Eric Hosmer Agrees to One-Year Contract with Chicago Cubs

Eric Hosmer is headed to the Windy City

The Chicago Cubs filled a need at first base and designated hitter, giving the 33-year-old half-Cuban American free agent a one-year contract, according to ESPN.

Eric Hosmer, Chicago will only have to pay Hosmer the minimum salary, according to ESPN sources, as he still has three years and $39 million left on a contract he signed with the San Diego Padres in 2018.

Hosmer was traded from the Padres to the Boston Red Sox last season, not long after San Diego acquired Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals.

Hosmer was released by the Red Sox at the end of the year.

Hosmer has a career .764 OPS while spending his best seasons with the Kansas City Royals who he helped to a World Series title in 2015.

Two years later, he signed an 8-year, $144 million deal with San Diego which runs through 2025. The Padres are paying most of that remaining salary.

Hosmer figures to see time mostly at designated hitter as well as first base. The team also has holdover Patrick Wisdom, who can play first, as well as prospect Matt Mervis. Mervis hit 36 home runs combined in three different levels of the minors last season, but it’s not clear if he’ll make the team out of spring training.

Last season, Hosmer had a hot April — compiling an OPS over 1.000 — but cooled off for the final months of the year. From May to October, his OPS was just .636.

The signing is part of a longer term plan by the Cubs who are attempting to improve in 2023 after a 74 win season but also have an eye on competing at a higher level in the coming years. The deal should be viewed similar to Cody Bellinger‘s one-year contract — as a bridge to younger prospects who aren’t quite ready for the majors.

Along with Mervis potentially taking over at first base, the team is hoping centerfield, where Bellinger plays, will be manned by Pete Crow-Armstrong soon. He was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets in July 2021.

Hosmer joins Bellinger, shortstop Dansby Swanson, pitcher Jameson Taillon and catcher Tucker Barnhart as key offseason acquisitions for Chicago.

Jeimer Candelario Agrees to One-Year Contract with Washington Nationals

Jeimer Candelario is headed to The District

The 29-year-old Dominican American professional baseball player, a former Detroit Tigers third baseman, has reached an agreement with the Washington Nationals on a contract for the 2023 season.

Jeimer CandelarioThe deal is for $5 million with an opportunity to earn $1 million more in performance bonuses, according to ESPN.

Candelario was non-tendered by Detroit earlier this month, making him a free agent after he compiled a career-low .633 OPS in 2022. He’ll have a chance to rebuild his value in Washington, where the Nationals are in the early portion of a rebuilding phase.

Candelario is a seven-year veteran who led the majors in doubles (42) in 2021 but had just 28 walks to 109 strikeouts in 2022. He has a career .723 OPS in 606 games played.

This will be Candelario’s third team. He came up with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 before being traded to Detroit the following season. He hit 19 home runs in 2018 but has yet to reach that total in subsequent years.

Julio Rodriguez Agrees to Massive Long-Term Deal with Seattle Mariners that Could Max Out at $470 Million

Julio Rodriguez has finalized a historic payday…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, nicknamed “J-Rod,” has finalized a massive long-term extension deal with the Seattle Mariners that guarantees him $210 million and could max out at $470 million, which would be the richest deal in American sports history, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Julio RodriguezThe Mariners announced the deal on Friday before Rodriguez’s at-bat in the sixth inning of Seattle’s 3-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,870. In a news release announcing the agreement, the team called it a “historic day for Julio and Mariners fans.”

“This is a great day for my family and me,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have always wanted to spend my whole career here, in Seattle, with this team and with these fans. I want to win here, in Seattle. That was what I told my agents, and what I told [president of baseball operations] Jerry [Dipoto]. I am so happy to be here.”

The base deal is for $120 million and lasts through the 2029 season, sources said.

Following the 2028 season, the Mariners can exercise an option for an additional eight or 10 years, depending on where Rodriguez finishes in MVP voting in the preceding seasons.

If the Mariners turn down the option, Rodriguez can exercise a five-year, $90 million player option after the 2029 season or hit free agency just shy of his 30th birthday.

The Mariners’ option is where the potential money can grow into a historically large figure. If Rodriguez maxes out his MVP escalators, Seattle’s option would be for 10 years and $350 million, taking the total value of the deal to $470 million through 2039. The lowest level would be for eight years and $200 million on top of the original $120 million, keeping Rodriguez tied to the Mariners through 2037.

“Julio is among the most exciting players in the game and has only scratched the surface of what’s to come,” Dipoto said in a statement. “We feel the uniqueness of this deal befits the person. His infectious personality and ability on the field are only surpassed by his character away from it. We are thrilled that generations of Mariners fans will have the privilege of watching him play in T-Mobile Park for many years to come.”

