Pablo Guerrero Signs International Deal with Texas Rangers

Pablo Guerrero has a Lone Star future…

The Texas Rangers have signed the Dominican baseball outfielder, the son of MLB Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and younger brother of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays, to an international deal.

Pablo Guerrero,The Guerrero family posted a photo of the signing ceremony in the Dominican Republic on social media.

The Rangers later announced all of their agreements through their Player Development Twitter account.

Guerrero’s father, Vlad Sr., played 16 years in Major League Baseball, including a one-year stint with the Texas Rangers in 2010 when the club made its first World Series appearance. Guerrero hit .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBI.

Guerrero’s Hall-of-Fame career included nine All-Star Game appearances, eight Silver Slugger awards and the 2004 American League MVP award.

Guerrero Jr. plays for Toronto and is entering his fifth season as a first and third baseman. He is already a two-time All-Star and finished second in AL MVP voting in 2021.

Baseball America also reported several other Rangers international agreements, including Cuban outfielder Geisel Cepeda, Venezuelan catcher Juan Sulbaran, along with outfielder Brailyn More, shortstop Lisandro Mejia, and pitchers Snarlyn Encarnacion, Walkin Ortiz, Yormi Nivar, Felix Martinez and Frank Martinez, all from the Dominican Republic.

Pitchers and catchers report to the team’s facility in Surprise, Arizona, on February 15, with position players to follow on February 20.

The Spring Training game schedule starts on February 24 with a game against Kansas City at the Surprise complex shared with the Royals.

The Rangers will wrap up their exhibition season with a pair of games at Globe Life Field against the Royals on March 27 and 28. The Rangers open up the regular season at home against Philadelphia on March 30.

Rafael Devers Reportedly Agrees to 11-Year, $331 Million Contract Extension with Boston Red Sox

Rafael Devers is thisclose to a historic MLB deal…

The 26-year-old Dominican professional baseball third baseman is finalizing an 11-year, $331 million contract extension with the Boston Red Sox, according to ESPN, a deal that will keep him from reaching free agency this year and constitutes the longest and largest guarantee ever given by the franchise.

Rafael DeversThe agreement, which would be the largest ever for a third baseman, comes in the midst of an arduous winter for the Red Sox, who lost longtime shortstop Xander Bogaerts to the San Diego Padres in free agency nearly three years after trading star right fielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Offering Devers to a deal far longer than Manny Ramirez‘s eight-year pact and more than 50% larger than David Price‘s $217 million contract was enough for the two-time MLB All-Star to accept shepherding the Red Sox out of last place in the American League East and back to contention.

The contract will start in 2023 and extend through the 2033 season, sources said. The one-year, $17.5 million contract Devers signed earlier in the week to avoid arbitration will be superseded by the long-term deal.

Devers debuted with Boston at 20 years old in 2017 and quickly illustrated why scouts so adored his bat. His left-handed swing was perfectly suited for Fenway Park, with doubles thwacking off the Green Monster and home runs carrying out to right field. Devers’ acumen has only grown. In 2022, he hit .295/.358/.521 with 27 home runs, 88 RBIs and a career-best OPS+ of 141.

It was similar to his 2021 season, in which Devers hit 38 home runs, and 2019, when he led the major leagues with 359 total bases as a 22-year-old. The consistency made him the perfect candidate to keep around long term with the losses of Bogaerts and Betts, whose steadiness was among their defining characteristics. Early negotiations on a deal bore no fruit, with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Devers’ agent, Nelson Montes de Oca of Rep 1, far apart in their valuations.

Whether the backlash from losing Bogaerts and Betts — and just losing — had any effect on the consummation of the deal is unclear. But on Monday, with Fenway Park hosting the majestic Winter Classic, fans booed John Henry, a show of the sentiment toward the owner under whom the Red Sox broke their 86-year World Series drought before winning three more championships.

Seeing Bogaerts walk with an offer tens of millions of dollars short stung, especially with the Red Sox designating for assignment Jeter Downs, the main prospect return in the Betts deal, just days after. Bogaerts, 30, was, like Devers, a homegrown star: five Silver Sluggers, four All-Star appearances and two World Series rings. The notion of a long-term left side of the infield with Bogaerts and Devers felt natural to a Red Sox fan base coming to terms with last-place finishes in two of the past three seasons, sandwiched around an ALCS appearance.

When Bogaerts left, the focus turned naturally to Devers, who benefited greatly from the megadeals given out this winter. Aaron Judge topped the list with $360 million from the New York YankeesTrea Turner got $300 million from Philadelphia and Bogaerts $280 million from the Padres. And Carlos Correa agreed to a pair of $300 million-plus deals, though medical foibles have his status in limbo.

Beyond Bogaerts this offseason, World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi left for the Texas Rangers, and the Red Sox fell short of signing multiple free agent targets. Instead, the Red Sox redistributed the resources across the roster by adding Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida on a five-year, $90 million deal, relievers Kenley Jansen (two years, $32 million) and Chris Martin (two years, $17 million), third baseman Justin Turner at two years for $21 million and starter Corey Kluber at a year and $10 million.

