Oakland A’s Pitcher Frankie Montas Acquired by New York Yankees

Frankie Montas is heading to the Northeast…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball right-handed, starting pitcher has been acquired by the New York Yankees, alongside part-Latino closer Lou Trivino in a deal with the Oakland Athletics.

Frankie MontasThe A’s are receiving left-handers Ken Waldichuk and J.P. Sears, right-hander Luis Medina and second baseman Cooper Bowman from the Yankees. Waldichuk, 24, was the fifth-highest-ranked prospect in the Yankees’ farm system, according to MLB.com.

The American League-best Yankees have had a busy deadline, acquiring outfielder Andrew Benintendi and rookie reliever Scott Effross before solidifying an already strong rotation and bullpen with the acquisitions of Montas and Trivino.

The trade for Montas is the second involving a highly sought-after starting pitcher this week, following Seattle’s acquisition of right-hander Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds for a four-prospect package.

Montas, who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, has shown flashes of excellence since signing with Boston in 2009. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers before moving to Oakland, where he blossomed over the past six seasons into the pitcher who this season has 104⅔ innings of 3.18 ERA ball with 109 strikeouts, 28 walks and a dozen home runs allowed.

“His level of talent, especially with how he’s pitched the last couple years, just excited to get him in the mix,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s got the full arsenal and stuff you look for top of the rotation guy. Gone out and proved last couple years he is that kind of caliber pitcher.”

A shoulder injury sidelined Montas for a mid-July start, but he returned with three shutout innings, followed by a five-inning, two-earned-run start against Houston. That was enough of a sample to draw a broad range of teams — large-market and small.

”I think we’re comfortable with where he’s at shoulder-wise,” Boone said.

Montas joins a rotation headed by MLB All-Stars Gerrit Cole (9-3, 3.30 ERA) and Nestor Cortes (9-3, 2.53 ERA) that has faltered of late.

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery is 0-2 with a 5.36 ERA in his last eight starts and right-hander Jameson Taillon is 1-1 with a 5.04 ERA in his last five. Luis Severino has not pitched since July 13 because of a lat strain and was moved to the 60-day injured list Monday along with right-handed reliever Miguel Castro, out since July 10 with a strained right shoulder.

Going into Monday night’s series opener against Seattle, Domingo German had an 8.22 ERA in his first two starts after recovering from a right shoulder impingement.

By winning the Montas sweepstakes, the Yankees add a starter who will slot into a playoff rotation with a fastball-slider-splitter pitch mix that has proved effective all season. Montas went at least five innings in 15 of his first 16 starts, with the only exception being a game in which he got hit in the hand on a comebacker and left the game after 1⅔ innings.

Trivino, a 30-year-old right-hander, is 1-6 with a 6.47 ERA — double his 2021 figure — and 10 saves in 13 chances. Right-handed batters are hitting .289 against him this year while lefties are hitting .392 with nine walks in 60 plate appearances.

“Little bit down year statistically but we don’t think it lines up with what we’re seeing on some underlying things and who we think he is,” Boone said. “He’s been a very good reliever for them on some playoff-caliber teams.”

Trivino joins one of the better bullpens in the majors, but one that has struggled with injuries of late. Chad GreenMichael King and Zack Britton are all on the 60-day injured list with Green and King expected to miss the rest of the season.

Waldichuk, who is pitching at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is 6-3 with a 2.71 ERA overall in 17 starts for two clubs in the Yankees’ minor league system this season and has 116 strikeouts in 76⅓ innings.

Sears, 26, is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings for the Yankees in the majors this season and is 1-1 with a 1.67 ERA in 43 innings in Triple-A. Medina, 23, is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 17 starts for Double-A Somerset this season.

Bowman, 22, is hitting .217 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs for Class-A Hudson Valley this season.

The Yankees also optioned right-hander Clarke Schmidt to Scranton and promoted right-hander Carlos Espinal from the RailRiders.

Yordan Alvarez Signs Lucrative Six-Year Contract Extension with Houston Astros

Yordan Alvarez isn’t leaving Houston anytime soon…

The 24-year-old professional baseball designated hitter and outfielder, a Cuban defector who hadn’t played in any professional games in the U.S. when he was acquired, has signed a six-year contract extension with the Houston Astros that runs through the 2028 season.

