one of those transactions where each organization will benefit in both the short and long term,” Eppler said.

Sheen to Serve as a Guest Analyst on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight”

Charlie Sheen is ready to play ball

The 48-year-old part-Spanish actor will serve as a guest analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight when the show broadcasts live from the Cincinnati RedsSt. Louis Cardinals game on Sunday night.

Charlie Sheen

Sheen will be in the broadcast booth for the Sunday Night Countdown show airing on ESPN at 7:00 pm ET from Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark.

Sheen is an avid baseball fan and portrayed a player in Major League (plus the sequel) and Eight Men Out.

Even though he grew up in California — where he was a star pitcher and shortstop for the Santa Monica High School baseball team — Sheen has been a lifelong Reds fan because his West Wing star father, Martin Sheen, is from Dayton, Ohio.

It has been a long time since Sheen graduated from high school, but he still roots for his team and posted a photo of the SaMo High Vikings mascot on Twitter earlier this month with a shout-out to the coach, Tony Todd. He reportedly has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the school’s baseball program since playing there in the 1980s, including buying a new pitching machine in January.

Sheen convincingly played an ex-con reliever for the Cleveland Indians in both Major League films, and portrayed Chicago’s Happy Felsch in Eight Man Out, the biopic about the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Even his wedding to Denise Richards in 2002 was celebrated with a gospel rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Park” during the ceremony, and one of the wedding gifts was an authentic Gold Glove trophy.

The former Two and a Half Men star, who later went on to launch his comedy series Anger Managementon FX, follows in the footsteps of Jon Hamm, who was a guest analyst on Baseball Tonight during the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates game May 11, after the ESPN crew joined him on the red carpet for the Hollywood premiere of Million Dollar Arm.

Like Hamm, Sheen will join Reds legend and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech on the set.

Viewers can expect to see more special broadcast events to celebrate the 25th season of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and Sunday Night Baseball, as the network is planning to get other famous fans involved.

Beltre Among This Year’s MLB Gold Glove Award Winners

Adrian Beltre is one of Major League Baseball’s golden boys…

The 33-year-old Dominican-born Texas Rangers third baseman has been presented with a Gold Glove, an award given annually to MLB players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and American League, as voted by the managers and coaches in each league.

Adrian Beltre

“It is nice to be recognized for what you’ve done defensively for your team,” said Beltre, who has won four of the past six gold gloves. “This one was more tough because I went through more of a physical challenge. It is special and I’m happy to be recognized for this.”

Beltre, who was rewarded for his Gold Glove honor with a $100,000 bonus, wasn’t the only Latino baseball pro to be recognized with the coveted prize.

This year’s other Latino Gold Glove recipients include: Robinson Cano, the 30-year-old Dominican player for the New York Yankees; Carlos Gonzalez, the 27-year-old Venezuelan-born baseball player for the Colorado Rockies; and Yadier Molina, the 30-year-old Puerto Rican player for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Molina received a $50,000 bonus; Gonzalez earned a $25,000 bonus.

Here’s a full list of the 2012 recipients of the Gold Glove, baseball’s highest honor for defensive play:

American League

National League

P  Jake Peavy/
Jeremy Hellickson
 Mark Buehrle
C  Matt Wieters  Yadier Molina
1B  Mark Teixeira  Adam LaRoche
2B  Robinson Cano  Darwin Barney
3B  Adrian Beltre  Chase Headley
SS  J.J. Hardy  Jimmy Rollins
LF  Alex Gordon  Carlos Gonzalez
CF  Adam Jones  Andrew McCutchen
RF  Josh Reddick  Jason Heyward