Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Awarded Record $19.9 Million in Arbitration Case Win Against Toronto Blue Jays

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has nearly 20 million reasons to smile…

The 24-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays won a record $19.9 million in salary arbitration on Wednesday when a three-person panel picked his request rather than the team’s $18.05 million offer.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.,Scott Buchheit, Walt De Treux and Jeanne Charles made the decision a day after listening to arguments. Players have a 6-2 lead in hearings this year with 10 cases pending.

Guerrero topped the previous high awarded from a hearing, the $14 million Seattle Mariners outfielder Teoscar Hernandez received after he lost last year.

A three-time MLB All-Star, Guerrero hit .264 with 26 homers and 94 RBIs last year, when he had a $14.5 million salary. He’s eligible for free agency after the 2025 season.

A son of Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, the younger Guerrero turns 25 next month. He has a .279 average with 130 homers and 404 RBIs in five seasons with the Blue Jays.

Guerrero’s best season was in 2021, when he tied for the major league lead with 48 home runs and hit .311 with 111 RBIs. He earned a Gold Glove in 2022 and won last year’s MLB All-Star Home Run Derby at Seattle, matching the feat of his father in 2007 at San Francisco.

Chicago White Sox Trade Gregory Santos to Seattle Mariners

Gregory Santos is headed to the Seattle Mariners.

The Chicago White Sox traded the 24-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher, a right-handed reliever, to the American League West division team.

Gregory SantosFrom Seattle, the White Sox received a package that includes a pair of players on the Mariners’ 40-man roster — hard-throwing right-hander Prelander Berroa and outfielder Zach DeLoach — as well as the 69th pick in the 2024 draft.

Santos, a well-regarded player, joins a Mariners bullpen that already boasts Andres Muñoz and Matt Brash, two of the nastiest relievers in Major League Baseball.

With a fastball that sits at 99 mph and a 92-mph slider, Santos thrived in his first full season with the White Sox, posting a 3.39 ERA and a 2.65 Fielding Independent Pitching number on account of allowing just two home runs with a nearly 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 66.1 innings.

With five years of team control on Santos, the Mariners were willing to give up Berroa, 23, whose stuff is similar to Santos’, with a fastball that hits triple digits and a hard-breaking slider. A starter for most of his minor league career, Berroa spent last season mainly as a reliever and debuted with Seattle toward the end of the 2023 season after posting a 2.89 ERA and striking out 101 in 65.1 innings at Triple A.

Seattle had added DeLoach, 25, to their 40-man roster this winter after a standout season at Triple A, where he hit .286/.387/.481 with 23 home runs and 88 RBIs. The left-handed-hitting DeLoach was a second-round pick. The 69th choice, with a slot value of around $1.1 million, was eligible to be traded because it is a competitive-balance pick.

Raul Ibanez Named Vice President of Baseball Development & Special Projects for Los Angeles Dodgers

Raul Ibanez is getting a special promotion…

The Los Angeles Dodgers have rehired the 51-year-old Cuban American former professional baseball player, an MLB All-Star in 2009, as their new vice president of baseball development and special projects.

Raul IbanezIbanez spent the past two years working with Major League Baseball as a senior vice president of on-field operations, reporting directly to executive vice president Morgan Sword — who helped spearhead last year’s rule changes — while working on issues related to rules, equipment and on-field technology.

Prior to that, Ibanez spent six years as a special assistant within the Dodgers’ baseball operations department.

Ibanez’s current Dodgers role is full-time, which means he will relinquish his duties with MLB.

Ibanez spent 19 years in the big leagues, accumulating 2,034 hits and 305 home runs while playing for the Seattle MarinersPhiladelphia PhilliesKansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees from 1996 to 2014.

Ibanez’s most productive years were spent in Seattle, but he made his only All-Star team as a member of the Phillies in 2009 and later starred for them in the postseason.

With the Yankees, he had perhaps the most memorable moment of his career, hitting the tying, pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 2012 American League Division Series then the walk-off homer in the 12th.

Texas Rangers Sign Diego Castillo to Minor League Deal

Diego Castillo has joined the Texas Rangers organization…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher, a veteran reliever, is among seven free agents who’ve signed minor league contracts with the Texas Rangers that include invitations to spring training with the World Series champions.

Diego Castillo, The Rangers announced the signings Wednesday of Castillo and two other right-handed pitchers, Gerardo Carrillo and Jesus Tinoco, along with catcher Andrew Knapp and outfielders Sandro Fabian, Elier Hernandez and Derek Hill.

