Enrique Hernández Agrees to One-Year Contract Extension with Boston Red Sox

Enrique Hernández will be seeing red (s0x) for another year…

The Boston Red Sox have signed the 31-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball utility player to a one-year contract extension, keeping the outfielder in the city where he starred in the 2021 postseason.

Enrique HernándezThe Red Sox did not disclose financial terms of the deal that runs through 2023, but sources told ESPN that the extension is worth $10 million.

A hip-flexor injury sidelined Hernández for more than two months this season and contributed to his struggles on the field after his career year in 2021. Hernández is batting .219 with a .637 OPS and has only six home runs in more than 300 plate appearances in the final season of a two-year, $14 million contract.

Hernández was due to hit free agency this winter and was coming off a season in which he hit .250/.337/.449, played elite defense in center field and compiled 4.9 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement (and 4.1 from FanGraphs).

“We like good players,” Boston manager Alex Cora said before Tuesday night’s game at Tampa Bay. “What he brings to the organization, defensively, in the clubhouse, and offensively he’s a lot better than what he’s shown this year. He’s a great example for those kids in there. It’s important to retain this type of player.”

In the Red Sox’s run to the cusp of the World Series last year, Hernández was the team’s best player. In the American League Division Series against the Rays, he batted .450 and slugged .900 with two home runs. He nearly equaled those numbers in the AL Championship Series, hitting .385/.407/.846 with three solo homers.

“To me, winning is the most important thing,” Hernández said Tuesday. “I want to win in Boston. Last year was a little taste of it, and it was a surreal experience. Just the passion of the fan base. I want to be able to experience winning the World Series in Boston.”

Hernández said in his talks with Chaim Bloom that the Boston team president promised him that the Red Sox “were going to be way better next year.”

Originally projected to be a super-utility player, Hernández emerged as a defensive stalwart in center field for Boston, though that hasn’t stopped the Red Sox from also using him at shortstop and second base this season. The right-handed-hitting Hernandez also played first and third base and both corner-outfield spots in Los Angeles, where he spent six seasons with the Dodgers.

Hernández, who was drafted in the sixth round by Houston in 2009 out of his native Puerto Rico, was set to be one of a slew of free agents for the Red Sox, who are expected to have one of the busiest offseasons in baseball. Currently in last place in the AL East at 67-69, Boston faces a winter in which star shortstop Xander Bogaerts is expected to opt out of his contract and starters Nathan EovaldiMichael Wacha and Rich Hill, plus reliever Matt Strahm, will be free agents.

The Red Sox will have less than $60 million committed to their 2023 payroll if Bogaerts opts out. They also could look to extend 25-year-old MLB All-Star third baseman Rafael Devers, who is set to hit free agency following the 2023 season.

Boston Red Sox Catcher Christian Vazquez Traded to Houston Astros

Christian Vazquez is preparing for an astronomical change…

The Houston Astros have acquired the 31-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher from the Boston Red Sox.

Christian VazquezThe Red Sox received infielder/outfielder Enmanuel Valdez and minor league outfielder Wilyer Abreu from the Astros in exchange for Vazquez.

Vazquez has a .759 OPS with 8 home runs and 42 RBIs this season and will provide an immediate upgrade over the Astros current starting catcher, Martin Maldonado.

Vazquez, who will be a free agent next season, had been with the Red Sox since 2014 and was the longest tenured player in the organization.

Valdez, 23, is batting .327 with a 1.016 OPS in 82 games for Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land. He is ranked as the Astros’ No. 12 prospect by Baseball America.

Abreu, 23, is batting .249 with a .858 OPS in 89 games with Corpus Christi. He is ranked as the Astros’ No. 21 prospect by Baseball America.

J.D. Martinez Added to MLB All-Star Game Roster

J.D. Martinez is getting his all-star moment after all…

The 34-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player, a designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox, has been added to the MLB All-Star Game rosters, according to the league.

J.D. Martinez Martinez is part of a roster of new additions that includes Garrett Cooper, and an Francisco Giants ace Carlos Rodon.

Martinez replaces Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez and becomes the third Boston Red Sox player to land on the American League roster along with Xander Bogaerts and have been added to the All-Star rosters, MLB announced Tuesday.

Cooper steps in for reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper. The Philadelphia Phillies‘ star has a fractured thumb. Cooper gives the Miami Marlins three All-Stars as he joins teammates Sandy Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm Jr. 

Rodon was one of the more notable snubs when rosters were announced, but he ends up making his second All-Star appearance by replacing Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader, who has family responsibilities.

