Expert Cappers Picks
Major League Baseball
MLB News Wire
  • Marlins release SP Straily 3 days before opener
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 25, 2019

    In somewhat of a surprise move, the Miami Marlins released veteran starting pitcher Dan Straily just three days before the start of the regular season, the team announced Monday.

    • The 30-year-old right-hander was expected to be the most experienced member of the young Marlins' rotation this season, and had settled for a $5 million contract this season to avoid arbitration. But the team instead says it was impressed enough with the young arms this spring that it decided to go all-in with their inexperienced, but talented starters.

      "We talked about competition and taking the best 25 south with us [to Miami]," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told the Sun-Sentinel of the roster. "We had seven [starting pitchers] competing going into spring and the competition did not disappoint.

      "We saw the growth of Trevor Richards (25), Pablo Lopez (23) and Sandy Alcantara (23) -- these guys came ready to make the team. Caleb Smith (27) was recovering from [shoulder] injury, but everything was great with his recovery. We just wanted to monitor and make sure that he was getting the workload that he needed to be sharp and to help us as we approached Opening Day."

      Jose Urena, 27, is tabbed as the top starter for Miami, and the youth movement leaves Straily as the odd man out after the team decided to move Wei-Yin Chen to the bullpen a day earlier.

      Straily, who was traded from the Cincinnati Reds before the 2017 season, produced respectable numbers in his two seasons with the Marlins -- going 15-15 in 56 starts with a 4.20 ERA. But he struggled on the mound this spring, allowing six home runs in five starts with a 5.94 ERA.

      Since coming up with the Oakland A's in 2012, Straily has pitched for five teams in seven seasons -- including the A's (2012-14), Chicago Cubs (2014), Houston Astros (2015), Reds (2016) and the Marlins.

      In seven big-league seasons Straily is 42-36 with a 4.23 ERA in 142 appearances (132 starts), with a career-best season in 2016 with the Reds (14-8, 3.76 ERA).

      --Field Level Media

  • Trout says Harper, Machado delays were 'red flag'
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 25, 2019

    Los Angeles superstar outfielder Mike Trout admits that watching Manny Machado and Bryce Harper plod through free agency this offseason helped him decide to sign a mega-extension with the Angels, according to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.

    • "I kind of saw what Bryce and Manny went through and it drew a red flag for me," Trout said. "I talked to Manny and Bryce. It was a tough couple months in the offseason. They put it (in) perspective in my mind. I obviously want to be an Angel for life. That was a big key."

      Trout, the two-time Most Valuable Player and seven-time All-Star, would have become a free agent after the 2020 season. Instead, he signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract extension.

      Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres, but had to wait until mid-February to get the contract he felt he'd earned.

      Harper had to wait even longer to ink a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

      Over his seven-plus seasons in the majors, Trout is a .307 hitter with 240 home runs and 648 RBIs. His wins above replacement (WAR) total of 64.2 is the highest ever for a player at his experience level.

      --Field Level Media

  • Indians 3B Ramirez day-to-day with knee contusion
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 25, 2019

    The Cleveland Indians can breathe a sigh of relief after All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez was confirmed to have only a knee contusion after fouling a pitch off his left knee on Sunday.

    • The switch-hitter was batting right-handed in the third inning of an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox in Goodyear, Ariz.

      Ramirez immediately dropped to the dirt and remained down for several minutes before being assisted to the medical cart.

      Ramirez was taken for X-rays afterward, which came back negative for any fractures.

      He'll stay in Goodyear, Ariz. for treatment while the Indians play their final exhibition games on Monday and Tuesday, then join the team in Minnesota for the season opener.

      "I mean, he's day-to-day," Indians manager Terry Francona said, per MLB.com. "He has a bruise. Obviously, he had a pretty good bruise. You could tell by the way he reacted. So, I think the trainers feel like if we can get ahead of this thing the first 24 hours, rather than having him jump on a flight, we can maybe, like I said, get ahead of it a little bit."

      Ramirez, 26, entered the game batting .240 with one homer and six RBIs in 19 spring training games.

      Regardless of Ramirez's status, Cleveland will be short-handed when it opens the season Thursday at Minnesota. Second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor will begin the campaign on the injured list.

      Ramirez was third in the American League Most Valuable Player voting in each of the past two seasons.

      He batted .318 with a league-leading 56 doubles in 2017 and batted .270 with 39 homers and 105 RBIs -- both career highs -- in 2018. He has played at least 152 games in each of the past three seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Trout emotional talking about long-term deal with Angels
    By Field Level Media / Monday, March 25, 2019

    Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout might call the East Coast his home, but he left no doubt where his baseball home is: Anaheim.

    • With a handful of players signing record or near-record contracts this offseason, attention turned to Trout, the two-time Most Valuable Player, who could have become a free agent after the 2020 season. Instead, he signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract extension this week.

      "That was one thing on my mind, talking to people -- if I did leave in two years, maybe looking back I would've probably regretted it a little bit, because I love it here," Trout, a six-time All-Star, told a few thousand fans who arrived early for the Angels' home exhibition game with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

      He was emotional at times in making comments publicly for the first time since signing the extension this week.

