Carlos Correa Planning for Free Agency, Looking a “Big, Long Contract”

Carlos Correa is looking to go big

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop for the Houston Astros says he hasn’t seriously discussed a long-term deal with Houston and plans to seek a big payday in free agency next offseason.

Carlos Correa

“We were not close at all. There were not really any negotiations,” Correa said Thursday before the Astros opened their season against the Oakland Athletics. “It’s another year with the Houston Astros. I’m going to go out there, give it my best and try to bring another championship to this city.”

Correa said last week he turned down a $120 million, six-year offer and said Thursday he also declined a $125 million, five-year bid — paltry compared to the $341 million, 10-year deal shortstop Francisco Lindor agreed to with the New York Mets on Wednesday night. Lindor and Correa were both eligible for free agency after this season.

“I love it, it’s a great contract,” Correa said of Lindor’s deal. “He deserves every penny of it. … He pushed the market for every shortstop coming after him.”

Correa set a deadline of Opening Day to reach an agreement. He’ll earn $11.3 million this season.

“The relationship is great. There are no hard feelings,” Correa said. “It’s a business. They made it very clear to me, they said: ‘We don’t believe in long contracts. We don’t believe in big contracts.’ So once I hit free agency I’m going to look out for a big, long contract. They made it very clear that they don’t believe in that.”

Correa was Houston’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, a year the Astros experienced their second of three straight seasons with more than 100 losses.

He debuted in 2015 and was voted AL Rookie of the Year. Correa was an MLB All-Star in 2017, when he helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, he batted .264 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.

Francisco Lindor Agrees to 10-Year, $341 Million Deal with New York Mets

Francisco Lindor has landed a big deal…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop and the New York Mets have agreed to a 10-year, $341 million deal.

Francisco Lindor

Lindor’s deal will be the third largest based on total value in Major League Baseball history, trailing only the deals for the Los Angeles AngelsMike Trout ($426.5 million) and the Los Angeles DodgersMookie Betts ($365 million).

The Mets were widely expected to sign Lindor to a long-term extension after acquiring the four-time MLB All-Star in a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians this offseason.

The negotiations became a major storyline during spring training, with new Mets owner Steve Cohen writing on Twitter last week, “What do think Lindor will accept? I’m going to crowdsource the answer.”

“Lindor is a heckuva player and a great guy. I hope he decides to sign,” Cohen wrote on Tuesday.

Lindor had stated that he would “go to free agency” if he didn’t have a deal in place by Opening Day, saying he did not want to negotiate during the season. The Mets open Thursday against the Washington Nationals.

In January, the Mets avoided salary arbitration with Lindor by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $22.3 million. It was the fourth-biggest one-year contract for an arbitration-eligible player, trailing Mookie Betts ($27 million with Boston last year), Nolan Arenado ($26 million with Colorado in 2019) and Josh Donaldson ($23 million with Toronto in 2018).

A two-time Gold Glove winner, Lindor is a career .285 hitter and has averaged 29 homers, 86 RBIs and 21 steals in his six major league seasons — all with the Indians, who drafted him in 2011.

Salvador Pérez Lands Richest Deal in Kansas City Royals History

Salvador Pérez has landed a Royal(s) deal…

The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher has agreed to a four-year extension with the Kansas City Royals worth $82 million, according to ESPN, which makes it the richest deal in Royals history.

Salvador Perez

The Kansas City Star first reported the financial aspect of Perez’s extension.

The value of the new deal surpasses the four-year, $72 million contract the Royals gave outfielder Alex Gordon in 2016.

Perez’s extension, which begins with the 2022 season, comes after a 2020 season in which the six-time MLB All-Star was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.

“It’s hard to believe where I’m coming from, where I grew up, to see the situation I have right now, it makes me feel super happy,” Pérez said from the Royals’ spring training home in Surprise, Arizona. “My mother is going to be happy. I know my grandma is going to be happy. I know they’re excited for me to be here for four more years, maybe five.”

“Nobody loves to play baseball more than Salvador Pérez. There are players that like it just as much but nobody loves it more,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “Nobody can imagine him not being here.”

