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Arizona Diamondbacks, coming off NL’s worst ERA in 2021, hiring Brent Strom as pitching coach

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Brent Strom is joining the Arizona Diamondbacks as their new pitching coach, he told the Houston Chronicle on Friday.

Strom, 73, had served as the Houston Astros‘ pitching coach since 2014 before saying he was leaving the team following its World Series run last season.

He told the Chronicle that he wanted to “start new again” in Arizona.

“I was home for, like, two or three days and got the itch again,” Strom said. “People that have been in baseball a long time really never lose that feel. When the Diamondbacks did call, it was exciting.”

Strom will look to rehabilitate a Diamondbacks pitching staff that had the worst ERA (5.11) in the National League last season and the second-worst in the majors, ahead of only the Baltimore Orioles.

Under Strom, the Astros ranked seventh in the majors in ERA at 3.76. Longtime minor league pitching instructor Bill Murphy will be Houston’s pitching coach next season.

Strom pitched for five seasons in the majors from 1972 to 1977, posting a 22-39 record and 3.95 ERA in 100 appearances and 75 starts.

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Reports — Tampa Bay Rays add veteran Corey Kluber to rotation on one-year deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays and free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber have agreed to a one-year contract, according to multiple reports.

The deal is worth $8 million guaranteed and could be worth as much as $13 million if he pitches a full season, according to the reports.

Kluber, who turns 36 in April, was limited to 80 innings last season with the New York Yankees because of a shoulder strain that kept him out for more than three months.

He went 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 16 starts for the Yankees and pitched a no-hitter in May, striking out nine batters in a 2-0 victory over the Texas Rangers.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t pitched a full season since 2018. He spent his first nine seasons with Cleveland and was a three-time All-Star, winning 98 games with the franchise and striking out more than 200 batters five times.

For his career, Kluber is 103-61 with a 3.19 ERA in 1,422⅔ innings over 11 seasons for Cleveland, Texas and the Yankees.

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Wander Franco finalizes $182 million, 11-year contract in ‘great day’ for Tampa Bay Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays have finalized a $182 million, 11-year contract that includes a club option for the 2033 season.

The shortstop’s deal, which could be worth up to $223 million if the club option is exercised and incentives are reached, was announced Saturday.

“This is a great day for Wander and for the Rays, and is evidence of the mutual trust between Wander and our organization,” Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. “We are committed to fielding competitive teams year in and year out, and we all expect that Wander’s presence and contributions will play a large part in maintaining our standard of excellence.”

Tampa Bay won the AL East in 2021, but was eliminated by Boston in the ALDS.

The contract is the largest financial commitment to a player in the Rays’ 24-year history. It’s also the biggest deal in major league history for a player with less than a year of major league service time.

Franco is the fifth player with less than a year of big league experience to sign a long-term extension with the team. The others are third baseman Evan Longoria (2008), left-hander Matt Moore (2011), right-hander Chris Archer (2014) and second baseman Brandon Lowe (2019).

“The pace at which Wander has developed speaks to his potential,” Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander said in a statement. “We have seen him do special things on the field, particularly for a player that is only 20 years old. He’s an exceptionally driven, budding superstar who can contribute to our success for a long time.”

Franco made his major league debut June 22 and hit a three-run homer. He batted .288 with 18 doubles, five triples, seven homers and 39 RBI in 70 games. He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

Franco put together a 43-game on-base streak to tie Cincinnati’s Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest in major league history among players under 21. He went 7 for 19 (.368) with two homers and four RBI in four postseason games.

Franco would have been eligible for free agency after the 2027 season. He gets a $5 million signing bonus, with $2.5 million payments on Dec. 1 and June 1, 2022.

The yearly salary breakdown is: $1 million in 2022, $2 million in 2023 and 2024, $8 million in 2025, $15 million in 2026, $22 million in 2027 and $25 million in each of the last five seasons. The 2033 club option is $25 million, with a $2 million buyout.

Franco’s deal also includes salary escalators if he finishes in the top five in voting for AL MVP. If he is traded before April 2, 2029, Franco receives a $3 million assignment bonus. It drops to $2 million if he is dealt on or after that date.

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Hector Neris agrees to 2-year, $17M deal with Houston Astros

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The Houston Astros have agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with right-handed reliever Hector Neris, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Neris, 32, started the 2021 season as the closer for the Phillies but lost the job in June. He finished the season with a 4-7 record with 12 saves and a 3.63 ERA in 74 games.

In parts of eight seasons with the Phillies, Neris was 21-29 with a 3.42 ERA and 84 saves.

NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported the deal.

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