      With his possible free agency still two seasons away, Trout was nonetheless the subject of speculation. Bryce Harper, who just signed his own megadeal with the Phillies, made no attempt to hide his desire to lure Trout to Philadelphia, where Trout -- a noted Philadelphia Eagles fan -- would be close to his New Jersey home.

      On Sunday, Trout made it clear he had always intended to stay put. Talks between the team and agent Craig Landis began in late February.

      "Spending your whole career with one team I think is pretty cool," Trout said.

      Among those also on the dais at the news conference were Landis and Angels owner Arte Moreno, who acknowledged that the next goal is to build a championship team around Trout.

      Trout has been in the top two in AL MVP voting in six of his seven full seasons with the Angels -- he was fourth in 2017 -- but the team has reached the playoffs just once, getting swept in the divisional round in 2014.

      Moreno on Sunday commented to Trout how he "needs some jewelry," referring to World Series championship rings.

      Trout said he envisions success with how general manager Billy Eppler, who was also on the dais, and the front office are focused simultaneously on building a winning team while beefing up the farm system for the future.

      "There's going to be some ups and downs in the 12 years, but the direction was huge for me," Trout said. "I'm happy and excited for the direction they're going."

      Over his 7 1/2 seasons in the majors, Trout is a .307 hitter with 240 home runs and 648 RBIs. His wins above replacement (WAR) total of 64.2 is the highest ever for a player at his experience level.

      --Field Level Media

  • Spring training roundup: Cabrera continues torrid spring
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Miguel Cabrera continued his resurgent spring Sunday, hitting a two-run homer and two-run double as the Detroit Tigers walloped the Toronto Blue Jays 18-6 in Lakeland, Fla.

    • Cabrera, who turns 36 on April 18, is coming off an injury-shortened 2018 season in which he hit .299 with only three home runs and 22 RBIs in 38 games. He has only 19 home runs and 82 RBIs in the last two seasons.

      But Sunday's performance now gives the two-time American League MVP five home runs and 15 RBIs this spring, while sporting a .348 batting average and 1.165 OPS.

      Cardinals 2, Marlins 1

      Paul Goldschmidt homered in the first inning and Evan Mendoza hit a walk-off single as St. Louis edged Miami in Jupiter, Fla. Jack Flaherty pitched four scoreless innings for the Cardinals, giving up only one hit and striking out three.

      Mets 8, Nationals (ss) 4

      Third baseman Jeff McNeil drove in four runs and Juan Lagares homered as New York topped its divisional rival's split squad in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Matt Adams hit a three-run homer for Washington.

      Astros 5, Nationals (ss) 3

      After falling behind 3-0 in the second inning, Houston scored the game's final five runs to top Washington's split squad in West Palm Beach, Fla. Right-hander Gerrit Cole gave up three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings for the Astros.

      Yankees 5, Twins 3

      Clint Frazier's bases-clearing double capped a four-run sixth inning and propelled New York to a win over Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla. Left-hander James Paxton gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings to get the win for the Yankees.

      Phillies 11, Orioles (ss) 4

      Philadelphia scored in each of the first seven innings, pounding out 18 hits to hammer a Baltimore split squad at Clearwater, Fla. Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr combined for six hits, six RBIs and five runs scored for the Phillies.

      Pirates 1, Orioles (ss) 1

      Pittsburgh's Jung Ho Kang homered in the first, Baltimore's Zach Vincej hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth, and the Pirates and Orioles played to a tie in Sarasota, Fla. Chance Sisco, who scored on the sac fly, was 3 for 3 for Baltimore.

      Rockies 4, Reds 3

      Second baseman Bret Boswell had three hits and drove in the deciding run as Colorado edged Cincinnati at Goodyear, Ariz. Taylor Sparks hit a two-run homer as the Reds made a game of it, but Cincinnati stranded a runner at third to end it.

      White Sox 7, Indians 3

      Adam Engel homered and drove in two and 11 different Chicago batters got a hit in a win over Cleveland in Phoenix. The Indians received a scare when All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez was carted off the field after fouling a pitch off his left knee, though the team labeled the injury a contusion.

      Cubs 24, Padres 6

      Designated hitter Phillip Evans led a Chicago hit parade with four hits (one a home run) and six RBIs as the Cubs blasted San Diego in Peoria, Ariz. David Bote added four hits and Cristhian Adames had three hits and five RBIs for the Cubs.

      Brewers 3, Diamondbacks 2

      Zack Godley pitched six strong innings but took the loss as Milwaukee topped Arizona in Maricopa County, Ariz. The Diamondbacks right-hander gave up two runs in six innings, giving up only three hits and striking out three with one walk.

      Braves 4, Rays 2

      Ozzie Albies had two hits and an RBI, and scored on Brian McCann's two-run double as Atlanta doubled-up Tampa Bay in Kissimmee, Fla. Tampa Bay's Carl Chester was thrown out at home on an eighth-inning double by Kean Wong to kill a potential Rays rally.

      Athletics 5, Giants 0

      Stephen Piscotty, Jurickson Profar and Ramon Laureano each homered to propel Oakland to a win over Bay Area neighbor San Francisco at the Oakland Coliseum. Lefty Brett Anderson threw six scoreless innings for the win.