Pérez, who turns 31 in May, has not only established himself as one of the game’s premier catchers but also one of the most beloved players in Royals history. He was World Series MVP in 2015, when the club broke its 30-year title drought, and is coming off a season in which he hit .333 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs to win his third Silver Slugger.

He also has five Gold Gloves to his name, and the Royals are counting on his ability to bring out the best in their pitchers to help a young and promising starting rotation that they hope will lead them back to the playoffs.

“I mean, the catching position is without a doubt the most demanding position in our game,” Moore said. “It’s hard, I think almost impossible, to win championships unless you have somebody behind the plate, somebody at the catcher position, that’s a leader — that brings out the confidence in your pitching staff. And Salvy does all that.”

Indeed, Pérez also has proven to be durable behind the plate. He appeared in at least 129 games six consecutive seasons, often arguing against getting days off, until missing the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.

He returned to have one of the best seasons of his career during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“It’s the same with everybody: You trust your medical people,” Moore said. “Of course we talked about Salvy, but at the end of the day, they all signed off on it because they believe in his work ethic. They believe in the condition of his body. They believe in his heart and mind to play. He puts himself in a position to go out there every single day.”

Pérez also happens to be a personal favorite of John Sherman, the former part-owner of the AL Central rival Cleveland Indians, who leads the ownership group that purchased the Royals from the late David Glass prior to last season.

Sherman called a summit in Florida in January that included Moore, Pérez and several other executives, and it was during that meeting that they began hashing out the framework for the new contract. It wound up getting done just weeks before Opening Day, when the Royals hope to welcome about 10,000 fans back to Kauffman Stadium for each game.

“You know, they believe in me and what I do on the field,” Pérez said, “and all the fans in Kansas City, you know?”

The small-market Royals have long had a reputation for being stingy with contracts, but Pérez’s new deal is the latest sign that Sherman and the new owners are willing to open the checkbook to put a winner on the field.

“I want to stay here,” he said simply. “I want to finish my career here.”

Gio González Agrees to Minor League Deal with Miami Marlins

Gio González is returning to his home state…

The 35-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player and veteran left-handed pitcher has agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins and will take part in the team’s major league camp.

Gio Gonzalez

González, a South Florida native, pitched in 12 games last year for the Chicago White Sox with four starts and had an ERA of 4.83. He has a career record of 131-101 with a 3.70 ERA in 13 seasons for four teams.

At 35, González provides experienced depth for the Marlins’ talented young rotation. He is a two-time MLB All-Star, with the Oakland As in 2011 and Washington Nationals in 2012.

Aaron Sanchez Agrees to One-Year, $4 Million Deal with San Francisco Giants

Aaron Sanchez has agreed to a giant(s) deal…

The 28-year-old Mexican American professional baseball pitcher has finalized a $4 million, one-year contract with the San Francisco Giants, giving the club another experienced starter to join Johnny Cueto in the rotation.

Aaron Sanchez

The Giants said Sanchez could earn up to $2.5 million more in performance bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 16 and 18 starts and $500,000 each for 20, 22, 24 and 26 games started. He has been plagued by injuries in recent years.

Sanchez hasn’t pitched since 2019, sitting out last year’s shortened season while recovering from surgery on his pitching shoulder. He went 5-14 with a 5.89 ERA over 27 starts and 131⅓ innings playing for Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros.

A 2016 MLB All-Star for the Blue Jays, he made only 20 starts in 2018 and eight starts the year before because of a blister and split fingernail.

The Giants cleared room on the 40-man roster for Sanchez by designating right-hander Trevor Gott for assignment.

Asdrubal Cabrera Agrees to $1.75 million, One-Year Deal with Arizona Diamondbacks

Asdrubal Cabrera is Arizona bound…

The 35-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball infielder has agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to multiple media reports.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera can earn up to $1.05 million in performance bonuses, as part of the deal, which was first reported by MLB Network.

Cabrera is a two-time MLB All-Star who was with the Washington Nationals in 2020, batting .242 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in the pandemic-shortened season.

