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.

Gary Sánchez Signs One-Year Contract with Milwaukee Brewers

Things are brewing for Gary Sánchez.

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed the 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball catcher to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2025.

Sánchez hit 19 homers last season while playing for the San Diego Padres and New York Mets.

In 75 games, he had a .217 batting average with a .288 on-base percentage, .492 slugging percentage and 47 RBIs.

He played three games for the Mets and 72 games for the Padres.

Sanchez owns a .225 career batting average with a .309 on-base percentage, 173 homers and 448 RBIs in 741 regular-season games with the New York Yankees (2015-2021), Minnesota Twins (2022), Mets and Padres.

The Brewers already have William Contreras returning at catcher after he batted .289 with a .367 on-base percentage, 17 homers and 78 RBIs last season to help Milwaukee win the National League Central title. Contreras was selected as the Brewers’ most valuable player last season by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Milwaukee lost its backup catcher from last season when Victor Caratini signed with the Houston Astros, though the Brewers have since signed Eric Haase to a major league deal and Austin Nola to a minor league deal. The Brewers also could choose to have both Contreras and Sánchez in the lineup by making one of them a designated hitter.

To make room on the roster, the Brewers designated infielder Jahmai Jones for assignment.

The Brewers on Wednesday also made official their signing of injured right-hander Brandon Woodruff to a two-year deal.

The backloaded $17.5 million contract includes a mutual option for the 2026 season.

Woodruff is expected to miss most, if not all, of the upcoming season while he recovers from shoulder surgery.

“I’ll take it day to day, week to week, month to month, see where I’m at, at the end of the year,” Woodruff said. “If it makes sense, maybe. If not, I’ll be ready to go for ’25.”

Woodruff will receive $2.5 million this year and $5 million in 2025. The deal includes a $20 million mutual option for 2026 with a $10 million buyout, half payable January 15, 2026, and the remainder July 15, 2026. The contract also grants Woodruff a full no-trade provision and a hotel suite on road trips.

Jonathan India Agrees to Two-Year Contract with Cincinnati Reds to Avoid Arbitration

Jonathan India is staying red

The 27-year-old half-Colombian American baseball player, a second baseman, has agreed to a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds, avoiding an arbitration hearing next week for the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year.

Jonathan India,Selected fifth overall by Cincinnati in the 2018 amateur draft, India has hit .255 with 48 homers, 171 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .350 in parts of three seasons.

Eligible for arbitration for the first time, India asked for a raise from $760,000 to $4 million and the Reds offered $3.2 million when the sides exchanged proposed arbitration salaries last month.

Along with India, the Reds will have to find playing time for young players Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Noelvi Marte.

In addition, infielder Jeimer Candelario signed as a free agent.

Hector Neris Signs One-Year, $9 Million Contract with Chicago Cubs

Hector Neris is headed to the Windy City.

The 34-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher, a right-handed reliever, has agreed to a one-year, $9 million contract with the Chicago Cubs that includes an option, according to ESPN.

Hector Neris The move helps bolster the back end of Chicago’s bullpen with the top reliever remaining in free agency.

Neris was third among all pitchers in baseball last year with a 1.71 ERA over 68⅓ innings, the best season of his 10-year career.

A $9 million option for 2025 belongs to the team unless Neris reaches 60 games — he has done so six of his past seven full seasons — at which point it turns into a player option. With more than $2.5 million per year available in incentives, the deal can max out at $23.25 million for two years.

The Cubs have slow-played the winter, waiting until mid-January to sign their first free agent — Japanese left-hander Shota Imanaga — and now striking with Neris, whose deal is pending a physical. Coming off an 83-79 season, Chicago is chasing National League Central winner the Milwaukee Brewers, which earlier this week signed first baseman Rhys Hoskins to a two-year, $34 million deal.

Chicago had a middle-of-the-pack bullpen in 2023, and Adbert Alzolay emerged as a reliable closer in his first full season with the team as a reliever. Waiver claim Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. proved useful as well, and Neris will factor heavily into the Cubs’ late-inning mix.

Relying almost exclusively on a fastball and splitter, Neris has grown into a rare sort: the reliable late-inning reliever. Over those past seven seasons, he has averaged 68⅓ innings per season with a 3.14 ERA pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros. He is an elite strikeout pitcher, averaging 11.2 per nine innings throughout his career, and has racked up 89 saves.