Rodriguez, a powerful and fast center fielder, became one of the most exciting players in baseball when he made the Mariners’ Opening Day roster. His dynamic skills and big personality endeared him to a Seattle community that hasn’t seen the Mariners make a postseason in two decades.

With an MLB All-Star Game selection, an epic Home Run Derby performance and a .267/.326/.467 line with 20 home runs and 23 stolen bases, Rodriguez has made perhaps an even bigger impact than anticipated.

“He’s learned a lot over the last 4½, five months about Major League Baseball and things he needed to work on and continue to improve upon,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said Friday. “Really good teammate. I mean, you can go on and on describing where he’s at. But there’s a lot of baseball, really good baseball ahead of him, and I know that’s what excites me and the organization.”

Signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in July 2017, Rodriguez was seen by scouts as a prototypical corner outfielder who could hit for power. What he has blossomed into, particularly over the past two years, is a true five-tool player with elite speed and the range for center field without sacrificing any of the power that remains one of his calling cards.

The Mariners broke camp with Rodriguez in center field. He struggled in April, striking out 30 times in 73 at-bats without a home run. Since then, Rodriguez has been one of the top players in baseball and the best on a Mariners team that is 69-57 and 2½ games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the final American League wild-card spot.

His deal, which was first reported by MLB.com, guarantees him the most money for a player with less than one full year in the major leagues. San Diego signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million contract after his second season, and the Tampa Bay Rays guaranteed $182 million over 11 seasons to shortstop Wander Franco last winter.

Rodriguez is seventh this season in Baseball-Reference wins above replacement and 16th in FanGraphs’ version. Provided he finishes high in MVP voting in future seasons, his deal is likelier to resemble that of Tatis.

While the 10-year version of Seattle’s option would necessitate consistently high MVP finishes, an eight-year, $280 million version — which would guarantee Rodriguez $400 million — is very attainable.

The potential record-setting nature of the $470 million ceiling could soon be eclipsed. Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is set to reach free agency after the 2023 season. A year later, Padres star Juan Soto, who turned down a guaranteed $440 million from the Washington Nationals before they traded him, could be a free agent right after he turns 26.

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.

Pete Alonso Vying to Win Third-Straight Home Run Derby Crown

Pete Alonso is hoping for a three-peat…

The 27-year-old part-Spanish American professional baseball player and New York Mets first baseman will take part in this year’s Home Run Derby next week in Los Angeles.

Pete AlonsoMajor League Baseball made the announcement on Monday on its official Twitter page, confirming the return of one of the Derby’s most successful hitters.

“It’s a really fun event,” Alonso told reporters in the Mets clubhouse Monday before their 4-1 win over the Braves in Atlanta. “It’s going to be super exciting, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Also before the game, the Braves announced that star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. will participate in the Derby. And later Monday, St. Louis Cardinals veteran Albert Pujols entered into the Derby as well, giving the former Los Angeles Dodgers slugger a chance participate in a familiar park.

“It’s an honor to be back in the All-Star Game and to have a chance to be part of the Home Run Derby, that’s something I enjoy a lot and my kids will have a blast,” Pujols said Monday night. “Hopefully, I can put on a good show for them, because at the end of the day, it’s not about us, it’s about putting a good show for the fans.”

Washington Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto and Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber, who leads the National League in home runs with 28, also will participate in the event, their teams announced Tuesday.

Last year, in Denver, Alonso outlasted Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini to become the third back-to-back Home Run Derby champion.

Alonso recorded 74 home runs — totaling 6.35 miles in distance — en route to the crown.

“I think I’m the best power hitter on the planet,” Alonso said after the win last year. “Being able to showcase that, and really putting on a fun display for fans, I just think it’s a dream come true for me because when I was young, my parents let me stay up past my bedtime to watch this. That was one of the few nights per year I actually got to stay up past my bedtime, just watch incredible feats that you don’t see in a regular baseball game.”

And now Dodger Stadium will be his stage next Monday, as he takes a break from a regular season that has New York fans thinking about a postseason run. The Mets enter play on Monday with a 53-33 record and a first-place standing in the National League East. Alonso leads the team with 23 home runs to go along with a .273 batting average and 70 RBIs.

Last year — with New York bench coach Dave Jauss pitching to him — Alonso wowed the crowd at Coors Field with a final-round total of 23, in joining Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14) in winning consecutive titles.

“This is just surreal,” Alonso said at the time. “It’s just truly a blessing.”

Alonso confirmed Monday that Jauss will again be his pitcher next week.

