Wander Franco Reportedly Agrees to 12-Year Contract with Tampa Bay Rays Worth Up To $223 Million

Wander Franco has a dozen reasons to smile…

The Tampa Bay Rays saw enough in the 70 major league games that 20-year-old Dominican professional baseball shortstop played to secure a massive contract with him.

Wander FrancoFranco has agreed to a 12-year contract that guarantees him around $185 million, according to ESPN sources. The deal is worth a maximum of $223 million.

That dwarfs the previous record contract for a player with less than one full year of service time. At age 21 in 2019, Ronald Acuna Jr. signed an eight-year, $100 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.

Franco hit .288 with seven homers and 39 RBIs last season and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. He stepped up his game in the postseason, batting .368 with two homers and four RBIs in four games.

Franco wasn’t set to become arbitration eligible until 2024 and couldn’t become a free agent until 2027, but that was under the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires on December 1.

Jhoulys Chacín Agrees to One-Year, Guaranteed $1.25 Million Contract with Colorado Rockies

The Rockies times will continue for Jhoulys Chacín

The 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball right-handed pitcher has agreed to a guaranteed $1.25 million, one-year contract with the Colorado Rockies that allows him to earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses.

Chacin was 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA in a career-high 45 relief appearances and one start for Colorado, which signed him on April 1 after he was released from a minor league contract by the New York Yankees near the end of spring training.

He became a free agent after the World Series.

Chacín is 81-89 with a 4.06 ERA in 227 starts and 76 relief appearances in 13 seasons with Colorado (2009-14, 2021), the Arizona Diamondbacks (2015), Atlanta Braves (2016), the Los Angeles Angels (2016), San Diego Padres (2017), Milwaukee Brewers (2018-19), Boston Red Sox (2019) and Atlanta (2020).

Chacín would earn $125,000 for making five starts and for each additional five through 20 and $125,000 for 30 pitching appearances and each additional 10 through 60. His total bonuses are capped at $500,000.

Houston Astros Reportedly Offer Carlos Correa a Five-Year Contract Worth $160 million

Carlos Correa has a Astro-nomical offer to consider…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop, currently a free agent, has been offered a five-year contract worth $160 million by the Houston Astros, according to reports.

Carlos Correa

Correa, whose name has been brought up by many this offseason to potentially fill the New York Yankees’ need at shortstop, slashed .279/.366/.485 this past season with 26 homers, 34 doubles and 92 RBI in 148 games for the Astros’ high-powered offense.

Selected to the MLB All-Star team in 2017 and 2021, Correa has spent seven seasons in Houston and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 with the Astros.

The former number one overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Correa is fresh off a World Series appearance against the Atlanta Braves where he hit .261 with one double, four RBI and no home runs.

In 2017, he helped the Astros win their first championship in franchise history against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a .276 average and two home runs.

Albert Pujols to Play in Dominican Professional Baseball League This Winter

Albert Pujols is heading south for the winter…

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman is ready to fulfill a promise of playing in the Dominican Professional Baseball League this winter, while reiterating his interest in playing in the majors until “I feel I can’t play anymore.”

Albert Pujols

Pujols, who was officially introduced late last week as the newest player on the Leones del Escogido, will see action for the first time in the Dominican Republic.

“I made a promise,” Pujols said. “I said I was going to play here before I retire. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to retire yet. My time to retire hasn’t arrived yet. Why do I have to retire because someone tells me to? I’m going to do it on my terms and when I feel I can’t play anymore.”

Pujols played 109 games in his 21st season in the majors, which ended when the Atlanta Braves beat the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. He said he has a “game plan” in mind for the number of games that he will be playing in the Dominican league.

“I have an agreement with the team board. I have a family, commitments,” Pujols said. “I will play the games that my body allows me, but I will be helping the team in whatever it needs.”

Pujols added: “When Albert Pujols gets tired of playing baseball, that’s it. I’m not going to go out there and embarrass myself. I’ve trained really hard and worked on my body to be able to have a good career. … I know what I can do.”

The Santo Domingo native, who turns 42 in January, was drafted in 2002 by the Gigantes del Cibao in the LIDOM, but he never played winter baseball in the Dominican Republic, where the season ends in January.

“Since I was a child I always wanted to play at the Quisqueya Stadium. It is a dream come true,” Pujols said.

Pujols was greeted by his teammates and executives at the Leones Stadium when he arrived for his presentation and first practice with the team.

“Bringing Pujols to the local ball is an organization-wide effort for the good of our baseball and shows everyone’s commitment in this centennial year of the team,” Leones general manager Jose Gomez Frias said in a statement.

Pujols will wear the No. 5, which is retired by the team in honor of Leones legend Junior Noboa, but Noboa will allow Pujols to wear it. Noboa, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians, among other MLB teams, is currently the baseball commissioner for the Dominican Republic.

