Eduardo Rodriguez Agrees to Four-Year Deal with Arizona Diamondbacks

Eduardo Rodriguez is heading to The Copper State.

The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “E-Rod,” has agreed to a four-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks valued at around $20 million a year, according to ESPN.

Eduardo Rodriguez The deal is pending a physical.

The left-handed starter opted out of the final three years of his deal with the Detroit Tigers after going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 152⅔ innings. He was expected to be moved at the trade deadline this year but invoked his no-trade clause to kill an agreed-upon deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rodriguez gives the National League champion Diamondbacks another quality starter for their rotation that includes NL Cy Young Award finalist Zac Gallen, veteran Merrill Kelly and youngsters like righty Brandon Pfaadt and lefty Tommy Henry.

During their recent run to the World Series, Arizona only had three true starting pitchers, using the bullpen to get through Game 4 of the NL Championship Series and the World Series.

At his best, Rodriguez offers a polished four-pitch mix he controls well and uses to generate strikeouts. Over his eight-year career, he has punched out more than a batter an inning, and his ability to limit home runs prompted the Tigers to lavish a five-year, $77 million deal on him after he reached free agency following six seasons with the Boston Red Sox.

Rodriguez missed almost half of his first season with Detroit in 2022 while dealing with marital issues. He was looking like a surefire All-Star this year until a ruptured pulley in his left index finger caused him to miss all of June. Rodriguez wasn’t nearly as effective after he returned, posting a 4.24 ERA over 15 starts and 85 innings as compared to a 2.13 ERA in 11 starts and 67⅔ innings before the injury.

He opted out anyway, forgoing the final three years and $49 million on his deal to hit free agency once again.

Jeimer Candelario Agrees to Three-Year, $45 Million Contract with Cincinnati Reds

Jeimer Candelario is seeing Red(s) 

The 30-year-old Dominican American professional baseball third baseman has agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds, adding the veteran switch hitter to a plethora of young infielders as the Reds position themselves for a run at the National League Central title.

Jeimer CandelarioCandelario was non-tendered by the Detroit Tigers following the 2022 season but rebounded with a stellar 2023, setting career highs in home runs (22) and RBIs (70) while hitting .251/.336/.471 and playing first and third base for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. His deal with the Reds includes a club option for $15 million in 2027, sources said. 

He joins a Reds team that already features young infielders Elly De La CruzMatt McLainNoelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Jonathan India. Another infielder, Spencer Steer, is expected to move to left field, where he would complement outfielders TJ Friedl, Will Benson and Jake Fraley.

Candelario’s deal, first reported by MLB.com, could free up Cincinnati to use its depth to pursue a trade for a pitcher, though the Reds already have added right-hander Nick Martinez to their rotation and right-hander Emilio Pagan to their bullpen on two-year deals.

Cincinnati’s last postseason appearance in a full season came in 2013, and following an 82-80 performance in 2023, owner Bob Castellini said he intended to expand the Reds’ payroll with hopes of usurping the incumbent division winner, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Cubs. The Reds, typically among the lowest-payroll teams, have guaranteed $87 million to free agents.

Multiple teams pursued Candelario this winter, looking at his versatility as well as his ability to hit from both sides of the plate as pluses. Over his eight-year career, Candelario has hit .243/.325/.414 with 88 home runs and 318 RBIs in 746 games.

Bartolo Colon Selected in Inaugural Draft of Dubai-Based ‘Baseball United’ League

Bartolo Colon is preparing to hit the mound in the Middle East…

The 50-year-old Dominican-American former professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “Big Sexy,” has been selected in the inaugural draft of a Dubai-based baseball league.

Bartolo ColonColon headlined picks by teams in Baseball United, the first pro baseball league in the Middle East and South Asia.

Colon joins a roster of notable, older former MLB player picks that includes Robinson Cano, Pablo Sandoval, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons and Steven Moya.

Colon, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner and a four-time MLB All-Star, went 16th overall to the Karachi Monarchs, one of four Baseball United teams slated to begin play next fall in the cricket-mad region. The Dubai Wolves, Mumbai Cobras and Abu Dhabi Falcons are the others.

The right-hander last pitched in 2018 with the Texas Rangers to end a 21-year major league career. He announced his retirement in September during a ceremony with the New York Mets.

The 40-year-old Canó, an eight-time MLB All-Star, went sixth overall to the Dubai Wolves. Canó, who played last season with the Atlanta Braves, batted .301 with 335 homers over a 17-year career that included a 2009 World Series title with the New York Yankees. He was one of several players to pose in his new uniform for posts on Baseball United’s social media Monday.

