Ronald Acuña Jr. Signs with Bad Bunny’s Rimas Sports for Representation

Ronald Acuña Jr. has new all-star representation…

Rimas Sports — an agency partnership between Bad Bunny and executives Noah Assad and Jonathan Miranda — has signed the Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder who plays for the Atlanta Braves to an exclusive representation agreement.

Ronald Acuña Jr., Rimas Sports, Bad Bunny,“We are thrilled to welcome the Acuña family to Rimas Sports,” Miranda, CEO of Rimas Sports, said in a statement. “Ronald is a once-in-a-generation player, and we are confident that together we will take his extraordinary career to new heights. Acuña is aligned with Rimas Sports’ foundational principle of empowering the next generation of Latin American players by helping them build lasting legacies for themselves, their families, and their communities.”

The renowned athlete kicked off his career with Braves organization in 2014 and made his MLB debut in 2018 when he nabbed the Rookie of the Year title.

In 2023, the four-time MLB All-Star was named the 2023 National League Most Valuable Player in his sixth major-league season, marking the eighth time a Braves player has nabbed the title after Freddie Freeman (2020), Chipper Jones (1999), Terry Pendleton (1991), Dale Murphy (1982, 1983), Hank Aaron (1957), Robert Elliott (1947) and Johnny Evers (1914).

A press statement at the time noted that Acuña “was a unanimous selection, receiving 30 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He finished with 420 points, 150 more than runner-up Mookie Betts.”

To celebrate his new MVP title, award-winning Mexican-American producer Samuel Ash dropped “La Bestia,” a catchy dembow song performed by Dominican artist Niko Eme.

“We wanted something that felt global and to do something we could put a chant to,” Ash previously told Billboard. “I know dembow is a Dominican genre but I felt that it could still feel global and resonate with him as a Venezuelan.”

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.

Pablo Sandoval Agrees to Contract with Staten Island FerryHawks

Pablo Sandoval is headed to Staten Island

The 37-year-old Venezuelan-American professional baseball player and former World Series MVP has agreed to a contract with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the independent Atlantic League.

Pablo SandovalThe announcement comes nine days after he was released from a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants.

Sandoval, 37, hit .250 with two RBIs in 28 spring training at-bats for the Giants, the team he helped to World Series titles in 2010, ’12 and ’14.

A fan favorite nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, the two-time MLB All-Star was last in the major leagues in 2021 when he hit .178 with a .302 on-base percentage, four homers and 11 RBIs in 69 games with the Atlanta Braves.

Sandoval has a .278 batting average, .330 on-base percentage, .443 slugging percentage, 153 homers and 639 RBIs in 1,380 career games while primarily playing third base.

The veteran has also batted .338 with a .921 OPS in 42 postseason games, including a .426 average and 1.162 OPS in 12 World Series contests.

Atlanta Braves to Open Season with Reynaldo Lopez as Team’s Fifth Starter

It’s a Braves new season for Reynaldo Lopez

The Atlanta Braves will open the season with the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher as their fifth starter.

Reynaldo López,López, who signed a $30 million, three-year deal with the Braves in November, earned the rotation spot by allowing just four earned runs over 16 ⅔ innings in five spring appearances.

He surrendered 10 hits, walked six and struck out 13.

This marks a return to a starting role for Lopez after he was used exclusively as a reliever the past two seasons by the Chicago White SoxLos Angeles Angels and Cleveland Guardians. He thrived out of the bullpen, posting a 3.02 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 131⅓ innings over 129 appearances.

But the Braves signed López early in free agency with an eye toward using the hard-throwing right-hander as a starter again. He made a total of 65 starts for the White Sox over the 2018 and ’19 seasons, going 17-22 with a 4.64 ERA.

López joins a rotation that also includes MLB All-Star Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton and another newcomer, Chris Sale.

It also makes sense for the Braves to use López as a starter early in the season, even if he winds up returning to the bullpen. If he began as a reliever, it would have been difficult to stretch out his arm later in the year for a starting role.

Atlanta, which has won six straight NL East titles, opens the season March 28 at Philadelphia.

Yasmani Grandal Reportedly Agrees to One-Year, $2.5 Million Contract with Pittsburgh Pirates

It’s all hands on deck for Yasmani Grandal.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are adding the 35-year-old Cuban professional baseball catcher, a two-time MLB All-Star, according to multiple ESPN reports.

Yasmani GrandalThe Pirates and Grandal have agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $2.5 million, according to the reports.

