Joely Rodriguez Agrees to $2 Million, One-Year Contract with Boston Red Sox

Joely Rodriguez is seeing Red (Sox)…

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher has agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, a deal that includes a team option for 2024.

Joely Rodriguez Rodriguez gets a $1.5 million salary next year, and the Red Sox’s option is for $4.25 million with a $500,000 buyout.

He can earn $250,000 in performance bonuses each year for games pitched: $50,000 each for 30 and each additional 10 through 70. In 2023, he also can earn $800,000 in roster bonuses: $200,000 apiece for 30, 60, 90 and 120 active days.

Rodriguez’s contract allows him to become a free agent when the deal expires.

The left-hander was 2-4 with a 4.47 ERA last season for the New York Mets, striking out 57 and walking 26 in 50⅓ innings while allowing three home runs.

Rodríguez is 5-9 with a 4.56 ERA in 157 relief appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies (2016-17), Texas Rangers (2020-21), New York Yankees (2021) and Mets (2022).

He spent 2018 and ’19 with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League.

Carlos Beltran Among 14 Newcomers on MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

Carlos Beltran is in the running for a special place in Major League Baseball history…

The 45-year-old Puerto Rican former professional baseball player is among 14 newcomers on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America‘s MLB Hall of Fame ballot.

Carlos BeltranBeltran played as an outfielder from 1998 to 2017 for the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.

Beltrán was the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year in 1999 while with the Royals. He was named to nine MLB All-Star Games and won three Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Slugger Awards.

Beltrán was the fifth player to reach both 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases and just the fourth switch hitter with 400 home runs. He has the highest success rate in stealing bases (88.3%) of any major league player with 300 or more career attempts. He also joined the 30–30 club in 2004. In 2013, Beltrán was named the recipient of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. He retired after the 2017 season, winning a World Series title with the Astros.

Other players appearing on the ballot for the first time include John Lackey, Jered Weaver, R.A. Dickey, Huston Street, Francisco Rodríguez, Bronson Arroyo and Matt Cain. They’re joined by Jacoby Ellsbury, Jayson Werth, Mike Napoli, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta and Andre Ethier, the Hall and the BBWAA announced.

Holdovers include Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner. Rolen received 249 of 394 votes last year (63.2%), when David Ortiz was elected with 307 votes (77.9%), 11 more than the 75% needed. Helton was on 205 ballots (52%) and Wagner 201 (51%).

Voters denied several stars tainted by steroids and scandal.

Barry Bonds (260 votes, 66%), Roger Clemens (257, 65.2%) and Curt Schilling (231, 58.6%) were dropped after their 10th appearances on the ballot last year and are among eight players who will appear on the ballot of the Hall’s contemporary baseball era committee, which meets December 4 in San Diego ahead of baseball’s winter meetings.

Other holdovers on the BBWAA ballot include Andruw Jones (163 votes last year, 41.1%), Gary Sheffield (160, 40.6%), Alex Rodriguez (135, 34.3%), Jeff Kent (129, 32.7%), Manny Ramirez (114, 28.9%), Omar Vizquel (94, 23.9%), Andy Pettitte (42, 10.7%), Jimmy Rollins (37, 9.4%), Bobby Abreu (34, 8.6%), Mark Buehrle (23, 5.8%) and Torii Hunter (21, 5.3%).

Kent, who received his highest percentage last year, will appear on the BBWAA ballot for the 10th and final time.

BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Any players elected will be inducted into the Hall at Cooperstown on July 23 along with anyone elected by the contemporary baseball era committee.

A-Rod, a three-time MLB MVP and 14-time MLB All-Star who hit 696 home runs, was suspended for the 2014 season for violating MLB’s drug policy and collective bargaining agreement, and Ortiz’s name was alleged to have appeared on a list of players who tested positive during 2003 survey testing.

Rafael Montero Agrees to Three-Year, $34.5 Million Contract with Houston Astros

Rafael Montero isn’t leaving Houston in the near future…

The 32-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher has agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million contract that will bring the right-handed reliever back to the Houston Astros‘ dominant bullpen a week after the team rode its pitching staff to a World Series title, according to ESPN.

