Jonathan Villar Agrees to One-Year Deal with the New York Mets

Jonathan Villar has Mets his match…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player will be joining his fifth team in four seasons, agreeing to a one-year deal with the New York Mets, according to ESPN.

Jonathan Villar

Villar’s deal is for $3.55 million, according to multiple reports. His agreement with the Mets was first reported by MLB Network.

Villar, a switch-hitter, had a .232 batting average with 15 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 52 games between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He has shown his versatility in the field, playing second base, shortstop, third base and outfield during his career.

He adds infield depth behind new shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jeff McNeil.

Entering his ninth MLB season, Villar has also played for the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros since 2013.

He has a career .259 batting average with 80 home runs, 283 RBIs and 218 stolen bases.

Eddie Rosario Agrees to One-Year $8 Million Dollar Deal with Cleveland Indians

Eddie Rosario is headed to The CLE.

The 29-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball left fielder, who spent the past six seasons with the Minnesota Twins, has agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the Cleveland Indians, according to ESPN.

Eddie Rosario

Rosario’s contract is pending the completion of a physical, according to sources.

The Indians know Rosario well. He has been a nemesis with the AL Central rival Twins, hitting more career homers (22 in 93 games) against Cleveland than any other team. He hit 11 of those homers at Progressive Field, his most at any road ballpark.

Earlier Friday, the Indians finalized a one-year, $5 million contract with free-agent second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who was a solid free-agent pickup in 2020 when he won his first Gold Glove.

 

Rosario is a huge addition for Cleveland’s outfield, which has been an issue for the past two seasons as the team has used a platoon of players.

After the Indians sent MLB All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets earlier this month and cut more than $30 million from their payroll, Chris Antonetti, the team’s president of baseball operations, tried to soothe some outraged Cleveland fans by pledging to put money back into the roster.

 

He has done that in bringing back Hernández and acquiring Rosario, who’ll provide some needed pop to manager Terry Francona‘s lineup following the losses of Lindor and Carlos Santana.

 

Rosario had his best season in 2019, when he reached career-highs with 32 homers and 109 RBIs in 137 games. During the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, he batted .257 with 13 homers and drove in 42 runs in 57 games.

Rosario, who was eligible for his third and final year of arbitration, became a free agent one season early after the Twins declined to offer him a 2021 contract. A left-handed hitter, he has a career .277 average with 119 homers and 388 RBIs.

Hernandez’s deal with the Indians includes a $6 million club option in 2022 with no buyout.

Hernández, 30, was an invaluable addition last season. He led the AL with 20 doubles and helped the Indians secure a wild-card berth. He batted .283 with three homers, 20 RBIs and 35 runs in 58 games.

Cleveland acquired middle infielders Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez from the Mets in the January 7 trade of Lindor, a four-time MLB All-Star who was entering his final year under contract and had rejected numerous long-term offers.

Francisco Lindor Agrees to $22.3 Million Deal with New York Mets

Francisco Lindor has Mets his match…

The New York Mets have agreed to one-year contract with the 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop to avoid salary arbitration.

Francisco Lindor

Lindor, who’ll earn $22.3 million, was acquired from Cleveland Indians last week along with starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco in a blockbuster trade that excited Mets fans.

New York parted with young infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario plus two minor leaguers in a deal that signaled the club is serious about paying for star players and contending immediately under new owner Steve Cohen.

The next step will be trying to keep Lindor beyond this year. The four-time MLB All-Star shortstop said he’s not opposed to signing a long-term contract with the Mets. He said he wouldn’t want to negotiate after the start of spring training, though.

Lindor had a down year at the plate during the coronavirus pandemic-shortened season. He batted .258 with eight homers, 27 RBI and a .750 OPS while starting all 60 games and earning just more than $6.48 million prorated from his $17.5 million salary.

Michael Conforto has also agreed to a deal with the Mets…

The 27-year-old half-Puerto Rican professional baseball outfielder will get $12.25 million in his final year before potentially becoming a free agent.

Conforto, who turns 28 in March, has become a steady and productive staple in the middle of New York’s dangerous lineup. He batted a career-best .322 in 54 games last season with nine homers, 31 RBIs and a .927 OPS. The slugging right fielder also scored 40 runs, played solid defense and was selected second team All-MLB. He made $2,962,963 prorated from an $8 million salary.

Conforto was drafted 10th overall by the Mets in 2014 out of Oregon State and helped them reach the World Series as a rookie the following season. The 2017 All-Star can become a free agent after the upcoming season and is represented by Scott Boras. Tthe Mets have said they’re interested in talking to Conforto about a long-term contract — and he sounded open to the idea. But this late in the game, reaching an agreement before he hits the open market could prove challenging.

Edwin Díaz has agreed to $7 million in his second year. Seth Lugo agreed to $2,925,000.

