Eric Hosmer Agrees to One-Year Contract with Chicago Cubs

Eric Hosmer is headed to the Windy City

The Chicago Cubs filled a need at first base and designated hitter, giving the 33-year-old half-Cuban American free agent a one-year contract, according to ESPN.

Eric Hosmer, Chicago will only have to pay Hosmer the minimum salary, according to ESPN sources, as he still has three years and $39 million left on a contract he signed with the San Diego Padres in 2018.

Hosmer was traded from the Padres to the Boston Red Sox last season, not long after San Diego acquired Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals.

Hosmer was released by the Red Sox at the end of the year.

Hosmer has a career .764 OPS while spending his best seasons with the Kansas City Royals who he helped to a World Series title in 2015.

Two years later, he signed an 8-year, $144 million deal with San Diego which runs through 2025. The Padres are paying most of that remaining salary.

Hosmer figures to see time mostly at designated hitter as well as first base. The team also has holdover Patrick Wisdom, who can play first, as well as prospect Matt Mervis. Mervis hit 36 home runs combined in three different levels of the minors last season, but it’s not clear if he’ll make the team out of spring training.

Last season, Hosmer had a hot April — compiling an OPS over 1.000 — but cooled off for the final months of the year. From May to October, his OPS was just .636.

The signing is part of a longer term plan by the Cubs who are attempting to improve in 2023 after a 74 win season but also have an eye on competing at a higher level in the coming years. The deal should be viewed similar to Cody Bellinger‘s one-year contract — as a bridge to younger prospects who aren’t quite ready for the majors.

Along with Mervis potentially taking over at first base, the team is hoping centerfield, where Bellinger plays, will be manned by Pete Crow-Armstrong soon. He was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets in July 2021.

Hosmer joins Bellinger, shortstop Dansby Swanson, pitcher Jameson Taillon and catcher Tucker Barnhart as key offseason acquisitions for Chicago.

Willson Contreras Agrees to Five-Year, $87.5 Million Deal with St. Louis Cardinals

Willson Contreras will meet you in St. Louis…

The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and free agent catcher has agreed to a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Willson Contreras,Contreras will replace the Cardinals’ longtime catcher Yadier Molina.

Contreras has spent the past 14 seasons in the rival Chicago Cubs organization. In seven MLB seasons, he has hit .256 with 117 home runs and 365 RBIs.]

Known for his strong arm, Contreras has dealt with criticism about his game calling, but that may have been overblown. He helped oversee a Cubs pitching staff that went to the postseason in five out of six years from 2015 to 2020.

Contreras can also play left field and first base and will likely get some reps as the designated hitter when he’s not behind the plate.

He compiled a 128 OPS+ in 113 games last season for the Cubs but is the only free agent catcher with draft pick compensation attached to him after Chicago gave him a qualifying offer.

Molina retired after a career that spanned 19 seasons in the majors, all with the Cardinals. The 10-time MLB All-Star catcher was a two-time World Series champion, winning nine Gold Glove awards and a Silver Slugger award while registering 2,168 hits.

Houston Astros Interested in Free Agent Catcher Willson Contreras

Will Willson Contreras play in Houston next season?

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker has confirmed that his World Series-winning team is interested in the 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and free agent catcher.

Willson Contreras,The news comes just months after a trade for him was nixed.

“It’s not that I didn’t want him,” Baker explained on Day 1 of the winter meetings on Monday. “It’s just at the time I didn’t think it was a proper fit with two months to go in the season.

“We’re going to talk to him. And we have interest in him.”

Contreras is looking for a long-term deal after spending over a decade in the Chicago Cubs organization.

He compiled a 128 OPS+ in 113 games last season for the Cubs but is the only free agent catcher with draft pick compensation attached to him after Chicago gave him a qualifying offer. That can limit the market for free agents.

“I’ve talked to some guys that were big-time Contreras fans from Chicago because I called [bullpen coach] Lester [Strode] about him,” Baker said. “Lester spent as much time with him in the bullpen, catching pitches. And he’s a big Contreras fan. He told me he loved the kid.”

The St. Louis Cardinals have spoken with Contreras’ representatives, who have also kept in touch with the Cubs, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Contreras is in line for a deal between four and five years, worth up to $80 million, sources said.

The Astros and Cubs were close to a trade involving Contreras last July, but Baker felt there wouldn’t be enough time for a new catcher to learn his pitching staff. But now might be the right time to add another piece to the world champions.

“And if the numbers are right and the years are right and the situation is right, then [it’s] right for both of us,” Baker said.

Jeimer Candelario Agrees to One-Year Contract with Washington Nationals

Jeimer Candelario is headed to The District

The 29-year-old Dominican American professional baseball player, a former Detroit Tigers third baseman, has reached an agreement with the Washington Nationals on a contract for the 2023 season.

Jeimer CandelarioThe deal is for $5 million with an opportunity to earn $1 million more in performance bonuses, according to ESPN.

Candelario was non-tendered by Detroit earlier this month, making him a free agent after he compiled a career-low .633 OPS in 2022. He’ll have a chance to rebuild his value in Washington, where the Nationals are in the early portion of a rebuilding phase.

Candelario is a seven-year veteran who led the majors in doubles (42) in 2021 but had just 28 walks to 109 strikeouts in 2022. He has a career .723 OPS in 606 games played.

This will be Candelario’s third team. He came up with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 before being traded to Detroit the following season. He hit 19 home runs in 2018 but has yet to reach that total in subsequent years.

Albert Pujols Hits 701st Career Home Run Against Pittsburgh Pirates

The hits keep on comin’ for Albert Pujols

The 42-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and designated hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals has hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night in a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Albert Pujols Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium, his 22nd homer of the season. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he has homered against.