Rafael Montero,  Montero thrived in his first full season with the Astros, posting a 2.37 ERA in 68⅓ innings and allowing just three home runs while striking out 73.

Re-signing Montero deepens an Astros bullpen that already will return closer Ryan Pressly, right-handed flamethrowers Ryne Stanek and Bryan Abreu, and solid righties Hector Neris and Phil Maton.

It likewise continues the early trend in free agency of high salaries for relief pitchers, after the New York Mets signed Edwin Diaz to a five-year, $102 million contract and San Diego gave right-hander Robert Suarez a five-year deal worth $46 million.

Houston acquired Montero in a July 2021 trade from the Seattle Mariners and watched him blossom into the hardest-throwing version of himself yet, with a fastball that averaged 96.5 mph. Of the remaining relievers available in free agency, Montero topped a number of teams’ lists.

The contract is a bet on Montero’s 2022 more than his previous seasons. Once a well-regarded starting-pitching prospect, Montero bounced from the Mets to the Texas Rangers to the Mariners before landing in Houston, where he allowed two runs in 9⅓ innings this postseason and struck out 10.

With a ground-ball rate of greater than 50% and high strikeout numbers, Montero was bound to generate widespread interest and took advantage of it with a deal that exceeded industrywide expectations. In 182 career games, Montero has a 4.43 ERA as a reliever and struck out 213 in 201⅓ innings.

Robert Suarez Agrees to $46 Million, Five-Year Contract with San Diego Padres

Robert Suarez has landed a father of a deal…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher and reliever has agreed to remain with the San Diego Padres under a $46 million, five-year contract, according to multiple reports.

Robert Suarez The deal, pending a physical, was first reported by MLB Network. Suarez can opt out after three years and become a free agent again, the reports said.

Suarez, a rookie, was having a terrific postseason until allowing Bryce Harper‘s go-ahead, two-run homer with no outs in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series that sent the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series.

Manager Bob Melvin was criticized by some for letting Suarez pitch to Harper instead of using left-hander Josh Hader. Melvin said Hader wasn’t ready when Harper came to bat and that he wanted to get through the final three innings with Suarez and Hader, the Padres’ two best relievers. Melvin said he wanted to get two outs from Suarez in the eighth and the final four outs from Hader. Philadelphia won 4-3.

Suarez, who is represented by Amuse Sports, will make salaries of $10 million in each of the first three years of the deal and $8 million in the last two. Additionally, he can make up to $3 million per season if he finishes a certain number of games. Those incentives will pay off if Hader is not retained after his contract expires following next season and Suarez becomes the closer.

Suarez was especially impressive in the NL Division Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, throwing four scoreless innings in three appearances. He pitched two scoreless innings in a wild-card series win against the New York Mets.

He went 5-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 45 appearances during the regular season.

Edwin Diaz Agrees to Five-Year, $102 Million Contract with New York Mets

Edwin Diaz isn’t going anywhere…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball pitcher, a star closer for the New York Mets, has agreed to a five-year, $102 million contract, pending a physical, according to ESPN.

Edwin DiazThere’s an opt-out and a full no-trade clause plus a sixth-year option in the contract, sources said.

The Diaz deal is the first nine-figure contract ever for a closer, and for the first time, it takes the position into the $20 million-plus range.

Diaz, who made $10 million this year, earned the big payday after a dominant 2022 season that saw him finish with 32 saves, a 1.31 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 62 innings for a Mets team that won 101 games.

New York’s bullpen finished 10th in the majors in ERA, and its top relievers in innings pitched (Adam OttavinoSeth LugoTrevor Williams and Diaz) were among the 131 players across the major leagues who were declared free agents Sunday, the day after the 2022 season ended.

Keeping Diaz is a massive move for the Mets to start the offseason, as one of baseball’s top free agents is now off the board.

Diaz was part of a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Mariners in December 2018, one that saw him and veteran second baseman Robinson Cano go to the Mets for a prospect-heavy package.

Diaz had starred in Seattle, leading the majors with 57 saves in 2018 — which tied Bobby Thigpen (1990) for the second most in a single season in baseball history, trailing only Francisco Rodriguez‘s 62 in 2008.

