Jose Ramirez Agrees to Historic 5-Year, $150-Million Contract Extension with Cleveland Guardians 

Jose Ramirez is extending his time in Ohio…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an MLB All-Star third baseman and the Cleveland Guardians have agreed on a five-year, $124 million contract extension, according to ESPN.

Jose RamirezThe deal includes a full no-trade clause, per sources. With this year and the pickup of a 2023 option, Ramirez is guaranteed $150 million.

Cleveland set the table for this move during the offseason, picking up Ramirez’s $12 million contract option on November 5 after an MVP-caliber campaign for Ramirez. The formal transaction allowed the franchise some room for longer-term negotiations once baseball’s work stoppage ended.

The five-year, $124 million extension is the largest in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Guardians had been one of five Major League Baseball teams that had never agreed to a $100 million contract with a player. The Oakland AthleticsPittsburgh PiratesKansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox are the others.

Ramirez, who has finished in the top three of the American League MVP voting three times in his career, was one of few bright spots for Cleveland’s inconsistent offense during the team’s final season with its old nickname. He hit .266 with 36 home runs, 103 RBIs and 27 steals in the final year of what was a team-friendly $26 million, four-year contract.

“I would really like to stay,” Ramirez said after Cleveland finished 80-82 last year, the club’s first losing season since 2012. “But there’s no rush. I would really like to stay here the rest of my career. But we have to wait to see what happens. I would love to see what they have to offer.”

The veteran’s future has been a hot topic during spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, and manager Terry Francona was not afraid to open up about it last month.

“I think Jose knows how we feel about him,” Francona told reporters during a March 17 media availability. “In this age of blogging and the internet, there is so much out there that we could make ourselves crazy. I hope it doesn’t make him crazy. I don’t think it does.”

Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president, also addressed his star infielder’s future in Arizona last month.

“Without getting into specifics, I do think we’ll have some internal conversations,” Antonetti said about the new deal. “The timing of that is really hard to say when we’ll be able to do that, just because of the compressed nature of the offseason.”

Ramirez is the only position player left from Cleveland’s 2016 pennant-winning team, which lost the World Series in seven games. He has been in the majors since 2013, spending his entire career with Cleveland. In his first season, he appeared in just 15 games, but he has topped 120 games in five seasons since — and has stayed relatively healthy.

Francona expects to use Ramirez in the No. 3 spot in the batting order this season, telling reporters last month that it was safe to “ink” him in that spot moving forward.

The Guardians will open the year Thursday against the Kansas City Royals. In that game, right-hander Shane Bieber will become the 12th pitcher in franchise history to make three consecutive Opening Day starts.

Opening Day will also see the return of Francona to regular-season action for Cleveland after missing time because of toe surgery.

“It’s been a hard couple years, there’s no getting around it,” Francona said. “And I don’t want to act like a big baby because I know there’s people that have had way worst bouts than I had. But it’s not been easy.”

Yan Gomes Agrees to Two-Year, $13 Million Contract with Chicago Cubs

Yan Gomes is headed to the Windy City…

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional baseball catcher and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to on a two-year, $13 million contract, according to ESPN sources.

Yan GomesGomes hit a combined .252 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs between the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics last season. Washington traded Gomes to the Oakland A’s at the trading deadline.

He threw out 31% of attempted base stealers last season (19 of 43) and had a .990 fielding percentage.

In Chicago, Gomes likely will back up starter Willson Contreras.

For his career, Gomes has a .247 average, 117 home runs and 416 RBIs in 10 major league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Cleveland Guardians, Washington and Oakland.

Yuli Gurriel Claims American League Batting Champion Title

Yuli Gurriel’s career is in full swing

The 37-year-old Cuban professional baseball first baseman, nicknamed “La Piña”, hit a winning RBI single in the ninth inning, and the AL West champion Houston Astros headed to the postseason with a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Yuli Gurriel,

Gurriel, the American League batting champion, hit .319 and became Houston’s second player to win a batting title after Jose Altuve in 2014, ’16 and ’17. Gurriel became the second Cuban-born big league batting champion following Tony Oliva in 1964, ’65 and 1971.