A 10-time MLB All-Star, Pujols’ 679 career home runs are fifth-most all-time and most among active players. He won World Series championships with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and 2011.

San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. Hits Two Homers in Return from Injured List

Fernando Tatis Jr. is back in the game with a bang…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, known as “El Niño“, wasted no time making his mark in his return from the San Diego Padres’ injured list on Sunday, hitting his 32nd and 33rd homers in an 8-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks while playing right field for the first time as a professional.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis had one thought running through his mind as he returned to San Diego’s lineup.

“Make them remember why they missed you,” he said grinning.

The MLB All-Star — batting leadoff — ripped a double down the left-field line in his first at-bat but was stranded at third in the first inning. He added a solo homer in the third on a towering fly ball that landed in the left-field stands and another solo shot in the fifth that easily cleared the wall in approximately the same spot.

“Fernando being Fernando,” Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “It never ceases to amaze any of us.”

It was Tatis’ fifth multi-homer game this season and No. 8 for his career. He added a bases-loaded single in the eighth that brought home Victor Caratini and Trent Grisham.

Tatis also caught David Peralta‘s fly to right for the final out of the bottom of the first.

Tatis had been on the injured list since July 31 after partially dislocating his left shoulder for the third time this season.

The electrifying star usually plays shortstop, but the Padres decided to move him to the outfield for the time being. The hope is there’s less chance he’ll get hurt, allowing him to stay in the lineup for the rest of the season.

He wasn’t challenged much in the outfield on Sunday, but he made a few routine catches.

“It was pretty chill,” Tatis said.

Tatis suffered a partially dislocated left shoulder on a violent swing April 5 against the San Francisco Giants and went on the 10-day injured list. He reinjured the shoulder diving for a ball and left a game against the Cincinnati Reds on June 19 but missed only one game.

He left a spring training game after hurting the shoulder while making a throw but was back two days later. He revealed then that he had been dealing with shoulder discomfort since his minor league days. Tatis also missed eight games in mid-May after testing positive for COVID-19.

He became the first Padres player voted to start an All-Star Game since Tony Gwynn in 1999.

The return of Tatis is a huge boost for the Padres, who have 15 players on the injured list and have taken a nosedive in the National League West standings. They still occupy the second NL wild-card spot in the playoff race but are feeling pressure from the charging Cincinnati RedsPhiladelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Leads Atlanta Braves to Historic Homer-Heavy Win Against Pittsburgh Pirates 

It’s one for the history books for Ronald Acuna Jr. and his Atlanta Braves teammates…

The 23-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder hit a grand slam in the second inning off Tyler Anderson, pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza added another slam in the eighth against position player Wilmer Difo and the Braves homered seven times in a 20-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Austin Riley homered twice for his first multi-homer game, and Ozzie AlbiesMarcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson also went deep for the Braves, who became the first team in major league history to have seven or more homers in a game that included two slams, according to STATS.

This was the sixth seven-homer game in Braves history, and the 20 runs were the most a team has scored in a game this season.

“It was awesome,” Riley said. “Just seemed like everything clicked offensively. I think it really goes to show what this team is capable of doing. I know things might not seem like they’re clicking right now on a daily basis, but it’s there, and it’s a matter of time.”

Acuna had five RBIs and gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead with his 14th homer, which tied him with the Los Angeles Angels‘ Shohei Ohtani for the major league lead. Acuna’s first slam came against Pittsburgh’s Alex McRae on June 10, 2019.

Difo, a 29-year-old middle infielder in his seventh major league season, relieved to start the bottom of the eighth with the Pirates trailing 12-0.

Pitching to catcher Jacob Stallings, Difo threw at up to 88 mph, and Adrianza homered on a first-pitch 80 mph offering. Difo allowed three walks and six hits in his one inning, giving up run-scoring singles to Kevan Smith and Guillermo Heredia, Ozuna’s RBI double and Riley’s sacrifice fly. Difo left with a 72.00 career ERA.

“I think Stallings summed it up best,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said with a laugh. “Difo didn’t have his best stuff tonight, and they capitalized on it.”

Albies and Riley homered back-to-back in the fifth for a 9-0 lead, and Riley and Swanson hit consecutive homers in the seventh against Chasen Shreve.

“We’ve been struggling to score runs and get hits, so that was good to see,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There were some good at-bats, going the other way, it was a good night. And the way Ian backed up his last start with how he threw tonight was really good.”

Tyler Anderson (3-4) gave up nine runs, 10 hits — seven for extra bases — and two walks in five innings. The Pirates had won five of his previous six starts.