But his early tenure in New York was anything but successful. In his debut season in the Big Apple, he had a 5.59 ERA (seventh worst among relievers), 15 homers allowed and -0.6 bWAR in 58 innings, as Mets fans routinely booed him while on the mound.

Diaz has righted the ship since, culminating with the dominant 2022. And he’s become a fan favorite in New York, with the hit song “Narco,” by Australian musician Timmy Trumpet, played at Citi Field every time he exits the bullpen before an appearance.

St. Louis Cardinals’ Nolan Arenado Earns 10th Consecutive Gold Glove Award

Make that a perfect 10 for Nolan Arenado

The 31-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American baseball player, a third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, has become the fourth infielder to win 10 consecutive Rawlings Gold Gloves, when baseball’s winners for the sport’s most prestigious fielding awards were announced on ESPN2 before Game 3 of the World Series.

Nolan ArenadoArenado has won the National League‘s Gold Glove at third base in each of his 10 seasons in the major leagues. That streak ties former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki for the longest by a player at any position to start a career.

The only infielders who put together longer streaks were Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (third base, 16 straight Gold Gloves) and Ozzie Smith (shortstop, 13 straight) and former Cardinals and New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez (11 straight).

The Gold Gloves once tended to favor repeat winners, but this year’s list of honorees marked a season of unprecedented change. A record 14 players won their first Gold Gloves, including all but one of the winners in the American League.

The AL‘s first timers were Cleveland Guardians pitcher Shane BieberNew York Yankees catcher Jose TrevinoToronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cleveland Guardians second baseman Andres GimenezBaltimore Orioles third baseman Ramon UriasHouston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena, Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan, Guardians center fielder Myles Straw and Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker.

The AL’s only repeat winner was the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu, who was recognized as a utility player.

There was a little more familiarity among those who joined Arenado as Gold Glovers on the National League side. The first-time winners included Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian WalkerColorado Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers, Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby SwansonChicago Cubs left fielder Ian Happ and Cardinals utility player Brendan Donovan.

Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto won his second Glove Glove, joining Houston’s Pena and Tucker in learning of their honor during the lead-up to their World Series contest.

“It’s a pretty cool moment, for sure,” Pena said. “[Getting] congratulated by our teammates. We know the focus is the game, so we’re going to enjoy this for a little bit and then get ready for the game.”

Pena joined Kwan and Donovan as winners during their rookie seasons, another record. The only other time in which there has been even two rookie Gold Glovers was 2020 (Luis Robert and Evan White).

In taking the honor, Pena continued to prove a worthy successor at the position in Houston to Carlos Correa, who won the award last season. Pena became the first rookie shortstop to win a Gold Glove.

“I heard that today and I was in shock because I didn’t know that was a thing,” Pena said. “But it’s pretty cool.”

San Diego Padres center fielder Trent Grisham won for the second time, while Los Angeles Dodgers star right fielder Mookie Betts won his sixth Gold Glove. Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried was honored for the third time.

Here’s a look at the 2022 Gold Glove winners:

American League
P: Shane Bieber, Cleveland
C: Jose Trevino, New York
1B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto
2B: Andres Gimenez, Cleveland
3B: Ramon Urias, Baltimore
SS: Jeremy Pena, Houston
LF: Steven Kwan, Cleveland
CF: Myles Straw, Cleveland
RF: Kyle Tucker, Houston

National League
P: Max Fried, Atlanta
C: J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia
1B: Christian Walker, Arizona
2B: Brendan Rodgers, Colorado
3B: Nolan Arenado, St. Louis
SS: Dansby Swanson, Atlanta
LF: Ian Happ, Chicago
CF: Trent Grisham, San Diego
RF: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles

New York Mets Reportedly Calling Up Top Prospect Francisco Alvarez This Weekend

Francisco Alvarez is thisclose to Met-ing his moment…

The New York Mets are calling up the 20-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and MLB top prospect  for this weekend’s pivotal three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, according to multiple reports.

Francisco Alvarez Alvarez was ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in ESPN‘s midseason list published in August.

Signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2018, Alvarez has had a meteoric rise through the Mets’ minor league system over the past two years. He slashed .260/.374/.511 with 27 home runs this season while splitting time between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Syracuse.

The Mets enter Friday’s game against the Braves clinging to a one-game lead over Atlanta in the National League East.

