Miami Marlins Trade Jonathan Villar to the Toronto Blue Jays

Jonathan Villar is headed to the Great White North

The Miami Marlins have traded the 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jonathan Villar

Villar is hitting .272 with two home runs and nine RBIs. He also is tied for the National League lead with nine stolen bases.

Last season he hit a career-high 24 home runs while with the Baltimore Orioles.

Villar is scheduled to be a free agent in the offseason.

The Blue Jays (18-14) entered Monday’s games in third place in the AL East standings.

In addition to the Marlins and Orioles, Villar previously played in the MLB for the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. Prior to 2017, Villar was primarily a shortstop. 

Arizona Diamondbacks Trade Starling Marte to the Miami Marlins

Starling Marte is headed to the Sunshine State…

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has been traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Miami Marlins, according to ESPN.

Starling Marte

In exchange for Marte, an MLB All-Star in 2016, the Marlins will send Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks, according to sources.

Meanwhile, the Marlins sent outfielder Jonathan Villar to the Toronto Blue Jays, reports ESPN.

Marte is hitting .311 with 23 runs scored this season. He has a $12.5 million option on his contract for next year.

It has been a tumultuous and difficult year for Marte. His wife, Noelia, died of a heart attack in May.

That followed his trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Diamondbacks in January, after he had spent his entire eight-year career with the Pirates.

Marte has a career .288 batting average with 110 homers, 434 RBIs and 244 steals. He had career highs last season with 23 homers and 82 RBIs.

Marte won Gold Gloves in 2015 and ’16.

He reached the All-Star Game in 2016 but also served an 80-game suspension in 2017 after testing positive for steroids.

Marcell Ozuna Agrees to One-Year, $18 Million Deal with the Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna has 18-million reasons to smile…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and free agent outfielder, nicknamed “The Big Bear,”and the Atlanta Braves have reached an $18 million, one-year deal that puts him on the team he helped beat in the playoffs last year.

Marcell Ozuna

Ozuna hit .429 with two home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in their five-game win over the Braves in the National League Division Series.

Ozuna hit .241 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI last season. His low batting average was something of an oddity because he ranked among the major league leaders in the highest percentage of hard-hit balls, according to Statcast.

Ozuna is a two-time MLB All-Star who spent his first five seasons with the Miami Marlins, then was traded and played two years in St. Louis.

Ozuna’s signing leaves infielder-outfielder Nicholas Castellanos as the last remaining major free agent with spring training set to start in about three weeks.

The two-time NL East champion Braves have been busy this offseason. On Monday, they signed former AL Cy Young Award winner and longtime Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez to a minor league with an invite to big league spring training.

Ivan Nova Headed to the Detroit Tigers

Ivan Nova is roarin’ to go…

The Detroit Tigers announced Monday that they’ve agreed to a deal with the 34-year-old professional baseball pitcher.

Ivan Nova

To make room for Nova on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated left-hander Matt Hall for assignment.

Nova made a major-league-leading 34 starts for the Chicago White Sox last season, going 11-12 with a 4.72 ERA in 187 innings. The right-hander had 114 strikeouts, posting his worst strikeout rate (5.49/9 IP) since 2014.

He did pitch two complete games, including a four-hitter in a 9-1 victory against the Miami Marlins on July 22, bringing his career total to 10.

Nova’s curveball has long been his most effective pitch, but it wasn’t working for him in 2019, with a lower spin rate than he had in 2015-17, missing fewer bats and getting hit harder, so he used it less often.

He was acquired by Chicago from the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 2018 season for minor league pitcher Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation. 

Nova has made 223 big league starts, producing a 4.32 ERA with 954 strikeouts in 1,328⅔ innings.

Signed by the New York Yankees as an international free agent in 2004, Nova made his big league debut six years later and was with the Yankees until 2016, when he was traded to Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers. He finished that season a combined 12-8 with a 4.17 ERA for the Yankees and Pirates.

