Jesus Aguilar Agrees to One-Year, $3 Million Contract with Oakland Athletics

Jesus Aguilar is headed to Oakland…

The 32-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball first baseman has agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract with the Oakland Athletics, according to ESPN.

Jesus Aguilar The deal is pending a physical.

Aguilar will join his sixth Major League Baseball team if the deal is finalized. The one-time MLB All-Star spent most of last season with the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins designated Aguilar for assignment in late August while he was leading the team in hits, home runs and RBIs. Miami general manager Kim Ng said the club wanted to allow him the opportunity to catch on with a playoff contender while it gave younger players more at-bats.

Aguilar signed with the Baltimore Orioles and played in 16 games for them down the stretch, but Baltimore narrowly missed the playoffs.

In 129 games between Miami and Baltimore last season, Aguilar batted .235 with 16 homers, 19 doubles and 51 RBIs. His best season came with the Milwaukee Brewers during his All-Star year in 2018, when he received National League MVP votes after hitting 35 homers with 25 doubles and 108 RBIs — all of which remain career highs.

In 759 career games for Cleveland (2014-16), Milwaukee (2017-19), Tampa Bay (2019), Miami (2020-22) and Baltimore, Aguilar is a career .254 batter with 109 homers, 105 doubles and 393 RBIs.

He’s made most of his appearances at first base or as a designated hitter, along with 16 games at third base.

Minnesota Twins Trade Luis Arraez to Miami Marlins

Luis Arraez is heading south for the winter…

The 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball second baseman, the American League batting champion, is heading to the Miami Marlins for right-hander Pablo Lopez and a pair of prospects headed to the Minnesota Twins.

Luis ArraezThe deal, variations of which the teams have discussed for months, brings a much needed bat to the Marlins, adding to their winter signing of Jean Segura, who’s expected to play third base.

The cost was significant, though. In addition to Lopez, a talented starter who slots in toward the top of Minnesota’s rotation, the Marlins will send shortstop Jose Salas and outfielder Byron Chourio, two well-regarded teenagers, to the Twins.

“We’ve talked about it quite often, wanting to add offense this offseason,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. “We’re willing to trade some of our pitching to do it. What we get in Luis Arraez is a left-handed, very good hitter.”

Arraez is a career .314 hitter with unparalleled bat-to-ball skills in the modern game. Last season, he made the MLB All-Star team and finished 13th in AL MVP balloting after hitting .316/.375/.420, scoring 88 runs and registering more walks (50) than strikeouts (43). He is not a free agent until after the 2025 season.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Arraez is the first player to win a batting championship and then be traded in the offseason since Rod Carew won the AL batting title in 1978 with the Twins and then was traded to the Los Angeles Angels ahead of the 1979 season.

“Anytime you have a player that’s well liked in the environment, who you know is going to go work and do it every day, which we got to see with Luis, it makes it harder,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We’d love to have Luis and Pablo on our team, but to get something as impactful as what Pablo brings to our team, you have to give something impactful.”

Arraez joins a Marlins team with a strong rotation headlined by National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara. Miami’s lineup, however, struggled mightily last year, with injuries sidelining second baseman Jazz Chisholm while free agent signees Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler disappointed.

Ng said Chisholm, who has played middle infield exclusively during his big league career, will move to center field to make room for Arraez as the full-time second baseman.

Arraez also has experience at first base — where he played more than any position last year — or a corner-outfield slot.

Arraez said he was taking a nap after a workout when the trade occurred.

“I was surprised, but this is baseball,” Arraez said. “This is a business. I’m ready to go now. I’m a Marlin and I’m excited to be here.”

Minnesota, meanwhile, can slot young slugger Jose Miranda at first base or play him at third and use Alex Kirilloff at first. Lopez joins a rotation with Sonny GrayJoe Ryan and a grab bag of other possibilities, from Chris Paddack — who just signed a three-year extension — to Tyler MahleBailey OberJosh WinderKenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak.

