Luis Gil Breaks New York Yankees Rookie Pitching Record

Luis Gil has broken a New York Yankees record…

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher delivered the best start of his young career on Saturday with 14 strikeouts — a Yankees rookie record — on 98 pitches over six innings to help lead the as the team defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-1.

Luis Gil In the process, the Yankees earned their sixth straight win and improved to an American League-best 32-15.

Gill, a right-hander, recovered from a 29-pitch first inning to produce 27 swing-and-misses behind a fastball that touched 100 mph and a changeup he has developed into a devastating offering.

At one point, he struck out nine of 10 hitters. He held the White Sox to five hits and one walk. In the end, he lowered his team-best ERA to 2.39 across nine starts.

“Today felt like, maybe, his best one,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Gil was expected to begin the season in the minors, honing his craft, waiting for an opportunity. Instead, Gil has continued his unforeseen breakout campaign.

He’s only in the rotation only because Gerrit Cole isn’t. Cole began the season on the 60-day injured list after being shut down in mid-March with an elbow injury.

On Saturday, the team’s ace took a significant step forward in his rehab — logging a 40-pitch bullpen session, divided in two to better simulate a game experience. He remains encouraged in his return to the mound.

For now, Cole is playing the part of assistant pitching coach — and making an impact on his replacement. Gil credited an increased focus and Cole’s tutelage — during games and in between starts — for his success after his performance Saturday.

“I have a teacher, Gerrit Cole, who’s teaching me how to pitch, how to handle situations and how to execute,” Gil said in Spanish. “And that’s what we’re doing, what he teaches me, and we’re applying it in the game.”

Gil has been dominant in May after posting a 4.01 ERA in five April starts. Since then, he has allowed just two earned runs with 27 strikeouts in 24⅓ innings across five outings. He made history Saturday by breaking Orlando Hernández‘s Yankees rookie record for strikeouts in a game. Hernández, who set the mark in 1998 with 13 strikeouts, happened to be in attendance on Saturday to throw out the first pitch.

“It was a pleasure to meet him,” Gil said. “He was a great pitcher. I loved getting to meet him.”

Chicago’s only run off Gil came on Andrew Benintendi‘s two-out, check-swing RBI double to open the scoring in the first inning. The lead was fleeting. Juan Soto responded in the bottom of the frame, smashing a pitch from Brad Keller 112.5 mph for a solo home run. He did it again in the fifth inning, this time launching a pitch from Keller 437 feet to right field for his 11th home run of the season. He finished the day 4-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs.

Soto’s explosion came after he went 4-for-31 (.129) without a home run over his previous eight games. The relative struggles were enough for him to take additional batting practice several hours before the Yankees and White Sox opened their series Friday. Soto took swings with hitting coach James Rowson and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler. He then went 1-for-4 with a double, hitting the ball hard in play three times, in a Yankees win.

“Last night,” Boone said, “was the prelude to today.”

Soto declined to share what he worked on specifically during Friday’s extra hitting session, but he noted he was searching for the “feeling” he had over the first five weeks of the season when he was dominating pitchers on a daily basis.

Did he get it back?

“I think so,” Soto said with a smile.

San Diego Padres Finalizing Deal to Acquire Luis Arraez from Miami Marlins

Luis Arraez is thisclose to heading west…

The San Diego Padres are nearing a deal to acquire the 27-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball second baseman from the Miami Marlins for reliever Woo-Suk Go and prospects Dillon Head, Jakob Marsee and Nathan Martorella, per ESPN sources.

The trade is pending a medical review, but is expected to be finalized soon.

The transaction represents the first significant move for the Marlins since Peter Bendix took over as the team’s president of baseball operations in November after Kim Ng departed.

It marks the beginning of the Marlins’ teardown of an underachieving roster that has produced the third-worst record in the majors at 9-24 entering Friday with a minus-59 run differential after reaching the postseason in 2023.

On the other side, it’s another aggressive deal for A.J. Preller, the leader of the Padres’ front office since 2014.

Arraez, one of the sport’s best contact hitters, will give the Padres a needed left-handed-hitting weapon after Juan Soto was sent to the New York Yankees in December.

San Diego entered Friday 16-18 with a neutral run differential, 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West standings.