“It’s something really important,” Gurriel said through a translator. “I think everybody knows it’s a big deal, and it’s tough to win a batting title, so that means a lot. I was fine either way with playing today. … It turned out that I was able to be there in the end, so it all worked out.”

Gurriel, who entered in the ninth as a defensive replacement, singled to left off Lou Trivino (7-8) to score Jason Castro, who had singled starting the inning and took third on Yordan Álvarez’s one-out double.

Gurriel said he wasn’t prepared to hit on Sunday and hadn’t taken a swing all day before the at bat, but he had a positive mindset to get a hit.

“He didn’t sit on it,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker, who claimed he predicted to bench coach Joe Espada the previous inning that “Yuli is going to win this game. Walkoff.”

Oakland was 86-76, finishing nine games behind the Astros in third place.

Salvador Perez Ties Johnny Bench’s Record for Homers in a Season by a Catcher

Salvador Perez is rewriting history…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and Kansas City Royals slugger has tied Johnny Bench‘s record for homers in a season by a catcher with his 45th in a 7-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

Salvador Perez

Perez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, matching Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez is tied with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League Baseball lead in homers and also leads the MLB with 112 RBIs.

“We’re witnessing a special season,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re witnessing a special player. To be able to be put in the conversation with one most would say is the best ever is pretty rare.”

His talent is not lost on the opposition.

“Salvador, it seems like he’s hitting a home run a day against everybody,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t miss against him right now.”

Perez is three homers away from matching Jorge Soler‘s team record from 2019. Soler extended the Royals’ record by 10. Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second on the club’s all-time list with 197 home runs. George Brett holds the club record with 317.

After bouncing back from an elbow injury that caused him to miss all of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, Perez has been on a tear. His 56 home runs in 2020 and 2021 are the most in MLB over that span, while his 144 RBIs rank third.

If Perez, Guerrero and Shohei Ohtani (44) — from Venezuela, Canada and Japan, respectively — are atop the home run leaderboard until the season’s end, it will be the first time in MLB history that the top three leaders were all born outside the United States, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jasson Dominguez Makes His Professional Baseball Debut in Yankees’ Minors

Jasson Dominguez is officially a professional baseball player…

The 18-year-old baseball outfielder, signed by the New York Yankees in July 2019 for $5.1 million, went 0-for-2 with a walk on Monday in his professional debut for the Florida Complex League Yankees against the FCL East Tigers.

Jasson Dominguez

D0minguez hit leadoff and played center field for the rookie level team, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout and foul popup to third against Australian left-hander Jack O’Loughlin and walking against Dominican right-hander Wilmer Fenelon.

Dominguez’s signing bonus matched that of Oakland Athletics shortstop Robert Puason for the highest in the 2019-20 international amateur free-agent class.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone met Dominguez and saw him take batting practice two years ago when he went with bench coach Carlos Mendoza to visit Gary SanchezLuis Severino and Miguel Andujar in the Dominican Republic.

“I’ve actually got to watch quite a bit of video of him in extended spring training, whether it be live at-bats off our pitchers or watching Sevy a few weeks ago when he was starting his return, Dominguez was one of the live hitters he’s facing,” Boone said.

“A special talent. And from all I can tell and all I hear is a really good kid. So look forward to him starting his career and charting his own path and hopefully the hype and the pressure doesn’t become too much of a factor or is something that also can fuel a player, too. But he’ll chart his own path and go at his pace and hopefully be impacting us at some point,” he said.

Carlos Correa Planning for Free Agency, Looking a “Big, Long Contract”

Carlos Correa is looking to go big

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop for the Houston Astros says he hasn’t seriously discussed a long-term deal with Houston and plans to seek a big payday in free agency next offseason.

Carlos Correa

“We were not close at all. There were not really any negotiations,” Correa said Thursday before the Astros opened their season against the Oakland Athletics. “It’s another year with the Houston Astros. I’m going to go out there, give it my best and try to bring another championship to this city.”