The Cubs remain in the market for a free agent bat and could potentially reunite with center fielder Cody Bellinger, who thrived in Chicago last year, hitting .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs, 97 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.

Eduardo Rodriguez Agrees to Four-Year Deal with Arizona Diamondbacks

Eduardo Rodriguez is heading to The Copper State.

The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, nicknamed “E-Rod,” has agreed to a four-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks valued at around $20 million a year, according to ESPN.

Eduardo Rodriguez The deal is pending a physical.

The left-handed starter opted out of the final three years of his deal with the Detroit Tigers after going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 152⅔ innings. He was expected to be moved at the trade deadline this year but invoked his no-trade clause to kill an agreed-upon deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rodriguez gives the National League champion Diamondbacks another quality starter for their rotation that includes NL Cy Young Award finalist Zac Gallen, veteran Merrill Kelly and youngsters like righty Brandon Pfaadt and lefty Tommy Henry.

During their recent run to the World Series, Arizona only had three true starting pitchers, using the bullpen to get through Game 4 of the NL Championship Series and the World Series.

At his best, Rodriguez offers a polished four-pitch mix he controls well and uses to generate strikeouts. Over his eight-year career, he has punched out more than a batter an inning, and his ability to limit home runs prompted the Tigers to lavish a five-year, $77 million deal on him after he reached free agency following six seasons with the Boston Red Sox.

Rodriguez missed almost half of his first season with Detroit in 2022 while dealing with marital issues. He was looking like a surefire All-Star this year until a ruptured pulley in his left index finger caused him to miss all of June. Rodriguez wasn’t nearly as effective after he returned, posting a 4.24 ERA over 15 starts and 85 innings as compared to a 2.13 ERA in 11 starts and 67⅔ innings before the injury.

He opted out anyway, forgoing the final three years and $49 million on his deal to hit free agency once again.

Jeimer Candelario Agrees to Three-Year, $45 Million Contract with Cincinnati Reds

Jeimer Candelario is seeing Red(s) 

The 30-year-old Dominican American professional baseball third baseman has agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds, adding the veteran switch hitter to a plethora of young infielders as the Reds position themselves for a run at the National League Central title.

Jeimer CandelarioCandelario was non-tendered by the Detroit Tigers following the 2022 season but rebounded with a stellar 2023, setting career highs in home runs (22) and RBIs (70) while hitting .251/.336/.471 and playing first and third base for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. His deal with the Reds includes a club option for $15 million in 2027, sources said. 

He joins a Reds team that already features young infielders Elly De La CruzMatt McLainNoelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Jonathan India. Another infielder, Spencer Steer, is expected to move to left field, where he would complement outfielders TJ Friedl, Will Benson and Jake Fraley.

Candelario’s deal, first reported by MLB.com, could free up Cincinnati to use its depth to pursue a trade for a pitcher, though the Reds already have added right-hander Nick Martinez to their rotation and right-hander Emilio Pagan to their bullpen on two-year deals.

Cincinnati’s last postseason appearance in a full season came in 2013, and following an 82-80 performance in 2023, owner Bob Castellini said he intended to expand the Reds’ payroll with hopes of usurping the incumbent division winner, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Cubs. The Reds, typically among the lowest-payroll teams, have guaranteed $87 million to free agents.

Multiple teams pursued Candelario this winter, looking at his versatility as well as his ability to hit from both sides of the plate as pluses. Over his eight-year career, Candelario has hit .243/.325/.414 with 88 home runs and 318 RBIs in 746 games.

Nick Martinez Agrees to Two-Year, $26 Million Contract with Cincinnati Reds

Nick Martinez is seeing Red(s)…

The 33-year-old Latino professional baseball player, a right-handed pitcher, has agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds, according to ESPN.

Nick MartinezMartinez’s hiring caps a busy Wednesday in which the Reds bulked up their pitching staff in hopes of winning the National League Central next season.

Martinez had opted out of the final two years of his contract with the San Diego Padres that would have paid him $16 million after the Padres declined their two-year, $32 million club option on him.

He comes off a season in which he pitched 54 games out of the bullpen but thrived over nine starts, posting a 2.32 ERA in 42⅔ innings.