Arraez was the Marlins’ best player, an MLB All-Star and batting champion each of the last two seasons. This season, he is batting .299 with a .719 OPS in 33 games, all started at second base. He also has extensive experience at first base.

Arraez is expected to start games as the Padres’ designated hitter, but the club plans to cycle through the DH spot. Jake CronenworthXander Bogaerts and Manny Machado could also get at-bats there. Bogaerts has been the club’s starting second baseman.

Go spent seven seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) before signing a two-year deal with a mutual option worth $4.5 million guaranteed during the offseason. The 25-year-old right-hander appeared in 10 games for Double-A San Antonio, posting a 4.38 ERA across 12 ⅓ innings after failing to make the Padres’ bullpen out of spring training.

Head was the Padres’ first-round pick (25th overall) last year out of high school. The 19-year-old center fielder is batting .237 with a .683 OPS and three stolen bases in 21 games in low-A.

Martorella is batting .294 with an .282 OPS in 23 games in San Antonio. The Padres selected the 23-year-old first baseman in the fifth round of the 2022 draft.

Marsee, a 22-year-old outfielder, has spent the season in San Antonio batting .185 with two home runs. He was a sixth-round pick in 2022 out of Central Michigan.

Juan Soto Agrees to Record-Setting $31 Million Salary with New York Yankees for 2024 Season

Juan Soto has 31 million reasons to smile… 

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and the New York Yankees avoided arbitration with a record-setting, $31 million salary for the 2024 season, topping the list of dozens of arbitration-eligible players who agreed on their compensation ahead of Thursday’s 8:00 pm ET cutoff.

Juan SotoSoto’s salary, reached minutes before the deadline for players and teams to submit their desired figures ahead of a potential arbitration hearing, topped the $30 million Shohei Ohtani obtained last offseason.

Soto, like Ohtani last year, is heading into his final season before free agency.

The Yankees acquired Soto from the San Diego Padres in December as part of a seven-player deal that saw them part ways with four young pitchers, placing one of this generation’s greatest hitters in the same lineup with Aaron Judge. Soto, still only 25 years old, has led the majors in walks each of the last three years but has also accumulated 91 home runs during that stretch, during which he slashed .276/.425/.502. His adjusted OPS of 157 is the fifth-highest all time through a player’s age-24 season, trailing only Ty CobbMike Trout, Mickey Mantle and Jimmie Foxx, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Asked during his introductory media session about the prospect of signing long-term with the Yankees, Soto, represented by Scott Boras, said: “They know where to call and who to talk to. I’m here just to play baseball. It’s not going to be that hard because I have one of the best agents in the league.”

The second-highest figure belonged to New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, another pending free agent, who will be paid $20.5 million in 2024. Milwaukee Brewers starter Corbin Burnes ($15.637 million), Atlanta Braves starter Max Fried ($15 million), Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres ($14.2 million), Cleveland Guardians starter Shane Bieber ($13.125 million), Brewers shortstop Willy Adames ($12.25 million), Houston Astros starter Framber Valdez ($12.1 million) and outfielder Kyle Tucker ($12 million), Baltimore Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander ($11.7 million) and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker ($10.9 million) and starter Zac Gallen ($10.011 million) also reached eight figures.

One notable exception was Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who’s two seasons away from free agency and projected for a salary in the neighborhood of $20 million this season. Guerrero was among the 22 players who ultimately exchanged figures with his respective team. Guerrero requested $19.9 million; the Blue Jays countered with $18.05 million. If the two sides ultimately go to a hearing — they’re scheduled for some time in late January or early February — an arbitrator will select one of those two numbers.

Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia, Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India, Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm and the Miami Marlins’ two best hitters, Luis Arraez and Jazz Chisholm, were among the others who did not agree to terms on Thursday. The biggest gap was $1.9 million between Garcia, who filed for $6.9 million, and the Rangers, who countered with $5 million.

Teams and their arbitration-eligible players — those typically with more than three and less than six years of major league service time — can continue to negotiate in the days leading up to their scheduled hearing. But most teams have treated the exchange as a firm deadline in recent years, with some making an exception only for multiyear contracts.

