Yadier Molina Agrees to One-Year Extension with St. Louis Cardinals

It’s the last hurrah for Yadier Molina

The 39-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher has agreed to a one-year extension with the St. Louis Cardinals, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak indicating it will be the MLB All-Star‘s final year with his longtime team.

Yadier Molina

Sources told ESPN the deal is worth $10 million, confirming a report by The Athletic.

“We are pleased to announce that Yadi has agreed to cement his career legacy with the Cardinals for a final season in 2022,” Mozeliak said in a statement. “His experience, leadership, work ethic and winning desire are all part of what we value as an organization.”

Molina has spent his entire career — 2,119 games over 18 seasons — with the Cardinals. The only two players to play more games in a Cardinals uniform are Hall of Famers Stan Musial (3,026) and Lou Brock (2,289).

“I’m so happy, so happy,” Molina told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

Molina, who is playing this season on a one-year, $9 million deal, said earlier this month that he did not want to enter free agency again this winter.

A 10-time All-Star, Molina broke into the majors with the Cardinals in 2004 and never left, helping lead the team to four National League pennants and two World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He was selected by St. Louis in the fourth round of the 2000 amateur draft. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico, native is a .280 career hitter with 168 homers and 983 RBIs heading into Tuesday’s game.

Molina’s 2,080 career games behind the plate are the most for any catcher with just one team, and he is a nine-time Gold Glove winner.

“On behalf of the Cardinals and our fans, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Yadier Molina will continue his franchise legacy for another season in 2022,” said Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. “Yadi has continued to play at an All-Star level this season, and has already established himself among the greatest players to have ever worn the birds on the bat.”

Miguel Cabrera Becomes Newest Member of MLB’s 500 Home Run Club

Miguel Cabrera is in elite company…

The 38-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player, a first baseman and designated hitter for the Detroit Tigers, is now a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball, after becoming the 28th member of the 500 home run club with a sixth-inning blast for the Tigers on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera connected on a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Steven Matz, sending the ball over the scoreboard in right-center field. The 400-foot homer tied the score at 1. The Tigers won the game 5-3 in 11 innings.

The 14,685 fans at Rogers Centre rose for a standing ovation as Cabrera rounded the bases. After celebrating with his teammates, the Tigers slugger came out of the dugout to accept a curtain call, taking off his helmet and bowing to the crowd behind Detroit’s dugout.

“It’s something special for my country, for my family, to be able to do this,” he said. “I’m really happy.”

Cabrera is the first player to reach the mark in a Tigers uniform. Detroit manager AJ Hinch asked Cabrera to address the team after the game, and the slugger thanked his teammates for their support.

“So proud for him and his family, and a career accomplishment so rare you may never get to be a part of this again,” Hinch said. “We have no idea who the next person can be to pass this big number.”

Cabrera went 31 at-bats between his 499th and 500th home runs, the third-longest such stretch in MLB history, behind Jimmie Foxx (61) and Harmon Killebrew (43), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Now in his 19th season in Major League Baseball, Cabrera foretold his future greatness in his first major league game on June 20, 2003, when he hit a walk-off home run to dead-center field in the bottom of the 11th inning for the Florida Marlins in a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay.

Indeed, he was precocious enough at the plate as a much-hyped 20-year-old that by October of that year he was batting cleanup for the Marlins in the World Series. He is still the youngest player to start at cleanup in a World Series game.

It has been a slow trek to 500 for Cabrera, who had 446 home runs at the end of the 2016 season after hitting 38 that year, marking the 10th time he had reached 30 home runs. He hasn’t hit more than 16 in a season since, as injuries and age sapped his power output. His 500th home run was his 13th of 2021.

Still, Cabrera is one of the best all-around hitters in the 500 home run club. His .311 career batting average ranks fifth among the 28 players; only nine batted .300 in their careers. His career adjusted batting is 19.2% better than the league average, which ranks behind only Ted Williams and Babe Ruth among club members, and he won batting titles in 2011 (.344), 2012 (.330), 2013 (.348) and 2015 (.338). The only other right-handed hitters with 500 home runs and a .300 average are Manny Ramirez, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Thomas.