Rodon (8-5, 2.70 ERA) was selected by the league to fill in for Hader, while Martinez and Cooper were next up in voting at their positions. This is the fifth time Martinez has been an All-Star, but the first time for Cooper.

Dodger Stadium will host the MLB All-Star Game next Tuesday night at 7:30 pm ET.

Josh Rojas Ends Home Run Drought with Three Home Runs

Josh Rojas is officially on fire…

The 27-year-old Latino professional baseball star and Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman, who had yet to record a home run this season, hit three of them Friday afternoon in a 10-6 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Josh RojasIn the process, Rojas became the 13th player in team history to accomplish the feat.

“This was a pretty good feeling, especially coming into the game with zero and leaving with three,” Rojas said. “It’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

It was the first three-homer game of Rojas’ career. He’s the fourth player to go deep three times in a game this season, joining Boston Red Sox‘s Trevor Story, the New York Yankees‘ Anthony Rizzo and Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

He took advantage of the friendly hitting conditions at Wrigley Field, as the wind was blowing at 25 mph.

“I went out during batting practice and I knew it was blowing out pretty hard,” Rojas said. “I knew it would be a good day to put the ball in the air.”

Rojas, 27, homered off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in the third and fifth innings, then hit one off reliever Mychal Givens in the seventh. He is the second player in Diamondbacks history to tally his first three home runs of a season in the same game, joining Erubiel Durazo in 2002.

Rojas admitted he tried to hit a home run in his first at-bat but popped out; then, after hitting three home runs in his next three plate appearances, he once again attempted to hit one out and instead was called out on strikes.

“First at-bat I was trying to hit a homer,” Rojas said with a smile. “It didn’t work out … I was definitely trying to hit a fourth home run, especially with a good lead.”

Said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo: “When you try to generate, when you try to hit a home run — go back as far as little league — it never happens.”

The Diamondbacks’ seven home runs — the last of which came off the bat of Christian Walker, who leads the National League with 10 — marked the most a team has hit in a game this season.

Arizona left fielder David Peralta homered twice, while Chicago’s Christopher Morel and Ildemaro Vargas went back-to-back in the seventh. By the final out, the Diamondbacks and Cubs had combined to hit 11 home runs, tying the mark for most in a game at Wrigley Field.

It was the fifth game in Wrigley’s history to feature 11 combined home runs, and the first since 2006.

“These days [have] happened here, in this stadium, for a long, long time,” Lovullo said. “No lead is safe.”

Jose Iglesias Agrees to One-Year Contract with Colorado Rockies

Jose Iglesias is headed to Colorado…

The 32-year-old Cuban professional baseball shortstop has agreed to a one-year contract with the Colorado Rockies, according to The Associated Press.

Jose IglesiasIglesias, who is represented by MVP Sorts Group, will earn $5 million.

Bringing in Iglesias all but shuts the door on a return of free-agent shortstop Trevor Story, who is set to become the latest big-name player to exit the Rockies.

Before the 2021 season, the team traded perennial All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Story turned in a 24-homer, 20-steal season in ’21 as the Rockies missed the playoffs for a third straight year.

Iglesias batted .271 last season over 114 games with the Los Angeles Angels and 23 with the Boston Red Sox. He was an MLB All-Star in 2015 while a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Iglesias, who made his debut in Major League Baseball in 2011, has also played with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles during his 10-year-career.

David Ortiz is This Year’s Sole Inductee into Baseball Hall of Fame

David Ortiz is a lone wolf…

The 46-year-old Dominican-American former professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman who played 20 seasons in Major League Baseball, nicknamed “Big Papi,” is the sole player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, while others like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were shut out.

David OrtizOrtiz was the only player to clear the required 75% threshold, according to results of this year’s voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Ortiz finished with 77.9% in becoming the 58th player elected in his first year of eligibility. At 46, he will also be the youngest of the 75 living members of the Hall.

“I learned not too long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot,” Ortiz said. “Man, it’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in on my first rodeo. It’s something that is very special to me.”

Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader; 354-game winner Clemens; 600-homer-club member Sammy Sosa; and longtime ace pitcher Curt Schilling were in their 10th and final year of eligibility in the annual BBWAA balloting.

Bonds, Sosa and Clemens posted numbers that marked them as surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famers, but they became avatars for the era of performance-enhancing drugs. While Bonds and Clemens in particular have long denied using PEDs, accusations have dogged them in the media and in books, and have been the subject of court dramas and testimony in front of Congress. In the end, about a third of the voters decided the allegations were too egregious to overlook, enough to bar their entry to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, at least via the writers’ vote.