El Extrabase was first to report that Alvarez is getting called up.

Framber Valdez Ties MLB Quality Start Record with Career-First Shutout

Framber Valdez is on a monumental streak… And, he’s capping it off with a historic night.

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher threw his first career shutout and the Houston Astros beat the Detroit Tigers 7-0 on Monday night.

Framber ValdezValdez (15-5) posted his 24th straight quality start, tying New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom (2018) for the longest single-season streak.

“This means a lot to me, because it means I’m helping the team when I’m pitching,” Valdez said through a translator. “They help me with their great defense and their offense, and I know I’m giving them a chance to win.”

The All-Star left-hander gave up six hits and struck out eight with one walk.

“That’s a monumental streak — a lot of great pitchers have never come close to getting there,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Players know when they are getting close to something like that, and that doesn’t bother me, because I know it motivates them to excellence.”

Valdez became the 12th major league pitcher to throw a shutout this season — on track for the fewest in a full season since eight in 1873. No pitcher has more than one.

It was just the 28th complete game in the big leagues this year — down from 50 during the entire 2021 season.

The Tigers were shut out for the second day in a row and club-record 21st time this season, tying them with the 1973 New York Yankees and 1976 Chicago White Sox for most by a team with a designated hitter.

Detroit had runners thrown out at the plate in the first and third innings.

“We made a couple young mistakes early, because we’re struggling to score and we’re trying to make things happen,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “That’s 91 wins for them, and a lot of that comes from elite defense.”

Jeremy Pena had three hits for the Astros and scored twice.

“We scored quite a few runs and I think we could have more,” Baker said. “I’m just happy with the results.”

Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez (3-5) allowed five runs on 10 hits and a walk in five innings.

“They just keep the line moving when they get something going,” Hinch said. “Eduardo wasn’t sharp and they got to him.”

Jose Altuve started the game with a single, stole second and scored on Pena’s single. Pena also stole second and Alex Bregman’s RBI single made it 2-0.

Valdez said the two outs at the plate inspired him to go for his first shutout.

“Once I got out of the third inning, I knew I had a chance,” he said. “That’s always a goal of mine, and today I wanted to get it because I was getting such great defensive plays.”

In the third, the Astros managed to add a run on an inning-ending double play. With the bases loaded, Kyle Tucker hit a grounder to shortstop Javy Baez, who was shifted to the right side. Bregman froze between first and second, preventing Baez from tagging him. Detroit turned the 6-3-4 double play, but Pena scored from third before the Tigers could retire Bregman.

Tucker made it 4-0 with an RBI groundout in the fifth and Yuli Gurriel followed with a run-scoring double.

Tucker added a two-run single in the ninth.

As usual, Valdez picked the team’s navy blue jerseys for his start, but said it wasn’t for superstitious reasons.

“I don’t know why, but they feel lighter to me,” he said. “We’re going to keep wearing them when I pitch.”

Giancarlo Stanton Aiming to Return for New York Yankees Game Against Oakland Athletics

Giancarlo Stanton’s return to the game is near…

Prior to a 4-2 win over the New York Mets, the 32-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball designated hitter and New York Yankees slugger told the media Monday that he was aiming to return in time for his team’s series in Oakland against the Athletics on Thursday.

Giancarlo Stanton,Stanton went through live batting practice on Tuesday, facing off against Luis Severino, who threw as part of his injury rehab effort. Stanton will go through outfield work and stand in on a few more bullpens before the team determines whether he is good to move forward.

 

“Assuming that goes right, we’ll plan on him being activated for Thursday’s game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday.

Stanton said Monday it would “stupid” to rush back, but he’s excited to eventually return to playing outfield despite the fact he would be the designated hitter to start out.

“I just want to jump in there and get some games under my belt to get a better gauge of it, but I help the team better when I’m in the outfield and make us more dynamic,” Stanton said. “So just as soon as possible.”

Boone also added that reliever Clay Holmes is expected to return off the injured list as soon as his 15 days are up, which would put him on track to come back by the team’s first game against the Angels on Aug. 29.

Additionally, the Yankees placed reliever Scott Effross on the injured list and activated Clarke Schmidt.

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.