Jean Segura Agrees to Two-Year, $17 Million Deal with Miami Marlins 

Jean Segura is heading to the Sunshine State.

The 32-year-old Dominican veteran professional baseball shortstop and second baseman and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal, according to multiple reports.

Jean SeguraIt’s the first free agent move of the offseason for the Marlins, who are coming off a 69-93 season — their 12th losing record in the past 13 years. And they’ve watched NL East rivals Atlanta, Philadelphia and the New York Mets make no shortage of moves to try and improve their loaded rosters; the Braves were World Series champions in 2021 and the Phillies won the NL pennant this year before falling to Houston in the World Series.

Segura spent the past four seasons with the Phillies, but they declined his $17 million option last month, and he instead received a $1 million buyout. In 98 games this season — he missed about two months with a fractured right index finger — Segura hit .277 with 10 home runs, 33 RBIs and 45 runs. He also appeared in the postseason for the first time in his 11-year career and delivered a key hit in Philly’s Game 3 NLCS win against the San Diego Padres.

A two-time MLB All-Star, Segura also has played full seasons for the Milwaukee BrewersArizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners. He’s a career .285 hitter with 107 home runs, 712 runs scored and 492 RBIs.

He primarily played second base for Philadelphia but also saw time at shortstop and third. Marlins All-Star second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. was limited to just 60 games in 2022 due to injury.

Z101 Digital first reported news of the agreement between Segura and the Marlins.

Carlos Correa Agrees to 12-Year, $315 Million Contract with New York Mets

Carlos Correa is changing course…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop has agreed to a 12-year, $315 million contract with the New York Mets, snubbing a previous agreement with the San Francisco Giants, according to ESPN sources.

Carlos CorreaCorrea had originally agreed to terms last week with the Giants and was set to sign a historic 13-year, $350 million contract, tying Bryce Harper for the longest free agent deal in baseball history and setting up the star shortstop to become a new central figure in the Giants’ decorated history.

But the deal fell apart Tuesday over what Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, told the New York Post was a “difference of opinion” concerning Correa’s physical. The Mets swooped in, led by uber-aggressive owner Steve Cohen, who told the Post that he negotiated the new contract with Boras in Hawaii.

“We need one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told the Post. “This was important. … This puts us over the top. This is a good team. I hope it’s a good team.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi wouldn’t disclose what the “difference of opinion” was concerning Correa’s physical, but he did wish the shortstop well moving forward.

“While we are prohibited from disclosing confidential medical information, as Scott Boras stated publicly, there was a difference of opinion over the results of Carlos’ physical examination,” Zaidi said in his statement. “We wish Carlos the best.”

Correa was scheduled to be officially introduced by the Giants on Tuesday, but the team announced that morning that the news conference was postponed without providing a reason. Despite the differences on Correa’s physical, sources throughout the industry who spoke to ESPN still believed the deal with the Giants would be finalized.

Boras told The Athletic on Wednesday that San Francisco had “reasonable time” to still move forward with the deal, but that the team was dragging its feet on “things in his medical record that happened decades ago.”

“We reached an agreement. We had a letter of agreement,” Boras told The Athletic. “We gave them a time frame to execute it. They advised us they still had questions. They still wanted to talk to other people, other doctors, go through it.

“I said, ‘Look, I’ve given you a reasonable time. We need to move forward on this. Give me a time frame. If you’re not going to execute, I need to go talk with other teams.”

Boras told the Post that the Mets seized the opportunity to resume negotiations with the two-time All-Star, adding another superstar player in their aggressive pursuit of a championship.

Cohen told the Post that the agreement with Correa and Boras came together quickly because the Mets had initially fallen just short of a deal last week before Correa’s pending deal with the Giants.

“We kind of picked up where we were before, and it just worked out,” Cohen told the paper.

With Correa’s deal, the Mets have committed more than $800 million to free agents this offseason, and their competitive balance tax payroll now projects to be approximately $384 million. The fourth and final threshold of the luxury tax, commonly referred to as “the Steve Cohen tax,” sits at $293 million for the 2023 season, which means the Mets could be in for a tax bill in the neighborhood of $100 million next year.

“What the heck’s the difference?” Cohen told the Post in response to the Mets’ historic spending. “If you’re going to make the move, make the move.”