      Royals 3, Rangers (ss) 3

      Kort Peterson's solo home run in the top of the ninth off Jairo Beras allowed Kansas City to tie Texas' split squad, and that is how the game ended in Surprise, Ariz. Cam Gallagher also homered for the Royals; Tyreque Reed homered for the Rangers.

      Nashville Sounds 4, Rangers (ss) 3

      Second baseman Chase d'Arnaud doubled and designated hitter Hunter Pence drove in a run as Texas' split squad fell to its Triple-A affiliate at First Tennessee Park, the Sounders' home field in Nashville.

      Angels 8, Dodgers 4

      Mike Trout doubled in a run, Albert Pujols homered and the Angels took the first game of the Freeway Series against their Los Angeles rivals. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, working a non-save situation, gave up two hits and three runs (two earned) in 2/3 of an inning.

      --Field Level Media

  • Diamondbacks’ Holland officially named closer
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Greg Holland was officially named the team's closer on Sunday, manager Torey Lovullo announced.

    • "Greg Holland's stuff really started to be productive," Lovullo said Sunday in a story on arizonasports.com. "As I've been saying for the last couple of days, it takes a little bit of time for a veteran to walk into spring training and know what he's got to do to get where he's got to get to by the end of camp."

      Holland, 33, won the starting job over Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano despite his struggles during spring training, compiling a 12.27 ERA in 3 2/3 innings over four appearances. Bradley and Hirano will be Arizona's setup men.

      "It was a great competition," Lovullo said. "Those three guys were getting after it."

      Holland and the Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year deal in the offseason worth $3.5 million but could end up doubling his salary if he meets incentives.

      The eight-year veteran started the 2018 season with the St. Louis Cardinals and struggled, registering an 0-2 record and a 7.92 ERA in 32 appearances.

      The Cardinals released him and the Washington Nationals signed him to a free-agent contract. He had a change of fortune, finishing 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA and three saves in 24 games.

      Holland previously served as closer for the Kansas City Royals (2010-15) and Colorado Rockies (2017), and has 189 career saves and a 2.83 ERA. With the Royals in 2014, Holland had 46 saves, then finished with a National League-tying 41 saves with the Rockies in 2017.

      In October 2015, he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2016 season.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Syndergaard frustrated with Mets
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Pitcher Noah Syndergaard fired a shot at the New York Mets front office Sunday, expressing frustration that teammate Jacob deGrom hasn't been signed to a contract extension and that the team has an unconventional travel schedule prior to Opening Day.

    • The Mets and deGrom, who won the 2018 National League Cy Young Award, talked in the offseason, but deGrom told reporters Saturday he wasn't confident of an agreement in the next few days.

      The Mets and deGrom agreed to a one-year, $17 million contract rather than go to arbitration in January. He is eligible to become a free agent in 2021, and Syndergaard said he doesn't want it to reach that point. This weekend, the Boston Red Sox and ace Chris Sale agreed to a five-year, $145 million extension, and the Houston Astros reached a two-year, $66 million deal with former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

      "Jake's the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he's worth. I want to keep him happy, so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all this fuss and pay the man already," Syndergaard told reporters.

      --Cleveland Indians All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez was carted off the field after fouling a pitch off his left knee.

      The switch-hitter was batting right-handed in the third inning of an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox in Goodyear, Ariz.

      Ramirez immediately dropped to the dirt and remained down for several minutes before being assisted to the medical cart. The team called it a left knee contusion and said Ramirez was being taken for X-rays.

      --Catcher Erik Kratz will back up Buster Posey in San Francisco after the Giants traded for the veteran.

      The Giants sent minor league infielder C.J. Hinojosa to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kratz.

      Kratz, 38, agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million, with $300,000 guaranteed, with the Brewers in November. Milwaukee added Kratz last May in a deal with the New York Yankees and he played in 67 games for the Brewers, batting .236 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.

      --The Cleveland Indians signed infielder Brad Miller to a one-year major league contract.

      The versatile veteran has played almost every position on the diamond, but the Indians will likely ask him to handle second base while All-Star Jason Kipnis recovers from a right calf strain.

      Kipnis has already been ruled out for Thursday's season opener at Minnesota. Miller, 29, hit .385 with two homers and three RBIs this spring in 12 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      --Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo will open the season on the injured list, manager Brandon Hyde confirmed.

      Trumbo, who led the majors with 47 home runs in 2016, has batted .167 in 13 plate appearances this spring as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee. He is a two-time All-Star (2012, 2016) with a .250 career average, 218 home runs and 626 RBIs in 1,085 games with the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners and Orioles.

      "We're going to let him continue to do his rehab down here," Hyde told reporters in Sarasota, Fla., according to MLB.com. "I give him so much credit for everything he's done during his whole rehab process. Give him a ton of credit for trying to come back from a tough injury earlier than anybody has."

      --The Astros finalized a two-year extension with Justin Verlander, the team announced.

      "Justin Verlander is one of the elite pitchers in baseball," said general manager Jeff Luhnow in announcing the deal with the team's ace. "His late-season arrival in 2017 helped the Astros deliver its first ever championship to the city of Houston. Our fans share in my excitement that Justin will be in an Astros uniform for at least three more years."

