Tampa Bay Rays Acquire Nelson Cruz in Four-Player Trade with Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz is heading south for the winter… 

The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired the 41-year-old  Dominican professional baseball designated hitter and right fielder, one of baseball’s most proven sluggers, in a four-player trade with the Minnesota Twins.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz was well aware of the likelihood he’d be dealt this month, with the disappointing Twins well out of contention. Nonetheless he told reporters the news still felt “shocking” and “heartbreaking” to him after becoming fond of the organization over his 2 1/2 seasons in Minnesota.

“It’s a tough one,” Cruz said. “I guess it’s a new chapter, and I will embrace it the way I embrace everything in my life to go help the Tampa Bay Rays to win a championship.”

Moments before opening a four-game series at Cleveland, the Rays, who entered the night just one game behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East, announced they got Cruz and minor leaguer Calvin Faucher from Minnesota in exchange for minor league right-handers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.

Cruz is a seven-time MLB All-Star with 436 career homers and 1,202 RBIs. He’ll bring some needed pop to Tampa Bay’s lineup and should help the Rays against left-handers. They’re hitting .226 versus lefties.

Usually frugal Tampa Bay assumes $5.1 million remaining in Cruz’s $13 million salary. The Rays began the season with a $68.3 million payroll, 26th among the 30 teams.

Cruz also has plenty of playoff experience with 17 homers and 37 RBIs in 46 postseason games. He’s batting .294 with 19 homers and 50 RBIs this season, and over 258 games with the Twins he finished with 76 homers and a .984 OPS.

“People joke about how he’s ageless, and it really does feel that way,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.

With a week until the trade deadline and no shot at making the playoffs, the Twins figured they’d get something for Cruz to begin building toward the future. Minnesota entered Thursday at 41-55.

A 17-year veteran, Cruz signed a one-year, $13 million deal with Minnesota in February. He has also played with the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Ramgers. He hit at least 37 homers per season from 2014-19. He belted a career-high 44 homers for the Mariners in 2015.

“We thought we should be in the playoff race,” Cruz said. “Never thought we should be in this situation. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. You never want to leave the places where you are, where you feel comfortable. It is what it is. That’s part of the business.”

Both Ryan and Strotman were in Triple-A Durham‘s rotation.

Ryan, a 25-year-old who will also pitch for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, had a 3.63 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 57 innings for the Bulls and was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 10 prospect in Tampa Bay’s system. He was a seventh-round draft pick in 2018.

Strotman, 24, had a 3.39 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings with Durham. He was the 17th-ranked Rays prospect after being drafted in the fourth round in 2017.

Faucher, 25, had a 7.04 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings for Double-A Wichita. He was a 10th-round draft pick by the Twins in 2017.

Jesse Chavez Signs Minor League Deal with the Los Angeles Angels

Jesse Chavez is springing into action…

The 37-year-old Latino veteran right-hander has re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels on a minor league deal.

Jesse Chavez

Chavez will join the Angels’ spring training camp in Tempe, Arizona, after he clears their intake protocols, according to the team.

Chavez appeared in 38 games for the Angels in 2017, making 21 starts. He left for the Texas Rangers as a free agent after one season, and he excelled after being traded in July 2018 to the Chicago Cubs, where he was managed by current Angels skipper Joe Maddon.

Chavez spent the past two seasons back with the Rangers, struggling last season with a 6.88 ERA in 18 appearances.

With experience as a starter, long reliever and late-inning reliever, Chavez could provide versatility for the Angels, whose long-struggling pitching staff can use all the depth it can get.

Chavez is a native of the Los Angeles area, graduating from high school in Fontana before pitching in junior college in Riverside. He has also pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Alex Meneses to Appear on The CW’s “Walker”

Alex Meneses has landed a mother of a role…

The 56-year-old half-Mexican American actress has joined the cast of The CW’s drama Walker in a recurring role.

Alex Meneses

Meneses, who has appeared on Jane The Virgin and Why Women Kill, will play Adriana, a successful psychiatrist and published author and mother of Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan), Cordell Walker’s new partner in the Texas Rangers. She’s a strong personality who’s manipulative and very invasive when it comes to her daughter Micki’s life.

Walker, which launched in January, has become The CW’s most-watched series premiere in five years and has been renewed for a second season. It stars Jared Padalecki as Walker, a widower and father of two with his own moral code, as he returns home to Austin after being undercover for two years.

The series, a reimagining of CBS’ long-running 1990s action/crime series Walker, Texas Ranger, hails from Rideback and CBS Studios.

