Elian Soto Reportedly Verbally Agrees to Join Brother Juan Soto’s Washington Nationals Team

Elian Soto is heading to The District

The 16-year-old Dominican baseball outfielder and third baseman, the younger sibling of Juan Soto, has verbally agreed to join his brother’s Washington Nationals.

Elian SotoThe announcement comes just days after he declared his intentions to sign with the New York Mets, according to ESPN.

Elian Soto wouldn’t be eligible to formally sign until next year’s international free agent class in January 2023.

The younger Soto posted an Instagram video of himself working out in full Mets gear on December 31 and had reportedly been given a $50,000 bonus but has since changed course.

Soto’s decision was first reported by Washington City Paper.

The Nationals’ offer is believed to be larger. The discrepancy in money and a greater familiarity with the Nats’ minor league system — as opposed to a Mets system seemingly in transition under new general manager Billy Eppler — were the main factors in Soto’s decision, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.

The presence of Juan Soto, a superstar who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, certainly didn’t hurt, either.

Elian Soto, a left-handed hitter, isn’t considered a premium international prospect but is still young enough to develop into one. Amateur players and their trainers in the Dominican Republic often make handshake agreements with teams long before they’re old enough to officially sign a contract, allowing them to intermittently train at the team’s facility and preventing them from showcasing themselves to evaluators from other organizations.

There appears to be a strong possibility that an international draft will be baked into the new collective bargaining agreement, which is still being negotiated between the owners and the players. But the current international signing rules could still be in place next year in order to give teams and prospects more time to get acclimated.

Elian Soto, like his brother, is represented by the Boras Corporation, and adding him could play in the Nationals’ favor when it comes to extending Juan Soto, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 season under the current CBA.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Among American League MVP Finalists

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is among the most valuable…

The 22-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball player and Toronto Blue Jays star is a finalist for American League MVP in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.The BBWAA revealed finalists for American League and National League MVPs, Cy Young Awards, Rookies of the Year and Managers of the Year on Monday night.

The winners — decided on ballots sent at the end of the regular season — will be revealed next week.

Guerrero is in the final three of the AL MVP voting along with fellow teammate Marcus Semien and Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. 

Ex-St. Louis Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt was nominated for NL Manager of the Year less than a month after he was fired. The other finalists are Milwaukee‘s Craig Counsell and San Francisco‘s Gabe Kapler.

The Cardinals won 17 straight games down the stretch and made the postseason for the third time in four years under Shildt, but the 2018 Manager of the Year was cut loose because of what general manager John Mozeliak termed “philosophical differences.” Oliver Marmol was promoted from bench coach to replace Shildt.

The NL MVP race is down to Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper, Washington’s Juan Soto and San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. Harper is the only former MVP of that trio, earning the honor in 2015 with the Nationals.

In a sign of how voters’ priorities have changed, none of the six MVP finalists played for teams that made the postseason.

Soto, Tatis and Guerrero were all 22 on the final day of the season, and this is the first time a trio of players younger than 23 was among the finalists. The last time even two players that young were finalists was 1956, when Hank Aaron finished third in NL voting and Al Kaline was third in the AL.

Max Scherzer is a finalist for a fourth Cy Young Award after splitting the season between the Nationals and Dodgers, but all the other finalists would be first-time winners.

Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler are finalists in the NL, while the AL honor is down to the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole, the White Sox’s Lance Lynn and the Blue Jays’ Robbie Ray, who is now a free agent.

Postseason star Randy Arozarena and teammate Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays are finalists for AL Rookie of the Year along with Astros right-hander Luis Garcia. Franco appeared in just 70 games but still got attention after reaching base in 43 consecutive games, matching Frank Robinson’s record from 1956 for longest by a player age 20 or younger.

Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson, Reds second baseman Jonathan India and Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers are finalists for NL Rookie of the Year.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Among the Finalists for the MLB’s Hank Aaron Award

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is in the running for a coveted MLB award…

The 22-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball player and designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays has been named a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award, the first since the legend’s death.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero is a finalist alongside Shohei Ohtani, Bryce HarperJuan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.

The winners of the award, which was established in 1999 by Major League Baseball to honor the best offensive player in each league, will be announced in November.

Ohtani, the favorite for American League MVP, is the first player who also pitches ever nominated. In addition to Ohtani and Guerrero, New York’s Aaron Judge, Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins, Oakland’s Matt Olson, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez are the American League nominees.