      The extension adds two years and $66 million to Verlander's current deal, which had one year remaining. It makes Verlander the highest-paid pitcher in terms of annual average value ($33 million).

      --The Chicago Cubs will option outfielder Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa, meaning he won't start the season on the big-league roster.

      Happ, 24, was unhappy with the decision, according to manager Joe Maddon. He is expected to get time in center field, second base and third base. The Cubs also are hoping he'll get more comfortable batting from the left side of the plate.

      "I really don't blame him," Maddon said at spring training on Saturday. "The guy has really performed very well for us at different periods of time on the major-league level. He is so ingrained in the culture within the building and within the clubhouse. Great teammate. A lot of the veterans have accepted him very readily, which doesn't happen often with young players."

      --Field Level Media

  • Syndergaard expresses frustration with Mets' decisions
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Pitcher Noah Syndergaard fired a shot at the New York Mets front office Sunday, expressing frustration that teammate Jacob deGrom hasn't been signed to a contract extension and that the team has an unconventional travel schedule prior to Opening Day.

    • The Mets and deGrom, who won the 2018 National League Cy Young Award, talked in the offseason, but deGrom told reporters Saturday he wasn't confident of an agreement in the next few days.

      The Mets and deGrom agreed to a one-year, $17 million contract rather than go to arbitration in January. He is eligible to become a free agent in 2021, and Syndergaard said he doesn't want it to reach that point.

      "Jake's the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he's worth. I want to keep him happy, so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all this fuss and pay the man already," Syndergaard told reporters.

      This weekend, the Boston Red Sox and ace Chris Sale agreed to a five-year, $145 million extension, and the Houston Astros reached a two-year, $66 million deal with former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

      "If there wasn't a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, I don't know what the circumstance would be. But you can see Chris Sale, Verlander, those guys getting extensions. I think it's time Jacob gets one, too," Syndergaard said.

      The right-hander also said he didn't understand the reasoning behind the Mets not returning to the Big Apple before their season opener Thursday. Instead, the team will leave Sarasota, Fla., and travel to Syracuse, N.Y., before heading to Washington, D.C., for the opener with the Nationals.

      "I don't know whose idea that was, but it's not a smart one," Syndergaard said. "I don't think that's conducive for winning ballgames, really -- that much travel. I mean, I'm sure the amenities in Syracuse aren't the best for a Major League Baseball team to go up there and have one last workout before the regular season starts, but those kinds of decisions are above my pay grade."

      --Field Level Media

  • Indians' Ramirez carted off after fouling ball off knee
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Cleveland Indians All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez was carted off the field Sunday after fouling a pitch off his left knee.

    • The switch-hitter was batting right-handed in the third inning of an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox in Goodyear, Ariz.

      Ramirez immediately dropped to the dirt and remained down for several minutes before being assisted to the medical cart.

      The team called it a left knee contusion and said Ramirez was being taken for X-rays.

      Ramirez, 26, entered the game batting .240 with one homer and six RBIs in 19 spring training games.

      Regardless of Ramirez's status, Cleveland will be short-handed when it opens the season Thursday at Minnesota. Second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor will begin the campaign on the injured list.

      Ramirez was third in the American League Most Valuable Player voting in each of the past two seasons.

      He batted .318 with a league-leading 56 doubles in 2017 and batted .270 with 39 homers and 105 RBIs -- both career highs -- in 2018. He has played at least 152 games in each of the past three seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants pick up C Kratz in trade with Brewers
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Catcher Erik Kratz will back up Buster Posey in San Francisco after the Giants traded for the veteran on Sunday.

    • The Giants sent minor league infielder C.J. Hinojosa to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kratz.

      Kratz, 38, agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million, with $300,000 guaranteed, with the Brewers in November.

      Milwaukee added Kratz last May in a deal with the New York Yankees and he played in 67 games for the Brewers, batting .236 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.

      He caught fire in the National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies, collecting five hits in eight at-bats. He cooled off in the NLCS loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing with two hits in 16 at-bats in the seven-game series.

      Manny Pina won the backup job in Milwaukee, making Kratz expendable. The Brewers signed reliever Alex Wilson to fill the vacant roster spot.

      Kratz made his MLB debut at age 30 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 67 games he appeared in last season were the most since 2013, when he played in 68 games with the Philadelphia Phillies.

      Hinojosa, 24, has experience at second, shortstop and third base. He spent the bulk of last season at Double-A Richmond, where he batted .261 with three home runs and 26 RBIs in 67 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Indians sign IF Miller with Kipnis ailing
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    The Cleveland Indians signed infielder Brad Miller to a one-year major league contract Sunday.

    • The versatile veteran has played almost every position on the diamond, but the Indians will likely ask him to handle second base while All-Star Jason Kipnis recovers from a right calf strain.

      Kipnis has already been ruled out for Thursday's season opener at Minnesota.

      Miller, 29, hit .385 with two homers and three RBIs this spring in 12 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      Miller split last season with the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers, batting a combined .248 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 75 games.

