Maikel Franco Agrees to One-Year Deal with Baltimore Orioles

Maikel Franco is flying high…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball infielder has agreed to an $800,000, one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles.

Maikel Franco

Franco hit .278 with 16 doubles, eight homers and a team-high 38 RBIs for the Kansas City Royals during last year’s coronavirus pandemic-shortened season.

Franco would get a $200,000 performance bonus if he reaches 400 plate appearances. He would get a $250,000 assignment bonus if traded.

He earned $1,092,593 in prorated pay from a $2.95 million salary.

Franco has a .253 average with 110 homers and 381 RBI in seven major league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (2014-19) and the Royals.

He was originally signed for the Phillies by Koby Perez, now Baltimore’s senior director of international scouting.

Sixto Sanchez Throws First Pitches for Miami Marlins

Sixto Sanchez is officially in the game for Miami…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher threw his first pitch for the Miami Marlins in the first spring training game of his career, squarely meeting Jose Altuve‘s bat.

Sixto Sanchez

The Houston Astros star grounded a leadoff single on Monday, but Sanchez shook off the setback on his way to 1 2/3 scoreless innings in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The season debut by the highly regarded right-hander was delayed by a visa issue and then a false positive on a COVID-19 test.

“I don’t feel frustrated, but it was a weird feeling,” Sanchez said via a translator. “That false positive spoiled my momentum, but I’m not that far behind. I just can’t pitch as many innings as the other guys.”

Because of off days, the Marlins could skip Sanchez’s first two turns of the season. But he’s expected to join the rotation by mid-April and is widely projected as a future ace.

“We know what we have with Sixto,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s just a matter of getting the process started for him. … It looked like his stuff was good. He was throwing strikes for the most part.”

Sanchez, acquired in the trade two years ago that sent catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies, made his MLB debut last August. He went 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in seven starts and pitched five shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.

Against the Astros, Sanchez threw 30 pitches and topped out at 100 mph, which didn’t faze Altuve.

“He was ready, waiting for that fastball,” Sanchez said. “They’re going to be ready for that heat.”

As an alternative, Sanchez has been trying to polish his changeup this spring. He’ll get a chance to do so again Saturday, when he is tentatively scheduled to pitch three innings in his next start.

Jose Alvarez Signs One-Year, $1.15 Million Deal with San Francisco Giants

Jose Alvarez has landed a Giant(s) deal…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher and left-handed reliever has signed a $1.15 million, one-year contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Jose Alvarez

Alvarez will look to build off momentum he had with the Philadelphia Phillies last season when he posted a 1.42 ERA over eight outings. He was struck by a 105 mph line drive in the groin area August 20 against the Toronto Blue Jays and didn’t pitch for the rest of the year.

Alvarez allowed just one earned run over 6 1/3 innings before the injury, holding right-handed hitters to 3 for 15 with one extra-base hit. He pitched for second-year Giants manager Gabe Kapler for Philadelphia in 2019.

The deal that includes a club option for 2022 worth $1.5 million for the veteran reliever. Alvarez would receive a $100,000 buyout if the Giants decline the option.

Also, the Giants announced right-hander Jordan Humphreys was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres.

Jake Arrieta Returning to Chicago Cubs After Agreeing to One-Year, $6 Million Deal

Jake Arrieta is heading back to the Windy City

The Chicago Cubs are bringing back one of their World Series heroes, reaching an agreement on a one-year, $6 million deal with the 34-year-old part-Puerto Rican starter, according to ESPN.

Jake Arrieta

The deal, pending a physical, could include some incentives, according to the source.

Arrieta starred for the Cubs from 2013 to 2017, winning a Cy Young Award in the 2015 season and helping the team to three playoff appearances and a World Series championship in 2016. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, he threw two no-hitters and won 40 games.

Arrieta signed a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2018 season, but injuries marred his tenure there.

Arrieta joins a revamped rotation that includes World Series holdover Kyle Hendricks along with Zach Davies and Alec Mills. The Cubs showed early interest in Arrieta this offseason and began closing in on a deal after seeing him throw in Texas recently.

MLB Network was first to report news of the agreement.

Francisco Liriano & Toronto Blue Jays Agree to Minor League Deal

Francisco Liriano is flying high…

The 37-year-old Dominican veteran professional baseball relief pitcher, a left-hander, has agreed to a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays that includes an invitation to spring training.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano didn’t pitch in the MLB during the pandemic-altered 2020 season. He was in camp with the Philadelphia Phillies on a minor league deal when the Phillies released him in July before Opening Day.