The Mets already brought back center fielder Brandon Nimmo and closer Edwin Diaz on nine-figure contacts, and signed starting pitchers Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana, relievers Adam Ottavino and David Robertson, and catcher Omar Narvaez.

If Correa’s deal with the Mets is finalized — this one, like his prior agreement with the Giants, is also pending the completion of a physical — he will team up with good friend and fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor, who signed a 10-year, $341 million extension in April 2021. Lindor is expected to remain at shortstop, and Correa would move to third base, a dynamic that would undoubtedly remind fans of the pairing between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the Bronx.

“This really makes a big difference,” Cohen told the Post. “I felt like our pitching was in good shape. We needed one more hitter. This puts us over the top.”

Odds on the Mets to win the World Series improved from +900 to +750 by Wednesday morning, per Caesars Sportsbook. That is the third-best odds behind the Houston Astros (+400) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (+600).

Correa was one of the headliners of this year’s free agent class, alongside Aaron Judge and three other star-caliber shortstops in Trea TurnerXander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson, the five of whom have now attained a combined $1.4 billion in total guarantees.

Correa is a Gold Glove Award winner who has batted .285/.366/.476 with 48 home runs and 156 RBIs in 284 games with the Astros and the Minnesota Twins over the past two seasons.

Correa battled injuries to his thumb, back and ribs from 2017 to 2019, a three-year stretch in which he averaged just 98 games per season. But he has nonetheless accumulated 31.3 FanGraphs wins above replacement since his shortened American League Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015, 16th-highest among position players. A former No. 1 overall pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Correa spent his first seven major league seasons with the Astros, evolving into one of the leaders on a star-studded team that was tarnished by the sign-stealing scandal that tainted its championship in 2017.

Unable to land the long-term deal he coveted last offseason, Correa shocked the industry by signing a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the Twins, who also provided him with two opt-outs. Correa, who hired Boras as his agent at the start of 2022, exercised the first of those opt-outs after a solid 2022 season, venturing out into the free agent market once again.

Carlos Correa Agrees to 13-Year, $350 Million Contract with San Francisco Giants

Carlos Correa has landed a Giant(s) deal…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop has agreed to a 13-year, $350 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Carlos CorreaIt’s a record-long deal that is the richest ever for the position and gives the team a franchise-type player around which it plans to build, according to ESPN.

The free agent path of Correa was far less circuitous than last year, when he entered the market in hopes of landing a $300 million-plus deal but wound up signing a shorter-term contract with the Minnesota Twins that included an opt-out after the first season.

This offseason, Correa found a market that lavished $300 million on Trea Turner and $280 million on Xander Bogaerts far more to his liking, and he wound up with the second-biggest deal, behind Aaron Judge‘s nine-year, $360 million contract with the New York Yankees.

The 13 years ties Bryce Harper‘s $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in March 2019, and like Harper, Correa received a full no-trade clause and a contract without any opt-outs, sources said.

The $350 million exceeds the $341 million shortstop Francisco Lindor received from the New York Mets and the $340 million for shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. with the San Diego Padres. And in the history of baseball, only Mike Trout‘s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles AngelsMookie Betts $365 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Judge’s exceed it in value.

About a year after turning down a five-year, $160 million contract with the Houston Astros, with whom Correa blossomed into a star, he landed more than twice that on the heels of a single season spent with the Twins, with whom he made $35.1 million before opting out of the final two years of his deal.

In his one season with Minnesota, Correa looked like his vintage self, hitting .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs in 136 games.

While he didn’t match his Platinum Glove-winning 2021 campaign, Correa is regarded as one of the game’s best defensive shortstops, posting his fourth season with 5.0-plus wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The Giants paid him like a superstar, as the combination of Correa’s position, age and productivity — regular season and postseason — convinced them to make him among the highest-earning players in baseball.

Before Correa, the last player the Giants signed to a $100 million-plus contract was pitcher Johnny Cueto, who received a six-year, $130 million deal in December 2015.

At baseball’s winter meetings, the Giants had hoped to strike a deal for Judge, the reigning American League MVP. But the Yankees upped their offer to $40 million per year, and Judge agreed to stay in New York. With Turner and Bogaerts off the board too, the opportunity to sign a foundational player had dwindled to Correa and former Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.

