Eduardo Rodríguez Named Opening Day Starting Pitcher for Boston Red Sox

Eduardo Rodríguez is getting a second chance to make a first pitch…

A year after a battle with COVID-19 denied him a chance to be the Boston Red Sox‘s Opening Day starter, the 27-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher is getting a do-over.

Eduardo Rodríguez

Manager Alex Cora made the announcement this week following Boston’s 9-1 spring training win over the Minnesota Twins.

Rodríguez threw an efficient 55 pitches, striking out six and giving up two hits and one earned run over five innings.

“Indeed, it’s going to be Eduardo. He’s one of the best out there,” Cora said of the left-hander. “He had a great season in ’19. Last year, he wasn’t able to pitch for obvious reasons. What he’s shown now, he’s healthy and he’s ready to go. … It was just a matter of time.”

Boston opens its schedule April 1 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Rodríguez went 13-5 for the Boston team that won a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series in 2018. He went into the next year at the bottom of the rotation behind Chris SaleDavid PriceRick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.

But Rodríguez had the best season of the group, going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA to finish sixth in American League Cy Young voting. He made his major-league-leading 34th start on the final day of the season with a chance at 20 wins but did not figure in the decision. Still, he finished with career bests in wins, ERA, starts, innings (203⅓) and strikeouts (213).

With Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery, Rodríguez was in line to start on Opening Day in 2020 before testing positive for the coronavirus and being diagnosed with inflammation in his heart muscles. He said he couldn’t even complete a 25-pitch workout without feeling tired; on Aug. 1, just one week into the season, he was shut down for the year.

After putting the extended rest and recovery time to good use, he said he’s ready to take advantage of a chance he has yet to have during his five major league seasons.

Speaking prior to Cora naming him the starter, Rodríguez told reporters he would be honored to get the ball in the opener.

“If given the opportunity, I’m going to be so happy to do it because that’s something that everybody wants to do one time in their career,” he said. “If I have the opportunity this year, I’m going to really appreciate it. I’m going to love it.”

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.

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.

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.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Ubaldo Jimenez to Appear at the Colorado Rockies’ Spring Training

Ubaldo Jimenez will be attending spring training…

The 36-year-old Dominican baseball player will return to the mound for the Colorado Rockies in spring training after being signed to a minor league contract with the team.

Ubaldo Jimenez 

The hard-throwing right-hander with the distinctive delivery was one of 21 players to receive a non-roster invitation to spring training from the Rockies on Wednesday. The list also includes catcher Drew Butera and infielder Chris Owings.

Jimenez hasn’t pitched in the majors since September 22, 2017, with the Baltimore Orioles. He was originally signed by Colorado as an amateur free agent while a teenager.

Jimenez became a fan favorite at Coors Fieldafter bursting on the scene in September 2006. The affable pitcher tossed Colorado’s only no-hitter on April 7, 2010, against the Atlanta Braves. He wound up 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA that season and finished third in the National League Cy Youngvoting.

His 19 wins remain a single-season Rockies record.

Jimenez was dealt to the Cleveland Indiansin July 2011, where he spent two more seasons before signing a free-agent deal with Baltimore prior to 2014.

He’s 114-117 over his career with a 4.34 ERA. Jimenez has struck out 1,720 in 1,870 innings.

Colorado’s pitchers and catchers are scheduled to have their first workout February 12. The first full-squad workout is set for February 17.

Marcell Ozuna Agrees to One-Year, $18 Million Deal with the Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna has 18-million reasons to smile…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and free agent outfielder, nicknamed “The Big Bear,”and the Atlanta Braves have reached an $18 million, one-year deal that puts him on the team he helped beat in the playoffs last year.

Marcell Ozuna

Ozuna hit .429 with two home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in their five-game win over the Braves in the National League Division Series.

Ozuna hit .241 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI last season. His low batting average was something of an oddity because he ranked among the major league leaders in the highest percentage of hard-hit balls, according to Statcast.

Ozuna is a two-time MLB All-Star who spent his first five seasons with the Miami Marlins, then was traded and played two years in St. Louis.

Ozuna’s signing leaves infielder-outfielder Nicholas Castellanos as the last remaining major free agent with spring training set to start in about three weeks.

The two-time NL East champion Braves have been busy this offseason. On Monday, they signed former AL Cy Young Award winner and longtime Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez to a minor league with an invite to big league spring training.

Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Deal with the Atlanta Braves

Felix Hernandezis getting a second chance…

The 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “King Félix“, has reached a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves on Monday that includes an invite to big league spring training.

Felix Hernandez

The longtime Seattle Marinersright-hander would get a $1 million, one-year contract if added to Atlanta’s 40-man roster.

Hernandez is coming off his worst season in the majors. King Felix went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts for the Mariners and lost his place in the rotation.

Hernandez was among the best and more durable pitchers in Major League Baseball for more than a decade, a stretch that included six All-Star selections and the 2010 American League Cy Young Award. He was a huge crowd favorite at Safeco Field, with fans holding up K cards in The King’s Courtto mark his many strikeouts.

The two-time NL East champion Braves hold their first workout for pitchers and catchers on February 13.

Anthony Rendon Among This Year’s MLB National League MVP Finalists

Anthony Rendonhas made the final cut…

The 29-year-old Mexican American Major League Baseball star has been named a finalist for the National League MVP award.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon, who hit key home runs in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series to help lead his Washington Nationals team to their first championship, will face off against Los Angeles Dodgersoutfielder Cody Bellingerand Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelichfor the MLB honor. Yelich won last year’s NL MVPaward with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike TroutHouston Astros third baseman Alex Bregmanand Oakland Athleticsshortstop Marcus Semienare finalists for the American League MVPaward. Trout is seeking his third MVP award after winning in 2014 and ’16. He finished second in 2012, ’13, ’15 and ’18.

Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are finalists for the AL Cy Young Award along with Tampa Bay Rays’ Charlie Morton, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America said. Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young with the Detroit Tigers, when he also was voted MVP.

New York Metsace Jacob deGromis a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award after getting 29 of 30 first-place votes last year. He is competing with Washington’s Max Scherzerand the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu. Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner.

New York Mets first baseman Pete AlonsoAtlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.are finalists for the NL Rookie of the Year. Houston designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe and Baltimore Orioles‘ left-hander John Means are the top candidates in the AL.

The New York Yankees‘ Aaron BooneMinnesota Twins‘ Rocco Baldelliand Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash are finalists for AL Manager of the Year. Atlanta’s Brian Snitker is a finalist to win the NL award for the second straight season, joined by the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Craig Counsell and St. Louis CardinalsMike Shildt.

Rookies of the Year will be announced on November 11, followed by Managers of the Year on November 12. Cy Young winners will be announced on November 13, and MVPs on November 14.

Jake Arrieta Accepts $20 Million Player Option to Stay with Philadelphia Phillies Next Season

Jake Arrieta isn’t leaving The Keystone State

The 33-year-old part-Puerto Rican Major League Baseball pitcher is staying with the Philadelphia Phillies, exercising a $20 million player option for 2020.

Jake Arrieta

A right-hander, Arrieta was 8-8 with a 4.64 ERA in 24 starts this year. He didn’t pitch after August 11 because of surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.

Arrieta was the 2015 National League Cy Young Awardwinner with the Chicago Cubs. He made the MLB All-Starteam the following season and helped the Cubs win their first World Seriestitle since 1908. 

He left as a free agent after the 2017 season and signed a deal with the Phillies that will wind up paying $75 million over three seasons.

Arrieta was 10-11 with a 3.96 ERA in 31 starts for Philadelphia in 2018.