Pedro Leon Reportedly Signing with Houston Astros

Pedro Leonhas an astronomical deal in the works…

The 21-year-old Cuban outfielder, who dominated Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2018 before defecting, is expected to sign with the Houston Astros for around $4 million when a new international signing period opens July 2, according to ESPN.

Pedro Leon

Leon would be one of the class’s highest-paid players.

Leon mostly played corner outfield in Cuba and has hit for power in games, but is reputed to have above-average speed, a plus arm and plus raw power as a right-handed hitter. While a roster at his workout on Wednesday listed him at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, one scout estimated Leon to be 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds.

Pedro Leon

Scouts didn’t get to see Leon’s reputed power on display during the workout at the San Francisco Giants‘ academy in the Dominican Republic as they were told he’d already reached a deal with a team.

Leon was cleared as a free agent in December, but delayed his open workout due to an oblique injury. Scouts say he previously has dealt with a shoulder injury as well.

Cuban prospects have to wait to negotiate with clubs until after their first open workout for all 30 teams, or after they are cleared to be a free agent. 

Sources said Leon worked out privately for the Astros at their facility recently and the club was able to collect valuable data using advanced technology like bat sensors and radar-based technology like TrackManthat other clubs weren’t able to collect on Wednesday.

Francisco Liriano Signs Minor League Contract with the Philadelphia Phillies

Francisco Liriano isn’t leaving The Keystone State… 

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed the 36-year-old Dominican professional baseball left-handed pitcher to a minor league contracts with invitations to attend major league spring training.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano was 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirateslast season. Liriano is 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA and has averaged 9.01 strikeouts per nine innings over 419 career games.

During his career, he has played for the Minnesota TwinsChicago White Sox, the PiratesToronto Blue JaysHouston Astrosand Detroit Tigers.

Liriano was an MLB All-Star in 2006, and is a two-time winner of the MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award.

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.

Robinson Chirinos to Return to the Texas Rangers

Robinson Chirinos is headed back to the range(rs)…

The 35-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcherand the Texas Rangers have agreed on a one-year, $6.75 million deal, according to ESPN.

Robinson Chirinos

The deal includes a $5.75 million salary for 2020, with a club option for 2021 that is worth $6.5 million with a $1 million buyout.

Chirinos spent six seasons with the Rangers before departing last offseason for the Houston Astrosafter the Texas Rangersopted for defensive-minded Jeff Mathis.

But Mathis hit just .158 in 86 games last season, with two home runs and 12 RBIs, compared with Chirinos’ .238-17-58 line for the Astros.

The previous season in Texas was Chirinos’ most productive, with 18 home runs and 65 RBIs.

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.

Yan Gomes Agrees to Two-Year, $10 Million Deal with Washington Nationals

Yan Gomes is a 10-million dollar man…

The 32-year-old Brazilian veteran catcher has agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal to return to the World Series champion Washington Nationals, according to ESPN.

Yan Gomes

Gomes, caught the final out of Washington’s World SeriesGame 7 win over the Houston Astroswill rejoin Kurt Suzuki as the Nationals’ catching tandem.

Gomes was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in a four-player trade in November 2018 and started 90 of 93 games he played last season while splitting duties behind the plate with Suzuki. He hit .223 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs and 43 RBIs while throwing out 30% of attempted base stealers.

Gomes has a .245 average with 99 homers and 351 RBIs in seven big league seasons.

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.

J.D. Martinez Opts to Stay with the Boston Red Sox

J.D. Martinez is still seeing Red (Sox)

The 32-year-old Cuban American Major League Baseball star didn’t opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox.

J.D. Martinez

By staying with the Red Sox, Martinez can earn $62.5 million over the next three years: $23.75 million for 2020 and $19,375,000 for both 2021 and 2022. 

He also has the option to opt out after each of the next two seasons, as long as he doesn’t spend a lengthy period on the injured list.

“J.D. has advised me that his decision is about assuring that he plays for a competitive team and wanting to continue to play in a place where he knows that he can be highly productive,” Scott Boras, Martinez’s agent, told The Boston Globe.

Over the past three seasons, Martinez leads the league in home runs with 124 and is second in RBIs at 339, batting average at .313, slugging percentage at .619 and OPS at 1.007 over that span.

The Red Sox, who had the highest payroll in baseball last season ($243 million), are looking to get below the luxury tax threshold ($208M). It remains to be seen how this will affect newly hired chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom‘s ability to also retain Mookie Betts, the 2018 MVP who will become a free agent after next season. Betts made $27.7 million last season and is likely to get more in arbitration this season.

Martinez led the Red Sox in home runs, RBIs and hits in 2018, on the way to winning his first World Seriestitle. His numbers in 2019 fell off as he battled back spasms, but in his two years in Boston, he hit 79 homers and drove in 235 runs. He has been an All-Starboth of his years in Boston.

Though he played 38 games in the outfield this year, Martinez is primarily a designated hitter.

Martinez takes a meticulous approach to hitting, analyzing at-bats and opposing pitchers, and several Red Sox players credited him with helping them improve their approach.

Martinez broke in with the Houston Astrosin 2011 and was released by the team in 2014. Martinez decided he had to change his swing, and worked with Robert Van Scoyoc, now the Los Angeles Dodgershitting coach, and Craig Wallenbrock.

He signed a free-agent deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2014, then was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacksin July 2017. In 62 games with Arizona, Martinez hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs. That landed him the deal with the Red Sox.