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.

Giancarlo Stanton Named MLB All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player

It’s a (most-valuable) performance to remember for Giancarlo Stanton

The 32-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball designated hitter and New York Yankee outfielder was named MVP 2022 MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, after leading the American League to a 3-2 win over the National League squad.

Giancarlo StantonStanton earned the honor after going 1-for-2 with a two-run homer that tied the game in the fourth inning.

It was the American League’s ninth consecutive win over the National League.

Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins followed with the go-ahead solo blast. Stanton, a Los Angeles native, was given the nod in his hometown.

Stanton was playing in his fifth career All-Star Game and his first since 2017, which is the same season he was named NL MVP. He is now the third Yankees player ever to be named All-Star Game MVP, joining Derek Jeter in 2000 and Mariano Rivera in 2013.

Tuesday’s game was expected to be an offensive showcase but instead was dominated by pitching. The NL took a 2-0 lead in the first inning but failed to record another hit until the eighth inning. The AL totaled eight hits, but never really threatened to put more runs on the board outside of the fireworks in the fourth inning.

For Stanton, Tuesday’s performance continued a strong 2022 season. He is batting .237 this year with 24 home runs, 61 RBI and a .835 OPS. He’s been a key part of New York’s success.

The Yankees have the best record in the majors at 64-28 with a 13-game lead in the AL East. With the second half of the season on the horizon, New York has its eyes set on the postseason as it hopes to make it back to the World Series since its last championship win in 2009,

With Stanton helping to lead the charge, the Yankees are in position to do just that.

Pete Alonso Vying to Win Third-Straight Home Run Derby Crown

Pete Alonso is hoping for a three-peat…

The 27-year-old part-Spanish American professional baseball player and New York Mets first baseman will take part in this year’s Home Run Derby next week in Los Angeles.

Pete AlonsoMajor League Baseball made the announcement on Monday on its official Twitter page, confirming the return of one of the Derby’s most successful hitters.

“It’s a really fun event,” Alonso told reporters in the Mets clubhouse Monday before their 4-1 win over the Braves in Atlanta. “It’s going to be super exciting, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Also before the game, the Braves announced that star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. will participate in the Derby. And later Monday, St. Louis Cardinals veteran Albert Pujols entered into the Derby as well, giving the former Los Angeles Dodgers slugger a chance participate in a familiar park.

“It’s an honor to be back in the All-Star Game and to have a chance to be part of the Home Run Derby, that’s something I enjoy a lot and my kids will have a blast,” Pujols said Monday night. “Hopefully, I can put on a good show for them, because at the end of the day, it’s not about us, it’s about putting a good show for the fans.”

Washington Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto and Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber, who leads the National League in home runs with 28, also will participate in the event, their teams announced Tuesday.

Last year, in Denver, Alonso outlasted Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini to become the third back-to-back Home Run Derby champion.

Alonso recorded 74 home runs — totaling 6.35 miles in distance — en route to the crown.

“I think I’m the best power hitter on the planet,” Alonso said after the win last year. “Being able to showcase that, and really putting on a fun display for fans, I just think it’s a dream come true for me because when I was young, my parents let me stay up past my bedtime to watch this. That was one of the few nights per year I actually got to stay up past my bedtime, just watch incredible feats that you don’t see in a regular baseball game.”

And now Dodger Stadium will be his stage next Monday, as he takes a break from a regular season that has New York fans thinking about a postseason run. The Mets enter play on Monday with a 53-33 record and a first-place standing in the National League East. Alonso leads the team with 23 home runs to go along with a .273 batting average and 70 RBIs.

Last year — with New York bench coach Dave Jauss pitching to him — Alonso wowed the crowd at Coors Field with a final-round total of 23, in joining Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14) in winning consecutive titles.

“This is just surreal,” Alonso said at the time. “It’s just truly a blessing.”

Alonso confirmed Monday that Jauss will again be his pitcher next week.

“Just need to give him about two pots of coffee for before and a case of Bud Light for after, and he said he’s good to go,” Alonso said.

Albert Pujols to Participate in This Year’s MLB All-Star Game

Albert Pujols is getting another All-Star moment…

The 42-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals will take part in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has announced.

Albert PujolsBut he isn’t the only living baseball legend getting called up…

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers will also participate.

Pujols, Cabrera and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron are the only players in MLB history to register 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles.

“I am delighted that Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera have agreed to participate in the All-Star Game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Albert and Miguel are two of the most accomplished players of their generation. They have also represented the baseball traditions of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela with excellence for the last two decades. Albert and Miguel are two all-time greats whose achievements warrant this special recognition.”

It’s the 11th MLB All-Star selection for Pujols, who is in his 22nd MLB season. He ranks fifth in MLB history with 683 home runs and ninth with 3,326 career hits.

“If there is one game for the fans to celebrate the history and longevity, it’s the All-Star Game,” said Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa, who was Pujols’ manager in St. Louis for seven years. “Anything like that [being selected to participate in the All-Star Game], I’m all in favor of.”