      His best season came with the Rays in 2016 when he posted 30 homers, 29 doubles and 81 RBIs in 152 games, all career highs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Orioles DH Trumbo to begin season on injured list
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo will open the season on the injured list, manager Brandon Hyde confirmed Sunday.

    • Trumbo, who led the majors with 47 home runs in 2016, has batted .167 in 13 plate appearances this spring as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee.

      "We're going to let him continue to do his rehab down here," Hyde told reporters in Sarasota, Fla., according to MLB.com. "I give him so much credit for everything he's done during his whole rehab process. Give him a ton of credit for trying to come back from a tough injury earlier than anybody has."

      Trumbo, 33, is a two-time All-Star (2012, 2016) with a .250 career average, 218 home runs and 626 RBIs in 1,085 games with the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners and Orioles.

      Trumbo was limited to 90 games last season, starting the season on the injured list with a quad strain and ending it with a knee injury. He had surgery on the knee in September.

      "I want Mark to be healthy when he joins us," Hyde said. "I don't want a lesser version, and it's not fair to him."

      The Orioles open the season Thursday against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

      Right-hander Alex Cobb, who is scheduled to start Opening Day, left Saturday's game against the Minnesota Twins with soreness in his right groin.

      Hyde said a decision on Cobb's status would be made soon, adding that right-hander Andrew Cashner would start if Cobb is unavailable.

      --Field Level Media

  • Astros, Verlander finalize $66M extension
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    The Houston Astros have finalized a two-year extension with ace pitcher Justin Verlander, the team announced on Sunday.

    • "Justin Verlander is one of the elite pitchers in baseball," said general manager Jeff Luhnow in announcing the deal. "His late-season arrival in 2017 helped the Astros deliver its first ever championship to the city of Houston. Our fans share in my excitement that Justin will be in an Astros uniform for at least three more years."

      The extension adds two years and $66 million to Verlander's current deal, which had one year remaining. It makes Verlander the highest-paid pitcher in terms of annual average value ($33 million).

      Only outfielder Mike Trout, who will average nearly $36 million annually on his recently signed 12-year, $430 million deal, has a deal with a higher per-annum payout.

      Verlander, 36, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and an American League-leading 290 strikeouts in 34 starts last season, his first full season in Houston since coming over from Detroit in a trade in 2017.

      Last season, the 2011 AL Cy Young winner finished second for the third time in voting for that award and was part of the top five for the seventh time. He also was the league Most Valuable Player in 2011.

      Overall, Verlander is 21-9 in 39 starts with the Astros, posting a 2.32 ERA and striking out 333 batters in 248 innings. The Astros won the World Series in 2017 following the trade for Verlander.

      The Astros already had reached extensions with All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman (six years, $100 million) and righty reliever Ryan Pressly (two years, $17.5 million) in the past few days.

      Bregman, who turns 25 on Friday, finished fifth in the American League MVP voting last season after batting .286 with a league-high 51 doubles, 31 homers, 103 RBIs and 105 runs scored.

      Pressley, 30, is under contract for $2.9 million in 2019 and would have been eligible for free agency after this season. The deal covers the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cubs' Happ to start season at Triple-A Iowa
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    The Chicago Cubs will option outfielder Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa, meaning he won't start the season on the big-league roster.

    • Happ, 24, was unhappy with the decision, according to manager Joe Maddon.

      "He's not happy and he shouldn't be happy," Maddon said at spring training on Saturday.

      "I really don't blame him. The guy has really performed very well for us at different periods of time on the major league level. He is so ingrained in the culture within the building and within the clubhouse. Great teammate. A lot of the veterans have accepted him very readily, which doesn't happen often with young players."

      At Iowa, Happ is expected to get time in center field, second base and third base. The Cubs also are hoping he'll get more comfortable batting from the left side of the plate.

      "We just want to make sure that he gets down there and really gets a lot of consistent at-bats, especially from the left side," Maddon said. "Obviously, we consider him a huge part of our future, but just based on the conclusion of last year and what we're seeing at this point this year, we think it's really important."

      In 2018, Happ batted .233 with 15 home runs and 56 runs scored in 387 at-bats.

      A first-round pick by the Cubs in 2015, Happ has 39 home runs and a .242 batting average in 751 career at-bats.

      --Field Level Media

  • Blue Jays release reliever Axford
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Reliever John Axford has been released from his minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the team announced on Saturday.

    • The move comes on the heels of Axford being diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right (throwing) elbow two days earlier.

      Axford, 35, was with Toronto for part of last season but was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July.

      A 10-year veteran, Axford has pitched for eight teams and logged a 38-34 record with 144 saves and a 3.87 ERA.

      Axford, who is Canadian, was 4-1 with 50 strikeouts over 51 innings in his stint with Toronto last season.

      The Blue Jays also offered fellow righty reliever Bud Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to not opt out of his minor-league contract with the team. Norris, 34, has been dealing with arm injuries this spring.

      --Field Level Media

  • Spring training roundup: Boston's Sale pitches five shutout innings
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Boston left-hander Chris Sale pitched five shutout innings on Saturday shortly after his rich contract extension was formally announced as the Red Sox rolled to a 12-3 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates at Fort Myers, Fla.

    • Sale, who received a five-year, $145 million deal, was sharp while striking out six in five innings. He gave up two hits and walked one before departing.

