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Carlos Carrasco says New York Mets are primed for postseason, World Series

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NEW YORK — Carlos Carrasco got a welcome call from new Mets owner Steven Cohen.

“He was so excited. He can’t wait to meet me. I can’t wait to meet him, too,” the pitcher said Tuesday. “The way he talked, the way he said everything is — he looked like a really nice guy.”

New York has bulked up since Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of New York from the Wilpon and Katz families on Nov. 6. Carrasco is expecting a postseason contender.

“I’m so happy right now. I wish spring training started next week, to meet everyone and start wearing this jersey,” Carrasco said during a news conference. “It’s something really important for me, just wearing this jersey right now.”

Carrasco and All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor were acquired from Cleveland last week for infielders Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario plus a pair of minor league prospects: right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene.

A right-hander who turns 34 in March, Carrasco missed three months of the 2019 season while fighting leukemia. He pitched through the coronavirus pandemic, going 3-4 in 12 starts with a 2.91 ERA, his best since a career-best 2.55 ERA when he split 2014 between Cleveland’s rotation and bullpen.

“The first time that I found out that I had leukemia, I just think about it for 10 seconds, the worst thing,” he recalled. “But after that, I just always had my wife on my side and she told me, ‘You’re going to be fine. From day one to even now this morning, your fine, you don’t have anything.′ And that’s what I needed to hear.”

A positive thinker, Carrasco said that has been a key to his return to health.

“Just given to the simple, of just being strong,” he said. “I never feel down. I always think about it a different way. I have kids. I have a wife. My parents, friends, I don’t want them to see me sad. I always be strong and that’s what I’ve been feeling right now. I’m feeling really strong about that.”

Carrasco joins two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman in the rotation, which also may include from among David Peterson, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo. Noah Syndergaard is likely to return from Tommy John surgery at some point from June until the season’s end.

After going 88-73 with a 3.73 ERA over 11 seasons with the Indians, joins a team seeking its first World Series title since 1986, one that feels it is positioned to contend around its pitching and a core offensive group that includes Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto.

Carrasco will keep his No. 59 in New York and Lindor his No. 12. Winner of Major League Baseball’s 2019 Roberto Clemente Award for best exemplifying baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the contribution to his team, Carrasco is looking forward to starting community work in the New York area.

New York’s offseason has included Stroman accepting an $18.9 million qualifying offer and deals for right-handed reliever Trevor May ($15.5 million for two-years), catcher James McCann ($40.6 million for four years) and Syndergaard ($9.7 million for one season).

“The potential is to make it to the playoffs and to the World Series, too,” Carrasco said. “We have a really good team. Adding myself, Lindor is going to be really, really good, really nice. We have really good players, starting pitchers, relievers, I think we’re going to be fine.”

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George Springer gets paid, but will it pay off for the Toronto Blue Jays?

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In the end, despite all the grumbling and fussing about the slow offseason, George Springer will get his money. All it took was the biggest contract in Toronto Blue Jays history, a six-year, $150 million deal, according to Jeff Passan, just the second $100 million contract the franchise has handed out.

The Blue Jays have been trying to spend money all offseason, but it’s often difficult to lure free agents to Toronto. Kiley McDaniel’s free-agent rankings predicted a four-year, $108 million contract for Springer, so he essentially matched that in annual value, just with a couple more years added on. For the money, the Blue Jays are getting one of the best center fielders in baseball, albeit with some risk involved as the contract takes Springer from his age-31 season through age-36.

First, Springer brings power — 39 home runs in just 122 games in 2019, 14 in 51 games in 2020 — and positive defensive metrics.

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Jose Quintana, Los Angeles Angels agree to 1-year deal, source says

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The Los Angeles Angels, desperate to add starting pitching, agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with veteran left-hander Jose Quintana on Tuesday, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Quintana, who previously pitched under current Angels manager Joe Maddon while with the Chicago Cubs, was limited to only 10 innings in 2020 largely because of thumb surgery. Prior to that, the 31-year-old averaged 32 starts from 2013 to 2019, putting together a 3.72 ERA with a 3.23 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Quintana joins a rotation that includes Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning and potentially Shohei Ohtani, slotting in somewhere near the top.

Quintana stands as the fifth one-year addition made by first-year general manager Perry Minasian, following shortstop Jose Iglesias, closer Raisel Iglesias, catcher Kurt Suzuki and lefty reliever Alex Claudio. They’ll combine to make $23.25 million in 2021.

The Athletic first reported the agreement.

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George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays agree to 6-year, $150M deal, sources say

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Outfielder George Springer and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a six-year, $150 million contract, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The contract would be the largest given out by the Blue Jays in franchise history. Their only other contract that topped $100 million was a $126 million extension to Vernon Wells.

Springer is headed to the Blue Jays’ spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, for a physical. If all goes according to plan, Toronto will get the star it has been looking for all winter.

Springer, the sparkplug for the Houston Astros‘ offense in the leadoff spot for the past four seasons, was one of the most coveted free agents on the market this offseason. He hit a team-high 14 home runs this season and added another four in the postseason, as the Astros lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series.

While several of his teammates struggled offensively this past season amid fallout from the 2017 sign-stealing scandal, Springer, who earned $21 million on a one-year deal after avoiding arbitration, has continued to put up better numbers since then — hitting .265 with 32 RBIs in 51 games in 2020 while lowering his strikeout rate to 17.1%, a career best.

He passed on a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer by the Astros, who will get a compensation draft pick with him signing with a new team.

Prior to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Springer hit 20 home runs in five of the previous six seasons. He earned three straight All-Star nods from 2017-19, and he was named 2017 World Series MVP in 2017, when the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.

Springer has been at his best during big moments, hitting 19 postseason home runs, which is tied for fourth all-time. He also ranks sixth in slugging percentage (.546), seventh in extra-base hits (34) and is tied for 14th in runs scored (43).

Since making his debut in 2014, Springer has been one of the best hitters out of the leadoff spot in all of baseball, ranking second in home runs (136), third in RBIs (352) and fourth in hits (665) and extra-base hits (254), according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also has hit a first-inning leadoff home run 39 times during his career, which ranks fourth in American League history.

In 2019, Springer set career highs with a .292 batting average, a .591 slugging percentage, .383 on-base percentage and 6.2 WAR (wins above replacement).

Defensively, Springer continues to be very solid as the everyday center fielder at age 31 and could easily slide over to either of the corner outfield spots, if needed. Blue Jays center fielders accounted for -7 Defensive Runs Saved in 2020, tied with the New York Yankees for 26th in MLB. Springer accounted for 6 DRS as a center fielder in 2020, tied for fifth best at the position.

Overall, in seven seasons with the Astros, Springer has a .270 career average with 174 home runs and 458 home runs.

Blue Jays Nation first reported the agreement Tuesday night, while MLB Network first had the terms.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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