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Dusty Baker to return as Houston Astros manager in 2022

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The Houston Astros are bringing back manager Dusty Baker on a one-year deal, the team announced Friday.

Baker, 72, led the Astros to the World Series in 2021 after taking over the team before the 2020 season.

“He’s done a great job this last year,” owner Jim Crane said. “Great in the locker room, great with the fans, great with the media. We’re very, very excited to have him back.”

Baker has taken five different teams to the postseason and came within two victories of winning his first World Series as a manager this year.

“Looking forward to being part of this organization and this city,” Baker said. “I have some tremendous ties here and have some unfinished business to take care of. But we’re close. We’re getting better and better every year.”

Asked if he was excited to return, Baker responded, “Like my son asks me all the time, ‘Dad, are you excited?’ Yeah, but I don’t jump up and down and show my excitement. I feel my excitement on the inside.”

Baker led the Astros to the American League Championship Series in 2020 before winning the AL West in 2021. Houston beat the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS and the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS before losing to the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

He took over as a steady hand after the Astros fired AJ Hinch because of the team’s sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball in 2019. Baker said he believes the team has moved past those dark days.

“I talked to a lot of players,” Baker said. “Some guys are interested in coming here that might not have been interested in coming here before, so I think our future is very bright.”

The Astros indicated that they may give a qualifying offer to pitcher Justin Verlander, who missed the season after Tommy John surgery. And they are monitoring right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. as he continues to rest after experiencing forearm soreness during the postseason.

As for free-agent star Carlos Correa, the team plans to talk with him again after the sides weren’t able to come to a long-term agreement before the 2021 season.

“I guess you’re looking for a [contract] number,” Crane said with a smile when asked what those conversations might look like. “We kind of know where he’s looking. We’re going to sit down and put our best foot forward, something that fits into our formula and hopefully that fits into his formula.”

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Veteran lefty Rich Hill joins Boston Red Sox on 1-year deal

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Free-agent left-hander Rich Hill has signed a one-year, $5 million contract to join the Boston Red Sox, the team announced Wednesday.

Hill, an 18-year veteran who will be 42 next season, was a combined 7-8 with a 3.86 ERA for the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays last season in 158⅔ innings.

He was 6-4 with a 3.89 ERA in 19 starts for the contending Rays when they traded him to New York on July 23 for right-hander Tommy Hunter and minor league catcher Matt Dyer.

The deal comes one day after the Red Sox reached agreement with fellow left-hander James Paxton on a one-year, $10 million contract with a two-year club option, a deal that was finalized on Wednesday. Paxton, 33, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and should be back pitching in 2022.

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Minnesota Twins sign veteran RHP Dylan Bundy to one-year, $5 million deal

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins signed right-hander Dylan Bundy to a $5 million, one-year contract on Wednesday, taking their first step toward rebuilding a depleted rotation.

Bundy will make $4 million in 2022. His deal comes with a club option for 2023 or a $1 million buyout.

Bundy went 2-9 with a 6.06 ERA in 90⅔ innings last season for the Los Angeles Angels, starting 19 of his 23 appearances. He was 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 65⅔ innings in 2020, making 11 starts in the pandemic-abbreviated season that were strong enough to finish ninth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

Bundy, 29, was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. He went 10-6 with a 4.02 ERA in his first full major league season (10-6) and has a career 4.72 ERA in 161 games (133 starts). Bundy was traded to the Angels in 2019.

Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober, both rookies in 2021, are the only starting pitchers who finished the year with the Twins still around. Minnesota traded Jose Berrios and J.A. Happ and released Matt Shoemaker at different points during a disappointing 2021. Kenta Maeda went down with an elbow injury, with Tommy John surgery putting his 2022 season in doubt, and Michael Pineda became a free agent.

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Chicago White Sox, valued veteran Leury Garcia agree to terms on new contract, source says

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The Chicago White Sox agreed to terms with free agent infielder/outfielder Leury Garcia on Tuesday, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN.

Seeking a return to the postseason, the club brought back the popular, longest tenured player on the team. Garcia, 30, was used as a super utility player last season for the White Sox, appearing in 65 games in the outfield, 36 at second base, 19 at shortstop and 11 at third base.

He slashed .267/.335/.376 in 415 at-bats, and was a valuable player moving around the diamond as the White Sox were hit with a multitude of injuries throughout the summer.

The switch hitter is also one of the leaders on a young White Sox team who have made the playoffs the last two seasons. Garcia has been with the Sox since 2013.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The agreement was first reported by MLB Network.

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