Cabrera’s four batting titles ties Williams for the most among members of the 500 home run club, pending inclusion of the Negro Leagues‘ stats, according to ESPN Stats & Info research. Cabrera also is the only member of the club who was born in Venezuela.

Cabrera has won two home run titles, as well, leading the American League with 37 in 2008, his first season with the Tigers after a trade with the Marlins, and then again with 44 in 2012. That was Cabrera’s Triple Crown season, in which he became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to lead his league in home runs, RBIs and batting average. Cabrera won his first of back-to-back MVP awards during that 2012 campaign, beating out Mike Trout both times.

A few more home run facts from Cabrera’s career:

  • He has 41 two-homer games and two three-homer games. His three-homer games came against Oakland on May 28, 2010, and versus Texas on May 19, 2013.
  • His most victimized team: He has hit 50 home runs against Cleveland.
  • His most victimized pitcher: He hit seven off Phil Hughes.
  • He has hit seven walk-off home runs, that first one in his first game coming off Al Levine.

Next up for Cabrera: The 3,000 hit club, which has 32 members. He needed 134 hits at the start of the season, and in spring training, Cabrera said he wished to join both clubs in 2021.

“I hope I can get to 500, 3,000 this year,” he said in February. “It’s one of my goals this year. Mentally, I feel good. I feel mentally strong. I’m trying to go day by day and trying to play hard.”

It appears Cabrera will fall short of that milestone, as he has 2,955 hits. He had one stint on the injured list this year, missing 13 games in April with a biceps strain.

He is still signed through 2023, however, so he should get there in early 2022. The 3,000/500 club includes just six players: Aaron, Mays, Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.

Nomar Mazara Agrees to One-Year, $1.75 Million Deal with Detroit Tigers

Nomar Mazara is roarin’ into the Motor City

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball right fielder has sealed the deal with the Detroit Tigers on a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

Nomar Mazara

Mazara, who turns 26 in April, hit .228 with one home run in 42 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. That was his first season with the Chicago White Sox after he spent four with the Texas Rangers.

“After a frustrating 2020 season, I’m looking forward to a fresh start and getting to work with the coaching staff, especially AJ Hinch, who I always enjoyed competing against during his time in Houston,” Mazara said. “I’ve come to really appreciate coming to Detroit as a visiting player and can’t wait to join their baseball community this season.”

Hinch took over as Detroit’s manager this offseason.

Mazara hit 20 home runs in each of his first three years with the Texas Rangers, then 19 in 2019. He tied for fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2016, the year Detroit pitcher Michael Fulmer won the award.

“Heading through the offseason we were looking to add a left-handed-hitting outfielder to provide AJ with more options for the lineup, and bringing Nomar on board does exactly that,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said.

Mazara’s deal includes $500,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $100,000 each for 350, 400, 450, 500 and 550.

To make room for Mazara, the Tigers designated right-hander John Schreiber for assignment.

Francisco Liriano & Toronto Blue Jays Agree to Minor League Deal

Francisco Liriano is flying high…

The 37-year-old Dominican veteran professional baseball relief pitcher, a left-hander, has agreed to a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays that includes an invitation to spring training.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano didn’t pitch in the MLB during the pandemic-altered 2020 season. He was in camp with the Philadelphia Phillies on a minor league deal when the Phillies released him in July before Opening Day.

He went 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019, striking out 63 and walking 35 in 70 innings.

Liriano, an MLB All-Star as a rookie with the Minnesota Twins in 2006, is 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA in 300 starts and 119 relief outings over 14 major league seasons with the Twins, Chicago White Sox, Pirates, Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers.

He pitched for Toronto in 2016 and 2017 before getting traded to Houston for outfielders Teoscar Hernández and Nori Aoki.

Liriano won a World Series ring with the 2017 Astros, making five short relief appearances during the postseason that year.

Jose Urena Signs One-Year, $3.25 Million Deal with Detroit Tigers

Jose Urena is ready to roar

The Detroit Tigers have signed the 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher to a one-year, $3.25 million deal.

Jose Urena

Urena can earn $250,000 in performance bonuses based on starts, $50,000 each for 15, 18, 21, 24 and 27.

Urena, a righter-hander, spent the past six seasons with the Miami Marlins, compiling a 32-46 record with a 4.60 ERA in 142 games, 98 starts.