Yankees outfielder Alex Verdugo, Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease and Los Angeles Dodgers starter Walker Buehler and his catcher, Will Smith, all agreed to deals in the $8 million range. Tampa Bay Rays starter Shane McClanahan, who attained arbitration status a year early because he was among those closest to three full years of service time by season’s end, agreed to a two-year, $7.2 million contract that also resolved his 2025 salary. Brewers closer Devin Williams also agreed to a one-year, $7.25 million deal with a club option, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

All told, 72 players avoided arbitration on Thursday.

The deadline was originally scheduled for Friday, but MLB and the MLB Players’ Association agreed in early December to move it up a day for the remainder of the collective bargaining agreement, which runs through 2026, so that it does not spill into the weekend. A soft, 1 p.m. ET deadline was imposed for teams to agree to a deal before the exchange of filing numbers, but many deals — including those of Soto, Alonso, Burnes, Torres and several other big names — came in well after that.

New York Yankees Trade Estevan Florial to Cleveland Guardians

Estevan Florial has found a new guardian…

The New York Yankees have traded the 26-year-old Dominican-Haitian professional baseball outfielder, a former top prospect, to the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday.Estevan FlorialIn exchange, the Yankees have acquired right-hander Cody Morris for the outfielder.

Florial signed with the Yankees in 2015 and was rated their top prospect in 2019 by MLB.com before dropping to sixth in 2020, 10th in 2021 and 30th in 2022.

He made his big league debut in August 2020 and has played in just 48 major league games over four seasons, hitting .209 with 1 homer, 11 RBIs and 6 stolen bases.

Florial batted .230 with eight RBIs and three steals in 19 games for the Yankees this year while hitting .284 with 28 homers, 79 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 101 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Morris made his big league debut in September 2022 and had a 6.75 ERA in six appearances with the Guardians this year, striking out nine and walking six in eight innings. He averaged 95.2 mph with his fastball in the majors, also throwing a cutter, a curveball and a changeup.

Morris was 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA in four starts and 17 relief appearances for Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron this year, striking out 56 and walking 27 in 39 innings.

New York appeared to have a glut of outfielders after acquiring Juan Soto and Trent Grisham from San Diego and Alex Verdugo from Boston. The Yankees traded right-handers Michael King, Jhony BritoRandy Vasquez and Drew Thorpe to the Padres in the Soto swap, along with catcher Kyle Higashioka.

Tampa Bay Rays’ Star Yandy Diaz Wins His First Silver Slugger Award

Yandy Diaz is celebrating his first silver moment…

The 32-year-old Cuban professional baseball player and Tampa Bay Rays star has won his first Silver Slugger Award, which is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball.

Yandy DiazDiaz, who has played for the Rays since 2019, won the award in the American League’s first base position. He was this year’s AL batting champion.

Seattle Mariners’ star Julio Rodriguez has picked up his second Silver Slugger Award.

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball center fielder won one of the outfield awards in the American League.

In the National League voting, 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player William Contreras, who plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, has claimed his maiden Silver Slugger.

NL batting champion Luis Arraez (.354) of the Miami Marlins won his second in a row after winning in 2022 with the AL‘s Minnesota Twins.

Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. collected his third Silver Slugger Award in the outfield, alongside San Diego PadresJuan Soto, who claimed his fourth award.

Francisco Lindor, the 29-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop for the New York Mets, picked up the third Silver Slugger prize of his career.

The Texas Rangers received their first American League Offensive Team of the Year honor.

Louisville Slugger presented the Atlanta Braves with the inaugural National League Offensive Team of the Year award as determined by a combination of offensive statistics and a fan vote for finalists between September 25-October 1.

Both the Rangers and Braves led their leagues in runs, hits, home runs, RBIs, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.

Here’s the full list of winners: 

American League
C: Adley Rutschman (Baltimore)
1B: Yandy Diaz (Tampa Bay)
2B: Marcus Semien (Texas)
SS: Corey Seager (Texas)
3B: Rafael Devers (Boston)
OF: Kyle Tucker (Houston), Julio Rodriguez (Seattle), Luis Robert Jr. (Chicago)
DH: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles)
UTIL: Gunnar Henderson (Baltimore)

National League
C: William Contreras (Milwaukee)
1B: Matt Olson (Atlanta)
2B: Luis Arraez (Miami)
SS: Francisco Lindor (New York)
3B: Austin Riley (Atlanta)
OF: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta), Mookie Betts (Los Angeles), Juan Soto (San Diego)
DH: Bryce Harper (Philadelphia)
UTIL: Cody Bellinger (Chicago)

Julio Rodriguez Planning to Compete at This Year’s Home Run Derby

Julio Rodriguez is throwing his bat in the ring…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a Seattle Mariners‘ star outfielder, has committed to the Home Run Derby, which will take place in his home city leading up to this year’s MLB All-Star Game.