Cabrera, 39, reached 3,000 career hits earlier this season. He’ll be appearing in his 12th All-Star Game.

The slugger called Pujols “one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“To be part of this together is going to be great,” he said Friday.

The All-Star Game will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 19.

Minnie Miñoso Named to Baseball Hall of Fame

Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso is headed to the Hall

The late Cuban professional baseball player, nicknamed “The Cuban Comet” and “Mr. White Sox,” has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Minnie MiñosoMiñoso was widely considered baseball’s first Latino star in a career that started in the Negro leagues and continued over several decades with him excelling mostly for the Chicago White Sox. The was the first Black Cuban in the major leagues and the first black player in White Sox history, as a 1951 rookie he was the one of the first Latin Americans to play in an MLB All-Star Game.

Minnie MiñosoMiñoso was an American League (AL) All-Star for seven seasons and a Gold Glove winner for three seasons when he was in his 30s.

Miñoso joins Gil Hodges, former Minnesota Twins teammates Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, a longtime television analyst after his playing days, Bud Fowler, and Buck O’Neil, a champion of Black ballplayers during a monumental, eight-decade career on and off the field.

Oliva, an 83-year-old Cuban former professional baseball right fielder, designated hitter, and coach, played his entire 15-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career for the Twins, from 1962 to 1976.

Oliva and Kaat are the only living new members. Dick Allen, who died last December, fell one vote shy of election.

Kaat pitched 25 seasons with a host of teams, including the Phillies, Yankees and Cardinals, winning 283 games. He served as an analyst for the Yankees before moving on to the MLB Network.

The 16-member Early Days and Golden Days committees met separately in Orlando, Florida. The election announcement was originally scheduled to coincide with the big league winter meetings, which were nixed because of the MLB lockout.

The six newcomers will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, on July 24, 2022, along with any new members elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

First-time candidates David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez join Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling on the ballot, with voting results on January 25.

Jose Altuve Among Seven Houston Astros Players Named as Finalists for 2021 MLB All-Star Game

Jose Altuve is one step closer to another All-Star game…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan Major League Baseball second baseman, a six-time MLB All-Star, is among seven Houston Astros players named as finalists to start in the 2021 All-Star Game.

Jose AltuveThe Astros have an MLB best seven finalists this season.

On June 23, Altuve hit his 150th career home run, doing so off Thomas Eshelman of the Baltimore Orioles.

The top three finalists for each position based on fan voting in each league, plus designated hitter for the American League, were announced Sunday.

Three teams — the Los Angeles DodgersChicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays — have five finalists for the Midsummer Classic, which will be played July 13 at Coors Field.

Voting on the finalists begins Monday and ends Thursday. The AL and NL All-Star starters, based on those votes, will be announced on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN. The remainder of the All-Star teams will be unveiled next Sunday at 5:30 pm ET on ESPN.

The finalists:

Catcher:

AL:

  1. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
  2. Martin Maldonado, Astros
  3. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox

NL:

  1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
  2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Willson Contreras, Cubs

First base:

AL:

  1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
  2. Yuli Gurriel, Astros
  3. Jose Abreu, White Sox

NL:

  1. Max Muncy, Dodgers
  2. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
  3. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

Second base:

AL:

  1. Marcus Semien, Blue Jays
  2. Jose Altuve, Astros
  3. DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees

NL:

  1. Ozzie Albies, Braves
  2. Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Gavin Lux, Dodgers

Shortstop:

AL:

  1. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
  2. Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
  3. Carlos Correa, Astros

NL:

  1. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
  2. Javier Baez, Cubs
  3. Brandon Crawford, Giants

Third base:

AL:

  1. Rafael Devers, Red Sox
  2. Alex Bregman, Astros
  3. Yoan Moncada, White Sox

NL:

  1. Kris Bryant, Cubs
  2. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals
  3. Justin Turner, Dodgers

Outfield:

AL:

  1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
  2. Aaron Judge, Yankees
  3. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
  4. Michael Brantley, Astros
  5. Adolis García, Texas Rangers
  6. Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays
  7. Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
  8. Alex Verdugo, Red Sox
  9. Randal Grichuk, Blue Jays

NL:

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
  2. Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati Reds
  3. Jesse Winker, Reds
  4. Mookie Betts, Dodgers
  5. Chris Taylor, Dodgers
  6. Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
  7. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
  8. Joc Pederson, Cubs
  9. Mike Yastrzemski, Giants

Designated hitter:

AL:

  1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
  2. D. Martinez, Red Sox
  3. Yordan Alvarez, Astros

Pete Alonso Ready for This Year’s Home Run Derby

Pete Alonso is ready to take a swing at the title…

The 26-year-old Spanish-American New York Mets slugger is in for this year’s Home Run Derby at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Pete Alonso

Alonso won the contest the last time it was held, in 2019, edging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at Cleveland’s Progressive Field for his first derby title.

“I’m all-in,” Alonso said Thursday afternoon from Wrigley Field, where the Mets finish up a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. “I’m ready. If I get invited, I’d love to do it. I’d love to defend my title.”