“Just need to give him about two pots of coffee for before and a case of Bud Light for after, and he said he’s good to go,” Alonso said.

Elian Soto Reportedly Verbally Agrees to Join Brother Juan Soto’s Washington Nationals Team

Elian Soto is heading to The District

The 16-year-old Dominican baseball outfielder and third baseman, the younger sibling of Juan Soto, has verbally agreed to join his brother’s Washington Nationals.

Elian SotoThe announcement comes just days after he declared his intentions to sign with the New York Mets, according to ESPN.

Elian Soto wouldn’t be eligible to formally sign until next year’s international free agent class in January 2023.

The younger Soto posted an Instagram video of himself working out in full Mets gear on December 31 and had reportedly been given a $50,000 bonus but has since changed course.

Soto’s decision was first reported by Washington City Paper.

The Nationals’ offer is believed to be larger. The discrepancy in money and a greater familiarity with the Nats’ minor league system — as opposed to a Mets system seemingly in transition under new general manager Billy Eppler — were the main factors in Soto’s decision, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.

The presence of Juan Soto, a superstar who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, certainly didn’t hurt, either.

Elian Soto, a left-handed hitter, isn’t considered a premium international prospect but is still young enough to develop into one. Amateur players and their trainers in the Dominican Republic often make handshake agreements with teams long before they’re old enough to officially sign a contract, allowing them to intermittently train at the team’s facility and preventing them from showcasing themselves to evaluators from other organizations.

There appears to be a strong possibility that an international draft will be baked into the new collective bargaining agreement, which is still being negotiated between the owners and the players. But the current international signing rules could still be in place next year in order to give teams and prospects more time to get acclimated.

Elian Soto, like his brother, is represented by the Boras Corporation, and adding him could play in the Nationals’ favor when it comes to extending Juan Soto, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 season under the current CBA.

Joey Cora to Become Third-Base Coach for New York Mets

Joey Cora has Mets his match…

The New York Mets are on the verge of hiring the 56-year-old Puerto Rican former Major League Baseball player, who had an 11-year career in the MLB, as their new third-base coach, ESPN reports, confirming a report by the New York Post.

Joey Cora,

Cora, the older brother of Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, spent five years as third-base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates before being let go at the end of the 2021 season.

In New York, he’ll become the first coach hired under Buck Showalter, who took over as the team’s manager less than three weeks ago.

The Mets retained Jeremy Hefner as their pitching coach but are still in the process of filling vacancies at bench coach, hitting coach and first-base coach, among others.

Cora was a major league middle infielder from 1987 to 1998, making an MLB All-Star team late in his career, then transitioned into coaching shortly thereafter. Cora began as a manager in the Mets’ minor league system and later spent eight years with the Chicago White Sox under Ozzie Guillen, winning a World Series as the team’s third-base coach in 2005. Cora was also Guillen’s bench coach with the Miami Marlins in 2012 and has often interviewed for managerial jobs throughout his post-playing career.

Cora will now replace Gary DiScarcina, who was let go amid the shake-up that followed the firing of former Mets manager Luis Rojas. Rojas is now the New York Yankees‘ third-base coach, while DiSarcina has the same position with the Washington Nationals.

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.

Alcides Escobar Agrees to $1 Million Deal with Washington Nationals

Alcides Escobar has a million reasons to smile…

The 34-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract to stay with the Washington Nationals next season.

Alcides Escobar,

Escobar, who will turn 35 in December, batted .288 with 21 doubles, two triples, four homers and 28 RBIs in 75 games with the Nationals after signing with the club in July.

Escobar has a career average of .259 with 245 doubles and 470 RBIs over a total of 12 seasons in the majors with three clubs. He was an AL All-Star for the Kansas City Royals in 2015.

This is the first move of what figures to be a busy offseason for general manager Mike Rizzo after Washington finished last in the NL East with a 67-95 record. The regular season ended on Sunday.

Rizzo opted to tear down the roster at the trade deadline, parting with more than a half-dozen veterans, including shortstop Trea Turner — the eventual NL batting champion — and starting pitcher Max Scherzer

Marlins’ Pitching Prospect Edward Cabrera to Make MLB Debut This Week

Edward Cabrera is ready for his big moment…

The 23-year-old Dominican highly regarded pitching prospect is scheduled to make his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut on Wednesday when the Miami Marlins take on the Washington Nationals.

Edward Cabrera

Cabrera is 3-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 starts at three minor league levels this year. He was sidelined early in the season by a biceps injury.

The right-handed pitcher is 19-25 with a 3.54 ERA in five seasons in the minors, recording 361 strikeouts in 341 innings.