Falvey told reporters that the Twins have discussed a six-man rotation but weren’t “ready to stamp that yet.”

“I’m really excited about coming to this team, the leaders they have in the clubhouse and the players they have to support each other,” Lopez said on a video interview with reporters. “It’s a mentality that really motivates me too. I ask and expect more of myself when it comes to my performance and the ways I can help out the team.”

Lopez threw a career-high 180 innings last season over 32 starts and registered a 3.75 ERA. He has long been a favorite of statistically inclined teams such as Minnesota for his ability to strike out batters (9.2 per nine innings over the past three seasons), limit walks (2.6 per nine over the same period) and keep the ball in the park.

“When you trade anyone it’s always difficult, particularly when you’re talking about someone like Pablo,” Ng said. “Just a first-class guy, tremendous human being. He’s done a lot for the Marlins organization.”

Salas, 19, is a borderline top-100 prospect, signed out of Venezuela for $2.8 million in 2019 after growing up in the Orlando area. He finished last season in High-A and is likely to start there again this year.

Chourio, 17, is a center fielder who hit .344/.429/.410 for the Marlins’ Dominican Summer League team last season.

Miami Marlins Trade Miguel Rojas to Los Angeles Dodgers

Miguel Rojas is headed west…

The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired the 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball infielder from the Miami Marlins, adding some depth to a segment of their roster that experienced the loss of Trea Turner and Justin Turner to free agency this offseason.

Miguel RojasRojas, scheduled to make $5 million in his final year under contract, was acquired in exchange for minor league infielder Jacob Amaya, a 24-year-old who batted .261/.369/.427 in Double-A and Triple-A in 2022.

Rojas debuted with the Dodgers in 2014 and was sent to the Marlins as part of a seven-player trade that ultimately brought Enrique Hernandez and, in a subsequent deal, Howie Kendrick to L.A.

Rojas spent the next eight years with the Marlins and grew into a leader in their clubhouse, batting .265/.318/.366 from 2015 to 2022.

Rojas has posted an adjusted OPS of only 83 over the last two years — 17 percentage points below league average — but was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop this past season.

With the Dodgers, however, Rojas is expected to take on a utility role, filling in at second base, third base and shortstop. Miguel VargasMax Muncy and Gavin Lux are expected to see most of the time at those three positions this season, with Lux slated to be the everyday shortstop.

Rojas’ acquisition puts the Dodgers dangerously close to exceeding the luxury-tax threshold of $233 million for 2023, but teams can make moves throughout the year to dip back under.

Marlins Ace Sandy Alcantara Receives Key to the City of Miami

Sandy Alcantara is sportin’a new key…

The 27-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and Miami Marlins ace, the 2022 National League Cy Young winner, was awarded a key to the city of Miami from Mayor Francis Suarez on Tuesday.

Sandy Alcantara“His dedication has influenced hundreds, if not thousands of people in our community,” said Suarez, with Alcantara standing to his right and Marlins general manager Kim Ng next to them. “and he’s established himself as a positive leader and a role model.”

Suarez also declared January 10 “Sandy Alcantara Day” in Miami.

Alcantara made history as the first Marlins pitcher to win the Cy Young award. It was a unanimous vote after he pitched a league-high six complete games in 228 2/3 innings, also a league-best, this past season. He was the 15th unanimous NL Cy Young winner and said he hopes to win more.

“It’s such a great day,” Alcantara said. “I will never forget this day. That key is going to mean a lot for me in my life.”

With about a month before the Marlins begin spring training, Alcantara said that as long as he’s healthy for the upcoming season, he’s confident in his ability to follow a 2022 campaign where he had a 2.28 ERA with another successful outing.

His six complete games were the most in the majors since Chris Sale had six in 2016, and his innings pitched and wins (14) were both career highs.

“I’ve been ready since about two weeks after the season last year,” Alcantara said. “I’ve been ready. I got to keep being ready because you never know what can happen.”

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.