Joining Harper, Soto and Tatis in the National League are Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos, San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and St. Louis’ Paul Goldschmidt.

In a phone interview, Billye Aaron, who was married to Hank Aaron for 48 years, said her husband “was always very excited about the award itself and, of course, very excited about the World Series because, during that time, before every fourth game, he had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know and shake hands with the winners.”

The voting panel includes eight Hall of Fame players — including new voters Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz — as well as a fan vote.

Aaron, MLB’s longtime home run king and one of the most beloved and respected players in the game’s history, died in his sleep in January.

“I’m still in a state of grief beyond measure,” Billye Aaron said. “I’m doing OK. I have some difficulty many days. But like everybody else, when you come to this stage in your life, you have to learn to cope with it. You can’t change it. You can’t do anything about God’s will. So you learn to accept it and learn to go on.

“I miss him so very, very much. I loved him so very, very much.”

Aaron, she said, would have been particularly excited for the NL Division Series that starts Friday between the two MLB teams for whom he played: the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. Aaron played his first 12 years for the Milwaukee Braves before they moved to Atlanta, where he spent nine seasons. A two-year stint with the Brewers wrapped up his career.

“He loved Milwaukee. He loved the Milwaukee Braves. He loved the Milwaukee Brewers,” Billye Aaron said. “And he loved, of course, the Atlanta Braves. He probably would’ve had some difficulty not rooting for both teams. The team that is your bread and butter — you probably would fall into that category. And being on the staff as well. So he probably would have to pull for Atlanta. But I know he had a strong fondness for the Milwaukee team.”

MLB intended to honor Aaron in Atlanta at July’s All-Star Game. Blowback from Georgia’s new voting-rights laws, however, prompted MLB to shift the game to Denver’s Coors Field, where Freeman and Judge escorted Billye Aaron onto the field for the ceremony that celebrated her husband.

While MLB weathered criticism for the choice, Billye Aaron said “it was the right thing for Major League Baseball to do.”

“In light of the political situation going on then and continuing to go on now,” she said, “the decision to move the All-Star Game out of the city of Atlanta, in spite of the impact that it would have on Atlanta and on the businesses that were preparing for the great game — I still think Major League Baseball did exactly what it needed to do in recognizing that racism can overrule some things.”

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Juan Soto Becomes MLB’s Youngest National League Batting Champion

Juan Soto has swung his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and Washington Nationals outfielder, nicknamed ”Childish Bambino,“ has become the National League‘s youngest batting champion, as Washington closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta Braves teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the MLB lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Soto was also named Washington’s player of the year in voting by local media.

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series.

Anthony Rendon Helps Lead Washington Nationals to World Series Game 6 Victory

Anthony Rendon is celebrating his high-octane performance in the World Series

The 29-year-old Latino Washington Nationals third baseman came up big for the team with a huge two-run home run shot to put Washington up 5-2 against the Houston Astros in World Series Game 6, helping cement the team’s victory to set up a decisive Game 7.

Anthony Rendon

In the end, the Nationals defeated the Astros 7-2 in a game that made up for the lack of drama throughout most of the first five games in the series.

The Nationals have now won their fourth straight elimination game this postseason to force the 40th Game 7 in World Series history.

Rendon got the scoring started with a single through Houston’s shifted infield. That was just the beginning of a massive game for Washington’s All-Star third baseman. The Astros immediately countered with two runs against Stephen Strasburg in the bottom half following a George Springer double, a Jose Altuve sacrifice fly and an Alex Bregmanhome run thatraised the ire of baseball purists because he decided to carry his bat all the way with him to first base.

That moment prompted a response from Washington’s Juan Soto, who four innings later carried his own bat all the way to first base following a go-ahead home run. Soto’s blast followed Adam Eaton’s game-tying home run off Justin Verlander.

The game’s two biggest hits were both delivered by Rendon. In the seventh inning, he smashed a two-run home run to extend the Nationals lead and lessen the impact of the earlier interference call. Then in the ninth, he put the game away with a two-run double.

Strasburg made the support stand up, pitching 8 1/3 innings of two-run ball before turning it over to closer Sean Doolittle.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Named MLB’s National League Rookie of the Year

Ronald Acuna Jr. has kicked off his Major League Baseball with a bang, and now he’s got the title to prove it.