      Jantzen Witte and Chris Madera drove in two runs for Boston, which collected 15 hits. Ke'Bryan Hayes slugged a three-run homer over the center field fence for the Pirates.

      Cardinals 4, Nationals 4

      Pitcher Miles Mikolas hit a two-run homer off fellow right-hander Stephen Strasburg to help visiting St. Louis tie Washington at West Palm Beach, Fla. Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams homered for Washington.

      Tigers 8, Rays 7

      Cameron Rupp lined the decisive two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Miguel Cabrera homered earlier as Detroit edged Tampa Bay at Lakeland, Fla. Tommy Pham and Ji-Man Choi smacked homers for the Rays.

      Pirates (ss) 5, Phillies 3

      Oneil Cruz hit a tiebreaking homer in the fifth inning, and Corey Dickerson slugged a two-run blast as host Pittsburgh defeated Philadelphia at Bradenton, Fla. Phil Gosselin homered for the Phillies.

      Mets 12, Braves 2

      Amed Rosario went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and right-hander Jacob deGrom struck out five in three perfect innings as New York routed host Atlanta at Kissimmee, Fla. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Andy Wilkins hit solo blasts for the Braves.

      Blue Jays 7, Yankees 3

      Lourdes Gurriel Jr. went 3-for-3 with a homer to help Toronto down host New York at Tampa, Fla. Gleyber Torres slugged a three-run homer for the Yankees.

      White Sox 5, Dodgers 1

      Eloy Jimenez went 3-for-3 with a homer and Yoan Moncada also went deep as visiting Chicago beat Los Angeles at Glendale, Ariz. Chris Taylor homered for the Dodgers.

      Padres 11, Angels 4

      Francisco Mejia drove in three runs and Wil Myers hit one of San Diego's four homers as the host Padres cruised past Los Angeles at Peoria, Ariz. Justin Bour and Dustin Garneau homered for Los Angeles.

      Giants 3, Diamondbacks 2

      Alen Hanson hit the tiebreaking solo shot in the bottom of the seventh inning as San Francisco edged Arizona at Scottsdale, Ariz. David Peralta homered for the Diamondbacks.

      Indians 8, Reds 5

      Kevin Plawecki went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs as Cleveland defeated host Cincinnati at Goodyear, Ariz. Jesse Winker and Jose Iglesias each homered twice for Cincinnati.

      Royals (ss) 6, Brewers 4

      Terrance Gore hit a tiebreaking two-run triple in the top of the ninth inning to give Kansas City the win over Milwaukee at Phoenix. Christian Yelich and Travis Shaw each hit two-run blasts for Milwaukee.

      Brewers (ss) 7, Rangers 3

      Ben Gamel hit a two-run homer to help Milwaukee defeat host Texas at Surprise, Ariz. Yohel Pozo had a two-run double for Texas.

      Rockies 11, Cubs 6

      Colorado racked up 17 hits, including eight for extra bases but no home runs, in a win over visiting Chicago in Scottsdale. Nolan Arenado went 3-for-3 with an RBI double. Javy Baez homered for the second straight day for the Cubs.

      Twins 8, Orioles 7

      Jason Castro and Max Kepler each homered as visiting Minnesota squeaked by Baltimore in Sarasota, Fla. Dwight Smith, Chris Davis, Renato Nunez and Rio Ruiz homered for the Orioles.

      Astros 5, Marlins 0

      Fresh off a new contract extension, Justin Verlander struck out nine while allowing two hits in four scoreless innings as visiting Houston shut out Miami in Jupiter, Fla. Jose Altuve homered for the Astros.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Reds 2B Gennett out 8 to 12 weeks
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Second baseman Scooter Gennett will miss eight to 12 weeks because of the right groin strain he sustained during a spring training game, the Cincinnati Reds announced Saturday.

    • Gennett walked gingerly as he was helped off the field on Friday, and he was later taken from the dugout on a golf cart. He was hurt while fielding a routine grounder on the outfield grass after he aligned deep as part of a shift in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

      C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic said Saturday that with Gennett's injury, Jose Iglesias will play shortstop and Jose Peraza will man second base. Kyle Farmer is expected to earn a roster spot.

      Gennett, who turns 29 on May 1, earned his first All-Star appearance last season, batting .310 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs, a year after totaling 27 homers and 97 RBIs. He played in a career-high 154 games in 2018.

      --The St. Louis Cardinals announced a five-year extension for recently acquired first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

      Financial terms were not revealed, but the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that it will pay him "around $130 million." The deal will keep Goldschmidt, 31, in St. Louis through the 2024 season.

      Arizona traded Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star, to St. Louis in December in exchange for right-hander Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, infielder Andy Young and the Cardinals' Compensation B selection in the 2019 draft.

      --The Houston Astros are closing in on a two-year extension worth $66 million for ace pitcher Justin Verlander, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.

      Verlander, 36, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and an American League-leading 290 strikeouts in 34 starts last season, his first full season in Houston since coming over from Detroit in a trade in 2017.

      Last season, the 2011 AL Cy Young winner finished second for the third time in voting for that award and was part of the top five for the seventh time. The right-hander also was the AL Most Valuable Player in 2011.