Since the retirement of catcher Buster Posey following the 2021 season, the Giants had sought a star to be the start of something new, looking beyond the glory years of the early 2010s, when San Francisco won three World Series, and before that, when Barry Bonds dazzled sellout crowds nightly. Correa has the poise and ability to be just that.

Excellence was predestined after he went to the Astros with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. He shot through the organization and debuted at 20 years old in 2015, winning AL Rookie of the Year. By his second season, Correa was one of the best players in baseball. And in 2017, he helped the Astros win their first World Series title, hitting five home runs and driving in 14 runs in 18 postseason games.

The Astros reached the AL Championship Series in 2018 and the World Series in 2019, with Correa a foundational player for their success. But the revelation in November 2019 that Houston had used a sign-stealing scheme during their championship season sullied the title and landed especially hard on Correa, who was outspoken in his defense of the team.

Correa’s excellence continued unabated. He was among the best players in the 2020 postseason and again played well in 2021, pushing his career postseason line to .272/.344/.505 with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs in 79 games. With shortstop prospect Jeremy Pena primed to reach the big leagues, though, Houston moved on from Correa, whose free agent market never materialized after an early dalliance with the Detroit Tigers and led to him signing a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the Twins.

With Minnesota, Correa quickly became a clubhouse leader, and over his final 120 games, he hit .307/.381/.496 with 21 home runs. The Twins hoped he would return but recognized his market would be unlikely to break the same way it did following 2021.

Over his eight-year career, Correa has compiled nearly 40 rWAR — only Trout, Betts, Nolan ArenadoPaul Goldschmidt and Manny Machado have more in the same stretch — and a career line of .279/.357/.479 with 155 home runs and 553 RBIs in 888 games. His 12.6 defensive WAR rank fourth, behind Andrelton SimmonsKevin Kiermaier and Arenado.

Just how long Correa stays at shortstop is a question multiple executives posited during his free agency. The outs above average metric placed him in the bottom 20% of shortstops last season, while defensive runs saved pegged him as slightly above average. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Correa is among the game’s biggest players at shortstop, where he has played all 881 of his career games in the field.

Regardless of where Correa’s glove winds up, his bat will determine whether the megadeal is a success. And in the short term, it will help determine whether Correa again reaches the postseason — this time with a Giants team that won the National League West in 2021 but finished 81-81 this year — or, for the first time in his career, misses it in consecutive seasons.

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.

José Abreu Agrees to Three-Year Contract with Houston Astros

José Abreu is celebrating an Astros-nominical deal…

The 35-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, who plays first base, and the Houston Astros have agreed to a three-year contract, according to ESPN.

José AbreuAbreu will add another run-producing bat to the World Series champions’ lineup that’s already filled with them.

Abreu, who turns 36 in January, won the American League MVP award in 2020 and is second in baseball with 863 RBIs since his first season in the major leagues, 2014. He hit .304/.378/.446 this year with the Chicago White Sox, for whom he had played all nine of his big league seasons after defecting from Cuba.

Following a dreadful first five weeks, Abreu was one of the best hitters in baseball over the final three-quarters of the season, batting .335/.405/.479, though his 15 home runs over the entire year were a career low.

He joins an Astros lineup with fellow Cuban Yordan ÁlvarezJose AltuveKyle TuckerAlex Bregman and World Series MVP Jeremy Peña.

Abreu will replace Yuli Gurriel, a longtime rival in the Cuban National Series.

Abreu and Gurriel, along with Yoenis Cespedes, were widely regarded as the best players of their generation from Cuba, both high-contact hitters — though Abreu’s power was the separator.

The White Sox extended him for three years and $50 million after 2019, when he led the AL with 123 RBIs. Over his nine seasons, Abreu hit .292/.354/.506 with 243 home runs and an adjusted OPS 34% better than league average.

He’s the second signing for this winter for the Astros, who reupped reliever Rafael Montero on a three-year, $34.5 million contract. The Astros’ projected payroll is currently in the $175 million range — they’ve exceeded $187 million each of the previous five seasons — and they still hope to sign ace Justin Verlander, who could command upward of $40 million a year.

Albert Pujols Named National League’s ‘Comeback Player of the Year’

Albert Pujols is this year’s Comeback King…

The 42-year-old Dominican slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals has won the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year award.