In 2015, Nova went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA over 17 starts in his return from Tommy John surgery.

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.

Francisco Cervelli Agrees to One-Year Deal with the Miami Marlins

Francisco Cervelli is heading to the Sunshine State…

The 33-year-old half-Venezuelan professional baseball player, a free-agent catcher,has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Miami Marlins, according to ESPN.

Francisco Cervelli

The move reunites Cervelli with former New York Yankees teammate Derek Jeter, the Marlins’ CEO and part owner, and Miami special adviser Jorge Posada, whom he considers a mentor.

Cervelli will back up Jorge Alfaro at catcher for the Marlins.

Cervelli finished last season with the Atlanta Braves after he was waived by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had requested his release after he worked his way back from another concussion that had appeared to put his career in jeopardy.

In 37 games with the Braves, he hit .281 with two home runs and seven RBIs. A career .269 hitter, he had hit .193 in 34 games for the Pirates last season before he was sidelined by his concussion. He has suffered several concussions in his big league career.

He played his first seven seasons with the Yankees before joining the Pirates in 2015.

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.

Rafael Furcal Earns First-Ever Spot on the MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s a special first for Rafael Furcal

The 42-year-old Dominican former professional baseball shortstop is among 18 newcomers on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot.

Rafael Furcal

Furcal, who retired from Major League Baseball in 2014, for the Atlanta BravesLos Angeles DodgersSt. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. With St. Louis, he won the 2011 World Series over the Texas Rangers. He was the National League Rookie of the Yearin 2000 and a three-time MLB All-Star.

Other newcomers announced Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America include Derek Jeter, Cliff LeeJosh BeckettJason Giambi, Paul KonerkoBobby Abreuand Alfonso Soriano.

Holdovers include Curt Schilling, who received 60.9% last year, Roger Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%) and Larry Walker(54.6%). Schilling rose from 51.2% in 2018. Walker, on the ballot for the 10th and final time this year, increased from 34.1% in 2018.

Bonds and Clemens, whose candidacies have been tainted by allegations of steroid use, are both on for the eighth time. Clemens rose from 57.3% in 2018 and Bonds from 56.4%.

In all, 10 Latino former ‘ballers made the list… In addition to Furcal, Abreu, and Soriano, former players on the list include Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Sammy SosaJose Valverdeand Omar Vizquel.

Ballots are sent to more than 400 BBWAAmembers with at least 10 consecutive years in the organization, and a player must appear on at least 75% to gain election. Ballots must be mailed by December 31, and results will be announced January 21.

Anyone elected will be inducted July 26 along with any selections by the Hall’s modern era committee, which meets and votes in San Diego on December 8.

Players remain on the ballot for up to 10 years, provided they receive at least 5% of the vote annually.

Roy HalladayEdgar Martinez and Mike Mussina were elected along with Mariano Rivera in the 2019 BBWAA vote.

The ballot: Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chavez, Roger Clemens, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Konerko, Cliff Lee, Carlos Pena, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, J.J. Putz, Manny Ramirez, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso SorianoSammy SosaJose Valverde, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker.

Aristides Aquino Breaks National League Rookie Mark for Home Runs in a Month

It’s been a banner month for Aristides Aquino.

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds broke the National League rookie mark for homers in a month with his 14th in August in his team’s 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.

Aristides Aquino

Aquino hit a two-run homer in the first for Cincinnati, and his two-out RBI single in the eighth tied it at 3.

Aquino broke the rookie record of 13 in a month set by the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger in June 2017. The Major League Baseball (MLB) record by a rookie is 18 by the Detroit Tigers‘ Rudy York in August 1937.

Reds manager David Bell’s reaction to his outfielder’s latest achievement?

“Speechless,” Bell said. “Guys are having fun watching him and what he’s doing. Pretty special.”

Aquino, who was promoted from the minors on August 1, tied the Reds record for homers by a player in a month held by Frank Robinson (1962) and Greg Vaughn (1999). He leads the majors with 32 RBIs this month.