Pittsburgh is searching for depth at catcher with Endy Rodriguez — who started 57 games in 2023 as a rookie — already ruled out for 2024 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in December. He got injured while playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic.

Grandal would join a catching situation that includes 2021 first overall pick Henry Davis, Jason Delay and Ali Sanchez.

Grandal is a career .237 hitter while playing for four teams across 12 seasons, including the past four years with the Chicago White Sox.

Grandal hit .234 with eight home runs and had 33 RBIs in 118 games with the White Sox in 2023.

The Pirates have remained bullish that Davis can become an every-day catcher even though he spent the vast majority of his rookie season playing right field. Adding Grandal gives the Pirates a little bit of flexibility as Davis continues to refine his work defensively.

Grandal provided power at the plate during his prime. He has topped 20 home runs in a season five times, most recently with Chicago in 2021. He made a pair of All-Star teams earlier in his career, first in 2015 while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and again in 2019 while with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Adolis García Agrees to Two-Year Contract with Texas Rangers to Avoid Salary Arbitration

Adolis García is staying put…

The 30-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder has agreed to a two-year contract with the Texas Rangers, the team announced this week.

Adolis GarciaThe deal, according to multiple reports, is worth $14 million and avoids a salary arbitration hearing for the American League Championship Series MVP and the World Series champions. The deal through 2025 is pending a physical.

García was the only Rangers player eligible for salary arbitration who didn’t reach a deal before last month’s deadline. An arbitration hearing had been scheduled for Thursday before the agreement was reached.

The two-time MLB All-Star (2021, 2023) slugger, who set an MLB postseason record with 22 RBIs last fall, had requested $6.9 million and Texas offered $5 million. That was the widest gap among the 23 players around the league who exchanged salary proposals with their teams.

García had indicated through an interpreter before the team’s annual awards dinner two weeks ago that he was prepared for a hearing. General manager Chris Young had said then that there had been good dialogue with García and his representatives and described being encouraged by those.

Garcia, who turns 31 next month, made $747,760 last season when he set career highs with 39 home runs and 107 RBIs. He had 27 home runs and 101 RBI in the 2022 season. He was eligible for salary arbitration for the first time and isn’t set to become an unrestricted free agent until after the 2026 season.

An emotional leader with a big bat for the Rangers, García hit .357 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. He went deep in five consecutive postseason games, including his 11th-inning winner in Game 1 of the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. But he missed the last two World Series games with an oblique issue.

García had said before the Rangers’ annual awards banquet on January 26 that he felt good. He said he took about a month off after the season before resuming his workouts.

The Rangers haven’t been to a salary arbitration hearing since 2000 with designated hitter Lee Stevens.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Awarded Record $19.9 Million in Arbitration Case Win Against Toronto Blue Jays

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has nearly 20 million reasons to smile…

The 24-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays won a record $19.9 million in salary arbitration on Wednesday when a three-person panel picked his request rather than the team’s $18.05 million offer.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.,Scott Buchheit, Walt De Treux and Jeanne Charles made the decision a day after listening to arguments. Players have a 6-2 lead in hearings this year with 10 cases pending.

Guerrero topped the previous high awarded from a hearing, the $14 million Seattle Mariners outfielder Teoscar Hernandez received after he lost last year.

A three-time MLB All-Star, Guerrero hit .264 with 26 homers and 94 RBIs last year, when he had a $14.5 million salary. He’s eligible for free agency after the 2025 season.

A son of Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, the younger Guerrero turns 25 next month. He has a .279 average with 130 homers and 404 RBIs in five seasons with the Blue Jays.

Guerrero’s best season was in 2021, when he tied for the major league lead with 48 home runs and hit .311 with 111 RBIs. He earned a Gold Glove in 2022 and won last year’s MLB All-Star Home Run Derby at Seattle, matching the feat of his father in 2007 at San Francisco.

Jose Altuve Signs Five-Year, $125 Million Extension with Houston Astros

Jose Altuve isn’t leaving his current universe…

The 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball second baseman has signed a five-year extension that all but guarantees he will finish his career with the Houston Astros.

Jose AltuveThe deal is worth $125 million, sources told ESPN, taking him all the way through his age-39 season.

“He’s a franchise-type player; one of the best in Houston history,” owner Jim Crane said at the owners meetings in Orlando, Florida. “And we hope someday he’s a Hall of Famer.”

The Astros announced the agreement on social media, calling their superstar an Astro For Life.

