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Cleveland Indians pick up $12M option on 3B Jose Ramirez

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CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians picked up José Ramírez‘s $12 million contract option for 2022 on Friday after the All-Star third baseman had another MVP-caliber season.

Ramírez was one of the only bright spots for the team’s inconsistent offense. The 29-year-old batted .266 with 36 homers, 103 RBIs and 27 steals in the final year of a team-friendly $26 million, four-year deal.

The Indians, who will be known as the Guardians next season, also declined a $7 million option for catcher Roberto Pérez and hired Chris Valaika as their hitting coach.

Valaika was an assistant hitting coach last season with the Chicago Cubs, working with rookies Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel.

It’s possible the Indians, who will transition to Guardians later this month, will look to sign Ramírez to a long-term extension this winter.

“I would really like to stay,” Ramírez said after Cleveland finished 80-82 for the club’s first losing season since 2012. “But there’s no rush. I would really like to stay here the rest of my career. But we have to wait to see what happens. I would love to see what they have to offer.”

The 32-year-old Pérez was slowed again by injuries this year. He batted .149 in 44 games in his eighth season with Cleveland.

Ramírez and Pérez were the only position players left from Cleveland’s 2016 pennant-winning team, which lost the World Series in seven games.

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MLB free-agency grades – Texas Rangers bet big on their future with Marcus Semien signing

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Raise your hand if, like me, you uttered something unprintable when you heard the reported terms of Marcus Semien‘s new contract and the team that had offered them. That’s what we call a knee-jerk reaction, which isn’t always rational or correct. Your real response is what you come up with after thinking through the factors involved. Often, then, you see a reason and a rhyme, even with surprising news.

For me, after thinking this deal through, I still think something mildly unprintable, but it’s a word that’s less severe than my knee-jerk phrase — and it comes with a slightly more positive connotation.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Semien and his representatives agreed to a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Texas Rangers. It’s the richest deal by far of this year’s free-agent season, matching the average annual value of Justin Verlander‘s deal with the Astros ($25 million) but for a half-decade longer.

In finding a new team, Semien becomes the second member of the long-anticipated shortstop free-agent class of 2021-22 to find a long-term home (the first being Francisco Lindor, who agreed to an extension with the Mets last season). Let’s consider that class with a few numbers from baseball-reference.com:

Here, it’s worth noting that Passan is also reporting that Semien is far from likely to be the last of the Rangers’ high-level free-agent targets, even among that shortstop class. Still, for now, we’ll look at how he fits as if he were the jewel of the Rangers’ winter push, and not just a jewel.



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Twins, Buxton find perfect balance in incentive-laden deal

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For his first 24 games of 2021, Byron Buxton was the best baseball player on the planet. He hit for average. He hit home runs. He hit doubles. He stole some bases. He played center field like Hermes, only in cleats instead of winged sandals. He hit .370/.408/.772 with nine home runs, 10 doubles and five stolen bases. He led all hitters in slugging percentage and trailed only Mike Trout in OPS.

This was the ceiling we had longed dreamed of for Buxton, who at his best is the most dynamic player in baseball this side of Shohei Ohtani: a combination of power, speed and defense that would make him a modern-day Willie Mays or Ken Griffey Jr.

Of course, it’s unfair to compare anybody to those two, and it was unfair to expect Buxton to keep hitting at that level. But sadly, we don’t even know how close he would have come, because once again the injury bug wrecked Buxton’s season. On May 7, he went on the injured list with a hip strain, suffered while running to first base on a groundout. He returned on June 19, and in his third game back, he suffered a fracture in his left hand when Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle hit him with a 94-mph fastball.

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Avisail Garcia, Miami Marlins reach 4-year deal, sources say

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Outfielder Avisail Garcia and the Miami Marlins are in agreement on a four-year, $53 million contract, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Sunday.

Garcia, 30, spent the past two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .262 in 2021, with 29 home runs and 86 RBIs — both career highs.

Miami had some money to spend in free agency after going 67-95 this past season, and made an early move with Garcia, one that helps shore up the team’s outfield.

CEO Derek Jeter had said he planned to be active this offseason.

“For the first time, really since we’ve been here as an ownership group, I expect to be pretty active — or I should say, have active conversations. There’s two sides to it,” he said in Octover.

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