“It was a good pitch to hit and I just put the best swing on the night on it,” Pujols said. “That was it. A 1-2 count, just not trying to do too much.”

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Pujols said. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this. It’s pretty good just to be embraced like this. I mean this is what I’ve been getting all year long but today was extra special. It was a great night overall.”

Before the game, the slugger was recognized for hitting his 700th last week at Los Angeles. He was given a gold-plated, engraved bat by owner Bill DeWitt Jr., team president Bill DeWitt III and manager Oliver Marmol.

Pujols’ homer was his 55th against the Pirates, his third most against any team, trailing Houston Astros (70) and the Chicago Cubs (62).

Pirates manager Derek Shelton took a moment to appreciate Pujols’ accomplishments.

“I think we’re seeing one of the best hitters of our generation and he’s had an unbelievable second half,” Shelton said. “You cannot make mistakes to him right now. We made the one mistake to him and he hit it out of the ballpark. What he’s done over the course of his career and especially what he’s done over the second half is extremely special.”

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

Chicago Cubs Claim Franmil Reyes from Cleveland Guardians

Franmil Reyes is heading to the Windy City…

The Chicago Cubs have claimed the Dominican professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians.

Franmil Reyes Reyes, who began the season as the cleanup hitter for the Guardians, was designated for assignment by the team on Saturday.

He had been optioned to Triple-A Columbus earlier last week after batting .213 with nine home runs and 104 strikeouts in 263 at-bats.

Reyes belted 37 homers in 2019 — splitting the season between Cleveland and the San Diego Padres — and had 30 homers and a career-high 85 RBIs in 2021.

He is earning $4.55 million on a one-year contract this season and is arbitration-eligible the next two seasons.

Harold Ramirez Traded to Tampa Bay Rays

A ray(s) of light for Harold Ramirez.

The 27-year-old Colombian professional baseball outfielder has been acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.

Harold RamirezRamirez batted .268 with seven homers and 41 RBI in 99 games with Cleveland last season. He was acquired by the Cubs for cash in November.

Chicago got minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz in the deal with Tampa Bay. The 30-year-old Quiroz hit .268 with 12 homers and 48 RBI in 68 games with Triple-A Durham last year.

A native of Cartagena, Colombia, Ramirez is a .271 hitter over parts of three seasons with Miami Marlins and Cleveland.

He ranked sixth among National League rookies with 116 hits for the Marlins in 2019.

Jorge Soler Agrees to Thee-Year, $36 Million Contract with Miami Marlins

Jorge Soler is headed to the Sunshine State

The 30-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and the Miami Marlins have agreed on a three-year, $36 million contract, according to ESPN.

Jorge SolerSoler’s deal includes opt-outs after the first two seasons, sources said. If he opts out, Soler would hit free agency again at age 31 next winter.

A bit player during the Chicago Cubs‘ drought-smashing victory over Cleveland five years ago, Soler was voted MVP of the Atlanta Braves‘ six-game World Series win over the Houston Astros. Soler hit .300 with three home runs and six RBIs.

Soler’s three World Series home runs matched the most for the Braves, equaling Hank Aaron in 1957, Lonnie Smith in 1991 and Ryan Klesko in 1995.

Marlins general manager Kim Ng said as Miami opened camp that the team had two needs: an outfielder — particularly a center fielder, which Soler hasn’t been, as he has primarily played right — and offense.

Soler does fit that bill. He has 121 home runs and 343 RBIs in 661 career games with the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago Cubs and the Braves. He led the American League with 48 homers in 2019, and hit 27 home runs in 149 games with the Royals and Braves last season.

Soler defected from Cuba in 2011, established residency in Haiti and made his big league debut in 2014.

MLB Network was first to report news of Soler’s agreement with Miami.

Yan Gomes Agrees to Two-Year, $13 Million Contract with Chicago Cubs

Yan Gomes is headed to the Windy City…

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional baseball catcher and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to on a two-year, $13 million contract, according to ESPN sources.

Yan GomesGomes hit a combined .252 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs between the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics last season. Washington traded Gomes to the Oakland A’s at the trading deadline.

He threw out 31% of attempted base stealers last season (19 of 43) and had a .990 fielding percentage.

In Chicago, Gomes likely will back up starter Willson Contreras.

For his career, Gomes has a .247 average, 117 home runs and 416 RBIs in 10 major league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Cleveland Guardians, Washington and Oakland.

Javier Baez Agrees to Six-Year, $140 Million Deal with Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers have found what they’ve been searching for in Javier Baez

The Major League Baseball team has agreed to a six-year, $140 million deal with the 29-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball player and free-agent shortstop, according to ESPN sources.

Javier BaezThe deal also includes an opt-out, according to the source.

It would be the second-largest free-agent deal in Tigers franchise history, behind Prince Fielder, who signed a nine-year, $214 million deal with Detroit in January 2012.

While he struck out a league-high 184 times last season, Baez hit .265 with 31 homers, 87 RBIs and 18 steals. He also brings Gold Glove defense to Detroit with his signature no-look tags.

The Tigers had been looking for a shortstop since it went 77-85 last season, finishing third in the AL Central behind the Cleveland Guardians and the Chicago White Sox.

Baez was selected in the first round of the 2011 draft. The two-time National League All-Star had been close to signing a long-term extension with the Chicago Cubs before the 2020 season, but the COVID-19 pandemic put negotiations on hold.

Those contract talks never resumed, and the Cubs traded Baez to the New York Mets this past July.