Yordan Alvarez“First, I want to give thanks to [owner] Jim [Crane] and [general manager] James [Click] to give me the opportunity to be here the next six years,” Alvarez said. “It just means a lot. I’ve put a lot of work into this and to see the fruits of the labor means a lot.”

In August 2016, the Astros completed a minor trade that sent relief pitcher Josh Fields to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the unproven Minor League Baseball slugger, and it turned out to be one of the best deals in Houston franchise history.

Alvarez, moved quickly through the Astros’ system, winning AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2019.

This year, he’s in the hunt for the AL Most Valuable Player Award and is a budding star, which is why the Astros wanted to make sure to keep him in a Houston uniform for years to come.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a source told MLB.com when the deal was first reported Friday that it is worth $115 million. Along with a $5 million signing bonus, Alvarez will receive $7 million next season, $10 million in 2024, $15 million in ’25 and $26 million each year from 2026-28.

That makes it the second-largest contract in club history, trailing only the five-year, $151 million extension Jose Altuve received in March 2018.

“Yordan is one of the most complete hitters in the game of baseball,” Click said. “His combination of plate discipline, approach, power to all fields and the ability to hit any pitch that is thrown to him make him an elite hitter at the plate. Early in his career, many talked about him as a designated hitter. But through his hard work and dedication, he has turned himself into a quality player in left field. Combined with his hitting, this makes him quite simply one of the best players in the game right now.”

Entering Monday, Alvarez was fourth in the MLB in OPS (1.105), while leading the Astros in many offensive categories, including batting average (.295), home runs (16) and RBIs (34).

He was named AL Player of the Week on Monday after hitting .565 (13-for-23) with four home runs and eight RBIs.

“He’s the best hitter I’ve ever played with,” Altuve said. “He’s amazing. He can hit the ball the other way; he hits triples, homers and he walks. What a good hitter. I’m happy about this deal. I know how hard he’s worked, and just to know we’re going to have Yordan for six more years, it means a lot.”

The Astros began talking about a possible extension with Alvarez in March and negotiations began in the middle of April, agent Dan Lozano said.

“I think the biggest part is the timing was right and we were able to come to an agreement,” Alvarez said.

After missing most of the 2020 season following a pair of knee surgeries, Alvarez hit .277 with 33 homers and 104 RBIs in his first full season in the big leagues last year. He was named the 2021 ALCS MVP, hitting .522 with a homer and six RBIs against the Red Sox.

While Alvarez has blossomed into an elite offensive player, he’s also made huge strides defensively after serving mostly as a designated hitter in his rookie season. He underwent surgeries on both knees that cost him most of the 2020 season, and he was determined to play more left field. He started only nine games in left in ’19, but he started 39 in left last year and has started 18 so far this season.

“He’s a big man, but he’s also faster than he gets credit for,” Click said. “He has the ability to chase balls down in the gaps. That’s the main thing I’ve seen for him out there. … It’s a testament to his work ethic, his dedication and his character that he’s worked himself into shape to play out there as much as he has.”

The press conference to announce the deal was attended by several of Alvarez’s teammates, including Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Kyle Tucker, Michael Brantley, Jake Odorizzi and Aledmys Díaz. The show of support from his teammates has helped Alvarez make Houston his home for years to come.

“I feel very happy,” Alvarez said. “From the day I was called up, they gave me the opportunity and trusted in me. It felt like I was in the Majors for a while because of the trust they put in me.”

Marwin Gonzalez Signs One-Year, $3 Million Deal with Boston Red Sox

Marwin Gonzalez is in the red

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball utility player, a free-agent infielder, has agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, according to ESPN.

Marwin Gonzalez

Gonzalez spent the past two seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He hit .211 with five home runs and 22 RBIs last year in a pandemic-shortened schedule.

Before his stint in Minnesota, he played seven seasons with the Houston Astros. His best season was in 2017, when he hit .303/.377/.530 with 23 homers and 90 RBIs and helped the team win the World Series.

A switch-hitter known for his defensive versatility, Gonzalez played first base, second base, third base and right field for the Twins last season.

Boston’s agreement with Gonzalez, which was first reported by MLB.com, comes a day after the Red Sox traded Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team deal that yielded outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later.