Cabrera seems like an ideal fit for the Diamondbacks at second base, which would move the versatile Ketel Marte back to centerfield.

Marte had a breakout year in 2019 while playing mostly center field but was moved back to primarily second base in 2020.

Cabrera was an All-Star with the Cleveland Indians in 2011 and 2012. He has played all four infield positions during his career and has nearly 1,700 career hits, along with 188 homers.

The Diamondbacks have made a couple of moves over the past few weeks after a quiet offseason. They signed veteran relief pitcher Joakim Soria to a $3.5 million, one-year deal.

Arizona is coming off a disappointing 25-35 record in 2020, which put them last in the NL West.

Elvis Andrus Traded to the Oakland Athletics

Elvis Andrus is heading west…

The 32-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop has been traded to the Oakland Athletics.

Elvis Andrus

The announcement comes two months after the Texas Rangers said the only player remaining from their only two World Series appearances would no longer be the starting shortstop after 12 seasons in that role.

Texas sent Andrus, catcher Aramis Garcia and $13.5 million to the A’s for designated hitter Khris Davis, catcher Jonah Heim and right-hander Dane Acker.

Andrus is owed $14 million in each of the next two seasons. The $120 million, eight-season deal he signed in 2015 also includes a $15 million option for 2023 that now, because of the trade, becomes a player option if he has 550 plate appearances in 2022, or 1,100 combined in 2021-22.

“At the beginning it was a little shock but at the same time I understood what was going on in our (Texas) organization, they’re rebuilding and that process,” Andrus said. “When I found out, the opportunity playing for Oakland opened up, it makes sense for me for my career, for where I’m at right now.”

The AL West champion A’s, who made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, recently lost shortstop Marcus Semien to Toronto in free agency.

“Elvis will fit in very well with our infielders. He has a passion for defense as do our other guys,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “I’ve seen his leadership qualities from the opposing dugout for 10 years now.”

The Rangers, whose only World Series appearances came in 2010 and 2011, said in December that Gold Glove-winning third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be given the opportunity to be their top shortstop. Andrus was told then to prepare to play all infield positions.

When Andrus made his MLB debut in 2009 at age 20, the Rangers moved Michael Young — then 32 himself — to third base after he had been an All-Star shortstop the previous five seasons. Young is still the team’s career leader and Andrus is second on the list for games played, at-bats and triples. Young is also the career leader for hits and runs, with Andrus third in both those categories.

Andrus has a .274 career batting average, and the two-time All-Star is the only MLB player with at least 10 seasons of 145 games or more since his debut. But he hit .194 last season when limited to 29 games because of lingering lower back issues, and said he isn’t sure people realized how difficult it was to play through that.

“I was really hurt, I wasn’t physically ready,” he said. “Last year took a lot of me. I think the team didn’t like what they saw and kind of didn’t understand me a little bit. At the end I think it’s something that you cannot control as a player. They have a different direction than where I’m at right now.”

Davis led the majors with 48 home runs in 2018, but has since then struggled to consistently find his stroke. Now primarily a DH after once being a regular left fielder, he has hit .243 with 218 homers and 580 RBIs in 938 big league games for the A’s (2016-20) and the Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15). Davis hit .271 with 15 doubles, 32 homers and 80 RBIs in 79 career games against Texas.

“Khris has been a popular favorite of everyone here in Oakland, including mine,” Melvin said. “We wish him the best in his new baseball chapter.”

Davis, signed for $16.75 million this season, hit .220 over 133 games in 2019, after a quirky stat of four straight years with a .247 batting average. He appeared in 30 games during the shortened 2020 campaign and hit .200 with two homers and 10 RBIs.

Garcia, acquired from the San Francisco Giants on a waiver claim in November, missed all of the 2020 season while recovering from surgery on his right hip labrum.

Heim, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut with the A’s in 2020, hitting .211 with five RBIs in 13 games. Acker was the A’s fourth-round selection out of Oklahoma in the shortened MLB draft last summer.