      --The Pittsburgh Pirates will add veterans Melky Cabrera and Francisco Liriano to their Opening Day roster, the team announced.

      Both players had been with the Pirates on minor-league deals during spring training. Pittsburgh is expected to clear at least one spot on its 40-man roster by placing right-hander Edgar Santana on the 60-day injured list.

      Cabrera, 34, provides Pittsburgh with a switch-hitting option off the bench and an occasional starter at the corner outfield spots. He is a .286 lifetime hitter with 137 home runs and 807 RBIs in 1,754 career games with seven big-league teams.

      --Texas Rangers pitcher Jason Hammel has announced his retirement after 13 big-league seasons.

      Hammel, 36, decided to walk away despite learning one day earlier that he had made the Rangers' 25-man roster. Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez will replace him on the active roster, according to The Athletic.

      Hammel posted a 96-114 record with a 4.62 ERA in 377 games (298 starts). He played for a half-dozen teams -- the Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals -- before signing with the Rangers on a minor-league deal this spring.

      --Detroit Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones is expected to open the season on the injured list after suffering a sprained left shoulder in Saturday's exhibition game, manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters.

      Jones was injured while diving for a ball against the Tampa Bay Rays. Gardenhire said the 26-year-old was undergoing an MRI exam.

      Mikie Mahtook and Niko Goodrum will likely share center field until Jones returns.

      --The San Francisco Giants acquired outfielder Michael Reed from the Minnesota Twins for outfielder John Andreoli and cash. Andreoli will report to Triple-A Rochester, the team added in the announcement.

      Reed, who was claimed off waivers by the Twins in October, appeared in eight games this spring, hitting .278 (5-for-18) with one home run and four RBI.

      In his major league career, the 26-year-old Reed has batted .229 in 22 games, including with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015-16 and the Atlanta Braves last year.

      --Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Matt Duffy will open the season on the injured list due to a hamstring injury, manager Kevin Cash told reporters.

      Duffy was slated to play Saturday against the Detroit Tigers but was scratched from the lineup. He was slated to undergo further testing. Duffy, 28, has only played in two spring training games due to the injury.

      Yandy Diaz, Daniel Robertson and Joey Wendle are the candidates to play third base during Duffy's absence.

      --Field Level Media

  • Tigers CF Jones injures left shoulder
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Detroit Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones is expected to open the season on the injured list after suffering a sprained left shoulder in Saturday's exhibition game, manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters.

    • Jones was injured while diving for a ball against the Tampa Bay Rays. Gardenhire said the 26-year-old was undergoing an MRI exam.

      "He's got a sprain in the AC joint, which means he's going to be out for a little while," Gardenhire said. "These things don't heal very quick."

      Mikie Mahtook and Niko Goodrum will likely share center field until Jones returns.

      Jones batted .207 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 129 games last season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants acquire Twins’ Reed among OF moves
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    The San Francisco Giants acquired outfielder Michael Reed on Saturday from the Minnesota Twins for outfielder John Andreoli and cash. Andreoli will report to Triple-A Rochester, the team added in the announcement.

    • Reed, who was claimed off waivers by the Twins in October, appeared in eight games this spring, hitting .278 (5-for-18) with one home run and four RBI.

      In his major league career, the 26-year-old Reed has batted .229 in 22 games, including with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015-16 and the Atlanta Braves last year. He batted .342 with a .453 on-base percentage between Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi in 2018.

      Andreoli, 28, began last season with the Seattle Mariners, then was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles in August. He appeared in a combined 26 games in the major leagues last year, batting .230. Drafted in 2011 by the Chicago Cubs, Andreoli has appeared in 773 career minor league games, hitting .270 with 37 home runs and 256 RBI.

      The Giants also released two other outfielders -- Cameron Maybin and Matt Joyce. Maybin, a 12-year major league veteran who joined the Giants on Feb. 18 when he signed as a minor league free agent, was arrested last week on suspicion of DUI in Scottsdale, Ariz. Joyce, who had reached agreement on a minor league deal Wednesday with San Francisco, was released by the Cleveland Indians earlier in the week.

      Last season with the Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners, Maybin batted a combined .249 with four homers, 28 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 129 games.

      Also on Saturday, the Giants acquired Michael Yastrzemski -- the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski -- to try to improve their outfield. The 28-year-old player has spent six seasons in the minor leagues, including the Double-A and Triple-A affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles in 2018.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rays 3B Duffy to open season on IL
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Matt Duffy will open the season on the injured list due to a hamstring injury, manager Kevin Cash told reporters on Saturday.

    • Duffy was slated to play Saturday against the Detroit Tigers but was scratched from the lineup. He was slated to undergo further testing.

      Duffy, 28, has only played in two spring training games due to the injury.

      "I would imagine we would take our time with this and try to get it under wraps," Cash told reporters. "We didn't want to rush it, but our best team is with him on the roster."

      Yandy Diaz, Daniel Robertson and Joey Wendle are the candidates to play third base during Duffy's absence.