Altuve was heading into his final season — at $26 million — before free agency. His new deal begins in 2025 and takes him through 2029.

He has established himself as a central figure of the most successful era in franchise history, a seven-year stretch that has included two World Series titles, four American League pennants and seven consecutive trips (and counting) to the American League Championship Series.

Signed out of Venezuela in 2007, Altuve defied the odds and turned himself into a superstar despite being one of the most undersized players in baseball history at 5-foot-6.

Through 13 years in the big leagues, Altuve has slashed .307/.364/.471 while accumulating 2,047 hits, 295 stolen bases and 209 home runs. His résumé includes eight MLB All-Star invites, six Silver Sluggers, three batting titles, a Gold Glove and an MVP, won in 2017.

His career batting average is the highest of any active player with at least 2,000 at-bats, and the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Freddie Freeman (2,017) is the only other player with more than 2,000 hits since Altuve made his debut on July 20, 2011.

But some of Altuve’s greatest work has been done in the postseason. Most recently, Altuve hit the dramatic winning home run to cap a contentious game against the division-rival Texas Rangers and force Game 7 of the ALCS. He did something similar in the 2019 ALCS, walking off the New York Yankees with a ninth-inning home run against MLB All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to send the Astros to the World Series.

In 103 playoff games, Altuve has 27 home runs and 89 runs scored, which both rank second all time. His 117 hits are tied for third. He is one of just four players in MLB postseason history to surpass 100 hits and 50 RBIs, joining Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Manny Ramirez.

Cristian Mena Traded by Chicago White Sox to Arizona Diamondbacks

Cristian Mena is headed to The Grand Canyon State.

The Chicago White Sox have traded the 21-year-old Dominican pitcher and right-handed prospect to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cristian MenaIn the deal, which was announced on social media by the White Sox, outfielder Dominic Fletcher goes to Chicago from Arizona and should be in the mix for playing time this year.

Mena throws a hard curveball, a low-to-mid-90s fastball and will provide upper-level rotation depth after striking out 156 in 133.2 innings between Double A and Triple A last season.

At 5-foot-6, 185 pounds, Fletcher has nevertheless managed to cut an imposing figure at the plate since Arizona drafted him in 2019. In more than 1,600 minor league appearances, he has hit .295/.366/.474 with 42 home runs and 201 RBIs, and in 28 games with the Diamondbacks last season, Fletcher hit .301/.350/.441 with a pair of home runs and 14 RBIs. The younger brother of Atlanta utilityman David Fletcher, the left-handed hitter will compete for right-field at-bats, with MLB All-Star Luis Robert Jr. in center and Andrew Benintendi in left.

Arizona traded from a position of strength, with MLB All-Star Corbin CarrollYuli GurrielAlek ThomasJake McCarthy and the recently signed Joc Pederson all outfielders.

Mena throws a hard curveball, a low-to-mid-90s fastball and will provide upper-level rotation depth after striking out 156 in 133.2 innings between Double A and Triple A last season.

Under new general manager Chris Getz, the White Sox have been aggressive in turning over their roster after dealing a handful of veterans at the trade deadline last year.

Carlos Carrasco Agrees to Minor League Contract with Cleveland Guardians

Carlos Carrasco is returning to Cleveland…

The 36-year-old Venezuelan-American professional baseball pitcher, who spent 11 seasons pitching for the Cleveland Guardians, has agreed to a minor league contract with the team featuring an invitation to spring training, per ESPN.

Carlos Carrasco

Carrasco’s base salary will be $2 million if he is on the big league team, according to ESPN sources.

The Athletic was first to report Carrasco’s return to the Guardians.

Carrasco, nicknamed Cookie, was a dependable part of Cleveland’s rotation for several seasons. He led the American League with 18 wins in 2017, and he became one of the team’s most popular players because of his warm personality and later for his courage in battling cancer.

In 2019, Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia and was sidelined for three months. He was recognized during an emotional appearance on the field during the All-Star Game in Cleveland that season.

Carrasco went 88-73 with a 3.77 ERA in 242 games (195 starts) with Cleveland from 2009 to 2020.

He was traded as part of the deal that sent MLB All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets in 2021. Carrasco went 19-20 in three seasons with the Mets, going 15-7 in 2022. Carrasco went 3-8 in 20 starts last season.

Carrasco was sidelined during Cleveland’s run to the World Series in 2016 after he was struck by a line drive on his pitching hand in the final month of the season.