Albert PujolsPujols came back to St. Louis for his farewell season and posted his biggest numbers in years at the age of 42. The three-time MLB MVP compiled an .895 OPS for the NL Central champions and became the fourth Major League Baseball player to reach 700 career home runs.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander was the American League recipient.

The winners were chosen in voting by the 30 team beat reporters at MLB.com.

Pujols batted .270 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs in 109 games for the Cardinals after getting released by the Los Angeles Angels in May 2021 and finishing last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His OPS was his highest since his last season with the Cardinals in 2011 (.906) before joining the Angels, and his home runs were his most since hitting 31 in 2016 for the Angels.

The 11-time MLB All-Star hit 18 home runs in the second half and retired after the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs by Philadelphia in the wild-card round.

He finished his career fourth in major league annals in home runs (703), second in RBIs (2,218) and total bases (6,211) and ninth in hits (3,384).

Carlos Beltran Among 14 Newcomers on MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

Carlos Beltran is in the running for a special place in Major League Baseball history…

The 45-year-old Puerto Rican former professional baseball player is among 14 newcomers on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America‘s MLB Hall of Fame ballot.

Carlos BeltranBeltran played as an outfielder from 1998 to 2017 for the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.

Beltrán was the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year in 1999 while with the Royals. He was named to nine MLB All-Star Games and won three Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Slugger Awards.

Beltrán was the fifth player to reach both 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases and just the fourth switch hitter with 400 home runs. He has the highest success rate in stealing bases (88.3%) of any major league player with 300 or more career attempts. He also joined the 30–30 club in 2004. In 2013, Beltrán was named the recipient of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. He retired after the 2017 season, winning a World Series title with the Astros.

Other players appearing on the ballot for the first time include John Lackey, Jered Weaver, R.A. Dickey, Huston Street, Francisco Rodríguez, Bronson Arroyo and Matt Cain. They’re joined by Jacoby Ellsbury, Jayson Werth, Mike Napoli, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta and Andre Ethier, the Hall and the BBWAA announced.

Holdovers include Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner. Rolen received 249 of 394 votes last year (63.2%), when David Ortiz was elected with 307 votes (77.9%), 11 more than the 75% needed. Helton was on 205 ballots (52%) and Wagner 201 (51%).

Voters denied several stars tainted by steroids and scandal.

Barry Bonds (260 votes, 66%), Roger Clemens (257, 65.2%) and Curt Schilling (231, 58.6%) were dropped after their 10th appearances on the ballot last year and are among eight players who will appear on the ballot of the Hall’s contemporary baseball era committee, which meets December 4 in San Diego ahead of baseball’s winter meetings.

Other holdovers on the BBWAA ballot include Andruw Jones (163 votes last year, 41.1%), Gary Sheffield (160, 40.6%), Alex Rodriguez (135, 34.3%), Jeff Kent (129, 32.7%), Manny Ramirez (114, 28.9%), Omar Vizquel (94, 23.9%), Andy Pettitte (42, 10.7%), Jimmy Rollins (37, 9.4%), Bobby Abreu (34, 8.6%), Mark Buehrle (23, 5.8%) and Torii Hunter (21, 5.3%).

Kent, who received his highest percentage last year, will appear on the BBWAA ballot for the 10th and final time.

BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Any players elected will be inducted into the Hall at Cooperstown on July 23 along with anyone elected by the contemporary baseball era committee.

A-Rod, a three-time MLB MVP and 14-time MLB All-Star who hit 696 home runs, was suspended for the 2014 season for violating MLB’s drug policy and collective bargaining agreement, and Ortiz’s name was alleged to have appeared on a list of players who tested positive during 2003 survey testing.

Seattle Mariners Acquire Teoscar Hernandez from Toronto Blue Jays

Teoscar Hernandez is headed to the Emerald City

The Seattle Mariners have acquired the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and slugger in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, fortifying a lineup in need of another big bat as they try to catch the Houston Astros, their division rival and the World Series champions.

Teoscar HernandezRight-handed reliever Erik Swanson and left-handed pitching prospect Adam Macko went to the Blue Jays, whose bullpen issues last season were most apparent in a 10-9 wild-card series loss to the Mariners that ended their season.