Chicago White Sox Star Jose Abreu Wins Hank Aaron Award

Jose Abreu is officially on of this year’s MLB stars…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a first baseman for the Chicago White Sox has won the Hank Aaron Award as the outstanding offensive performer in Major League Baseball’s American League, as voted by MLB.com.

Jose Abreu

Abreu, a three-time MLB All-Star, hit .317 with 15 doubles, 19 homers and 60 RBIs during 60 games in the pandemic-shortened season.

First basemen Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves won the Hank Aaron Award in the National League.

He was second in the NL in batting (.341), OBP (.462), slugging percentage (.640) and OPS (1.102).

“Congratulations to José Abreu and @FreddieFreeman5 on winning the 2020 A.L. And N.L. Hank Aaron Awards,” Aaron tweeted. “You are both so deserving and I’m proud of the season you both had.”

Abreu was voted AL MVP and Freeman won NL MVP.

Yasiel Puig to Sign with the Atlanta Braves

It’s a brave new world for Yasiel Puig

The 29-year-old Cuban professional baseball player and free agent is signing with the Atlanta Braves, according to a report by MLB.com.

Yasiel Puig

The agreement comes after Braves outfielder Nick Markakis opted out of the 2020 season earlier this month.

An MLB All-Star in 2014, Puig batted .267 in 149 games last season with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians

He hit .297 with Cleveland after being acquired on July 30 and gave the Indians an infusion of power and energy, helping their ultimately fruitless surge to catch the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central title.

The boisterous right fielder was part of a wild fight between the Reds and Pirates mere hours before he was dealt to Cleveland as part of a three-team trade that sent right-hander Trevor Bauer from Cleveland to Cincinnati. 

Puig was suspended three games for his aggressive actions on what turned out to be his last day with the Reds.

Puig, who joined the Reds in a December 2018 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has a career batting average of .277. Perhaps his best overall offensive season was in 2017, when he batted .263 with a career-high 28 home runs and 74 RBIs.

The NL East champion Braves were facing a depth problem in their outfield even after they signed Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal in the offseason.

Markakis opted out of the season before summer camp. Ozuna or Adam Duvall could be needed as the designated hitter in the shortened 60-game season.

The team’s shortage of outfielders was highlighted when rookie Cristian Pache jammed his right ankle in Monday night’s intrasquad game and was not available Tuesday.

“We’re thin a little bit,” manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday. “We started this thing feeling really good about the depth, and we’ve used all of it already, as I think a lot of teams have. We’re stretched a little bit.”

If Ozuna is the primary designated hitter, Puig could join Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ender Inciarte in a starting outfield.

Puig, who has a .285 career average against right-handers, will be expected to replace Markakis’ production.

Puig, who defected from Cuba in 2012, was popular with Dodgers fans during his six years in L.A. for his colorful personality, home run trots and ability to throw runners out from right field. He made headlines away from the field when his Los Angeles home was burglarized multiple times.

At the ballpark, he was benched at times, and the team considered trading him long before it did because of his perceived lack of hustle or interest in following orders.

Maikel Franco Agrees to One-Year Deal with the Kansas City Royals

Maikel Francois officially Royal-ty

The 27-year-old Dominican professional baseball third baseman has agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Kansas City Royals, according to ESPN.

Maikel Franco

Franco, who became a free agent when he was non-tendered by the Philadelphia Philliesearlier this offseason, is expected to be the Royals’ everyday third baseman.

Hunter Dozier(.279, 26 homers, 84 RBIs) primarily manned third base (91 starts) for the Royals last season, but Kansas City will take advantage of his versatility and move him around the field in 2020. Dozier also had starts at first base and in the outfield last season.

Franco hit .234 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs in 123 games last season for Philadelphia.

Before 2019, Franco had hit at least 22 home runs for three consecutive seasons for the Phillies, the only team he has played for in six major league seasons.

He is a .249 hitter with 102 home runs and 343 RBIs in 656 career games.

MLB.comwas first to report to Franco’s agreement with the Royals.

Sergio Romo Agrees to One-Year Deal with the Minnesota Twins

Sergio Romo is Twinning

The 36-year-old Mexican American professional baseball pitcher has agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, according to multiple reports.

Sergio Romo

The deal includes a club option and $5 million guaranteed with a chance to earn $10 million. MLB.comwas first to report the deal; MLB Networkwas first to report terms.