Pittsburgh Pirates Acquire Lewin Diaz Off Waivers from Miami Marlins

Lewin Diaz is walkin’ the plank…

The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed the 26-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman off waivers from the Miami Marlins, according to ESPN.

Lewin DiazIn a corresponding move, Pittsburgh designated utilityman Hoy Park for assignment.

Diaz played parts of the past three seasons in Miami following his August 2020 debut.

A lefty batter who also throws with his left, Diaz contributed a -0.5 WAR to the Marlins by slashing .169/.224/.288 and a collective .512 OPS.

He hit four doubles, five home runs, and drove in 11 in 160 at-bats spanning 58 games during the 2022 season.

Diaz’s overall numbers combine to total 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 57 RBI, and a lifetime .181 batting average. His best season was 2021, hitting over the Menzoda Line at .205 and smashing a career-high eight round-trippers.

It’s a tale of two careers for Diaz between the big leagues and Triple-A. Over 156 games the past two seasons, Diaz combined to hit 34 doubles, 39 home runs, and 105 RBI. His average hovered around .250 both years. He was the Marlins’ No. 8 prospect in 2020 and projected as a 55-grade hitter and fielder on a 20-80 scouting scale.

Acquired from the New York Yankees as part of the Clay Holmes trade, Park hit .216 this past season in 23 games, hitting two homers and driving in six. A versatile defender capable of playing the infield and outfield, Park owns a career .201 MLB average and never found a consistent swing to stick in the lineup. He could clear waivers and remain a Pirate in Triple-A if not claimed.

Diaz joins recently acquired lefty Ji-Man Choi at a position the Bucs desperately need improvement from. Expect Miguel Andujar to also be a factor and contribute as the designated hitter able to drive the baseball.

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.

Jesús Sánchez Hits Longest Home Run of the ’22 Season

Jesús Sánchez has gone the distance…

The 24-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the Miami Marlins obliterated a slider from Colorado Rockies starter Ryan Feltner halfway up the third and upper deck in right field in the second inning.

Jesús Sánchez The ball traveled 496 feet, making it the longest home run ever hit at Coors Field by a left-handed hitter, and the second longest by any hitter, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton’s 504-foot shot in 2016.

Sánchez’s blast is also the longest home run in Major League Baseball this year, passing Mike Trout’s 472-foot one on April 14 in Arlington.

“It’s just monumental,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly after the Marlins’ 7-1 loss to the Rockies in their series opener at Coors Field on Monday afternoon. “You don’t get that feeling more than a couple times in your lifetime.”

“You’ll hit some more [into the upper deck],” Mattingly said. “But not very many like that one. I’d like to see a picture from where that ball landed. It probably looks like it’s two blocks away.”

Sánchez entered Monday’s game in need of a big hit. Following a strong April, he was hitting just .151/.205/.260 over 78 May plate appearances when he stepped to the plate in the second inning.

What he did in his first plate appearance on Monday certainly fit the category of “big hit.” In fact, it was a clout. He hit it so well, it’s tied for the third-longest homer that Statcast has ever tracked (Aaron Judge hit a 496-foot shot in 2017, and Miguel Sanó also had one in ’19). The only home runs that were longer were the 504-foot shot by Stanton at Coors Field in 2016, and a 505-foot drive by Nomar Mazara at Globe Life Park in ’19.

It wasn’t exactly surprising to Sánchez, who said he hit one 508 feet in the minors. But it was very special, nonetheless.

“It was something incredible,” he said through an interpreter. “I didn’t know it was that big of a magnitude, but it was something great.”

Click here to see the homer.

Miguel Cabrera Becomes First Venezuelan Baseball Player to Join MLB’s 3,000-Hit Club

Miguel Cabrera makes Venezuelan MLB History while joining a new elite club…

With a single against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, the 39-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Detroit Tigers designated hitter became the 33rd member of the 3,000-hit club and only the seventh player in major league history to achieve the milestone and hit 500 home runs.

Miguel CabreraHe got No. 3,000 in the first inning against pitcher Antonio Senzatela, a fellow Venezuelan, by grounding an opposite-field single to right field.