Julio RodriguezRodriguez announced his decision through a video on social media, becoming the first player to say that he will take part in the event.

He later told reporters that he’s excited to be part of a derby in Seattle.

“This probably will never happen again in my career — being able to do that for them at the home field definitely will be something that I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I’m definitely going to try to do my best for them.”

Rodriguez shined as a rookie in last year’s event, electrifying the Dodger Stadium crowd with a stirring performance that saw him finish as the runner-up to Juan Soto.

Now 22, Rodriguez went on to sign a lucrative long-term extension, lead the Mariners to their first postseason appearance in more than 20 years and win the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

“I know LA was cool. I enjoyed it,” Rodríguez said. “But being able to be at home and put on a show for the Mariners’ fans, I know it’s going to be really exciting.”

The Home Run Derby, a bracket-style event with timed rounds featuring eight participants, will take place July 10 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle and will air on ESPN. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts recently told MLB Network he’d also take part if selected as part of the National League All-Star team, a near certainty given his .260/.359/.502 slash line.

Rodriguez is off to a slow start for a Mariners team that sits a game below .500 and is currently out of the playoff picture, batting .238/.300/.415 with 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases. But he ranks within the top 10% in average exit velocity.

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.”

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.

Julio Rodriguez Agrees to Massive Long-Term Deal with Seattle Mariners that Could Max Out at $470 Million

Julio Rodriguez has finalized a historic payday…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, nicknamed “J-Rod,” has finalized a massive long-term extension deal with the Seattle Mariners that guarantees him $210 million and could max out at $470 million, which would be the richest deal in American sports history, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Julio RodriguezThe Mariners announced the deal on Friday before Rodriguez’s at-bat in the sixth inning of Seattle’s 3-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,870. In a news release announcing the agreement, the team called it a “historic day for Julio and Mariners fans.”

“This is a great day for my family and me,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have always wanted to spend my whole career here, in Seattle, with this team and with these fans. I want to win here, in Seattle. That was what I told my agents, and what I told [president of baseball operations] Jerry [Dipoto]. I am so happy to be here.”

The base deal is for $120 million and lasts through the 2029 season, sources said.

Following the 2028 season, the Mariners can exercise an option for an additional eight or 10 years, depending on where Rodriguez finishes in MVP voting in the preceding seasons.

If the Mariners turn down the option, Rodriguez can exercise a five-year, $90 million player option after the 2029 season or hit free agency just shy of his 30th birthday.

The Mariners’ option is where the potential money can grow into a historically large figure. If Rodriguez maxes out his MVP escalators, Seattle’s option would be for 10 years and $350 million, taking the total value of the deal to $470 million through 2039. The lowest level would be for eight years and $200 million on top of the original $120 million, keeping Rodriguez tied to the Mariners through 2037.

“Julio is among the most exciting players in the game and has only scratched the surface of what’s to come,” Dipoto said in a statement. “We feel the uniqueness of this deal befits the person. His infectious personality and ability on the field are only surpassed by his character away from it. We are thrilled that generations of Mariners fans will have the privilege of watching him play in T-Mobile Park for many years to come.”

Rodriguez, a powerful and fast center fielder, became one of the most exciting players in baseball when he made the Mariners’ Opening Day roster. His dynamic skills and big personality endeared him to a Seattle community that hasn’t seen the Mariners make a postseason in two decades.

With an MLB All-Star Game selection, an epic Home Run Derby performance and a .267/.326/.467 line with 20 home runs and 23 stolen bases, Rodriguez has made perhaps an even bigger impact than anticipated.

“He’s learned a lot over the last 4½, five months about Major League Baseball and things he needed to work on and continue to improve upon,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said Friday. “Really good teammate. I mean, you can go on and on describing where he’s at. But there’s a lot of baseball, really good baseball ahead of him, and I know that’s what excites me and the organization.”

Signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in July 2017, Rodriguez was seen by scouts as a prototypical corner outfielder who could hit for power. What he has blossomed into, particularly over the past two years, is a true five-tool player with elite speed and the range for center field without sacrificing any of the power that remains one of his calling cards.