The Rangers were an AL-worst 22-38 last season, and turned their focus to younger players. They had three 22-year-old rookies in the starting lineup on the final day of the season, a decade after the team’s first World Series when Andrus was the youngster.

Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Deal with Baltimore Orioles

Felix Hernandez has a new deal…

The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign the 34-year-old Venezuelan-American veteran professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “King Félix,” to a minor league contract.

Felix Hernandez

Hernandez won an American League Cy Young Award, two ERA titles and made six MLB All-Star teams over 15 seasons with the Seattle Mariners before becoming a free agent last offseason.

Hernandez signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves and looked sharp during spring training, but he ultimately opted out of the pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

In his most recent big league action, Hernandez went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 2019. He hasn’t finished with an ERA under 4.00 since 2016, and his last All-Star appearance was in 2015. He has won 169 games and owns a 3.42 career ERA.

Hernandez could earn a rotation spot with the rebuilding Orioles, who have 2019 All-Star left-hander John Means locked in as a starter but not much else. They traded Alex Cobb to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, leaving Keegan AkinDean KremerJorge LopezWade LeBlancThomas Eshelman and Bruce Zimmermann as the only returning players to start at least one game in 2020.

 

Baltimore has also announced it has agreed to minor league deals with infielders Seth Mejias-Brean and Malquin Canelo, right-handers Dusten Knight, Konner Wade and Spenser Watkins, and left-hander LeBlanc.

Arizona Diamondbacks Agree to One-Year Deal with Joakim Soria

Joakim Soria is heading to the Diamondbacks’ diamond…

The 36-year-old Mexican veteran professional baseball pitcher has agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, pending a physical, according to multiple media reports.

Joakim Soria

Soria can also earn $500,000 in performance incentives.

The two-time MLB All-Star will be pitching for his eighth MLB team.

The right-hander spent the past two years with the Oakland Athletics and finished with a 2.82 ERA in 22 appearances during the abbreviated 2020 season.

Soria’s deal was the first notable move by the Diamondbacks during a quiet offseason.

Arizona is coming off a disappointing last-place finish in the National League West. The D-backs don’t have a clear-cut closer for the upcoming season, and Soria could be in the mix for the job along with holdovers like Stefan Crichton and Kevin Ginkel.

Nelson Cruz Reportedly Agrees to One-Year, $13 Million Contract with Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz is twinning again…

The 40-year-old professional baseball player, a designated hitter and right fielder, and the Minnesota Twins are reportedly in agreement on a one-year, $13 million contract, according to ESPN.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz has been a linchpin of the Bomba Squad Twins‘ lineup. And he’ll be back right in the middle of it in 2021.

The slugger, who hit .303 with 16 home runs, 33 RBIs and a career-high OPS+ (169) in the pandemic-shortened season, finished sixth in the American League MVP voting and was selected as the Marvin Miller Man of Year in the annual Players Choice Awards.

The award goes to the player whom his peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.” Cruz donated a fire engine and an ambulance and helped build a police station in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic, and his Boomstick 23 Foundation has contributed wheelchairs and crutches, and he set up a clinic to provide medical and dental care.

His mission to help his hometown and other towns in the Dominican Republic led to him receiving the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the 2020 ESPYS.

Cruz played last season on a $12 million deal after swatting a team-high 41 home runs while reaching 108 RBIs in 2019, despite two stints on the injured list for a wrist problem. He has reached the 40-homer mark four times in his career; Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth hold the all-time mark with five seasons. Cruz also was the 57th player in major league history to reach 400 career home runs.

His .992 OPS in 2020 ranked fourth in the AL and was the fifth-best mark in MLB history by a player in his age-39 season or older, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. And he led all major leaguers with a 1.182 OPS on pitches in the strike zone over the past two seasons.

From 2014 to 2018, no player in the majors hit more home runs than Cruz (203). In 16 major league seasons, Cruz, a six-time MLB All-Star who has three Silver Slugger Awards, has hit 417 home runs with 1,152 RBIs and a .278 batting average for the Twins, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers.