Jeimer Candelario Agrees to Three-Year, $45 Million Contract with Cincinnati Reds

Jeimer Candelario is seeing Red(s) 

The 30-year-old Dominican American professional baseball third baseman has agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds, adding the veteran switch hitter to a plethora of young infielders as the Reds position themselves for a run at the National League Central title.

Jeimer CandelarioCandelario was non-tendered by the Detroit Tigers following the 2022 season but rebounded with a stellar 2023, setting career highs in home runs (22) and RBIs (70) while hitting .251/.336/.471 and playing first and third base for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. His deal with the Reds includes a club option for $15 million in 2027, sources said. 

He joins a Reds team that already features young infielders Elly De La CruzMatt McLainNoelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Jonathan India. Another infielder, Spencer Steer, is expected to move to left field, where he would complement outfielders TJ Friedl, Will Benson and Jake Fraley.

Candelario’s deal, first reported by MLB.com, could free up Cincinnati to use its depth to pursue a trade for a pitcher, though the Reds already have added right-hander Nick Martinez to their rotation and right-hander Emilio Pagan to their bullpen on two-year deals.

Cincinnati’s last postseason appearance in a full season came in 2013, and following an 82-80 performance in 2023, owner Bob Castellini said he intended to expand the Reds’ payroll with hopes of usurping the incumbent division winner, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Cubs. The Reds, typically among the lowest-payroll teams, have guaranteed $87 million to free agents.

Multiple teams pursued Candelario this winter, looking at his versatility as well as his ability to hit from both sides of the plate as pluses. Over his eight-year career, Candelario has hit .243/.325/.414 with 88 home runs and 318 RBIs in 746 games.

Ali Sánchez Agrees to 1-Year Deal with Pittsburgh Pirates

Ali Sánchez is battening down the hatches

The 26-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher has agreed to a 1-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving the team another player to throw in the mix behind the plate with Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis.

Ali SánchezSánchez spent last season with Arizona’s Triple-A affiliate in Reno, hitting .311 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs and 43 RBIs in 67 games. He also threw out 22 baserunners.

Sánchez has appeared in seven Major League Baseball (MLB) games, five for the New York Mets in 2020 and two for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021.

While Pirates general manager Ben Cherington has insisted that Davis, the top overall pick in the 2021 draft, will get a chance at catcher, Sánchez’s arrival gives Pittsburgh flexibility at the position. Davis played primarily in right field after making his major league debut in June.

The Pirates also claimed right-handed pitcher Roddery Munoz off waivers from the Washington Nationals. Muñoz, 23, went a combined 4-6 with a 5.42 ERA in 34 appearances at multiple levels of the minors in 2023.

Reynaldo López Agrees to $30 Million, Three-Year Contract with Atlanta Braves

It’s a Brave(s) new world for Reynaldo López.

While keeping up their search for starting pitching, the Atlanta Braves added another reliever to their bullpen Monday by agreeing to $30 million, three-year contract with the 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher.

Reynaldo López,The deal calls for López to make $4 million in 2024 and $11 million in the next two seasons. There is an $8 million club option for 2027, with a $4 million buyout.

López, a right hander, pitched for three teams in 2023, combining to go 3-7 with a 3.27 ERA and six saves over 68 appearances with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Guardians. He had 83 strikeouts in 66 innings — a career-best average of 11.3 Ks per nine innings — with a fastball that averaged 98.2 mph.

The Braves, who had an MLB-leading 104 wins this past season but were eliminated in the NL Division Series for the second year in a row by Philadelphia, have been retooling their roster with an eye toward getting over the hump in the postseason.

They re-signed relievers Joe Jimenez and Pierce Johnson to multiyear deals, acquired left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer from the White Sox in a six-player trade and dealt former 21-game winner Kyle Wright, who is set to miss the entire 2024 season with a shoulder injury after sitting out most of this past season.

In exchange for Wright, the Braves landed former first-round draft pick Jackson Kowar, who has struggled with the Royals pitching mostly in relief. In a separate deal with Kansas City, Atlanta traded reliever Nick Anderson for $100,000.

All the moves have left the Braves with solid depth in a bullpen that also includes closer Raisel Iglesias and lefties A.J. MinterDylan Lee and Tyler MatzekDaysbel Hernandez and Huascar Ynoa are other bullpen candidates.

“They just looked like they knew they wanted to win at all times,” López said through a translator. “It’s great to be part of that and can’t wait to be out there.”

The only clear move to address a dearth of starting pitching depth was exercising a $20 million option for 40-year-old Charlie Morton, who went 14-12 with a 3.64 ERA last season.

That is, unless they’re planning to move López back to the rotation. He held that role with the Chicago White Sox from 2017-20, going 21-31 with a 4.76 ERA over 81 starts.

He made his MLB debut with the Washington Nationals in 2016, and has also played for the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Guardians.

Other than one appearance as an opener, López has been used exclusively as a reliever the last two seasons, with much more success.

“I was open to both options, someone who was looking for a starter or reliever,” López said. “Both options were open.”

The Braves’ rotation is led by MLB All-Star Spencer Strider (20-5, 3.86, a franchise-record 281 strikeouts) and Max Fried, who is heading into his final season before becoming eligible for free agency. The other starting candidates are Bryce Elder, who was selected for the All-Star Game but struggled down the stretch, and 21-year-old top prospect AJ Smith-ShawverDarius VinesAllan WinansDylan Dodd and possibly 2023 first-round pick Hurston Waldrep could also be in the mix.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos appeared to be clearing payroll space to make a run at a starter with a series of moves that sliced 10 players off the Braves’ 40-man roster in the past couple of weeks.

Atlanta declined a $9 million option for outfielder Eddie Rosario, cut ties with relievers Kirby Yates, Brad Hand and Collin McHugh, did not tender a contract to reliever Michael Tonkin, and dealt away arbitration-eligible players such as former ace Michael Soroka, infielder Nicky Lopez and Anderson.

One possible target is out of the running after Aaron Nola agreed to a seven-year deal to remain with the Phillies. Sonny Gray is thought to be another starter on Atlanta’s wish list.

Gerardo Parra Named New First-Base Coach for Washington Nationals

Gerardo Parra has landed his first Major League Baseball coaching job.

The 36-year-old Venezuelan former professional baseball outfielder will be the new first-base coach for the Washington Nationals as part of a series of changes to manager Dave Martinez‘s staff announced by the club on Friday after a fourth consecutive last-place finish in the NL East.

Gerardo ParraParra played for the Arizona DiamondbacksMilwaukee BrewersBaltimore OriolesColorado RockiesSan Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals, as well for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). Parra is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and won the 2019 World Series as a member of the Nationals.

Miguel Cairo will be Martinez’s bench coach and Ricky Gutierrez is shifting to third-base coach after holding the title of run prevention coordinator in 2023. Chris Johnson was hired as assistant hitting coach.

Holdovers include hitting coach Darnell Coles, pitching coach Jim Hickey, catching and strategy coach Henry Blanco and bullpen coach Ricky Bones.

This is Parra’s first job on an MLB coaching staff. After retiring in 2021, he started working in the Nationals’ front office in 2022. Parra played in the majors for 12 years and signed with Washington in 2019 as a backup outfielder. His choice of “Baby Shark” as his walkup music — a nod to his 2-year-old daughter — became a rallying cry for fans and players while the club won its first championship that season.

Cairo, also a former player, was the minor league infield coordinator for the New York Mets last season. Before that, he was the bench coach for the Chicago White Sox for two seasons.

Coles, Hickey, Blanco and Bones head into their third season in these roles with Washington.

The Nationals did not renew the contracts of bench coach Tim Bogar, third-base coach Gary DiSarcina, first-base coach Eric Young Jr. and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler.

The Nationals went 71-91 in 2023 as general manager Mike Rizzo continues to try to remake their roster. In the National League, only the Colorado Rockies finished with a worse record this year.

Rizzo and Martinez both got new contracts during the season.

Rizzo has been the team’s GM since 2007. He hired Martinez for his first managerial job before the 2018 season.

Atlanta Braves Star Ronald Acuña Jr. Becomes 5th Player In MLB History with 40-40 Season

Ronald Acuña Jr. has entered an exclusive Major League Baseball club…

The 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder and Atlanta Braves star became the fifth player in MLB history to have 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season, entering the exclusive club when he led off Friday night’s game against the Washington Nationals with his 40th homer.

Ronald Acuña Jr.Acuña sent a 3-2 slider from Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin over the left-field fence for his eighth leadoff homer of the season.

He joined Alfonso Soriano (2006), Alex Rodriguez (1998), Barry Bonds (1996) and Jose Canseco (1988) as the only members of the 40-40 club.

“It’s elite company, that’s for sure,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I’m just glad I got a front-row seat to watch it.”

Acuña, one of the leading contenders for National League MVP honors, entered the game with 68 stolen bases, tops in the majors. He is the only player ever to have a 40-60 season, and in fact, no one before this season had ever achieved a 40-50 season.

“It’s pretty incredible, and just think of how many players have played in the big leagues and my name is alone,” Acuña said of the 40-60 season. “But I’m hoping, and I’m sure someone will break that record too.”

Friday’s homer was the 160th of Acuña’s career. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he’s the first player in MLB history with 160 homers and 160 stolen bases at age 25 or younger. Acuña has 175 career stolen bases.

Acuña also doubled and scored three runs in the Braves’ 9-6 win. He has hit safely in 14 of his past 15 games, with eight home runs and 15 RBIs in that span. His 143 runs scored are the most since Rodriguez also tallied 143 runs in his 2007 MVP campaign.

“He’s healthy,” Snitker said. “He wasn’t healthy last year, and he has been from the get-go this year. I think that’s a product of him doing what he can do because he’s healthy again.”

Braves right-hander Charlie Morton pitched a scoreless inning before he was removed Friday with a right index sprain, Snitker said. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Morton said he hopes to be ready for the postseason.

“This is more a question about effectiveness,” Morton said. “I can pitch. I can go out there and pitch, but the next start I make is probably going to be in the postseason, if I had to guess. It’s not a game in late May or early August. It’s going to be the biggest of the season. That’s where the frustration comes in and the question mark comes in.”

Jeimer Candelario Reacquired by the Chicago Cubs

Jeimer Candelario is headed back to The Windy City

The 29-year-old Dominican America professional baseball player has been reacquired by the Chicago Cubs.

The team acquired Candelario from the Washington Nationals third baseman nearly six years to the day they traded him to the Detroit Tigers.

In return, the Cubs are sending prospects Kevin Made and DJ Herz back to the Nationals.

Candelario has 16 home runs and an .823 OPS for Washington this season. The home runs are just three shy of his career high set in 2018. For the year, he’s hitting .258 with a .342 on-base percentage, appearing in 96 games at third base and two more as the Nationals designated hitter.

The switch-hitting, eight-year veteran could fill both roles for the Cubs as they’ve mixed and matched at third and designated hitter all season. Patrick Wisdom had a hot start to the spring but cooled off and is hitting only .195 while Nick Madrigal is a converted second baseman, though he’s played well in short stints at third this season.

Cubs designated hitters have compiled a .229 batting average and .698 OPS this season.

The Nationals get back Single-A shortstop Made and Double-A pitcher Herz, both of whom were top-20 prospects in the Cubs system.

Chicago changed course over the last week, becoming a team that would add talent after winning eight straight games and pushing over the .500 mark for the first time since early May. Instead of subtracting pending free agents, they’re adding them, including Candelario. The team is also searching for bullpen arms before Tuesday’s trading deadline.

Candelario returns to the Cubs organization after he was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent in October 2010, making his major league debut in five games with Chicago in 2016. He was traded to Detroit with infielder Isaac Paredes in a deal for catcher Alex Avila and pitcher Justin Wilson at the 2017 trade deadline.

Later Monday, the Kansas City Royals traded right-handed pitcher Jose Cuas to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Nelson Velazquez.

Cuas, 29, was 1-3 this season for Kansas City, with four holds and two blown saves. He made 45 appearances, and all but one came out of the bullpen.

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.