Cabrera immediately raised his right arm as he headed toward first base.

The crowd of 37,566 at Comerica Park gave him a rousing ovation and chanted “Miggy! Miggy!” while fireworks were shot out of the scoreboard. Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias, who played with Cabrera on the Tigers team, came over to give his former teammate a big hug.

By then, all the Tigers were streaming from the dugout to greet the newest member of baseball’s elite 3,000-hit club. Moments later, Cabrera went behind home plate to embrace his mother, wife, son and daughter on the field.

“Special numbers,” Cabrera said after the game. “It’s like something crazy you can’t describe. To be in this position, I always say thank God for giving me this opportunity.”

Cabrera soon returned to first base but didn’t stay there long. He scored on a three-run homer by 22-year-old rookie Spencer Torkelson, who has taken over as the Tigers’ regular first baseman with Cabrera in the role of designated hitter.

When the inning ended, the scoreboard flashed “Congratulations Miggy” and Cabrera emerged from the dugout to wave to fans who had been rewarded with the highlight they came to see.

“It brings a lot of memories from the first time I was here in Detroit,” Cabrera said of the crowd. “I remember we always had 35,000, 40,000 people every night. It was good to see the fans come back to the stadium like that. It was very emotional. I know what the fans mean to our games and to our team because they support us a lot. I really happy to see all the fans.”

Cabrera added a two-run single in the sixth inning before being replaced by pinch runner Eric Haase. The Tigers went on to win 13-0. Cabrera said it meant “a lot” for him to reach the milestone in a win.

“Because I always say, if we’re winning, I know the results are going to be good,” he said. “We did it today, I’m pretty happy.

After reaching 2,999 hits Wednesday, Cabrera was 0-for-3 on Thursday against the New York Yankees. He was intentionally walked in the eighth inning, his fourth and final plate appearance of the game. Cabrera’s pursuit of history was delayed Friday, as the Tigers’ scheduled series opener against the Rockies was rained out, made up as part of a Saturday doubleheader.

Cabrera is the first Venezuelan-born player and seventh Latino to reach the 3,000-hit mark, a list that includes Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Rod Carew as well as Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols. Luis Aparicio, the only Venezuelan-born player in the Hall of Fame, had 2,677 career hits.

“When you’re going through it, you’ve got to kind of try to appreciate it because his impact is so big across this organization and across so many players, that we just got to sit back and soak it up,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “And I think for him as a person, as a player who’s gone through ups, downs, everywhere in between. This is certainly a highlight.”

Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown and the first of back-to-back MVP awards in 2012, became the 28th member of the 500-home run club in August. Only six other players have 3,000 hits and 500 homers: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Palmeiro, Pujols, Rodriguez and Eddie Murray.

Cabrera’s Triple Crown win in 2012, having led the American League in batting average, home runs and RBIs, was the first in 45 years. The 11-time MLB All-Star has won four batting titles in his career.

Cabrera was 20 years old when he made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the Miami Marlins in 2003. He helped them win the World Series that year.

The Tigers acquired Cabrera in a 2007 trade, with Dontrelle Willis also going to Detroit in a deal for Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. Cabrera had 842 hits at the time.

He is the third player to get his 3,000th hit while with Detroit, joining Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.

Harold Ramirez Traded to Tampa Bay Rays

A ray(s) of light for Harold Ramirez.

The 27-year-old Colombian professional baseball outfielder has been acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.

Harold RamirezRamirez batted .268 with seven homers and 41 RBI in 99 games with Cleveland last season. He was acquired by the Cubs for cash in November.

Chicago got minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz in the deal with Tampa Bay. The 30-year-old Quiroz hit .268 with 12 homers and 48 RBI in 68 games with Triple-A Durham last year.

A native of Cartagena, Colombia, Ramirez is a .271 hitter over parts of three seasons with Miami Marlins and Cleveland.

He ranked sixth among National League rookies with 116 hits for the Marlins in 2019.