Devers will be the roster’s cornerstone and the face of the franchise for the new era of the Red Sox. Though the third baseman has improved defensively over this career, he could potentially move to first base or designated hitter down the road. But as long as his swing and production are even a facsimile of what he has done, it won’t matter what position he’s playing.

Omar Minaya to Serve as Adviser to Baseball Operations for New York Yankees

Omar Minaya is heading to the New York Yankees corporate office…

The 64-year-old Dominican baseball executive, a former New York Mets general manager, is joining the team as an adviser to baseball operations.

Omar MinayaThe move to hire Minaya comes two days after the Yankees brought former San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean into the front office as an executive assistant to general manager Brian Cashman.

Minaya is a native of Queens and started scouting after the conclusion of his minor league career.

He worked for the Texas Rangers before moving to the Mets, the Montreal Expos, back to the Mets, and the San Diego Padres before returning to the Mets for a third time.

He was the general manager of the Expos from 2002 through 2004 and the Mets from 2005 through 2010.

The veteran baseball executive most recently worked with Major League Baseball as a consultant for domestic and international amateur scouting initiatives. Among his most notable accomplishments was helping discover Sammy Sosa and Ivan Rodriguez as a scout for the Rangers.

The Yankees’ front office has received criticism in recent years for leaning too hard on analytics, and adding Sabean and Minaya brings in two executives with successful scouting backgrounds.

Yonny Hernández Acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers

Yonny Hernández is heading to Southern California…

The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired the 24-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball infielder from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for cash.

Yonny HernándezHernandez, a switch-hitter, played in 12 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season after being traded by the Texas Rangers in April.

Hernández was claimed by Oakland last month and was designated for assignment this week.

He played 10 games at third base and two at second base for the Diamondbacks.

Hernández has hit .198 with 13 stolen bases while playing shortstop, second base and third base in 55 career major league games with the Rangers and D-backs.

Hernández spent seven seasons in the minors, mostly with the Rangers’ organization, hitting .262 with 21 triples and 184 stolen bases in 532 games.

The Dodgers’ 40-man roster now stands at 39.

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.

Sandy Alcantara Sweeps All First-Place Votes to Win National League Cy Young Award

It’s a clean sweep for Sandy Alcantara

The 27-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Miami Marlins has become the first unanimous Cy Young Award winner in the National League since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

Sandy Alcantara Alcantara, a right-hander, swept all 30 first-place votes to beat out Atlanta Braves lefty Max Fried and Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Julio Urias to become the first Cy Young winner in Marlins history.

With Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander also winning the AL Cy Young by unanimous vote, this marks just the second time that both Cy Young winners were unanimous. Bob Gibson and Denny McLain also won unanimously in 1968, one year after the award started to be given out to both leagues.

In this age of five-inning starters, Alcantara stood out like a unicorn: He pitched 228⅔ innings, 23⅔ more than other pitcher in the majors, and the most innings since David Price threw 230 in 2016. He threw six complete games — more than any other team. He pitched at least eight innings in 14 of his 32 starts, the most such games since 2014. His 8.0 WAR easily topped Aaron Nola’s 6.0 as the best in the NL and ranked as the best in Marlins history, ahead of Kevin Brown‘s 7.9 in 1996.

“I’m very happy with the type of season I was able to have this season,” Alcantara said in a video released when he won the Players Choice Award as the outstanding NL pitcher. “It’s like I’ve always told the media: My mentality is to be a lion on the mound, finish all my starts.”

Here’s another way to view Alcantara’s award: He had 16 starts of more than seven innings when you add in his two 7⅔-inning outings. Fried and Urias combined for just two outings of more than seven innings. It wasn’t just his ability to pitch deep into games that made Alcantara the Cy Young winner, however. His 2.28 ERA ranked second in the NL behind Urias’ 2.16, and he held batters to a .212 average with some of the most electric stuff in the majors.

“He’s throwing 100-plus mph and he’s got movement on that fastball,” St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.

Indeed, Alcantara averaged just under 98 mph with his fastball (he throws both a four-seamer and sinker), but his game plan is a little different from a lot of modern pitchers. He induces a lot of soft contact rather than just racking up strikeouts — and thus avoids the high pitch counts that result from a lot of deep counts. As a result, he led all starters in averaging just 14.2 pitches per inning, allowing him to go deep into games. He still managed 207 strikeouts, including a season-high 14 in an eight-inning win over the Braves on May 28. “Sometimes with Sandy it looks like pitch and catch,” then-Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after that dominating victory.

Originally signed by the Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic, the Marlins acquired Alcantara after the 2017 season in a trade that sent Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis. Alcantara made the MLB All-Star team in 2019, his first full season in the majors, when he finished with a 3.88 ERA, and then had a big breakout in 2021, when he went 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA in 205 innings.