Pittsburgh tied a 20-1 loss to Brooklyn on August 1, 1890, and a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn on May 20, 1896, for its third-largest margin of defeat, behind a 27-5 loss at Cincinnati on September 12, 1883, and a 20-0 loss to Milwaukee on April 22, 2010.

Shelton said it will be easy to move on from such a lopsided loss.

“It’s actually easier to move on from a game like this because the games that are 4-1, 4-3, there’s situations you look back and think this couldn’t have been different,” he said. “Tonight we just got beat. You just move on from it and come back tomorrow.”

Milwaukee Brewers Trade Orlando Arcia to Atlanta Braves

It’s a Brave(s) new world for Orlando Arcia.

The Atlanta Braves have acquired the 26-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop, a versatile infielder, from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for two pitchers.

Orlando Arcia

Milwaukee acquired right-handed pitchers Chad Sobotka and Patrick Weigel in the deal.

Arcia has spent all six of his Major League Baseball seasons with Milwaukee. He had one hit in 11 at-bats this season, and he had a .260 batting average in 2020 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI.

He has mostly played as a shortstop but has also seen time at third base and in the outfield.

Overall, Arcia has a career .244 batting average with 42 home runs, 180 RBI and 39 stolen bases. He had signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Brewers in December.

“He’s kind of an up-and-coming guy,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I was a little surprised he was available. Any time you can upgrade and add to depth at the shortstop position it’s really a good move.”

This move clears the way for Luis Urias to take over as the Brewers’ everyday shortstop. The Brewers had acquired Urias along with pitcher Eric Lauer from the San Diego Padres in a November 2019 trade that sent outfielder Trent Grisham and pitcher Zach Davies to the Padres.

“The trade is a commitment to Luis Urias,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That is a commitment that we made. He has earned this and it’s an important time for him. He’s going to get a great opportunity here.”

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.

Marcell Ozuna Agrees to Four-Year, $64 Million Deal with Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna is returning to a Brave world…

The Atlanta Braves are bringing back the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter, signing Ozuna to a $64 million, four-year contract.

Marcell Ozuna

The Braves announced the deal for the 2020 NL home run and RBI leader on Friday night, less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring training.

The contract includes a fifth-year club option for $16 million that would take it to $80 million with a $1 million buyout, which would yield Ozuna $65 million in guaranteed money.

Ozuna took a gamble on himself after the 2019 season, turning down a $17.8 million qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals, and signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves in late January.

The move paid off handsomely, as the slugger finished sixth in the National League MVP voting after leading the league with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs and 145 total bases. He was third in the NL with a career-best .338 batting average and .636 slugging percentage.

The bet? The $17.8 million qualifying offer by the Cardinals would’ve represented 41% of his career earnings to that point.

While considered somewhat of a defensive liability after suffering a shoulder injury in 2018, Ozuna, who turned 30 in November, did see some action in left field for the Braves while playing all 60 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

However, most of his at-bats for Atlanta came as the team’s designated hitter, slotted after MVP Freddie Freeman in the lineup as the Braves won the NL East title after putting up some of the best offensive numbers in team history.

Before joining the Braves, Ozuna spent two seasons with the Cardinals, protecting Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup as they made it back to the playoffs in 2019. Over the past five seasons, including the 60-game season in 2020, Ozuna has hit 130 home runs, making two All-Star Games on the strength of his bat.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Ozuna has 357 RBIs, second only to the Colorado Rockies‘ Nolan Arenado (384) and just ahead of Freeman (343) among National League players, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

In eight MLB seasons, he has a .276 batting average with 166 home runs, 594 RBIs and 505 runs scored for the Seattle Marlins, Cardinals and Braves.

Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Deal with Baltimore Orioles

Felix Hernandez has a new deal…

The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign the 34-year-old Venezuelan-American veteran professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “King Félix,” to a minor league contract.

Felix Hernandez

Hernandez won an American League Cy Young Award, two ERA titles and made six MLB All-Star teams over 15 seasons with the Seattle Mariners before becoming a free agent last offseason.

Hernandez signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves and looked sharp during spring training, but he ultimately opted out of the pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

In his most recent big league action, Hernandez went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 2019. He hasn’t finished with an ERA under 4.00 since 2016, and his last All-Star appearance was in 2015. He has won 169 games and owns a 3.42 career ERA.

Hernandez could earn a rotation spot with the rebuilding Orioles, who have 2019 All-Star left-hander John Means locked in as a starter but not much else. They traded Alex Cobb to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, leaving Keegan AkinDean KremerJorge LopezWade LeBlancThomas Eshelman and Bruce Zimmermann as the only returning players to start at least one game in 2020.

 

Baltimore has also announced it has agreed to minor league deals with infielders Seth Mejias-Brean and Malquin Canelo, right-handers Dusten Knight, Konner Wade and Spenser Watkins, and left-hander LeBlanc.