The hard-throwing Díaz was so awful in 2019 during his first season with the Mets that he lost his job as closer and got booed repeatedly at Citi Field. He got off to a rough start again last year but rediscovered the nasty fastball-slider combination that helped him lead the majors with 57 saves as a 2018 MLB All-Star for the Seattle Mariners.

The right-hander finished 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA and six saves in 26 appearances. He struck out a whopping 50 batters against 14 walks in 25 2/3 innings, reclaiming his ninth-inning role. Perhaps most important, he gave up only two home runs after serving up 15 in 58 innings the year before.

Díaz, who turns 27 in March, made $1,888,889 in prorated pay last season from his $5.1 million salary.

Lugo wound up back in an injury-depleted rotation last season because the Mets needed help there. The versatile right-hander prefers to start but has been more effective as a reliever the last few years. He went 3-4 with a 5.15 ERA and three saves in 16 games, including seven starts.

The 31-year-old Puerto Rican baseball player, a 34th-round draft pick out of Centenary College in Louisiana, earned a prorated $740,741 from his $2 million salary last season. Until the Mets finish assembling their pitching staff, it’s uncertain whether Lugo will be in the bullpen or rotation to begin the season.

Cleveland Indians Trade Francisco Lindor to New York Mets

Francisco Lindor is headed to the Northeast…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball player, nicknamed “Paquito” and “Mr. Smile,” has been traded by the Cleveland Indians along with pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets, who have a new owner willing to spend at baseball’s highest levels.

Francisco Lindor

“They did not come cheaply,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said. “What we’re trying to do is create a new reality rather than deal with perception.”

The cash-strapped Indians sent Lindor, a four-time MLB All-Star shortstop — and one of baseball’s best all-around players — and Carrasco to the Mets for infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene — a move Cleveland hopes will keep it competitive and capable of ending baseball’s longest World Series title drought.

Dealing Lindor, who’ll be eligible for free agency after the 2021 season, was inevitable for the midmarket Indians, who are unable to compete financially with MLB‘s big spenders and dropped roughly $30 million in dealing two prominent players and fan favorites.

“These are people we care about, not just players, and guys that loved the organization and have great memories here,” said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, who said he was in tears when he spoke with Lindor and Carrasco. “Trades like this are really tough. But it’s the right thing to do.”

For the Mets, landing Lindor is a home run and another major move by hedge fund owner Steven Cohen, who bought the team on November 6 from the Wilpon and Katz families and has pledged to increase spending.

One of his next big-ticket moves figures to be signing Lindor to a long-term contract, something the Indians couldn’t do. Alderson said he hasn’t yet had any discussions with Lindor’s agent.

“We acquired Francisco because of his present ability and the possibility that he could be a Met long term. There’s no guarantee of that. It’s something we will approach in the next few weeks,” Alderson said. “At this point, we felt comfortable giving up the group of players we did for both Lindor and Carrasco. … We gave up a lot of control for short-term control, but I think we’re comfortable with that and what we might be able to do going forward.”

Lindor can affect the game with his bat, glove and legs. A two-time Gold Glove winner, he’s a career .285 hitter and has averaged 29 homers, 86 RBIs and 21 steals in his six major league seasons — all with the Indians, who drafted him in 2011 and developed him.

He has also been the face of the Indians franchise, with an infectious smile and joy for playing that has made him one of Cleveland’s most popular athletes. But he’s gone now, leaving the Indians without their best player and the team’s fans grumbling about owner Paul Dolan.

Carrasco is one of the game’s best comeback stories, overcoming leukemia to become one of the AL‘s steadiest starters. The 33-year-old has an 88-73 career record with a 3.73 ERA.

With an abundance of young pitchers, including Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber, the Indians were in position to move a player of Carrasco’s caliber.

He can be replaced. Finding someone to fill Lindor’s shoes will be much tougher.

Lindor had $6,481,481 in prorated pay from a $17.5 million salary last year.

Carrasco is signed at $12 million in each of the next two seasons, part of a deal that includes a $14 million team option for 2023 with a $3 million buyout. The option would become guaranteed if he pitches in 170 innings in 2022 and is found to be healthy for the 2023 season.

New York’s payroll is approaching the $210 million start of the luxury tax.

“It’s a significant demarcation,” Alderson said. “I wouldn’t say that it’s a line that cannot be passed.”

Cohen is hoping to turn around a franchise that has not won a World Series since 1986. He fired general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, brought back Alderson as team president and hired Jared Porter from Arizona as GM under Alderson.

Hansel Robles Agrees to One-Year Contract with Minnesota Twins

Hansel Robles is Twinning

The Minnesota Twins have signed the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher and former Los Angeles Angels closer to a one-year contract.

Hansel Robles

The deal is worth $2 million, according to The Associated Press.

Robles saved 23 games in 27 chances in 2019 when he went 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA in a 71 appearances. Last season, however, he struggled with a 10.26 ERA in 18 appearances, finishing 0-2 with one save in three chances.

He wasn’t tendered a contract by the Angels this offseason, making him a free agent. The Angels traded him for Cincinnati Reds closer Raisel Iglesias this offseason.