An improved changeup took him to another level this season, as batters hit just .145 against it with no home runs in 248 at-bats. It’s a power change that averaged 91.8 mph — yes, a 92 mph changeup. According to Statcast metrics, his changeup saved 25 runs, the most valuable changeup in the game in 2022.

Maybe the highlight of Alcantara’s season wasn’t one of his seven scoreless outings, but a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals on June 29. Leading 4-3 with runners at first and second and one out in the ninth and Alcantara at 115 pitches, Mattingly came out to apparently remove him from the game. Alcantara talked himself into staying in and two pitches later induced to a double play to end it.

“When he came to me, I said, ‘I got it. I got it.’ I think he has too much confidence in me to finish the game,” Alcantara said after that win. “I don’t have to worry when I have men on base. I know I can throw a strike and get a double play.”

“He said he had it, and he did,” Mattingly said. “I wasn’t going to promise him two hitters, but I gave him that one. He’s pretty special.”

Special enough that the extension the Marlins signed him to last November that runs through 2027 now looks like a bargain. With the Marlins now having a Cy Young winner, the only franchises without one are the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies.

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.

Juan Soto Wins This Year’s Home Run Derby

Juan Soto is officially a batting champion…

The 23-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder won $1 million on Monday with a swing that’s worth much more.

Juan SotoShaking off trade rumors that threatened to sully his MLB All-Star week, Soto beat a legend and held off a rookie to win the Home Run Derby and the big-money prize that accompanied it in front of a sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd.

After recently turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, Soto arrived in Los Angeles early Monday morning with his future in doubt ahead of the August 2 trade deadline. He emerged unbothered. When asked before the Derby whether he was going to win it, his answer was characteristically Soto: “Probably.” And on that prediction he came through, vanquishing Albert Pujols in the semifinals and Julio Rodriguez in the finals.

“I’m a lone survivor,” Soto said. “I’ve been going through all this stuff, and I’m still here standing up and with my chin up, all the time. And that shows you I can go through anything.”

Anything, in this case, included a day of answering questions he can’t possibly answer, including whether the Nationals will trade him before the August 2 deadline or where he might wind up. Soto instead worried about his powerful left-handed swing, shooting balls to all fields and finishing the finals with 19 home runs to the 18 of his Dominican Republic countryman Rodríguez.

Juan SotoAt 23 years, 266 days old, Soto became the second-youngest Derby champion — just a day older than 1993 winner Juan Gonzalez.

Until the finals, the Derby had been the latest episode of the J-Rod Show. Rodriguez, the precocious 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfielder, ambushed the field Monday night, ousting the two-time defending champion and smashing 81 home runs.

The first hitter of the night, Rodriguez set the tone for his showing with 32 home runs in his first-round matchup against the Texas Rangers Corey Seager. Then came Pete Alonso, the New York Mets slugger who won the last two competitions in 2019 and 2021 but mustered only 23 home runs in the semifinals, well short of Rodriguez’s 31.

Then came his matchup with Soto, against whom, Rodriguez said, he used to play Call of Duty games. Rodriguez was better at COD. Soto, at least on Monday, was superior at HRD.

“What did I show the fans?” Rodriguez said. “Who I am, I guess. They know a little bit now.”

Rodriguez, who is earning the MLB minimum salary of $700,000 this year, received a $500,000 bonus as the runner-up.

Soto was locked in from the beginning, beating Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez in the first round and St. Louis Cardinals great Pujols in the semifinals.

Pujols, 42, is in his final season — and upset Philadelphia‘s Kyle Schwarber, the No. 1 seed, in the first round, beating him in an overtime period. He couldn’t keep up with Soto, whose 482-foot home run in the first round was the longest of the night.

“I wasn’t sure if I should beat him or let him beat me, but just the respect — I respect him a lot,” Soto said. “Even though I beat him at the end of the day, it’s just a competition. He knows how much I’m proud of him and how much talent he brings to all the generations and advice that he gives to us.”

Whatever Soto’s future, wherever he winds up, whether he’s moved before this deadline or after, he said he would walk away from this All-Star week sure of one thing.

“I will be a Home Run Derby champion forever,” he said.

Major League Baseball Hires Former Mets General Manager Omar Minaya as Amateur Scouting Consultant

Omar Minaya has scouted a new opportunity…

The 63-year-old Dominican former New York Mets general manager has been hired by Major League Baseball as a consultant for amateur scouting.

Omar MinayaHe’ll advise the baseball operations department on both domestic and international scouting initiatives.

Minaya will report to Morgan Sword, the executive vice president of baseball operations.

Minaya became a scout with the Texas Rangers in 1984 and signed Sammy Sosa. He moved up eventually to director of professional and international scouting and left in September 1997 to become an assistant general manager with his hometown Mets.

He joined the Montreal Expos as major league baseball’s first Hispanic GM in February 2002.

Minaya returned to the Mets as GM from September 2004 until October 2010, then was fired and became the San Diego Padres‘ senior vice president of baseball operations from December 2011 until January 2015.

He served as senior adviser to players’ association head Tony Clark until December 2017, then rejoined the Mets as a special assistant until November 2020.