Castillo has a 24-18 record with 35 saves and 3.22 ERA over six big league seasons with Tampa Bay Rays (2018-21) and Seattle Mariners (2021-23), with opponents hitting only .200 against him. The right-hander, who turns 30 on January 18, allowed six earned runs over 8⅔ innings in eight relief appearances for the Mariners last season.

Tinoco had a 2.93 ERA in 38 appearances this year for the Saitama Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization in Japan. Before that, he made 48 appearances over four big league seasons with the Colorado Rockies (2019-21), Miami Marlins (2021) and Texas (2022). He pitched in 17 games for the Rangers, and in one of his two starts allowed the 62nd home run hit by New York Yankees star Aaron Judge to break the AL single-season record.

Rangers pitchers and catchers will have their first spring training workout in Surprise, Arizona, on February 14.

The first full-squad workout is scheduled for February 19.

Rowdy Tellez Agrees to $3.2 Million, One-Year Contract with Pittsburgh Pirates

It’s all hand on deck for Rowdy Tellez.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a $3.2 million, one-year contract with the 28-year-old half-Mexican American professional baseball first baseman/designated hitter.

Rowdy Tellez Tellez can earn $800,000 in performance bonuses as part of the deal, which is pending a successful physical.

Tellez hit .215 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2023. The left-handed Tellez is a career .233 hitter in six seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee.

The Pirates entered the offseason in need of help at first base. They began 2022 with Carlos Santana at the position before sending him to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. Connor Joe and Jared Triolo saw time at first, among others, over the final two months of the season.

Tellez should find the 21-foot-high Clemente Wall in right field at PNC Park inviting. He is a career .277 hitter at PNC Park, with 5 home runs and 20 RBIs in 21 games.

Tellez is the second significant addition by the Pirates during free agency. Pittsburgh acquired left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales from the Seattle Mariners last week

Jackson Chourio Signs Eight-Year, $82 Million Contract with Milwaukee Brewers

Things are brewing for Jackson Chourio

The 19-year-old Venezuelan center fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to an eight-year, $82 million contract with two club options and escalators that can take the total value of the deal to $142.5 million, according to ESPN.

Jackson ChourioThe deal guarantees Chourio more money than any player before his Major League Baseball debut.

Chourio, a Venezuela native who signed with the Brewers in 2021 as a 16-year-old, spent most of 2023 at the Double-A level, where he hit .280/.336/.467 with 22 home runs and ascended to the No. 3 prospect in baseball in ESPN’s rankings.

Pre-debut long-term deals are rare, and all five of the previous players to sign one — Eloy Jimenez with the Chicago White SoxScott Kingery with the Philadelphia Phillies, Luis Robert with the White Sox, Jon Singleton with the Houston Astros and Evan White with the Seattle Mariners — were either 22 or 23 years old.

If both options are exercised, Chourio would hit free agency at 29.

The deal significantly increases the likelihood of Chourio breaking camp with the Brewers. A small-market team whose payroll last finished in the upper half of Major League Baseball in 2012, Milwaukee would have been incentivized to keep Chourio at Triple-A — where he played his final six games this season — to delay his eventual free agency by a year.

Even if he began the season in the minor leagues, Chourio could have won a full year of service finishing first or second in Rookie of the Year voting.

Emilio Pagan Signs Two-Year Deal with Cincinnati Reds

Emilio Pagan is headed to Ohio…

The 32-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball player has signed with the Cincinnati Reds on a two-year deal for the right-handed reliever.

Emilio Pagan, The deal is reportedly worth $16,000,000 and includes both a player option after the first season and performance bonuses.

The Cincinnati Reds are expecting to spend money this offseason according to Bob Castellini, with the signing of Pagan considered the first of several deals the team makes this offseason to add to their 82-win club from 2023 that’s full of young talent.

Pagan spent the 2023 season with the Minnesota Twins and had one of the best years of his career.

He pitched in 66 games and threw 69.1 innings while posting a 2.99 ERA, giving up 45 hits – including 5 home runs – to go along with 21 walks and 65 strikeouts.

He has played in the MLB for the Tampa Bay RaysSeattle MarinersOakland AthleticsSan Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins. He plays for the Puerto Rico national baseball team.

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.”