Hernandez hit a pair of home runs in that game and is a two-time Silver Slugger winner whose power in right field is unimpeachable. He hit .267/.316/.491 last season with 25 home runs and 77 RBIs in 131 games and should man right field alongside the American League Rookie of the Year, center fielder Julio Rodriguez.

“We began our offseason with the intent to add impact and length to our lineup,” said Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners’ president of baseball operations. “In adding Teoscar to an already solid foundation, we feel we’ve become a far more dangerous offensive club.”

Toronto’s willingness to deal Hernandez has more to do with his contract status than the quality of his play. He is due to hit free agency after the 2023 season and is expected to make around $14 million in arbitration. The Blue Jays, sources said, plan to acquire another outfielder this offseason.

In Swanson and Macko, they added one arm expected to help their bullpen this year and another with high-end-starter potential.

Swanson had a breakout 2022 season, putting up a 1.68 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 53⅔ innings. With a four-seam fastball that has near-perfect backspin and a split-fingered fastball that developed into a strikeout weapon this year, Swanson was a vital part of the Mariners’ bullpen — and will join closer Jordan Romano, Anthony Bass, Adam Cimber, Yimi Garcia, Zach Pop and Tim Mayza in a bullpen that could be a strength for Toronto.

“We got to the point where we felt like the acquisitions on the run-prevention side would help us,” Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said. “It does create some flexibility for us as well, in terms of resources.”

Atkins said the groundwork for the trade started during the general manager meetings last week in Las Vegas and there were “three or four teams” with a significant interest in Hernandez.

“This market for right-handed bats like Teo, he was one of the better hitters in it. We are fortunate to have some depth in that area,” Atkins said.

Macko, who turns 22 in December, struck out 60 over 38⅓ innings in High-A this year and features a mid-90s fastball and a pair of breaking balls that give him significant upside. Born in Slovakia, he graduated from high school in Vauxhall, a small town in the Canadian province of Alberta, in 2019. The Mariners selected him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft.

“If we can put him into a position where he can sustain and haul a full season of innings, he could become, easily, one of the better prospects in baseball. He’s got the arsenal to do that,” Atkins said.

The Mariners could reap an additional benefit provided Hernandez has a typical season: If they tender him a qualifying offer after 2023 and he signs elsewhere, Seattle would receive a draft choice around the 75th pick, with a slot value of around $850,000.

Sandy Alcantara Sweeps All First-Place Votes to Win National League Cy Young Award

It’s a clean sweep for Sandy Alcantara

The 27-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Miami Marlins has become the first unanimous Cy Young Award winner in the National League since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

Sandy Alcantara Alcantara, a right-hander, swept all 30 first-place votes to beat out Atlanta Braves lefty Max Fried and Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Julio Urias to become the first Cy Young winner in Marlins history.

With Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander also winning the AL Cy Young by unanimous vote, this marks just the second time that both Cy Young winners were unanimous. Bob Gibson and Denny McLain also won unanimously in 1968, one year after the award started to be given out to both leagues.

In this age of five-inning starters, Alcantara stood out like a unicorn: He pitched 228⅔ innings, 23⅔ more than other pitcher in the majors, and the most innings since David Price threw 230 in 2016. He threw six complete games — more than any other team. He pitched at least eight innings in 14 of his 32 starts, the most such games since 2014. His 8.0 WAR easily topped Aaron Nola’s 6.0 as the best in the NL and ranked as the best in Marlins history, ahead of Kevin Brown‘s 7.9 in 1996.

“I’m very happy with the type of season I was able to have this season,” Alcantara said in a video released when he won the Players Choice Award as the outstanding NL pitcher. “It’s like I’ve always told the media: My mentality is to be a lion on the mound, finish all my starts.”

Here’s another way to view Alcantara’s award: He had 16 starts of more than seven innings when you add in his two 7⅔-inning outings. Fried and Urias combined for just two outings of more than seven innings. It wasn’t just his ability to pitch deep into games that made Alcantara the Cy Young winner, however. His 2.28 ERA ranked second in the NL behind Urias’ 2.16, and he held batters to a .212 average with some of the most electric stuff in the majors.

“He’s throwing 100-plus mph and he’s got movement on that fastball,” St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.