Robles will join the back end of a Twins bullpen led by closer Taylor Rogers, who has 39 saves in 47 chances over the past two seasons.

Robles has a 3.91 ERA in his career over 313 appearances with the New York Mets and Angels in six major league seasons.

Jose Alvarado Traded to Philadelphia Phillies 

Jose Alvarado is Phillie-ng good…

The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired the 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, a left-handed reliever, in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

Jose Alvarado

In the deal, Tampa Bay sent Alvarado to Philadelphia, the Phillies sent left-hander Garrett Cleavinger to Los Angeles and the Dodgers sent infielder Dillon Paulson and a player to be named later to Tampa Bay.

Alvarado has a career ERA of 3.46 in 149 appearances over four seasons with the Rays. He pitched in nine games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and had a 6.00 ERA. His best season was in 2018, when he appeared in a career-high 70 games and had a 2.39 ERA. He is 2-15 in his career with 15 saves.

Cleavinger, 26, made one appearance for the Phillies last season, making his major league debut on September 17 against the New York Mets.

Paulson has yet to appear in a major league game. He had a slash line of .243/.366/.433 between two stops in the Dodgers’ minor league system in 2019.

 

Boston Red Sox Rehire Alex Cora as the Team’s Manager

Alex Cora is back in Boston…

The Boston Red Sox have rehired the team’s 45-year-old Puerto Rican former manager,.

Alex Cora

Cora led the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title but mutually agreed to part with the club amid the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. He was suspended for one season by Major League Baseball for his role in the scandal.

Boston, which ended the 60-game shortened season with a 24-36 record, decided not to retain manager Ron Roenicke, who replaced Cora in January after serving on his coaching staff.

The Red Sox were not allowed to speak to Cora until after the World Series, which ended October 27. The lack of activity before then was a sign that they were focused on Cora.

Cora agreed to a two-year contract that has a two-year team option for 2023 and ’24, the team said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. …

“Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”

The team he returns to bears little resemblance to the one he last managed.

Chaim Bloom is running the baseball side now, taking over last offseason just in time to part ways with Cora. He welcomed Cora back in a team statement Friday.

“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” Bloom said. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. …

“Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. … He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance.”

Bloom’s other big move last offseason was to trade 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with David Price as part of an effort to get the Red Sox under the threshold for baseball’s competitive balance tax.

With Betts and Price gone, Chris Sale out with Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez recovering from a COVID-19-related heart problem, the Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East.

But Cora also has hope for improvement in the 2021 season.

Sale is expected to return in the first half. J.D. Martinez, an MLB All-Star his first two years in Boston before struggling in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is also under contract for at least one more year.

And the Red Sox have plenty of salary flexibility gained in the deal that sent Betts and Price to Los Angeles.

Cora replaced John Farrell as Boston’s manager after the team twice finished last under Farrell, despite winning the 2013 World Series with him. With Cora at the helm in 2018, the Red Sox raced to a 108-54 regular-season record and an easy win in the AL East. They led the majors with a .268 team batting average and 876 runs scored.

Boston then dominated the postseason with an 11-3 mark, posting wins over the Yankees and Astros in the AL division and championship series, respectively, before defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

The Red Sox couldn’t sustain 2018’s success in Cora’s second season, finishing 84-78 and third in the division, 19 games behind the Yankees.

Cora, who worked as an ESPN analyst before leaving for the Astros, played 14 MLB seasons, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox, winning the 2007 World Series with Boston. He also played for the Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Texas Rangers before finishing his career with the Washington Nationals in 2011.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Juan Soto Becomes MLB’s Youngest National League Batting Champion

Juan Soto has swung his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and Washington Nationals outfielder, nicknamed ”Childish Bambino,“ has become the National League‘s youngest batting champion, as Washington closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta Braves teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the MLB lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Soto was also named Washington’s player of the year in voting by local media.

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series.

Toronto Blue Jays to Celebrate Tony Fernandez with Special Uniform Patch This Season

Tony Fernandez is being honored in a special way by his old team…

The Toronto Blue Jays will celebrate the late Dominican professional baseball player and Major League Baseball legend, who passed away earlier this year, by wearing a patch with his No. 1 on the left sleeve of uniform jerseys this season.

Tony Fernandez

A member of Toronto’s 1993 World Series champions who had nine RBIs in the six-game win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Fernandez had kidney problems and died on February 16 at age 57.

He is the Blue Jays’ career leader in games (1,450), hits (1,583) and triples (72). He spent 12 seasons with Toronto in four stints and had a .288 batting average and 2,276 hits over 17 big league seasons. Fernandez also played for the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets and New York YankeesCleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers. He was a five-time MLB All-Star.

“There are few players in the game who can impact a team and a fan base the way Tony did in Toronto,” Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said in a statement. “Beyond his impressive career numbers, achievements, and accolades, Tony resonated with baseball fans because of how he played the game and conducted himself as a teammate.”