The 27-year-old Venezuelan Atlanta Braves outfielder has been named the named National League Rookie of the Year.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Acuna received 27 first-place votes and three seconds for a total of 144 points. Fellow international phenom Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals got two firsts and 89 points, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler was next with one first and 28 points.

“First of all, I would like to give thanks to God, my family, my parents and to all my teammates who’ve always supported me from the first day that I got the call to the big leagues,” Acuna said in a statement. “This award represents all our hard work as a team this season.”

A Venezuela native, Acuna signed with the Braves as an international free agent in 2014. After hitting .325 with 21 home runs across three different minor league levels in 2017, he entered the 2018 season ranked as the top prospect in baseball by ESPN‘s Keith Law.

Acuna is the eighth Braves player to win Rookie of the Year and first since Craig Kimbrel in 2011. He’s the first Braves position player to win the award since Rafael Furcal in 2000.

Despite hitting .432 with four home runs in 16 spring training games, Acuna was optioned to Triple-A to start the season, a move that was criticized by those who believed the Braves demoted the young star for contractual reasons. Acuna was called up April 25 and made his big league debut against the Cincinnati Reds later that day, going 1-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. At the time of his promotion, Acuna became the youngest player in the majors, a title he would soon cede to Soto.

After the All-Star break, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker moved Acuna into the leadoff spot, where the rookie outfielder was a catalyst for a surprising Braves team that won the National League East. Batting exclusively at the top of the order, Acuna thrived, hitting .322 with 19 home runs in 68 games during the second half of the season; his eight leadoff home runs were the second-most by a rookie in a season in MLB history.

Acuna’s 1.028 OPS after the All-Star break ranked third in the National League behind the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Christian Yelich and Los Angeles’ Justin Turner.

In August, Acuna became the youngest player ever to homer in five consecutive games, and was named NL Rookie of the Month. Soto, his main competition for Rookie of the Year, won the monthly award in June, July and September.

Although the speedy Acuna is widely considered a better defender than Soto and a more complete player, the two international phenoms put up nearly identical offensive numbers in their debut seasons, creating one of the tightest Rookie of the Year races in recent memory.

In 111 games, Acuna hit .293 with 26 home runs and 64 RBIs, while posting a .917 OPS. In 116 games, Soto batted .292 with 22 homers and 70 RBIs, with a .923 OPS. According to FanGraphs, both players had an identical 3.7 wins above replacement.

Buehler, a 23-year-old right-hander, was 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 23 starts and one relief appearance.

Yadier Molina Leads MLB All-Stars to Victory Over Japan

Yadier Molina has help the MLB All-Stars get an important win against Japan…

The 36-year-old Puerto Rican Major League Baseball player, a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, had three hits, including a three-run homer, to help the MLB All-Stars defeat Japan 7-3 on Sunday for their first win of the six-game exhibition series after a pair of defeats.

Yadier MolinaJ.T. Realmuto hit an opposite-field solo home run to right field in the fourth at Tokyo Dome, and Mitch Haniger scored the go-ahead run from second in a four-run fifth when Japan starter Shinsaburo Tawata threw wildly for an error.

One out later, Molina chased Tawata with an opposite-field, three-run homer to right for a 5-1 lead.

The nine-time Gold Glove catcher picked off Seiji Uebayashi in the fourth inning.

“I felt like Yadi’s pick at first was huge,” MLB manager Don Mattingly said. “We got in a little bit of a jam, pitch count is starting to climb, then Yadi’s pick.”

Rookie Juan Soto hit a fly ball in the fourth that was headed for the seats but hit the roof and was caught by right fielder Shogo Akiyama. Soto also hit the roof in Thursday’s warm-up game against the Yomiuri Giants.

Winner Scott Barlow allowed one run and five hits in 4 1/3 innings and 65 pitches, striking out four.

“Having Yadi back there makes my life a lot easier,” Barlow said. “I trust him very much, and I trusted my defense as well. Not being afraid of contact and letting them run down balls and make their plays.”

Eugenio Suarez hit an RBI double over Uebayashi in left in a two-run seventh then scored on Haniger’s single to open a 7-1 lead.

Hotaka Yamakawa and Ryosuke Kikuchi hit run-scoring doubles in the ninth against John Brebbia. Tawata took the loss.

The teams play Tuesday in Hiroshima then conclude the following two days in Nagoya.