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.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

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.

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.

Dave Martinez Reportedly Agrees to Three-Year Contract Extension with Washington Nationals

Dave Martinez is extending his stay in the The District

The Washington Nationals and the 56-year-old former Major League Baseball outfielder and current manager/coach have agreed to a three-year extension, according to ESPN.

Dave Martinez

The deal is worth $7.5 million, according to USA Today.

Martinez had an option on his contract for next season, but this deal would replace that and keep the manager with the reigning World Series champs through the 2023 season.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who signed his own new contract this season, stated that re-signing Martinez was a priority for him.

Anthony Rendon Begins Los Angeles Angels Career with 1.000 Batting Average

Anthony Rendon has started his MLBrun with a new team with a bang…

The 29-year-old Mexican American professional baseball player, who helped the Washington Nationals win the World Series last year, left his first game in a new uniform with a 1.000 batting average.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon went 2-for-2 in his spring training debut with the Los Angeles Angels, driving in a run and scoring one Tuesday during a 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Back from spending time with his wife and newborn child, the MLB All-Starthird baseman played three innings on the field.

“It’s inevitable. You’ve got to get out there every day to get comfortable,” Rendon said. “So day one, you take in stride and take it slow, too. Not try to get too crazy.”

Rendon, who signed a $245 million, seven-year contract as a free agent in December, was just one of the big-name Angels players to play for the first time this February. He batted third, between AL MVP Mike Troutand designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, the two-way star from Japan who also pitches.

Outfielder Justin Uptonand first baseman Albert Pujolsalso were in the lineup for the first time.

“Definitely exciting. Just trying to see how it’s going to pan out throughout the year,” Rendon said. “Kind of getting used to each other and getting in the dugout and seeing what guys’ routines are, and you don’t want to get in anybody’s way at all.”

The major league leader in RBI last season, Rendon has hit .301 or better the past three seasons, with two 100-RBI campaigns. He has totaled 83 home runs in that span, including a career-high 34 last season.

Last October, his home run off Zack Greinkebegan Washington’s late rally in Game 7 at Houston for the championship.

“Right now he’s one of the better clutch hitters in the game. He almost 100 percent of the time works a great at-bat,” Angels manager Joe Maddonsaid. “He is one of those dudes that can handle good pitching well and you can’t say that about everybody.”

Rendon heard the cheers from the small crowd at Tempe Diablo Stadiumas he walked up for his first at-bat as an Angel in the bottom of the first inning. He worked the count to 3-and-2 before lining a single to left field, moving Trout to second base.

Rendon scored easily from second base on Pujols’ two-out, bases-loaded single.

In the second, Rendon picked up his first RBI wearing Angels red when he sliced a two-out, opposite-field single to right field to drive in David Fletcher.

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.

Gio Gonzalez Agrees to One-Year, $5 Million Deal with the Chicago White Sox

It’ll be a White (Sox)Christmas for Gio Gonzalez

The 34-year-old Cuban American MLB player and veteran free-agent left-handed pitcher has agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, the team has announced.

Gio Gonzalez

The White Sox will pay Gonzalez $4.5 million in 2020 and hold a $7 million option for the 2021 season, with a $500,000 buyout. He can make an additional $500,000 with incentives over the two years, according to ESPN.

Gonzalez will finally get a chance to pitch for the team that took him with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2004 amateur draft. Chicago dealt Gonzalez to the Philadelphia Philliesfollowing the 2005 season as part of the trade that sent Aaron Rowandto the Philliesfor Jim Thome, then reacquired Gonzalez a year later along with Gavin Floydfor Freddy Garcia.

The White Sox traded Gonzalez to the Oakland Athleticsfor Nick Swisherin January 2008.

Gonzalez debuted with the Athletics in 2008 and is 130-99 with a 3.68 ERA over 12 years with Oakland (2008-11), the Washington Nationals (2012-18) and the Milwaukee Brewers(2018-19). 

He was an All-Starin 2011 and 2012, when he won a career-high 21 games and had a 2.89 ERA.

“We view Gio as an important addition to our pitching staff,” general manager Rick Hahnsaid in a statement. “He brings an impressive resume to our club as a veteran left-hander who has enjoyed success and should have a positive impact on our younger pitchers in terms of competing, battling and helping us win games at the major league level.”

Gonzalez was 3-2 with a 3.50 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 17 starts and 19 appearances last season for the Brewers, who signed him last year to a second option on a contract that wound up being worth $65.5 million over seven years.

He made only six starts before spending more than a month on the injured list with left arm fatigue, recording a 2-1 record with a 3.19 ERA and 25 strikeouts. But he did return to make 11 more starts and log 56⅓ innings in the second half as the Brewers won the wild card.

Gonzalez also spent the final month of the 2018 season with the Brewers, who acquired him in an August 31 trade with the Nationals. He was 3-0 in five starts for the Brewers down the stretch, then started Games 1 and 4 of the NLCSagainst the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was pulled after two innings of the opener and one inning of his second appearance, allowing one run in each.

Chicago went 72-89 in its seventh straight losing season and missed the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years since its 2005 World Seriestitle. But with young players establishing themselves in the majors and promising prospects in the minors, the White Sox expect to contend for a postseason spot.

Right-hander Lucas Giolitowent from the highest ERA among qualifiers in 2018 to his first All-Star season, going 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 29 starts.

Anthony Rendon Considered the MLB’s Top Mega-Dollar Free Agent

It looks like all bets are on Anthony Rendonto be the first of the mega-dollar free agents to come off the board this winter…

The 29-year-old Latino third baseman has already had meetings with teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers, according to ESPN. And before Rendon reached the open market, the Washington Nationals made an offer in an effort to keep him.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon helped lead the Nationals to the World Seriestitle and finished third in the National League MVPballoting last month.

As reported in September, friends of Rendon believe he’s not going to take the conventional path through free agency. Rather than look for a long-term deal that lasts into his late 30s, they think he’s more interested in a deal in the range of five years, presumably for a higher average annual salary. In fact, some executives believe that Rendon’s forthcoming contract could establish a record for highest annual value.

The Rangers will move into a new ballpark next spring, and Rendon, a Texas native, could be the big marquee name on the revamped team.

The Dodgers have coveted Rendon because of his perfect fit with their hitting approach and their financial strategy. Under baseball operations chief Andrew Friedman, they have shied away from doling out deals of more than three-to-five years. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has one more year left on his contract, but he has told reporters that he’d be willing to change position. 

The Dallas Morning Newswas the first to report Rendon’s meeting with the Rangers.

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.