Seattle Mariners Acquire Luis Castillo in Trade with Cincinnati Reds

Luis Castillo is heading west…

The Seattle Mariners, looking to end a postseason drought that stretches to 2001, acquired the best arm on the trade market on Friday night in a deal for the 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher from the Cincinnati Reds.

Luis Castillo“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game — he’s really established himself as a dominant starter,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’ve got a chance to do something really big here this year. You have to step out and take a chance once in a while if you ultimately want to get the reward, take a little risk. Dominant starting pitcher, and I’m anxious to meet him.”

Minor leaguers Noelvi Marte, Levi Stoudt, Edwin Arroyo and Andrew Moore are headed to Cincinnati, the teams announced.

Marte, a shortstop, is the highest rated of the group, with ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel ranking him the 12th-best prospect in baseball ahead of the season.

“We felt this was the best return we could get for Luis,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said.

The Mariners, led by star rookie Julio Rodriguez, are 54-47, 12 games behind the first-place Houston Astros in the AL West. They are in the second of three AL wild-card spots, a half-game in front of Tampa Bay (53-47) and two games ahead of Cleveland (51-48). Seattle won its final 14 games before the MLB All-Star break, one short of the longest winning streak in team history and the best run by any club heading into the break since 1933. But the Mariners are 3-5 since, following an 11-1 loss at Houston on Friday night.

Now, they’ve added the best available arm ahead of the Tuesday trade deadline, one who will join an already-solid rotation that includes Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert.

It’s a massive pickup for a Mariners organization that has not reached the postseason since 2001, the longest active drought among the four major North American pro sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL).

Castillo is 4-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 14 starts for the Reds this season, striking out 90 and walking 28 in 85 innings. His fastball averages 97 mph. He has a career 3.62 ERA in six seasons, all with Cincinnati.

“It has been a beautiful experience,” Castillo said through an interpreter. “To have my name in the fans’ mouth and having them cheer me on, it is something I will treasure forever.”

Castillo won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, so the Mariners would have him for at least the rest of this year and all of next.

Castillo has bounced back from a career-worst season in 2021, when he lost 16 games and walked a league-high 75 batters. His changeup has been his best pitch for most of his career, but this year, he is actually throwing his four-seam fastball more, and doing so with a lot of success. Opponents have whiffed on 39% of their swings against his four-seamer, the highest rate of Castillo’s career and the highest of any pitcher in the majors (minimum 300 four-seamers thrown).

Castillo has a 1.38 ERA in four starts against the AL this year, second to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (0.69) among qualified pitchers.

The Reds have been moving veteran players for prospects since the end of the lockout earlier this year. In March, they traded Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to the Mariners, and Thursday, they traded outfielder Tyler Naquin and reliever Phillip Diehl to the New York Mets.

They’re getting a haul from Seattle in this trade, with Marte and Arroyo ranked among the team’s top 10 prospects ahead of the season by ESPN’s McDaniel.

Marte, 20, has spent the year for High-A Everett, hitting .275 with 15 home runs and a team-best 62 runs scored and 55 RBIs to go along with 13 steals entering Friday.

McDaniel ranked Arroyo, also a shortstop, as Seattle’s eighth-best prospect entering the season. The 18-year-old has spent the season at Single-A Modesto, hitting .316 with 76 runs, 67 RBIs, 13 home runs and 21 steals.

Stoudt, a 24-year-old right-hander and a third-round draft pick in 2019, is 6-6 with a 5.28 ERA in 18 starts for Double-A Arkansas this season.

And Moore, 22, has a 1.95 ERA in 25 relief appearances at Modesto this season.

“Noelvi Marte has a chance to be an impact middle of the order bat who can play shortstop,” Krall said. “Edwin Arroyo same thing — he has power/speed combo, who can play shortstop. Levi Stoudt has a chance to be a major league starter. Andrew Moore just started to pitch. He was drafted last year. He has explosive, explosive stuff. His fastball is up to 102 with a plus slider.”

Cincinnati infielder Brandon Drury also could be moved before the Tuesday deadline, along with several Reds relievers.

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.

Juan Soto Wins This Year’s Home Run Derby

Juan Soto is officially a batting champion…

The 23-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder won $1 million on Monday with a swing that’s worth much more.

Juan SotoShaking off trade rumors that threatened to sully his MLB All-Star week, Soto beat a legend and held off a rookie to win the Home Run Derby and the big-money prize that accompanied it in front of a sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd.