He went 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019, striking out 63 and walking 35 in 70 innings.

Liriano, an MLB All-Star as a rookie with the Minnesota Twins in 2006, is 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA in 300 starts and 119 relief outings over 14 major league seasons with the Twins, Chicago White Sox, Pirates, Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers.

He pitched for Toronto in 2016 and 2017 before getting traded to Houston for outfielders Teoscar Hernández and Nori Aoki.

Liriano won a World Series ring with the 2017 Astros, making five short relief appearances during the postseason that year.

Freddy Galvis Signs One-Year Contract with Baltimore Orioles

Freddy Galvis is ready to play ball in the Charm City.

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop has agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles, helping the team fill a hole in their infield.

Freddy Galvis

Galvis broke into the big leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012 and spent the past two years with Cincinnati Reds.

He hit .220 with seven homers and 16 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Galvis is expected to take over as Baltimore’s shortstop from Jose Iglesias, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in December. Galvis played 33 games at shortstop last season and 16 at second base.

He would receive a $250,000 assignment bonus the first time he’s traded.

Galvis had a $5.5 million salary last season — the option year of his previous contract, which wound up as $2,037,037 prorated during the shortened season.

Galvis has a .247 career batting average with 95 home runs and 386 RBIs. A journeyman who is headed to his fifth big league team, Galvis started with the Phillies, made a one-year stop with the San Diego Padres in 2018 and played with the Toronto Blue Jays before joining Cincinnati during the 2019 season.

His best season offensively was in 2019, when he hit 23 homers with 70 RBIs.

Baltimore signed him primarily for his ability to deftly play in the middle of the infield. He has a .984 fielding percentage as a shortstop over 801 games.

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.

 

Randy Arozarena Named American League Championship Series MVP After Hitting Four Homers vs. Houston Astros

Randy Arozarena is the man of  the hour…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder continued his historic postseason run on Saturday with his seventh homer, a two-run shot in the first inning that gave theTampa Bay Rays a lead it never relinquished against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena was named MVP of the ALCS, becoming the fourth rookie — and first rookie position player — to be named MVP of a league championship series.

He has homered seven times during this year’s playoffs, just one shy of the Major League Baseball record, and now has 47 total bases since the regular season ended.

Tampa Baywill now head to the World Series after holding off baseball’s most infamous team. The Rays beat the Astros 4-2 in Game 7, ending Houston’s bid to become the second team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series.

“It goes without saying this has been a weird year,” Rays Game 7 starter — and winner — Charlie Morton said. “It was pretty apparent early on the guys had bought into each other during this time.

“It was very challenging, because at first everything was about the protocols and trying to keep guys safe. Just guys come onto the field every day, knowing they could get sick, and staff coming in, and just a ton of work by people behind the scenes. I am so proud of these guys.”

The formula for the Rays is consistency, and it was very much evident in Game 7. They stifle the opposition. They catch the ball on defense. And they ride just enough home runs on offense to bring home the win.

The Rays now head to their second World Series in franchise history. The last time they played in the Fall Classic was in 2008, when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tampa Bay entered the first 16-team playoff format in baseball history with a 40-20 record, tops in the AL, and thus earned the Junior Circuit’s No. 1 seed. That top seed held up, even though the Rays had to recover from losing three straight to Houston after winning the first three contests.

“Pretty special feeling,” Cash said. “I don’t know if I’ve had many better [moments] other than getting married and having three kids. This is right there below that. It can’t get much better than that. This is a special group to be a part of.”

For Houston, it was an emotional loss after a tumultuous season for the organization. The Astros were embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal last winter that tainted their 2017 World Series title and cost manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs.

“The legacy of this group is that these guys are ballplayers,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “These guys are men; they have been through a whole bunch other than on the ballfield. [Now] these guys can forget the problems they had that is out there and come together as a group and be forever friends.”

Hinch’s replacement, the 71-year-old Baker, helped restore some of the goodwill the Astros squandered. But with the Game 7 loss, Baker is still looking for the first championship of a managerial career that began in 1993. Yet, in 2020, there was much more that was brought into perspective.

“You go home and you regroup,” Baker said. “Personally, when I think of [former MLB executive Jimmie Lee Solomon, whose] funeral was today, and you think about the many friends I have lost over the last month, six months. That is the reality of life. Those are far greater losses than losing a ballgame.”

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.”

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.