Romo was 2-1 with 20 saves and 60 strikeouts over 60⅓ innings in 65 relief appearances last season for the Miami Marlins and the Twins — who acquired him, minor league pitcher Chris Vallimontand a player to be named for minor league first baseman Lewin Diazat the July 31 trade deadline.

The veteran right-hander was acquired by Minnesota to serve as a playoff-tested performer to fortify the back end of its bullpen, and the Twins held off the Cleveland Indians to win their first American League Centraltitle since 2010.

Romo spent the first half of the year as the Marlins’ closer, racking up 17 saves to go along with a 3.58 ERA in 37⅔ innings.

Romo won three championships with the San Francisco Giants, closing out the final game of the 2012 World Series in memorable fashion when he froze Miguel Cabrera on a down-the-middle fastball. In 25⅓ career playoff innings, Romo has a 3.55 ERA.

Romo was drafted by the Giants in 2005 and worked his way up the team’s minor league system before landing in the big leagues in 2008.

Tejada Signs One-Year Contract with the St. Louis Cardinals

Ruben Tejada will be flying high in St. Louis…

The 26-year-old Panamanian professional baseball player has signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. The deal is worth $1.5 million, according to multiple reports.

Ruben Tejada

The announcement comes just days after Tejada was released by the New York Mets.

St. Louis needed another infielder after losing shortstop Jhonny Peralta for the first few months of the season with a torn ligament in his left thumb, which required surgery to repair.

“We do feel like there is an opportunity to add depth, because Tejada was recently released, and for us it made sense to pursue this,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, according to MLB.com. “I just think it makes our club stronger overall, and ultimately it then gives (manager) Mike (Matheny) the flexibility to utilize the different infield positions until Peralta gets back.”

Tejada had returned healthy this spring training after suffering a fractured fibula in his right leg on a slide from Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

Tejada hit .261 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 360 at-bats last season.

Had he not been released by the Mets, Tejada was due to earn $3 million this season. By releasing him more than 15 days before Opening Day, the Mets were obligated to pay him slightly less than $500,000.

Tejada became expendable with the Mets because they added middle infielders Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera during the offseason and also have Wilmer Flores to handle shortstop.

Olivera Agrees to $62.5 Million Deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Hector Olivera is headed to Southern California…

The 29-year-old Cuban infielder has agreed to a six-year contract worth $62.5 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to agent Greg Genske.

Hector Olivera

The deal includes a $28 million signing bonus, says Genske.

The agreement also includes an option for a seventh year, worth $1 million, if Olivera needs Tommy John surgery, an industry source told MLB.com. Olivera has a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow, according to a recent MRI, the source told MLB.com. Yahoo! Sports also recently reported there was concern Olivera had damaged his UCL.

Olivera’s camp denied any UCL injury following the Yahoo! Sports report.

Olivera, who turns 30 next month, drew interest from several other teams, including the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and New York Yankees.

MLB.com was first to report Olivera’s deal with Los Angeles.

Olivera will join a crowded Dodgers infield that already features second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Olivera likely will have the best chance to play third base, where Juan Uribe is expected to start.

Los Angeles also has Cuban infielder Alex Guerrero, who has been impressive this spring, and highly touted shortstop prospect Corey Seager.

Lopez Agrees to Lucrative Contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks

Diamond(back)s are Yoan Lopez’s new best friends…

The 21-year-old Cuban professional baseball pitcher and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a contract that includes an $8.27 million signing bonus, according to multiple reports.

Yoan Lopez

A hard-throwing right-hander, Lopez is expected to begin his Diamondbacks career in the minor leagues.

The Associated Press and MLB.com both reported that the $8.27 million bonus is the largest for a young player who resides outside the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and subject to a team’s international signing pool under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

Lopez counts toward a club’s signing pool because he is under 23 and has played professionally less than five years in a Cuban professional league.

Because Arizona would exceed its pool of $2,316,600 by 15 percent or more for the one-year period ending July 1, the Diamondbacks would incur a 100 percent tax on the overage and be barred for the next two signing periods from adding an international player subject to the pool with a bonus over $300,000.

The Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels already have gone over their pools by 15 percent or more.

The Angels and 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin finalized an agreement on January 6 for an $8 million signing bonus.

Arizona agreed in December to a $68.5 million, six-year contact with 24-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas.