Albert Pujols Reportedly Heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers

Albert Pujols will be heading back to the field sooner than expected…

The 41-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter, a future MLB Hall of Famer, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly agreed on a major league contract, according to ESPN.

Albert Pujols

The deal, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, isn’t expected to become official until Monday, a source said.

When it does, the Dodgers will pay Pujols only the prorated portion of the major league minimum salary for the rest of the season, roughly $420,000, a sum that will be subtracted from the $30 million salary that is being paid to him by the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols, in the last year of his 10-year, $240 million contract, was designated for assignment by the Angels on May 6 and was officially released after clearing waivers on Thursday. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declined to comment on Pujols prior to Saturday’s game because the deal hasn’t been officially announced.

With the defending World Series champion Dodgers, Pujols is expected to be mostly used as a late-game pinch hitter. But he could also get some playing time at first base with everyday first baseman Max Muncy capable of playing second and third base.

Only 41 of Pujols’ 12,486 career regular-season plate appearances have come as a pinch hitter, but the Dodgers expect him to help a young, inexperienced bench.

His right-handed bat might also help a team that entered Saturday with a .663 OPS against left-handed pitchers, 136 points fewer than its OPS against righties. Pujols is batting only .198/.250/.372 in 92 plate appearances this season and has been a below-average hitter by park-adjusted OPS since 2017. But he owns an .878 OPS against lefties in 2021, and his .513 expected slugging percentage suggests he has also been running into some bad luck.

In 18 plate appearances under what Baseball-Reference identifies as late-and-close situations, Pujols owns a .313/.389/.500 slash line.

Pujols, who hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing beyond 2021, ranks fifth in career homers (667), second in RBIs since they became an official stat in 1920 (2,112) and 14th in hits (3,253). He has won three National League MVP awards, two Gold Gloves and six Silver Sluggers and has been invited to 10 All-Star Games.

His first decade with the St. Louis Cardinals — consisting of a .331/.426/.624 slash line, 408 home runs and 1,230 RBIs — stands as arguably the greatest 10-year run in baseball history. In Year 11, he finished fifth in NL MVP voting and won his second World Series ring.

He becomes the fourth former MVP on the current Dodgers roster, joining Cody BellingerMookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the Dodgers are the fourth team in MLB history to feature four former MVP winners, joining the 1978 Reds, 1982 Angels and most recently the 1996 Red Sox.

Marcell Ozuna Agrees to Four-Year, $64 Million Deal with Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna is returning to a Brave world…

The Atlanta Braves are bringing back the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter, signing Ozuna to a $64 million, four-year contract.

Marcell Ozuna

The Braves announced the deal for the 2020 NL home run and RBI leader on Friday night, less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring training.

The contract includes a fifth-year club option for $16 million that would take it to $80 million with a $1 million buyout, which would yield Ozuna $65 million in guaranteed money.

Ozuna took a gamble on himself after the 2019 season, turning down a $17.8 million qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals, and signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves in late January.

The move paid off handsomely, as the slugger finished sixth in the National League MVP voting after leading the league with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs and 145 total bases. He was third in the NL with a career-best .338 batting average and .636 slugging percentage.

The bet? The $17.8 million qualifying offer by the Cardinals would’ve represented 41% of his career earnings to that point.

While considered somewhat of a defensive liability after suffering a shoulder injury in 2018, Ozuna, who turned 30 in November, did see some action in left field for the Braves while playing all 60 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

However, most of his at-bats for Atlanta came as the team’s designated hitter, slotted after MVP Freddie Freeman in the lineup as the Braves won the NL East title after putting up some of the best offensive numbers in team history.

Before joining the Braves, Ozuna spent two seasons with the Cardinals, protecting Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup as they made it back to the playoffs in 2019. Over the past five seasons, including the 60-game season in 2020, Ozuna has hit 130 home runs, making two All-Star Games on the strength of his bat.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Ozuna has 357 RBIs, second only to the Colorado Rockies‘ Nolan Arenado (384) and just ahead of Freeman (343) among National League players, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

In eight MLB seasons, he has a .276 batting average with 166 home runs, 594 RBIs and 505 runs scored for the Seattle Marlins, Cardinals and Braves.

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.

St. Louis Cardinals Finalizing Trade Plan to Acquire Nolan Arenado

It looks like Nolan Arenado is ready to fly east…

The St. Louis Cardinals are finalizing a trade to acquire the 29-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American third baseman from the Colorado Rockies, according to ESPN.

Nolan Arenado

Since the trade involves significant amounts of money — the Rockies are expected to send around $50 million to cover a portion of the six years and $199 million remaining on Arenado’s contract — as well as Arenado waiving his no-trade clause and deferring money, the deal isn’t yet official. go through www.boostcredit101.com/tradelines/ for cheap tradelines for sale.

The remaining hurdles are expected to be merely procedural, and with Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and Arenado’s approval, the long-talked-about trade would become a reality.

The return for the Rockies is not expected to be significant, with pitcher Austin Gomber and low-level prospects among the names that have been discussed.

Arenado has won a Gold Glove in each of his eight seasons with the Rockies, where he developed into one of the best players in baseball. Before the 2019 season, he signed an eight-year, $260 million extension with the Rockies, who drafted him 2009 and were committing to build a contender around him.

The team almost immediately struggled, frustrating Arenado and carving the path for a deal to St. Louis, which tried to trade for him before the 2020 season and finally succeeded a year later.

In Arenado, the Cardinals get an across-the-diamond complement to Paul Goldschmidt, another veteran right-handed hitter they acquired via trade. The market for Arenado wasn’t altogether robust because of the significant money remaining on his deal. For months, the Cardinals and Rockies haggled before coming to an agreement Friday night.

The Cardinals locked up longtime starter Adam Wainwright on an $8 million deal on Thursday, and longtime catcher Yadier Molina has indicated in recent days he is likely to return to the Cardinals, particularly if they could acquire Arenado, sources said.

The Rockies were looking both to escape from the significant commitment to Arenado and avoid the possibility of him triggering the opt-out clause in his contract that follows the upcoming season. As part of a restructured deal — in which Arenado would also defer money — he could receive another opt-out clause and maintain his no-trade clause.

Because of the deferrals, the MLBPA needs to give the deal the go-ahead, and due to the cash exchanging hands, MLB must rubber-stamp it as well.

Colorado could receive Gomber, a 27-year-old left-hander who was excellent in a swing role last season. Multiple prospects have been discussed, according to The Athletic, which first reported the deal was done. While power-hitting first baseman Luken Baker‘s name was reported as part of the potential prospect package, he is not expected to be in the deal, according to a source.

With Colorado paying down a significant portion of Arenado’s future salary, St. Louis will pay him about $25 million a year and bump its payroll to around $160 million. The Cardinals also position themselves as the clear favorite in the National League Central a year after making the playoffs despite a frenzied schedule caused by a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

A five-time MLB All-Star, Arenado struggled at the plate during the abbreviated 2020 season, hitting .253 with eight homers before missing the final nine games with a left shoulder bone bruise. The down year came after he hit a career-best .315 with 41 homers and 118 RBIs in 2019.

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.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Pablo Sandoval Added to Atlanta Braves’ Roster for NL Wildcard Series Against the Cincinnati Reds

Pablo Sandoval is heading back to the field…

The 34-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball third baseman and former World Series MVP has been added to the Atlanta Braves‘ 28-player roster for the National League wildcard series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Pablo Sandoval

Sandoval joined the Braves after being released by the San Francisco Giants a couple of weeks ago.

 

He started at third base in the final game of the regular season, going 0 for 2 with two walks in a 9-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval played 33 games for the Giants, hitting .220 with one homer and six RBI.

Juan Soto Becomes MLB’s Youngest National League Batting Champion

Juan Soto has swung his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and Washington Nationals outfielder, nicknamed ”Childish Bambino,“ has become the National League‘s youngest batting champion, as Washington closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta Braves teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the MLB lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Soto was also named Washington’s player of the year in voting by local media.

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series.

Miami Marlins Trade Jonathan Villar to the Toronto Blue Jays

Jonathan Villar is headed to the Great White North

The Miami Marlins have traded the 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jonathan Villar

Villar is hitting .272 with two home runs and nine RBIs. He also is tied for the National League lead with nine stolen bases.

Last season he hit a career-high 24 home runs while with the Baltimore Orioles.

Villar is scheduled to be a free agent in the offseason.

The Blue Jays (18-14) entered Monday’s games in third place in the AL East standings.

In addition to the Marlins and Orioles, Villar previously played in the MLB for the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. Prior to 2017, Villar was primarily a shortstop.