Ortiz is a different story, despite his own PED suspicions. A 2009 story in The New York Times reported that Ortiz was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during a round of tests conducted in 2003. Those results were supposed to remain confidential, and the tests were done to see if the league had reached a threshold to conduct regular testing.

Ortiz has long denied that he used banned substances, and in 2016, commissioner Rob Manfred said the tests in question were inconclusive because “it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter and not banned under our program.”

Manfred added that during subsequent testing Ortiz “has never been a positive at any point under our program.”

When asked about those suspicions Tuesday, Ortiz said, “We had someone coming out with this one list, where you don’t know what anybody tested positive for. All of a sudden people are pointing fingers at me. But then we started being drug tested and I never tested positive. What does that tell you?”

As for the last-chance candidates, Sosa’s support never approached the threshold for election, but the cases of Bonds and Clemens were more divisive among the selectors. Both climbed over the 50% mark in 2017 only to see their support plateau in recent seasons. The tallies for their last go-arounds were 66% for Bonds and 65.2% for Clemens.

Among first-time eligibles on this year’s ballot were MLB All-Star infielder Alex Rodriguez, who finished with 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs, totals that both rank fourth all-time in their respective categories. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating baseball’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was the only other first-time eligible beyond Ortiz and Rodriguez to draw enough support to remain on the ballot.

Ortiz, widely known for his gregarious personality and endearing nickname, became the second career designated hitter to be selected via the writers’ balloting. Seattle Mariners great Edgar Martinez was the first when he was elected in 2019. A member of three World Series-winning teams in Boston, Ortiz hit 541 career home runs and added 17 more while putting together a celebrated postseason résumé.

 

“David Ortiz is the most important player to ever wear a Red Sox uniform,” Red Sox president & CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement put out by the team. “He came to Boston in relative anonymity and with his captivating personality and his formidable bat he shattered expectations and paved the franchise’s future in championships.”

Ortiz will become the second Hall of Famer from the 2004 Red Sox, who famously broke Boston’s 86-year championship drought by winning that season’s World Series, joining pitcher Pedro Martinez. He also cements his place in the pantheon of Boston sports stars like Ted Williams, Bobby Orr and Bill Russell, something he said he never thought could happen.

“When I first got to Boston, I used to look up at those guys like, ‘Wow, I don’t think you can be part of that pack at all,'” Ortiz said. “You’re talking about real legendary, real OG. But they began their career just like I did. Not with the thought that they were going to end up where they are.”

Martinez was with Ortiz on Tuesday at a gathering in the Dominican Republic, where Ortiz received news of his election. Ortiz is the fourth Dominican-born player to be elected to the Hall, joining Martinez, Juan Marichal and Vladimir Guerrero.

“I can imagine how New England feels about one of its babies getting into the Hall of Fame today,” Ortiz said. “I don’t even have to tell you about the Dominican Republic. It’s a country that breathes baseball. And people are very excited right here. Everything is going crazy right now.”

Ortiz will enter the Hall during the July 24 induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. He will join six players selected by a pair of era committees last month: Brooklyn Dodgers great Gil Hodges, Twins slugger Tony Oliva, longtime White Sox star Minnie Minoso, pitcher Jim Kaat, Black baseball pioneer Bud Fowler and Negro League legend and ambassador Buck O’Neil. All but Ortiz, Kaat and Olivo will be inducted posthumously.

In addition, late broadcaster Jack Graney will be honored as the Ford C. Frick award winner for excellence in broadcasting, while ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian will be recognized as this year’s winner of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.

With Ortiz standing as the lone winner from this year’s BBWAA balloting, the writers have now elected just one player total over the past two cycles. The sudden drought comes on the heels of a fertile period for inductees, which saw the writers select 22 players during the period from 2014 to 2020.

Joey Cora to Become Third-Base Coach for New York Mets

Joey Cora has Mets his match…

The New York Mets are on the verge of hiring the 56-year-old Puerto Rican former Major League Baseball player, who had an 11-year career in the MLB, as their new third-base coach, ESPN reports, confirming a report by the New York Post.

Joey Cora,

Cora, the older brother of Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, spent five years as third-base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates before being let go at the end of the 2021 season.

In New York, he’ll become the first coach hired under Buck Showalter, who took over as the team’s manager less than three weeks ago.