Sandoval, 37 and known as “Kung Fu Panda” during a 13-year career most memorable for helping the San Francisco Giants win World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, was the fourth overall pick by the Falcons. The Venezuelan last played 69 games with the Atlanta Braves two years ago.

Moya, 32, was the second selection by the Monarchs. He batted .250 with five homers and 11 RBI with the Detroit Tigers from 2014-16.

The picks will also compete in an All-Star showcase next month at Dubai International Stadium.

The league’s investors include Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Barry Larkin. Kash Shaikh, president and CEO of Baseball United, told The Associated Press in May that the league will own the initial four teams, with four additional teams to be unveiled next year. He hopes the teams can eventually reap lucrative returns at auction. He also promised yet-to-be announced rules that would differ from Major League Baseball, including “things that you’d never see in other professional baseball leagues” to further appeal to cricket audiences.

Juan González Honored with Texas Rangers Hall of Fame Jacket in Pregame Ceremony

Juan González has entered a special Hall

The 53-year-old Puerto Rican former baseball player, a two-time American League MVP received his Texas Rangers Hall of Fame jacket in a pregame ceremony on Friday night, eight years after his induction and 20 years after his last game for the team.

Juan González, One of baseball’s best sluggers in the 1990s, González is still the Rangers’ career leader with 372 home runs, 1,180 RBIs and 713 extra-base hits. He played for the Rangers from 1989 to 1999, during a stretch when they won their first three AL West titles, and the outfielder-designated hitter returned to the club from 2002 to 2003.

González threw a ceremonial first pitch in what was believed to be his first public appearance at a Rangers game since 2004, when he was playing for the Kansas City Royals.

During his first MVP season in 1996, when the Rangers won their first division title, González hit .314 with 47 home runs and 144 RBIs. He was the MVP again in 1998, when he batted .318 with 45 home runs and 157 RBIs in the club’s second playoff season.

Overall, Gonzalez hit .295 with 457 home runs and 1,273 RBIs in 1,689 career games that spanned from his debut at age 19 with the Rangers over the final month of the 1989 season to one game for Cleveland in 2005. He played for Detroit in 2000 after being traded in a nine-player deal then went to Cleveland in free agency in 2001, when he had 140 RBIs in 140 games before re-signing with Texas.

He is now a coach for the national team back home and was an assistant hitting coach for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

Jeimer Candelario Reacquired by the Chicago Cubs

Jeimer Candelario is headed back to The Windy City

The 29-year-old Dominican America professional baseball player has been reacquired by the Chicago Cubs.

The team acquired Candelario from the Washington Nationals third baseman nearly six years to the day they traded him to the Detroit Tigers.

In return, the Cubs are sending prospects Kevin Made and DJ Herz back to the Nationals.

Candelario has 16 home runs and an .823 OPS for Washington this season. The home runs are just three shy of his career high set in 2018. For the year, he’s hitting .258 with a .342 on-base percentage, appearing in 96 games at third base and two more as the Nationals designated hitter.

The switch-hitting, eight-year veteran could fill both roles for the Cubs as they’ve mixed and matched at third and designated hitter all season. Patrick Wisdom had a hot start to the spring but cooled off and is hitting only .195 while Nick Madrigal is a converted second baseman, though he’s played well in short stints at third this season.

Cubs designated hitters have compiled a .229 batting average and .698 OPS this season.

The Nationals get back Single-A shortstop Made and Double-A pitcher Herz, both of whom were top-20 prospects in the Cubs system.

Chicago changed course over the last week, becoming a team that would add talent after winning eight straight games and pushing over the .500 mark for the first time since early May. Instead of subtracting pending free agents, they’re adding them, including Candelario. The team is also searching for bullpen arms before Tuesday’s trading deadline.

Candelario returns to the Cubs organization after he was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent in October 2010, making his major league debut in five games with Chicago in 2016. He was traded to Detroit with infielder Isaac Paredes in a deal for catcher Alex Avila and pitcher Justin Wilson at the 2017 trade deadline.

Later Monday, the Kansas City Royals traded right-handed pitcher Jose Cuas to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Nelson Velazquez.

Cuas, 29, was 1-3 this season for Kansas City, with four holds and two blown saves. He made 45 appearances, and all but one came out of the bullpen.

Detroit Tigers Sign Team Nicaragua’s Duque Hebbert Following Stellar Ninth Inning

Despite logging a loss at the World Baseball Classic, Duque Hebbert is still a winner.