Adrian Beltre Among Newcomers to Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame Ballot

Adrian Beltre is getting his first chance at entering the hall…

The 44-year-old Dominican former professional baseball player, regarded as one of the greatest third basemen of all time, is among the newcomers to the 26-player Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot, as revealed on Monday.

Adrian Beltre Beltre, a four time MLB All-Star. played 21 major league seasons and won the Rawlings Gold Glove Award five times. He played for the Los Angeles DodgersSeattle MarinersBoston Red Sox and Texas Rangers.

Other newcomers are  Bartolo ColonMatt HollidayJose BautistaAdrian GonzalezJose ReyesVictor MartinezJames Shields, David Wright, Joe MauerChase Utley and Brandon Phillips.

Players must receive 75% of the vote to gain induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with the top holdovers from last year’s vote including Todd Helton (72%), Billy Wagner (68%), Andruw Jones (58%), Gary Sheffield (55%) and Carlos Beltran (46.5%).

It’s the 10th and final year on the ballot for Sheffield, while Wagner is on the ballot for the ninth time.

Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, both of whom received PED suspensions during their careers, also return to the ballot.

Beltran returns for the second time after his vote total might have been held down in his initial appearance due to his involvement in the 2017 Houston Astros cheating scandal.

Here’s a look at the top Latino newcomers:

  • Beltre should be a lock as a first-year candidate after finishing with 3,166 hits, 477 home runs and 93.5 WAR while capturing five Gold Gloves. He ranks third in WAR among third basemen, behind only Mike Schmidtand Eddie Mathews. He had his career season with the Los Angeles Dodgersin 2004, when he led the National League with 48 home runs and finished second in the MVP voting, but his best run came in his 30s with the Texas Rangers from 2011 to 2018, when he had four 30-homer seasons and hit .304.
  • Colon became a fan favorite late in his career, and he finished with 247 wins and won a Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005, but his career ERA of 4.12 is a little high for serious consideration.
  • Bautista had a nice run from 2010 to 2015 as the game’s top power hitter — he led the AL with 54 home runs in 2010 and 43 in 2011, and his 227 home runs over those six seasons were 28 more than Miguel Cabrerato lead all hitters — but he was late bloomer and didn’t do enough on the front end or back end of his career, and Hall of Fame voters tend to reward longevity over peak value.
  • Gonzalez (43.5 WAR) falls into the “Hall of Very Good” category, with just over 2,000 hits, 317 home runs and seven 100-RBI seasons, but the offensive bar is high for first basemen.

Other holdovers are Omar VizquelAndy PettitteBobby AbreuJimmy RollinsMark BuehrleFrancisco Rodriguez and Torii Hunter.

After years of electing multiple candidates, the BBWAA has elected just one each of the past two years — Scott Rolen in 2023; David Ortiz in 2022 — and didn’t elect anyone in 2021.

Earlier, the Hall of Fame announced its Contemporary Era Committee ballot, which this year considered managers, executive and umpires.

The eight candidates on that ballot are managers Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella, Cito Gaston and Davey Johnson; executives Hank Peters and Bill White (who was also a fine player); and umpires Joe West and Ed Montague.

Miguel Andujar Agrees to One-Year Contract with Oakland Athletics

Miguel Andujar is preparing for an Athletic(s) season…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball third baseman and outfielder has agreed to a one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics alongside Abraham Toro.

Miguel AndujarOakland announced the deals on Friday.

Andujar’s contract is worth $1.7 million, and Toro receives $1,275,000 under his agreement.

The A’s also claimed right-hander Michael Kelly off waivers from Cleveland and signed outfielder Daz Cameron to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.

Kelly, who went 1-0 with a 3.78 ERA in 14 big league games this year, was designated for assignment on Tuesday.

Andujar, who also can play the corner outfield spots, was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh on November 6.

Andujar batted .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBIs for the New York Yankees in 2018, but his production has dropped considerably. He has a .270 average with 39 homers and 149 RBIs in parts of seven big league seasons.

Toro was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday for minor league right-hander Chad Patrick.

The 26-year-old Toro hit .444 (8-for-18) with two homers and nine RBIs in nine games for Milwaukee this year and .291 with eight homers and 58 RBIs in 96 games at Triple-A Nashville.

A switch-hitter, Toro has a .211 career average with 28 homers and 108 RBIs in five seasons with Houston Astros (2019-21), Seattle Mariners (2021-22) and Milwaukee.

Oakland also announced that it had declined to offer a contract to infielder Kevin Smith. The 27-year-old Smith batted .185 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 49 games this year.