      Duffy batted .294 with four homers and 44 RBIs in 132 games last season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Pirates to add OF Cabrera, LHP Liriano to 25-man roster
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    The Pittsburgh Pirates will add veterans Melky Cabrera and Francisco Liriano to their Opening Day roster, the team announced Saturday.

    • Both players had been with the Pirates on minor-league deals during spring training. Pittsburgh is expected to clear at least one spot on its 40-man roster by placing right-hander Edgar Santana on the 60-day injured list.

      Cabrera, 34, provides Pittsburgh with a switch-hitting option off the bench and an occasional starter at the corner outfield spots. He is a .286 lifetime hitter with 137 home runs and 807 RBIs in 1,754 career games with seven big-league teams.

      Last season, Cabrera hit .280 with six homers and 39 RBIs in 78 games with the Cleveland Indians.

      The 35-year-old Liriano will return to Pittsburgh, where the left-hander pitched from 2013-16. He owns a 107-111 career record with a 4.18 ERA.

      Liriano spent last season with the Detroit Tigers, going 5-12 with a 4.58 ERA in 27 games (26 starts). He had 110 strikeouts in 133 2/3 innings.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rangers P Hammel announces retirement
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Texas Rangers pitcher Jason Hammel has announced his retirement after 13 big-league seasons.

    • Hammel, 36, decided to walk away despite learning one day earlier that he had made the Rangers' 25-man roster. Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez will replace him on the active roster, according to The Athletic.

      "He just felt like spending time with his family was more important," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said in comments published by the Dallas Morning News. "There are no hard feelings."

      Hammel posted a 96-114 record with a 4.62 ERA in 377 games (298 starts). He played for a half-dozen teams -- the Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals -- before signing with the Rangers on a minor-league deal this spring.

      In 2016, Hammel won a career-high 15 games for the Cubs, who went on to win the World Series.

      The 31-year-old Gomez provides the Rangers with additional help out of the bullpen. He has gone 27-30 with a 4.40 ERA in 299 games (46 starts) over nine seasons. He has 40 career saves, 37 of which he recorded in 2016 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reds 2B Gennett to miss up to 12 weeks
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Second baseman Scooter Gennett will miss eight to 12 weeks because of the right groin strain he sustained during a spring training game, the Cincinnati Reds announced Saturday.

    • Gennett walked gingerly as he was helped off the field on Friday, and he was later taken from the dugout on a golf cart. He was hurt while fielding a routine grounder on the outfield grass after he aligned deep as part of a shift in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

      C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic said Saturday that with Gennett's injury, Jose Iglesias will play shortstop and Jose Peraza will man second base. Kyle Farmer is expected to earn a roster spot.

      Gennett, who turns 29 on May 1, earned his first All-Star appearance last season, batting .310 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs, a year after totaling 27 homers and 97 RBIs. He played in a career-high 154 games in 2018.

      The Reds open the season Thursday at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cards announce 5-year extension with Goldschmidt
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    The St. Louis Cardinals announced a five-year extension for newly acquired first baseman Paul Goldschmidt on Saturday.

    • Financial terms were not revealed, but the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that it will pay him "around $130 million."

      The deal will keep Goldschmidt, 31, in St. Louis through the 2024 season.

      "When we made the trade to acquire Paul, we knew we had added one of the game's premier players," Cardinals' President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said in a statement. "We are all excited for Paul's introduction to St. Louis, and to our passionate fans, who we feel will make this the perfect match."

      Arizona traded Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star, to St. Louis in December in exchange for right-hander Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, infielder Andy Young and the Cardinals' Compensation B selection in the 2019 draft.

      Goldschmidt has slugged 30 or more homers in four of the past six seasons, but the Diamondbacks were shopping the 31-year-old because he was entering the last season of his contract, which was slated to pay him $14.5 million. He batted .290 with 33 homers and 83 RBIs in 2018. He has three 100-RBI campaigns and has batted .300 or better three times since 2013.

      Overall, he batted .297 with 209 homers and 710 RBIs in 1,092 games over parts of eight seasons for Arizona. He finished second in National League MVP balloting in 2013, when he set career highs of 36 homers and 125 RBIs, and again in 2015.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Verlander, Astros nearing extension
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, March 23, 2019

    The Houston Astros are closing in on a two-year extension worth $66 million for ace pitcher Justin Verlander, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.

    • Verlander, 36, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and an American League-leading 290 strikeouts in 34 starts last season, his first full season in Houston since coming over from Detroit in a trade in 2017.

      Last season, the 2011 AL Cy Young winner finished second for the third time in voting for that award and was part of the top five for the seventh time. He also was the league Most Valuable Player in 2011.

      Overall, Verlander is 21-9 in 39 starts with the Astros, posting a 2.32 ERA and striking out 333 batters in 248 innings. The Astros won the World Series in 2017 following the trade for Verlander.

      The Astros already reached extensions with All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman (six years, $100 million) and righty reliever Ryan Pressly (two years, $17.5 million) in the past few days.

      Bregman, who turns 25 on March 30, finished fifth in the American League MVP voting last season after batting .286 with a league-high 51 doubles, 31 homers, 103 RBIs and 105 runs scored.

      Pressley, 30, is under contract for $2.9 million in 2019 and would have been eligible for free agency after this season. The deal covers the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

      --Field Level Media