Martinez’s deal, which is pending a physical, will pay him $14 million in 2024, sources said, at which point he can head back to free agency. If he opts into the contract, Martinez would be paid $12 million in 2025.

Martinez is expected to join a rotation that could include any of five 25-and-under pitchers: Right-handers Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft and left-handers Nick LodoloAndrew Abbott and Brandon Williamson.

After four years of middling success with the Texas Rangers, Martinez spent four seasons in Japan, thriving in 2021 with a 1.60 ERA in 140⅔ innings. He returned stateside with more fastball velocity and an elite Vulcan-grip changeup he learned while in Japan. Martinez signed with the Padres, opting out of his deal after one season but re-signing last November for three years and $26 million, with the dual options following the first season.

In the two seasons since his return to Major League Baseball, Martinez is 10-8 with a 3.45 ERA and 201 strikeouts against 81 walks in 216⅔ innings.

Félix Bautista Named the American League’s Reliever of the Year

Félix Bautista is experiencing a bit of relief

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles was the unanimous winner of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.

Félix BautistaBautista, nicknamed “The Mountain,” was 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA and 33 saves in 39 chances for the AL East champion Orioles.

The right-hander made his final appearance August 25 and had Tommy John surgery on October 9, which likely will cause him to miss the 2024 season.

Bautista, who made his MLB debut in 2022, was named 2023 MLB-All-Star.

Milwaukee Brewers‘ Devin Williams won the Trevor Hoffman National League honor Wednesday.

Eugenio Suarez Acquired by Arizona Diamondbacks in Trade with Seattle Mariners

Eugenio Suarez is headed to the desert…

The Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired the 32-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball infielder in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, filling their vacancy at third base and adding much-needed power to their lineup.

Eugenio SuarezThe Mariners received right-hander Carlos Vargas and veteran catcher Seby Zavala for Suarez, who has belted at least 21 home runs in each of the past seven full seasons.

The reigning National League champion Diamondbacks were in need of a third baseman when three-time All-Star Evan Longoria became a free agent this month. Longoria, 38, appeared in just 74 games during the regular season but started 16 of 17 games at the hot corner during Arizona’s postseason run.

“It adds a little bit of stability at that spot,” Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said. “He’s a guy we’ve liked for a long time.”

Suarez will make just over $11 million in 2024 — the final guaranteed year of a seven-year contract that also includes a $15 million club option for 2025. His 7.2 WAR over the past two seasons is ninth among all major league third basemen.

Suarez batted .232 with 22 homers and 96 RBIs but also struck out a league-leading 214 times this past season, his second with the Mariners. He was an MLB All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds in 2018 and enjoyed his best season in the majors the following year, when he had a career-high 49 homers and 103 RBIs.

But Suarez has struggled to make consistent contact over the past four years, starting with the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season when he batted just .202 despite hitting 15 homers in 60 games with Cincinnati.

Suarez, who has batted just .221 since 2020 and has led the American League in strikeouts in each of the past two seasons, will join a Diamondbacks lineup that finished tied for 10th in the National League this season with 166 homers.

Arizona ranked 26th in baseball in WAR by third basemen in 2023. Of the five players who played that position for Arizona last season, three are already off the roster — Longoria is a free agent, Josh Rojas was traded to Seattle at the trade deadline, and Buddy Kennedy was lost on waivers to the St. Louis CardinalsJace Peterson and Emmanuel Rivera remain from the group and figure to fill reserve and/or platoon roles.

Vargas, 24, made five relief appearances during the regular season while Zavala, 30, is a .210 career hitter in parts of four seasons with the Diamondbacks and White Sox.

Jerry Dipoto, president of baseball operations for the Mariners, said the club envisions Zavala as the backup to Cal Raleigh entering the season.

Moving on from Suarez will be hard to sell to a fan base full of skepticism about the direction of the club after Seattle missed the playoffs and Dipoto’s misstep with some of his postseason comments. From the outside, it appears to be a move to clear salary, erases a key leader from Seattle’s clubhouse and leaves a hole at third base.

“Adding Seby and Carlos is another step toward building the type of deep roster that is required at the major league level,” Dipoto said. “Seby is an experienced catcher with excellent defensive skills who will team with Cal behind the plate. And Carlos is a young reliever with the type of ‘big stuff’ that our staff has done a wonderful job developing over the years.”