The Mets retained Jeremy Hefner as their pitching coach but are still in the process of filling vacancies at bench coach, hitting coach and first-base coach, among others.

Cora was a major league middle infielder from 1987 to 1998, making an MLB All-Star team late in his career, then transitioned into coaching shortly thereafter. Cora began as a manager in the Mets’ minor league system and later spent eight years with the Chicago White Sox under Ozzie Guillen, winning a World Series as the team’s third-base coach in 2005. Cora was also Guillen’s bench coach with the Miami Marlins in 2012 and has often interviewed for managerial jobs throughout his post-playing career.

Cora will now replace Gary DiScarcina, who was let go amid the shake-up that followed the firing of former Mets manager Luis Rojas. Rojas is now the New York Yankees‘ third-base coach, while DiSarcina has the same position with the Washington Nationals.

Wander Franco Finalizes 11-Year, $182 Million Deal with Tampa Bay Rays

It’s official… Wander Franco is staying with the Rays for more than a decade.

The 20-year-old Dominican professional baseball shortstop and the Tampa Bay Rays have finalized a $182 million, 11-year contract that includes a club option for the 2033 season.

Wander FrancoFranco’s deal, which could be worth up to $223 million if the club option is exercised and incentives are reached, was announced Saturday.

“This is a great day for Wander and for the Rays, and is evidence of the mutual trust between Wander and our organization,” Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. “We are committed to fielding competitive teams year in and year out, and we all expect that Wander’s presence and contributions will play a large part in maintaining our standard of excellence.”

Tampa Bay won the AL East in 2021, but was eliminated by Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.

The contract is the largest financial commitment to a player in the Rays’ 24-year history. It’s also the biggest deal in major league history for a player with less than a year of major league service time.

Franco is the fifth player with less than a year of big league experience to sign a long-term extension with the team. The others are third baseman Evan Longoria (2008), left-hander Matt Moore (2011), right-hander Chris Archer (2014) and second baseman Brandon Lowe (2019).

 

“The pace at which Wander has developed speaks to his potential,” Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander said in a statement. “We have seen him do special things on the field, particularly for a player that is only 20 years old. He’s an exceptionally driven, budding superstar who can contribute to our success for a long time.”

Franco made his major league debut June 22 and hit a three-run homer. He batted .288 with 18 doubles, five triples, seven homers and 39 RBI in 70 games. He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Franco put together a 43-game on-base streak to tie Cincinnati’s Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest in major league history among players under 21. He went 7 for 19 (.368) with two homers and four RBI in four postseason games.

Franco would have been eligible for free agency after the 2027 season. He gets a $5 million signing bonus, with $2.5 million payments on Dec. 1 and June 1, 2022.

The yearly salary breakdown is: $1 million in 2022, $2 million in 2023 and 2024, $8 million in 2025, $15 million in 2026, $22 million in 2027 and $25 million in each of the last five seasons. The 2033 club option is $25 million, with a $2 million buyout.

Franco’s deal also includes salary escalators if he finishes in the top five in voting for AL MVP. If he is traded before April 2, 2029, Franco receives a $3 million assignment bonus. It drops to $2 million if he is dealt on or after that date.

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.

Jose Altuve Homers to Tie for Second on MLB’s All-Time Playoff Home Run Leaderboard

Jose Altuve has batted his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

During Game 2 of the World Series, the 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Houston Astros second baseman hit a home run off a first-pitch fastball from Drew Smyly, leading off the bottom of the seventh by sneaking a fly ball just inside the left-field pole for a 7-2 Astros lead.

Jose Altuve

It was Altuve’s 22nd career home run in the postseason, tying him with Bernie Williams for second on the all-time list.

The two trail behind Manny Ramirez‘s 29 postseason homers.

While Williams did it in 121 games, Altuve has required just 75. Altuve had struggled in the ALCS, hitting .125 (although with two home runs), and then went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Game 1.

He then turned around and gave Houston two big swings in Game 2 on Wednesday night — including an historic one.

“To hit 22 homers in the playoffs and tie him — always every time that my name is mentioned, before it was Derek Jeter, now it’s Bernie Williams — it means a lot to me,” Altuve said. “It makes me keep going out there, hitting homers to help my team, to keep accomplishing things like this. As long as we win, everything’s good.”

Overall, the 2017 American League MVP Award winner is Houston’s all-time leader in postseason hits (88), runs (66) and home runs (22), and this year, he became the fastest player in MLB history to hit 20 postseason home runs when he went deep in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.