Correa said last week he turned down a $120 million, six-year offer and said Thursday he also declined a $125 million, five-year bid — paltry compared to the $341 million, 10-year deal shortstop Francisco Lindor agreed to with the New York Mets on Wednesday night. Lindor and Correa were both eligible for free agency after this season.

“I love it, it’s a great contract,” Correa said of Lindor’s deal. “He deserves every penny of it. … He pushed the market for every shortstop coming after him.”

Correa set a deadline of Opening Day to reach an agreement. He’ll earn $11.3 million this season.

“The relationship is great. There are no hard feelings,” Correa said. “It’s a business. They made it very clear to me, they said: ‘We don’t believe in long contracts. We don’t believe in big contracts.’ So once I hit free agency I’m going to look out for a big, long contract. They made it very clear that they don’t believe in that.”

Correa was Houston’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, a year the Astros experienced their second of three straight seasons with more than 100 losses.

He debuted in 2015 and was voted AL Rookie of the Year. Correa was an MLB All-Star in 2017, when he helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, he batted .264 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.

Jesse Chavez Signs Minor League Deal with the Los Angeles Angels

Jesse Chavez is springing into action…

The 37-year-old Latino veteran right-hander has re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels on a minor league deal.

Jesse Chavez

Chavez will join the Angels’ spring training camp in Tempe, Arizona, after he clears their intake protocols, according to the team.

Chavez appeared in 38 games for the Angels in 2017, making 21 starts. He left for the Texas Rangers as a free agent after one season, and he excelled after being traded in July 2018 to the Chicago Cubs, where he was managed by current Angels skipper Joe Maddon.

Chavez spent the past two seasons back with the Rangers, struggling last season with a 6.88 ERA in 18 appearances.

With experience as a starter, long reliever and late-inning reliever, Chavez could provide versatility for the Angels, whose long-struggling pitching staff can use all the depth it can get.

Chavez is a native of the Los Angeles area, graduating from high school in Fontana before pitching in junior college in Riverside. He has also pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Elvis Andrus Traded to the Oakland Athletics

Elvis Andrus is heading west…

The 32-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop has been traded to the Oakland Athletics.

Elvis Andrus

The announcement comes two months after the Texas Rangers said the only player remaining from their only two World Series appearances would no longer be the starting shortstop after 12 seasons in that role.

Texas sent Andrus, catcher Aramis Garcia and $13.5 million to the A’s for designated hitter Khris Davis, catcher Jonah Heim and right-hander Dane Acker.

Andrus is owed $14 million in each of the next two seasons. The $120 million, eight-season deal he signed in 2015 also includes a $15 million option for 2023 that now, because of the trade, becomes a player option if he has 550 plate appearances in 2022, or 1,100 combined in 2021-22.

“At the beginning it was a little shock but at the same time I understood what was going on in our (Texas) organization, they’re rebuilding and that process,” Andrus said. “When I found out, the opportunity playing for Oakland opened up, it makes sense for me for my career, for where I’m at right now.”

The AL West champion A’s, who made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, recently lost shortstop Marcus Semien to Toronto in free agency.

“Elvis will fit in very well with our infielders. He has a passion for defense as do our other guys,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “I’ve seen his leadership qualities from the opposing dugout for 10 years now.”

The Rangers, whose only World Series appearances came in 2010 and 2011, said in December that Gold Glove-winning third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be given the opportunity to be their top shortstop. Andrus was told then to prepare to play all infield positions.

When Andrus made his MLB debut in 2009 at age 20, the Rangers moved Michael Young — then 32 himself — to third base after he had been an All-Star shortstop the previous five seasons. Young is still the team’s career leader and Andrus is second on the list for games played, at-bats and triples. Young is also the career leader for hits and runs, with Andrus third in both those categories.

Andrus has a .274 career batting average, and the two-time All-Star is the only MLB player with at least 10 seasons of 145 games or more since his debut. But he hit .194 last season when limited to 29 games because of lingering lower back issues, and said he isn’t sure people realized how difficult it was to play through that.