Meneses is coming off feature film The Wall of Mexico and has also appeared in Everybody Loves RaymondThe Goldbergs, CSI and Prison Break.

Nomar Mazara Agrees to One-Year, $1.75 Million Deal with Detroit Tigers

Nomar Mazara is roarin’ into the Motor City

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball right fielder has sealed the deal with the Detroit Tigers on a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

Nomar Mazara

Mazara, who turns 26 in April, hit .228 with one home run in 42 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. That was his first season with the Chicago White Sox after he spent four with the Texas Rangers.

“After a frustrating 2020 season, I’m looking forward to a fresh start and getting to work with the coaching staff, especially AJ Hinch, who I always enjoyed competing against during his time in Houston,” Mazara said. “I’ve come to really appreciate coming to Detroit as a visiting player and can’t wait to join their baseball community this season.”

Hinch took over as Detroit’s manager this offseason.

Mazara hit 20 home runs in each of his first three years with the Texas Rangers, then 19 in 2019. He tied for fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2016, the year Detroit pitcher Michael Fulmer won the award.

“Heading through the offseason we were looking to add a left-handed-hitting outfielder to provide AJ with more options for the lineup, and bringing Nomar on board does exactly that,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said.

Mazara’s deal includes $500,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $100,000 each for 350, 400, 450, 500 and 550.

To make room for Mazara, the Tigers designated right-hander John Schreiber for assignment.

Elvis Andrus Traded to the Oakland Athletics

Elvis Andrus is heading west…

The 32-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop has been traded to the Oakland Athletics.

Elvis Andrus

The announcement comes two months after the Texas Rangers said the only player remaining from their only two World Series appearances would no longer be the starting shortstop after 12 seasons in that role.

Texas sent Andrus, catcher Aramis Garcia and $13.5 million to the A’s for designated hitter Khris Davis, catcher Jonah Heim and right-hander Dane Acker.

Andrus is owed $14 million in each of the next two seasons. The $120 million, eight-season deal he signed in 2015 also includes a $15 million option for 2023 that now, because of the trade, becomes a player option if he has 550 plate appearances in 2022, or 1,100 combined in 2021-22.

“At the beginning it was a little shock but at the same time I understood what was going on in our (Texas) organization, they’re rebuilding and that process,” Andrus said. “When I found out, the opportunity playing for Oakland opened up, it makes sense for me for my career, for where I’m at right now.”

The AL West champion A’s, who made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, recently lost shortstop Marcus Semien to Toronto in free agency.

“Elvis will fit in very well with our infielders. He has a passion for defense as do our other guys,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “I’ve seen his leadership qualities from the opposing dugout for 10 years now.”

The Rangers, whose only World Series appearances came in 2010 and 2011, said in December that Gold Glove-winning third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be given the opportunity to be their top shortstop. Andrus was told then to prepare to play all infield positions.

When Andrus made his MLB debut in 2009 at age 20, the Rangers moved Michael Young — then 32 himself — to third base after he had been an All-Star shortstop the previous five seasons. Young is still the team’s career leader and Andrus is second on the list for games played, at-bats and triples. Young is also the career leader for hits and runs, with Andrus third in both those categories.

Andrus has a .274 career batting average, and the two-time All-Star is the only MLB player with at least 10 seasons of 145 games or more since his debut. But he hit .194 last season when limited to 29 games because of lingering lower back issues, and said he isn’t sure people realized how difficult it was to play through that.

“I was really hurt, I wasn’t physically ready,” he said. “Last year took a lot of me. I think the team didn’t like what they saw and kind of didn’t understand me a little bit. At the end I think it’s something that you cannot control as a player. They have a different direction than where I’m at right now.”

Davis led the majors with 48 home runs in 2018, but has since then struggled to consistently find his stroke. Now primarily a DH after once being a regular left fielder, he has hit .243 with 218 homers and 580 RBIs in 938 big league games for the A’s (2016-20) and the Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15). Davis hit .271 with 15 doubles, 32 homers and 80 RBIs in 79 career games against Texas.

“Khris has been a popular favorite of everyone here in Oakland, including mine,” Melvin said. “We wish him the best in his new baseball chapter.”

Davis, signed for $16.75 million this season, hit .220 over 133 games in 2019, after a quirky stat of four straight years with a .247 batting average. He appeared in 30 games during the shortened 2020 campaign and hit .200 with two homers and 10 RBIs.

Garcia, acquired from the San Francisco Giants on a waiver claim in November, missed all of the 2020 season while recovering from surgery on his right hip labrum.

Heim, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut with the A’s in 2020, hitting .211 with five RBIs in 13 games. Acker was the A’s fourth-round selection out of Oklahoma in the shortened MLB draft last summer.