Last year’s Home Run Derby was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 edition will take place July 12 at Colorado’s Coors Field after Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game and related festivities from Atlanta.

Alonso committed to the derby the day after hitting a monster home run that landed on the street beyond the left-center-field bleachers at Wrigley Field. It was measured at 429 feet.

“I’m very happy that ball went far,” Alonso said. “I think Statcast kind of stumped me. I think that ball did not go [only] 429 feet, but that’s what the computer says, and I think the computer is wrong.”

Alonso’s longest home run of his career was measured at 485 feet. He thinks Wednesday’s long ball was closer to that figure than 429 feet.

“If that ball went 429 feet, that’s the shortest ball that’s ever left this stadium,” Alonso said. “I’ve hit plenty of balls here that have gone 430 feet, but if a ball leaves the stadium, there’s no way that ball went only 429 feet.”

Alonso has three home runs this season entering Thursday night’s game against the Cubs. He led the majors with 53 in 2019, his rookie year.

He enjoyed Wednesday’s homer as much as any he has hit.

“That was one of my favorite home runs I’ve hit,” he said. “That’s top five for me.”

Lovato to Replace Ariana Grande as the Headline Act at the MLB All-Star Game Concert

Demi Lovato is ready for an all-star affair…

The 22-year-old part-Mexican American actress has come aboard as the new headline act for the MLB All-Star Game concert on Saturday night (July 11), replacing previously announced headliner Ariana Grande at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.

Demi Lovato

The MLB has yet to issue a statement on the change, and neither Lovato nor Grande have posted about it on social media. A rep for Lovato confirmed to Billboard that she’s indeed performing at the star-studded baseball game on Saturday night.

Grande is currently facing backlash for a bizarre video in which she declares “I hate America” in a donut shop. No word on whether her removal from her the All-Star Game concert was the result of that controversy.

Meanwhile, Lovato recently returned to music with new single “Cool For The Summer,” which she performed for the first time last week in New York. The track precedes Lovato’s forthcoming fifth album, the follow up to her popular album Demi.

This isn’t Lovato’s first MLB stint…

She previously performed the National Anthem at the World Series in 2012.

Escobar Named a Starter for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game

Alcides Escobar is having a season to remember…

The 28-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop is one of four Kansas City Royals players named American League starters for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game being hosted by the Cincinnati Reds.

Alcides Escobar

Escobar, a first year pick, will be joined by his teammates Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain (outfielders) and Salvador Perez (catcher) as Royals reps for this year’s All-Star Game.

Much was said of the potential ballot-stuffing being done by Kansas City fans, but ultimately only four players from the AL Central leaders made it to the starting lineup. Long a doormat in the AL, the Royals have more starters this season than in the previous 25 years combined.

“It’s just been the support of our fans, really, over the last two years,” said Gordon, making his third straight All-Star appearance. “Winning brings attention and that’s what we’ve been doing. I think we play with a lot of energy, a lot of fun. People have noticed it.”

While the Royals may have led the way with the most players per team, the leading vote-getter came from north of the border.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson set a new record for all-time single-season voting with over 14 million total votes cast. Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper led all National League selections by garnering 13.9 million votes.

Only two teams placed multiple players on the All-Star rosters, the Royals, who won the AL pennant last season, and the Miami Marlins, who entered Sunday eight games under .500 and 11 games back in the NL East.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton were both voted to the NL squad, though Stanton won’t play in the Midsummer Classic.

Stanton, who signed a $325 million contract this offseason to stay in Miami, is on the disabled list with a broken bone in his hand. He’ll join Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (calf) and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday (quad) as All-Star starters who are on the DL.

The Reds will host the All-Star Game for the first time since 1988 and will be represented by Todd Frazier, who was voted the NL team’s starting third baseman.

“I was really nervous. I was excited. It was a huge comeback,” said Frazier, who went from trailing the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter by 2.5 million votes in June to winning the starting nod by 2.1 million. “I’m pretty much on Cloud Nine.”

All-Star pitchers, reserves and the finalists for the Final Vote will be announced Monday.

Royals manager Ned Yost and San Francisco Giants skipper Bruce Bochy will helm the AL and NL teams, respectively, when the 2015 All-Star Game is played Tuesday, July 14.

“We’re going to have a blast,” Yost said. “The All-Star Game is an experience you never forget, and to do it with so many of our teammates there is really special.”

In addition to Escobar, Perez and Cabrera, other Latino players selected as All-Star Game starters are Jose Altuve, Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta.

 

2015 MLB All-Star Game Starters
AL POS. NL
Miguel Cabrera, DET 1B Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
Jose Altuve, HOU 2B Dee Gordon, MIA
Alcides Escobar, KC SS Jhonny Peralta, STL
Josh Donaldson, TOR 3B Todd Frazier, CIN
Salvador Perez, KC C Buster Posey, SF
Mike Trout, LAA OF Bryce Harper, WAS
Lorenzo Cain, KC OF Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
Alex Gordon, KC OF Matt Holliday, STL
Nelson Cruz, SEA DH N/A