After recently turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, Soto arrived in Los Angeles early Monday morning with his future in doubt ahead of the August 2 trade deadline. He emerged unbothered. When asked before the Derby whether he was going to win it, his answer was characteristically Soto: “Probably.” And on that prediction he came through, vanquishing Albert Pujols in the semifinals and Julio Rodriguez in the finals.

“I’m a lone survivor,” Soto said. “I’ve been going through all this stuff, and I’m still here standing up and with my chin up, all the time. And that shows you I can go through anything.”

Anything, in this case, included a day of answering questions he can’t possibly answer, including whether the Nationals will trade him before the August 2 deadline or where he might wind up. Soto instead worried about his powerful left-handed swing, shooting balls to all fields and finishing the finals with 19 home runs to the 18 of his Dominican Republic countryman Rodríguez.

Juan SotoAt 23 years, 266 days old, Soto became the second-youngest Derby champion — just a day older than 1993 winner Juan Gonzalez.

Until the finals, the Derby had been the latest episode of the J-Rod Show. Rodriguez, the precocious 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfielder, ambushed the field Monday night, ousting the two-time defending champion and smashing 81 home runs.

The first hitter of the night, Rodriguez set the tone for his showing with 32 home runs in his first-round matchup against the Texas Rangers Corey Seager. Then came Pete Alonso, the New York Mets slugger who won the last two competitions in 2019 and 2021 but mustered only 23 home runs in the semifinals, well short of Rodriguez’s 31.

Then came his matchup with Soto, against whom, Rodriguez said, he used to play Call of Duty games. Rodriguez was better at COD. Soto, at least on Monday, was superior at HRD.

“What did I show the fans?” Rodriguez said. “Who I am, I guess. They know a little bit now.”

Rodriguez, who is earning the MLB minimum salary of $700,000 this year, received a $500,000 bonus as the runner-up.

Soto was locked in from the beginning, beating Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez in the first round and St. Louis Cardinals great Pujols in the semifinals.

Pujols, 42, is in his final season — and upset Philadelphia‘s Kyle Schwarber, the No. 1 seed, in the first round, beating him in an overtime period. He couldn’t keep up with Soto, whose 482-foot home run in the first round was the longest of the night.

“I wasn’t sure if I should beat him or let him beat me, but just the respect — I respect him a lot,” Soto said. “Even though I beat him at the end of the day, it’s just a competition. He knows how much I’m proud of him and how much talent he brings to all the generations and advice that he gives to us.”

Whatever Soto’s future, wherever he winds up, whether he’s moved before this deadline or after, he said he would walk away from this All-Star week sure of one thing.

“I will be a Home Run Derby champion forever,” he said.

J.D. Martinez Added to MLB All-Star Game Roster

J.D. Martinez is getting his all-star moment after all…

The 34-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player, a designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox, has been added to the MLB All-Star Game rosters, according to the league.

J.D. Martinez Martinez is part of a roster of new additions that includes Garrett Cooper, and an Francisco Giants ace Carlos Rodon.

Martinez replaces Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez and becomes the third Boston Red Sox player to land on the American League roster along with Xander Bogaerts and have been added to the All-Star rosters, MLB announced Tuesday.

Cooper steps in for reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper. The Philadelphia Phillies‘ star has a fractured thumb. Cooper gives the Miami Marlins three All-Stars as he joins teammates Sandy Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm Jr. 

Rodon was one of the more notable snubs when rosters were announced, but he ends up making his second All-Star appearance by replacing Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader, who has family responsibilities.

Rodon (8-5, 2.70 ERA) was selected by the league to fill in for Hader, while Martinez and Cooper were next up in voting at their positions. This is the fifth time Martinez has been an All-Star, but the first time for Cooper.

Dodger Stadium will host the MLB All-Star Game next Tuesday night at 7:30 pm ET.

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.

Bad Bunny to Compete in This Year’s MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game

Bad Bunny’s getting in the game…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican superstar has been added to the 2022 MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game roster, which is set to take place on Saturday, July 16, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Bad Bunny

The “Me Porto Bonito” singer was announced on Monday (July 11) along with a batch of new artists added to the roster that are set to play ball.

Other new celebrities confirmed include actors Bryan Cranston and J.K. Simmons; rapper and chef Action Bronson; four-time all-star and two-time World Series Champion Hunter Pence; and two-time All-Star Shawn Green.

