Carlos Correa Planning for Free Agency, Looking a “Big, Long Contract”

Carlos Correa is looking to go big

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop for the Houston Astros says he hasn’t seriously discussed a long-term deal with Houston and plans to seek a big payday in free agency next offseason.

Carlos Correa

“We were not close at all. There were not really any negotiations,” Correa said Thursday before the Astros opened their season against the Oakland Athletics. “It’s another year with the Houston Astros. I’m going to go out there, give it my best and try to bring another championship to this city.”

Correa said last week he turned down a $120 million, six-year offer and said Thursday he also declined a $125 million, five-year bid — paltry compared to the $341 million, 10-year deal shortstop Francisco Lindor agreed to with the New York Mets on Wednesday night. Lindor and Correa were both eligible for free agency after this season.

“I love it, it’s a great contract,” Correa said of Lindor’s deal. “He deserves every penny of it. … He pushed the market for every shortstop coming after him.”

Correa set a deadline of Opening Day to reach an agreement. He’ll earn $11.3 million this season.

“The relationship is great. There are no hard feelings,” Correa said. “It’s a business. They made it very clear to me, they said: ‘We don’t believe in long contracts. We don’t believe in big contracts.’ So once I hit free agency I’m going to look out for a big, long contract. They made it very clear that they don’t believe in that.”

Correa was Houston’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, a year the Astros experienced their second of three straight seasons with more than 100 losses.

He debuted in 2015 and was voted AL Rookie of the Year. Correa was an MLB All-Star in 2017, when he helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, he batted .264 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.

Salvador Pérez Lands Richest Deal in Kansas City Royals History

Salvador Pérez has landed a Royal(s) deal…

The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher has agreed to a four-year extension with the Kansas City Royals worth $82 million, according to ESPN, which makes it the richest deal in Royals history.

Salvador Perez

The Kansas City Star first reported the financial aspect of Perez’s extension.

The value of the new deal surpasses the four-year, $72 million contract the Royals gave outfielder Alex Gordon in 2016.

Perez’s extension, which begins with the 2022 season, comes after a 2020 season in which the six-time MLB All-Star was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.

“It’s hard to believe where I’m coming from, where I grew up, to see the situation I have right now, it makes me feel super happy,” Pérez said from the Royals’ spring training home in Surprise, Arizona. “My mother is going to be happy. I know my grandma is going to be happy. I know they’re excited for me to be here for four more years, maybe five.”

“Nobody loves to play baseball more than Salvador Pérez. There are players that like it just as much but nobody loves it more,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “Nobody can imagine him not being here.”

Pérez, who turns 31 in May, has not only established himself as one of the game’s premier catchers but also one of the most beloved players in Royals history. He was World Series MVP in 2015, when the club broke its 30-year title drought, and is coming off a season in which he hit .333 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs to win his third Silver Slugger.

He also has five Gold Gloves to his name, and the Royals are counting on his ability to bring out the best in their pitchers to help a young and promising starting rotation that they hope will lead them back to the playoffs.

“I mean, the catching position is without a doubt the most demanding position in our game,” Moore said. “It’s hard, I think almost impossible, to win championships unless you have somebody behind the plate, somebody at the catcher position, that’s a leader — that brings out the confidence in your pitching staff. And Salvy does all that.”

Indeed, Pérez also has proven to be durable behind the plate. He appeared in at least 129 games six consecutive seasons, often arguing against getting days off, until missing the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.

He returned to have one of the best seasons of his career during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“It’s the same with everybody: You trust your medical people,” Moore said. “Of course we talked about Salvy, but at the end of the day, they all signed off on it because they believe in his work ethic. They believe in the condition of his body. They believe in his heart and mind to play. He puts himself in a position to go out there every single day.”

Pérez also happens to be a personal favorite of John Sherman, the former part-owner of the AL Central rival Cleveland Indians, who leads the ownership group that purchased the Royals from the late David Glass prior to last season.

Sherman called a summit in Florida in January that included Moore, Pérez and several other executives, and it was during that meeting that they began hashing out the framework for the new contract. It wound up getting done just weeks before Opening Day, when the Royals hope to welcome about 10,000 fans back to Kauffman Stadium for each game.

“You know, they believe in me and what I do on the field,” Pérez said, “and all the fans in Kansas City, you know?”

The small-market Royals have long had a reputation for being stingy with contracts, but Pérez’s new deal is the latest sign that Sherman and the new owners are willing to open the checkbook to put a winner on the field.

“I want to stay here,” he said simply. “I want to finish my career here.”

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.

Marwin Gonzalez Signs One-Year, $3 Million Deal with Boston Red Sox

Marwin Gonzalez is in the red

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball utility player, a free-agent infielder, has agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, according to ESPN.

Marwin Gonzalez

Gonzalez spent the past two seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He hit .211 with five home runs and 22 RBIs last year in a pandemic-shortened schedule.

Before his stint in Minnesota, he played seven seasons with the Houston Astros. His best season was in 2017, when he hit .303/.377/.530 with 23 homers and 90 RBIs and helped the team win the World Series.

A switch-hitter known for his defensive versatility, Gonzalez played first base, second base, third base and right field for the Twins last season.

Boston’s agreement with Gonzalez, which was first reported by MLB.com, comes a day after the Red Sox traded Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team deal that yielded outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later.

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.

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.

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.

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“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.

Kansas City Royals Star Salvador Perez Named the MLB’s AL Comeback Player of the Year

Salvador Perez is a comeback king…

The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player, and longtime catcher for the Kansas City Royals, is this year’s American League Comeback Player of the Year.

Salvador Perez

Perez missed the 2019 season after having Tommy John surgery, but returned with a bang in the shortened ’20 campaign.

The 2015 World Series MVP hit a career-best .333 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 37 games.

His career-high .633 slugging percentage was the second-highest in Royals history, trailing only George Brett (.664 in 1980).

And he became just the third catcher since 1900 to record multihit games, including an extra-base hit, in six consecutive contests (September 11-18).

This year’s National League Comeback Player of the Year: Colorado Rockies reliever Daniel Bard.

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.