Urena struggled through the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He went on the COVID-19 injured list in late July, then returned to make five starts in September but broke his right forearm when he was struck by a line drive in his final outing. He finished the season 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA.

“Once Jose became available, we had him identified as a player that could come in and help our ballclub win games,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “We’re excited to add his experience pitching at a high level, and know he’ll contribute to our young staff in significant ways.

“Jose has a great ability to navigate a lineup and limit damage, while keeping his team in the game, which is exactly the stability we’re looking for heading into the 2021 season.”

Dereck Rodriguez Agrees to Minor League Deal with Colorado Rockies 

Dereck Rodriguez has a new deal…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican baseball pitcher, the son of MLB Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, has signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies that includes an invitation to spring training.

Dereck Rodriguez

Rodriguez appeared in 51 games over three seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He compiled a 12-15 record with a 4.27 ERA before being designated for assignment by the Giants on August 26. He was claimed five days later off waivers by the Detroit Tigers before recently becoming a free agent.

Rodriguez made his major league debut at Coors Field on May 29, 2018. He allowed four runs, one earned, over 3⅓ innings. He also had an RBI double off Kyle Freeland.

Rodriguez was originally a sixth-round pick by the Minnesota Twins in 2011.

Francisco Liriano Signs Minor League Contract with the Philadelphia Phillies

Francisco Liriano isn’t leaving The Keystone State… 

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed the 36-year-old Dominican professional baseball left-handed pitcher to a minor league contracts with invitations to attend major league spring training.

Francisco Liriano

Liriano was 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirateslast season. Liriano is 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA and has averaged 9.01 strikeouts per nine innings over 419 career games.

During his career, he has played for the Minnesota TwinsChicago White Sox, the PiratesToronto Blue JaysHouston Astrosand Detroit Tigers.

Liriano was an MLB All-Star in 2006, and is a two-time winner of the MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Ivan Nova Headed to the Detroit Tigers

Ivan Nova is roarin’ to go…

The Detroit Tigers announced Monday that they’ve agreed to a deal with the 34-year-old professional baseball pitcher.

Ivan Nova

To make room for Nova on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated left-hander Matt Hall for assignment.

Nova made a major-league-leading 34 starts for the Chicago White Sox last season, going 11-12 with a 4.72 ERA in 187 innings. The right-hander had 114 strikeouts, posting his worst strikeout rate (5.49/9 IP) since 2014.

He did pitch two complete games, including a four-hitter in a 9-1 victory against the Miami Marlins on July 22, bringing his career total to 10.

Nova’s curveball has long been his most effective pitch, but it wasn’t working for him in 2019, with a lower spin rate than he had in 2015-17, missing fewer bats and getting hit harder, so he used it less often.

He was acquired by Chicago from the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 2018 season for minor league pitcher Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation. 

Nova has made 223 big league starts, producing a 4.32 ERA with 954 strikeouts in 1,328⅔ innings.

Signed by the New York Yankees as an international free agent in 2004, Nova made his big league debut six years later and was with the Yankees until 2016, when he was traded to Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers. He finished that season a combined 12-8 with a 4.17 ERA for the Yankees and Pirates.

In 2015, Nova went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA over 17 starts in his return from Tommy John surgery.

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.

Aristides Aquino Breaks National League Rookie Mark for Home Runs in a Month

It’s been a banner month for Aristides Aquino.

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds broke the National League rookie mark for homers in a month with his 14th in August in his team’s 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.

Aristides Aquino

Aquino hit a two-run homer in the first for Cincinnati, and his two-out RBI single in the eighth tied it at 3.

Aquino broke the rookie record of 13 in a month set by the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger in June 2017. The Major League Baseball (MLB) record by a rookie is 18 by the Detroit Tigers‘ Rudy York in August 1937.

Reds manager David Bell’s reaction to his outfielder’s latest achievement?

“Speechless,” Bell said. “Guys are having fun watching him and what he’s doing. Pretty special.”

Aquino, who was promoted from the minors on August 1, tied the Reds record for homers by a player in a month held by Frank Robinson (1962) and Greg Vaughn (1999). He leads the majors with 32 RBIs this month.