They join a lineup that already includes Quavo, JoJo Siwa, Anthony Ramos, Rob Lowe, Chloe Kim, CC Sabathia and Simu Liu, among others. The first 10,000 fans to enter the ballpark — gates open at 2 p.m. local time — will receive a special All-Star Player Replica Ring presented by FTX, according to a press release.

Game night will culminate with a special performance from chart-topping artist and California-native Becky G for the All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert presented by MGM Rewards. Tickets are now available here.

The All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, which will be produced by MLB Network, will stream live on YouTube, Peacock, Pluto TV, Bleacher Report and across MLB’s social platforms. MLB Network will air the game on Monday, July 18, at 10:30 p.m. ET, marking the first time MLB Network has televised it.

News of Bad Bunny taking the field comes as his latest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, captures a fourth nonconsecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated July 16).

The set holds at No. 1, notching its first set of back-to-back weeks in the lead. The effort earned 111,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending July 7 (down 4%), according to Luminate.

Later this month, the hitmaker will kick off his summer tour with three back-to-back concerts at El Coliseo de Puerto Rico.

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.

Framber Valdez & Three Houston Astros Relievers Tie MLB Record for Strikeouts in Nine-Inning Game

Framber Valdez has earned a place in Major League Baseball history…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher and three Houston Astros relievers tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, as the Astros won 4-2 for a sweep on Sunday of the Los Angeles Angels.

Framber ValdezTwelve different Los Angeles batters came to the plate and all of them struck out at least once. 

Valdez struck out a career-high 13 in six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks. Relievers Hector Neris and Rafael Montero each struck out two in scoreless innings and Ryan Pressly (2-2) fanned three in the ninth.

“It’s something that is very emotional and very exciting for me,” Valdez said through a translator after the game. “It’s very special to be a part of that.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker concurred.

“It’s very impressive. He was throwing strikes,” Baker said referring to Valdez, and when asked about the team total of 20, he simply replied, “Boy, that’s a lot.”

The 20 strikeouts is the most in a nine-inning game in Astros franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. There had been several occasions where other teams struck out 20, including performances by Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood. The Astros’ previous record was 18 in 1964 against Cincinnati.

Houston pitchers fanned 47 in the series against the Angels.

Anthony Ramos to Compete in MLB’s All-Star Celebrity Softball Game

Anthony Ramos is stepping up to the plate…

The 30-year-old Puerto Rican Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actor will compete in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Celebrity Softball Game.

Anthony RamosThe game will form part of the star-studded lineup of events for the MLB’s first-ever All-Star Saturday during All-Star Week at Los Angeles’s Dodger Stadium, including the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert.

Ramos, who starred in the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights, will compete alongside QuavoJoJo SiwaRob Lowe, CC Sabathia, Simu Liu, Chloe KimCoi Leray, Zachary Levi, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jennie Finch, Andre Ethier, Desus Nice, The Kid Mero, The Miz, Lauren Chamberlain, Natasha WatleyLele Pons and Lisa Fernandez.

More celebrities will be announced in early July.

The All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert, All-Star Futures Game and the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game are all included with the purchase of an All-Star Saturday ticket, which are now available to purchase at AllStarGame.com.

Ticket prices currently range from $25 to $140. Gates at Dodger Stadium open at 2 p.m. on July 16 with the first 10,000 fans to receive a special All-Star souvenir giveaway.

Becky G to Perform at MLB’s All-Star Saturday Extra Innings Concert

Becky G is getting into the game…

The 25-year-old Mexican American bilingual singer, rapper and actress will perform at Major League Baseball’s MGM Rewards All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert.

Becky GBecky G’s freshly released album Esquemas, the follow-up to her debut set Mala Santa, scored the artist her first No. 1 — and first entry — on Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums. It concurrently debuted at No. 5 on Top Latin Albums. 

Becky G has won the American Music Award for Favorite Latin Female Artist two years in a row (2020 and 2021) and the E! People’s Choice Award for The Latin Artist of 2020.

Additionally, MLB revealed the rest of their star-studded lineup of events for its first-ever All-Star Saturday during All-Star Week at Los Angeles’s Dodger Stadium, including the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the 2022 MGM Rewards All-Star Celebrity Softball Game.

The All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert, All-Star Futures Game and the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game are all included with the purchase of an All-Star Saturday ticket, which are now available to purchase at AllStarGame.com.

Ticket prices currently range from $25 to $140. Gates at Dodger Stadium open at 2 p.m. on July 16 with the first 10,000 fans to receive a special All-Star souvenir giveaway.