Indeed, Alcantara averaged just under 98 mph with his fastball (he throws both a four-seamer and sinker), but his game plan is a little different from a lot of modern pitchers. He induces a lot of soft contact rather than just racking up strikeouts — and thus avoids the high pitch counts that result from a lot of deep counts. As a result, he led all starters in averaging just 14.2 pitches per inning, allowing him to go deep into games. He still managed 207 strikeouts, including a season-high 14 in an eight-inning win over the Braves on May 28. “Sometimes with Sandy it looks like pitch and catch,” then-Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after that dominating victory.

Originally signed by the Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic, the Marlins acquired Alcantara after the 2017 season in a trade that sent Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis. Alcantara made the MLB All-Star team in 2019, his first full season in the majors, when he finished with a 3.88 ERA, and then had a big breakout in 2021, when he went 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA in 205 innings.

An improved changeup took him to another level this season, as batters hit just .145 against it with no home runs in 248 at-bats. It’s a power change that averaged 91.8 mph — yes, a 92 mph changeup. According to Statcast metrics, his changeup saved 25 runs, the most valuable changeup in the game in 2022.

Maybe the highlight of Alcantara’s season wasn’t one of his seven scoreless outings, but a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals on June 29. Leading 4-3 with runners at first and second and one out in the ninth and Alcantara at 115 pitches, Mattingly came out to apparently remove him from the game. Alcantara talked himself into staying in and two pitches later induced to a double play to end it.

“When he came to me, I said, ‘I got it. I got it.’ I think he has too much confidence in me to finish the game,” Alcantara said after that win. “I don’t have to worry when I have men on base. I know I can throw a strike and get a double play.”

“He said he had it, and he did,” Mattingly said. “I wasn’t going to promise him two hitters, but I gave him that one. He’s pretty special.”

Special enough that the extension the Marlins signed him to last November that runs through 2027 now looks like a bargain. With the Marlins now having a Cy Young winner, the only franchises without one are the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies.

Julio Rodriguez Named American League Rookie of the Year

Julio Rodriguez’s banner year is ending with an exclamation point…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, has been named the American League Rookie of the Year in near-unanimous fashion.

Julio RodriguezIt was a fitting cap to a stirring campaign that saw J-Rod dazzle at the Home Run Derby, perform among the sport’s best players and propel the Mariners to a long-awaited trip to the playoffs.

Rodriguez received 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, with Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman receiving the other. Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven KwanKansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. and Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the voting.

Rodriguez electrified the city of Seattle and captivated an entire nation of baseball fans with his youthful exuberance, pronounced swagger and wide-ranging talent. He slashed .284/.345/.509, leading all rookies in homers (28), OPS (.855) and total bases (260) while helping the Mariners clinch their first postseason berth since 2001, snapping the longest active drought among the four major North American professional sports.

Along the way, Rodriguez consistently came through in big spots, dazzling with his defense, power and speed. His 5.3 FanGraphs wins above replacement tied that of Rutschman for the rookie lead and was topped by only 21 position players throughout the sport.

Rodriguez, who added 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles, is now the fifth Mariners player to win rookie of the year, after Alvin Davis (1984), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000), Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Kyle Lewis (2020).

Only two other players since 1900 have accumulated at least 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles in their age-21-or-younger seasons — Mike Trout and Andruw Jones.

Rodriguez is the first player ever to combine 25 home runs with 25 stolen bases in his first season in the big leagues and the third to do so while still rookie eligible, along with Trout and Chris Young, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Mariners envisioned Rodriguez as a potential star when they signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in the summer of 2017, but he profiled more as a power-hitting corner outfielder. Rodriguez worked to become a five-tool center fielder, zooming through the Mariners’ minor league system — despite losing an entire season to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 — and cracking the team’s Opening Day roster this spring.

Before the end of August, the Mariners rewarded Rodriguez with a long-term extension that will pay him anywhere between $210 million and $470 million over the life of his career, an unprecedented — and highly incentivized — contract for someone with less than a full year of major league service time.

But before all that came struggle. Rodriguez went homerless with a .544 OPS during his first month in the big leagues. But he recovered well enough to become the only rookie to make the MLB All-Star team.

“I feel like that’s when I learned the most — on the down parts,” Rodriguez said during a video conference with the media after winning the award. “That rough start to the beginning, whenever I maybe was not doing so good, all those things that happened that first year that kind of opened my eyes — I’m gonna take all that. And I know it’s gonna serve me well along my career.”