The Mariners broke camp with Rodriguez in center field. He struggled in April, striking out 30 times in 73 at-bats without a home run. Since then, Rodriguez has been one of the top players in baseball and the best on a Mariners team that is 69-57 and 2½ games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the final American League wild-card spot.

His deal, which was first reported by MLB.com, guarantees him the most money for a player with less than one full year in the major leagues. San Diego signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million contract after his second season, and the Tampa Bay Rays guaranteed $182 million over 11 seasons to shortstop Wander Franco last winter.

Rodriguez is seventh this season in Baseball-Reference wins above replacement and 16th in FanGraphs’ version. Provided he finishes high in MVP voting in future seasons, his deal is likelier to resemble that of Tatis.

While the 10-year version of Seattle’s option would necessitate consistently high MVP finishes, an eight-year, $280 million version — which would guarantee Rodriguez $400 million — is very attainable.

The potential record-setting nature of the $470 million ceiling could soon be eclipsed. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is set to reach free agency after the 2023 season. A year later, Padres star Juan Soto, who turned down a guaranteed $440 million from the Washington Nationals before they traded him, could be a free agent right after he turns 26.

Juan Soto Wins This Year’s Home Run Derby

Juan Soto is officially a batting champion…

The 23-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder won $1 million on Monday with a swing that’s worth much more.

Juan SotoShaking off trade rumors that threatened to sully his MLB All-Star week, Soto beat a legend and held off a rookie to win the Home Run Derby and the big-money prize that accompanied it in front of a sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd.

After recently turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, Soto arrived in Los Angeles early Monday morning with his future in doubt ahead of the August 2 trade deadline. He emerged unbothered. When asked before the Derby whether he was going to win it, his answer was characteristically Soto: “Probably.” And on that prediction he came through, vanquishing Albert Pujols in the semifinals and Julio Rodriguez in the finals.

“I’m a lone survivor,” Soto said. “I’ve been going through all this stuff, and I’m still here standing up and with my chin up, all the time. And that shows you I can go through anything.”

Anything, in this case, included a day of answering questions he can’t possibly answer, including whether the Nationals will trade him before the August 2 deadline or where he might wind up. Soto instead worried about his powerful left-handed swing, shooting balls to all fields and finishing the finals with 19 home runs to the 18 of his Dominican Republic countryman Rodríguez.

Juan SotoAt 23 years, 266 days old, Soto became the second-youngest Derby champion — just a day older than 1993 winner Juan Gonzalez.

Until the finals, the Derby had been the latest episode of the J-Rod Show. Rodriguez, the precocious 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfielder, ambushed the field Monday night, ousting the two-time defending champion and smashing 81 home runs.

The first hitter of the night, Rodriguez set the tone for his showing with 32 home runs in his first-round matchup against the Texas Rangers Corey Seager. Then came Pete Alonso, the New York Mets slugger who won the last two competitions in 2019 and 2021 but mustered only 23 home runs in the semifinals, well short of Rodriguez’s 31.

Then came his matchup with Soto, against whom, Rodriguez said, he used to play Call of Duty games. Rodriguez was better at COD. Soto, at least on Monday, was superior at HRD.

“What did I show the fans?” Rodriguez said. “Who I am, I guess. They know a little bit now.”

Rodriguez, who is earning the MLB minimum salary of $700,000 this year, received a $500,000 bonus as the runner-up.

Soto was locked in from the beginning, beating Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez in the first round and St. Louis Cardinals great Pujols in the semifinals.

Pujols, 42, is in his final season — and upset Philadelphia‘s Kyle Schwarber, the No. 1 seed, in the first round, beating him in an overtime period. He couldn’t keep up with Soto, whose 482-foot home run in the first round was the longest of the night.

“I wasn’t sure if I should beat him or let him beat me, but just the respect — I respect him a lot,” Soto said. “Even though I beat him at the end of the day, it’s just a competition. He knows how much I’m proud of him and how much talent he brings to all the generations and advice that he gives to us.”

Whatever Soto’s future, wherever he winds up, whether he’s moved before this deadline or after, he said he would walk away from this All-Star week sure of one thing.

“I will be a Home Run Derby champion forever,” he said.