“I was really hurt, I wasn’t physically ready,” he said. “Last year took a lot of me. I think the team didn’t like what they saw and kind of didn’t understand me a little bit. At the end I think it’s something that you cannot control as a player. They have a different direction than where I’m at right now.”

Davis led the majors with 48 home runs in 2018, but has since then struggled to consistently find his stroke. Now primarily a DH after once being a regular left fielder, he has hit .243 with 218 homers and 580 RBIs in 938 big league games for the A’s (2016-20) and the Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15). Davis hit .271 with 15 doubles, 32 homers and 80 RBIs in 79 career games against Texas.

“Khris has been a popular favorite of everyone here in Oakland, including mine,” Melvin said. “We wish him the best in his new baseball chapter.”

Davis, signed for $16.75 million this season, hit .220 over 133 games in 2019, after a quirky stat of four straight years with a .247 batting average. He appeared in 30 games during the shortened 2020 campaign and hit .200 with two homers and 10 RBIs.

Garcia, acquired from the San Francisco Giants on a waiver claim in November, missed all of the 2020 season while recovering from surgery on his right hip labrum.

Heim, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut with the A’s in 2020, hitting .211 with five RBIs in 13 games. Acker was the A’s fourth-round selection out of Oklahoma in the shortened MLB draft last summer.

The Rangers were an AL-worst 22-38 last season, and turned their focus to younger players. They had three 22-year-old rookies in the starting lineup on the final day of the season, a decade after the team’s first World Series when Andrus was the youngster.

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.

Gio Gonzalez Agrees to One-Year, $5 Million Deal with the Chicago White Sox

It’ll be a White (Sox)Christmas for Gio Gonzalez

The 34-year-old Cuban American MLB player and veteran free-agent left-handed pitcher has agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, the team has announced.

Gio Gonzalez

The White Sox will pay Gonzalez $4.5 million in 2020 and hold a $7 million option for the 2021 season, with a $500,000 buyout. He can make an additional $500,000 with incentives over the two years, according to ESPN.

Gonzalez will finally get a chance to pitch for the team that took him with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2004 amateur draft. Chicago dealt Gonzalez to the Philadelphia Philliesfollowing the 2005 season as part of the trade that sent Aaron Rowandto the Philliesfor Jim Thome, then reacquired Gonzalez a year later along with Gavin Floydfor Freddy Garcia.

The White Sox traded Gonzalez to the Oakland Athleticsfor Nick Swisherin January 2008.

Gonzalez debuted with the Athletics in 2008 and is 130-99 with a 3.68 ERA over 12 years with Oakland (2008-11), the Washington Nationals (2012-18) and the Milwaukee Brewers(2018-19). 

He was an All-Starin 2011 and 2012, when he won a career-high 21 games and had a 2.89 ERA.

“We view Gio as an important addition to our pitching staff,” general manager Rick Hahnsaid in a statement. “He brings an impressive resume to our club as a veteran left-hander who has enjoyed success and should have a positive impact on our younger pitchers in terms of competing, battling and helping us win games at the major league level.”

Gonzalez was 3-2 with a 3.50 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 17 starts and 19 appearances last season for the Brewers, who signed him last year to a second option on a contract that wound up being worth $65.5 million over seven years.

He made only six starts before spending more than a month on the injured list with left arm fatigue, recording a 2-1 record with a 3.19 ERA and 25 strikeouts. But he did return to make 11 more starts and log 56⅓ innings in the second half as the Brewers won the wild card.

Gonzalez also spent the final month of the 2018 season with the Brewers, who acquired him in an August 31 trade with the Nationals. He was 3-0 in five starts for the Brewers down the stretch, then started Games 1 and 4 of the NLCSagainst the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was pulled after two innings of the opener and one inning of his second appearance, allowing one run in each.

Chicago went 72-89 in its seventh straight losing season and missed the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years since its 2005 World Seriestitle. But with young players establishing themselves in the majors and promising prospects in the minors, the White Sox expect to contend for a postseason spot.

Right-hander Lucas Giolitowent from the highest ERA among qualifiers in 2018 to his first All-Star season, going 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 29 starts.