The 21-year-old Nicaraguan baseball player’s Team Nicaragua lost to the Dominican Republic during pool-play at the WBC on Monday, but he struck out MLB superstars Juan SotoJulio Rodriguez and Rafael Devers in the ninth inning of Nicaragua’s 6-1 loss and earned himself a contract with the Detroit Tigers in the process.

Duque HebbertOne of the Tigers’ scouts, Luis Molina, found the right-hander, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, as he was leaving LoanDepot Park, asked him a handful of questions and signed him to a minor league contract, said Nicaraguan Athletics Federation press officer Carlos Alfaro Leon.

An announcement was made on the bus in front of the whole team.

Hebbert, who also gave up a double to the hot-hitting Manny Machado in his lone inning of work, used mostly low 90s sinkers, mid-80s changeups and low-90s sliders to strike out the side. Team Nicaragua manager Sandor Guido called it “extraordinary.”

“He showed what he is made of,” Guido said through an interpreter. “When you have will, when you have heart, you can do very good things.”

Yoan Moncada to Represent Cuba at Upcoming World Baseball Classic

Yoan Moncada is going native

Cubans signed with Major League Baseball organizations or other foreign clubs, including the 27-year-old Cuban professional baseball third baseman for the Chicago White Sox, will for the first time join local stars on the national team that’ll play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, according to officials.

Yoan MoncadaThe Cuban Baseball Federation long defended the idea of amateurism and punished those who left the island to seek their fortunes in professional baseball.

But that changed when a program on state television announced the roster of 30 players for Cuba’s national team that will play in the international tournament that begins March 8 in Taiwan.

In addition to Moncada and his teammate Luis Robert, plus three players from Triple-A rosters: infielder Andy Ibanez of Detroit Tigers affiliate Toledo Mud Hens, right-hander Miguel Romero of the Oakland Athletics’ Las Vegas Aviators and right-hander Ronald Bolanos of the Kansas City Royals‘ Omaha Storm Chasers.

Also on the team will be outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who played for the New York Mets but has not been in the majors since 2018.

Two Cubans who play in Japan were picked, outfielder Yurisbel Gracial of the Pacific League‘s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and catcher Ariel Martinez of the Central League‘s Chunichi Dragons.

To arrange participation of the MLB players, Cuba had to get special permission from the U.S., since Washington maintains sanctions on Cuba. Under the agreement, those players are barred from coming to Cuba to work with the team.

Baseball is the national sport in Cuba but economic difficulties, the philosophy of restricting the movement of athletes and the temptations of professional contracts abroad have decimated the game on the island.

Philadelphia Phillies Acquire Gregory Soto from Detroit Tigers

Gregory Soto is heading east…

The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired the 27-year-old Dominican hard-throwing professional baseball pitcher and infielder Kody Clemens from the Detroit Tigers, the tam has announced.

Gregory SotoIn return, Detroit received infielder Nick Maton, outfielder Matt Vierling and catcher Donny Sands.

Soto was an MLB All-Star the past two seasons, including 2022, when he went 2-11 for the fourth-place Tigers. Despite that record, he had a respectable 3.28 ERA, although his command has been an issue the past couple of seasons. He walked 34 batters in 60⅓ innings last season while producing a career-high 14.5% walk percentage in 2021.

Soto joins an evolving, formidable bullpen in Philadelphia. The Phillies also added veteran Craig Kimbrel to the mix this offseason, and holdovers Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Alvarado helped the organization to the World Series last year.

Joe Jimenez Traded to Atlanta Braves

It’s a Braves new world for Joe Jimenez

The Atlanta Braves have traded two minor leaguers with the Detroit Tigers in exchange for the 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball pitcher and former MLB All-Star reliever.

Joe JimenezThe Tigers acquired outfielder Justyn-Henry Malloy and left-hander Jake Higginbotham.

The swap at the winter meetings came after Jansen, who led the NL with 41 saves last season, left the NL East champion Braves and got a $32 million, two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Jimenez, who turns 28 next month, was 3-2 with two saves and a 3.49 ERA in 62 games with the Tigers last season, striking out 77 in 56 2/3 innings. The right-hander has spent all six of his seasons in the majors with Detroit and was an All-Star in 2018.

The 22-year-old Malloy hit a combined .289 with 17 home runs and 81 RBI at three minor league levels last season.

The 26-year-old Higginbotham was 2-5 with a 4.73 ERA in 48 relief appearances at Double-A Mississippi.

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.