The Rangers were an AL-worst 22-38 last season, and turned their focus to younger players. They had three 22-year-old rookies in the starting lineup on the final day of the season, a decade after the team’s first World Series when Andrus was the youngster.

Nelson Cruz Reportedly Agrees to One-Year, $13 Million Contract with Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz is twinning again…

The 40-year-old professional baseball player, a designated hitter and right fielder, and the Minnesota Twins are reportedly in agreement on a one-year, $13 million contract, according to ESPN.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz has been a linchpin of the Bomba Squad Twins‘ lineup. And he’ll be back right in the middle of it in 2021.

The slugger, who hit .303 with 16 home runs, 33 RBIs and a career-high OPS+ (169) in the pandemic-shortened season, finished sixth in the American League MVP voting and was selected as the Marvin Miller Man of Year in the annual Players Choice Awards.

The award goes to the player whom his peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.” Cruz donated a fire engine and an ambulance and helped build a police station in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic, and his Boomstick 23 Foundation has contributed wheelchairs and crutches, and he set up a clinic to provide medical and dental care.

His mission to help his hometown and other towns in the Dominican Republic led to him receiving the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the 2020 ESPYS.

Cruz played last season on a $12 million deal after swatting a team-high 41 home runs while reaching 108 RBIs in 2019, despite two stints on the injured list for a wrist problem. He has reached the 40-homer mark four times in his career; Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth hold the all-time mark with five seasons. Cruz also was the 57th player in major league history to reach 400 career home runs.

His .992 OPS in 2020 ranked fourth in the AL and was the fifth-best mark in MLB history by a player in his age-39 season or older, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. And he led all major leaguers with a 1.182 OPS on pitches in the strike zone over the past two seasons.

From 2014 to 2018, no player in the majors hit more home runs than Cruz (203). In 16 major league seasons, Cruz, a six-time MLB All-Star who has three Silver Slugger Awards, has hit 417 home runs with 1,152 RBIs and a .278 batting average for the Twins, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers.

Martin Perez Agrees to One-Year Deal to Return to the Boston Red Sox

Martin Perez is seeing Red (Sox)

The 29-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, a veteran left-hander, has agreed to a one-year, $5 million guaranteed contract to return to the Boston Red Sox, according to ESPN.

Martin Perez 

Perez’s agreement, which was first reported by The Athletic, includes a club option for a second year in 2022.

Perez spent last season with the Red Sox, going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA, which was preceded by a season in which he went 10-7 with a 5.12 ERA with the Minnesota Twins.

He had spent the previous seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, posting double-digit wins three separate times.

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.

Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez Looking to Make Bid for the New York Mets

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez have the New York Mets on their minds…

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar and her 44-year-old Dominican American fiancé and former-baseball-star-turned-sports-commentator have retained J.P. Morgan to represent them in raising capital for a possible bid for the Mets team, according to multiple reports.

Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez

A three-time American League MVP, Rodriguez retired in August 2016 with 698 home runs, a .295 average and 2,086 RBIs in 22 years. He was suspended for the 2014 season for violations of Major League Baseball‘s drug agreement and labor contract.

A-Rod earned about $448 million as a player. The 14-time All-Star started his career with the Seattle Mariners, signed a record contract with the Texas Rangersin December 2000, and then moved from shortstop to third base when he was traded from the Rangers to the New York Yankees ahead of the 2004 season.

Lopez, a multi-hyphenate, has launched a number of companies, as well as invested in others globally.

The Mets’ ownership is headed by Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law Saul Katza nd Fred Wilpon’s son Jeff, the team’s chief operating officer. The team said December 4 it was negotiating an agreement with Steve Cohen. The hedge fund manager bought an 8% limited partnership stake in 2012 for $40 million. The deal under discussion would have seen him acquire an 80% controlling share in a transaction that values the team at $2.6 billion, and the Wilpons would have remained in place for five years.

The sides announced the deal’s collapse on February 6, and the Mets’ owners said they intended to find a new buyer. Allen & Co. represents the Mets’ owners.

Given the drop in equities prices caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, the next few months figure to be a difficult time to raise money for a bid.

Leury Garcia Signs One-Year Deal with the Chicago White Sox

Leury Garcia is staying in the Windy City

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Chicago White Sox.

Leury Garcia

Garcia gets $3.25 million in 2020, with the White Sox holding a $3.5 million option for 2021 with a $250,000 buyout. He avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25-million contract in January.

Garcia hit .279 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and a team-leading 93 runs for Chicago last year.

He made his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers on April 6, 2013.