Saturday, September 30

Blockbuster trade sends Josh Donaldson to Yankees, Gary Sanchez to Minnesota – The Boston Globe

He becomes a teammate of Gerrit Cole after suggesting last June that the Yankees ace had been trying to hide the use of unauthorized grip aides.

The blockbuster means an entirely new left side of the New York infield, with both DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres likely shuffling to the other side of the diamond.

There are conflicting reports about whether the Twins intend to keep Sanchez, a .201 hitter and defensive liability the last four seasons since a breakout 2017. Kiner-Falefa was with the team just one day, shipped from Texas in a deal for catcher Mitch Garver after the Rangers signed both Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in free agency.

Adam Ottavino departing Red Sox for Mets, latest add to New York’s spending spree

Adam Ottavino is headed to the New York Mets, agreeing to a one-year contract with $4 million, according to the New York Post.

Traded from the Yankees to the Red Sox before last season, at least in part to keep New York below the luxury tax threshold, the Northeastern product appeared in 69 games and saved 11, with 71 strikeouts and a .239 batting average against in 62 innings. Ottavino appeared in five games during the postseason, allowing Kyle Tucker’s putaway home run for Houston in its clinching Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

The 36-year-old, a first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2006, broke in with St. Louis in 2010. He rose to prominence in seven seasons with Colorado from 2012-2018 before signing a three-year, $27 million deal with the Yankees. In 11 major league seasons, Ottavino has a 3.60 ERA across 532 regular-season appearances.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ottavino is the latest addition in a busy offseason for the Mets, who’ve added Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt to the starting staff this winter, plus Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar to the lineup. Owner Steve Cohen will almost certainly spend more than $290 million on payroll, clearing the so-called “Cohen tax” put in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.

“I’m OK with it,” Cohen told reporters Sunday in Florida of the tax. “And I’m willing to live with it, and we’ll leave it at that.”

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Nelson Cruz headed to Washington, NL to continue career

Seven-time All-Star Nelson Cruz is on to his seventh organization, agreeing to a one-year, $12 million contract with Washington that includes a mutual option for 2023, according to The Athletic.

Baseball’s pre-eminent designated hitter the last decade, Cruz is returning to the National League for the first time since his debut season of 2005, when he played eight games for Milwaukee. Cruz has not played more than five games in the field since 2016 with Seattle; the NL will have the DH for the first time this season.

Splitting his 2021 between Minnesota and Tampa Bay, Cruz — who’ll turn 42 in July and was the game’s third-oldest player last season behind Albert Pujols and Rich Hill — hit .265/.334/.497 with 32 home runs in 140 games. It was the eighth 30-homer season of his 17-year career, all but one coming since 2014.

Along with being a four-time Silver Slugger winner, Cruz won last year’s Roberto Clemente philanthropy award for his work in his native Dominican Republic.

Sonny Gray goes to Minnesota for first-round pick

The Minnesota Twins took their first significant step toward restocking their starting pitching, acquiring righthander Sonny Gray from Cincinnati, which included minor league righthander Francis Peguero in the deal for Twins pitching prospect Chase Petty, who was their first-round draft pick last year.

The 32-year-old Gray, a two-time All-Star, went 7-9 with a 4.19 ERA and 155 strikeouts over 135⅓ innings in 26 starts last season, his third with the Reds. Over nine years in the majors with Oakland, the Yankees, and Reds, Gray has a career record of 82-72 with a 3.61 ERA. Since 2014, he is tied for eighth among righthanders in baseball with 204 starts.

Righty Sonny Gray, a two-time All-Star, is headed to Minnesota.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

In the final guaranteed season of the deal he signed with the Reds to complete a trade from the Yankees in 2019, Gray will make a little more than $10 million. The Twins hold a club option for 2023 that comes without a buyout.

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The 18-year-old Petty was selected by the Twins with the 26th pick last summer out of Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, N.J. The righthander appeared in two minor league games last season.

Justin Verlander working his way back

Watching Houston’s run through the 2021 playoffs, Justin Verlander considered lending a hand — an arm, actually — to the cause. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner had pitched in only one game since 2019, but his bullpen sessions while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery were going so well, he felt could get major league hitters out.

“My doctor put it very bluntly,” Verlander said. “If you want to go out in a blaze of glory and maybe blow yourself out, by all means go pitch in the World Series. But if you want to pitch a few more years like you’ve told me you want to, then you’d be an idiot to do that.”

Verlander’s return to an Astros uniform ultimately waited until Sunday — and it occurred on the back fields at the Astros’ complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., during Houston’s first official day of spring workouts.

The 2011 AL MVP threw about 40 pitches in two simulated innings. He threw his fastball and controlled an array of off-speed pitches as hitters — mostly minor leaguers, but Michael Brantley did step in — stood in the batter’s box.

“I’m on cloud nine,” Verlander said.

Verlander said he’s “a hair behind” where he’d normally be this close to opening day, but that’s intentional. He, manager Dusty Baker, and Houston general manager James Click all said Sunday that they haven’t established a spring or regular-season workload expectation for the 39-year-old.

Seen here in a 2020 game with Houston, Justin Verlander says he feels great following his first bullpen session of 2022.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

“I know the difference between typical soreness and what I can and cannot work through better than anybody because I’ve done it,” Verlander said.

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Verlander’s return to the Astros wasn’t a certainty. A free agent following the 2021 season, Verlander declined Houston’s qualifying offer before electing to re-sign with Houston on a two-year deal.

“When it came down to it, Houston was our No. 1 choice, as long as they were willing and able to be in the arena of the other teams we were negotiating with,” Verlander said. “They came through.”

Vince Velasquez joining with White Sox

Righthander Vince Velasquez is joining the Chicago White Sox, pending a physical, according to FanSided. The 30-year-old, who pitched nearly all of his seven-year career with Philadelphia before getting released and landing in San Diego last September, has pitched both out the bullpen and as a starter . . . St. Louis added another bullpen arm, reaching a deal with free agent right-hander Nick Wittgren, who was 2-9 with one save and a 5.05 ERA in a career-high 60 games for Cleveland last season. In six seasons with Miami and Cleveland, the 30-year-old has permitted 19.8 percent of inherited runners to score, the sixth-best rate in the majors . . . Milwaukee and righthander Brad Boxberger are sticking together, according to ESPN, agreeing to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. He made 71 appearances for the Brewers last year, his first season with the sixth franchise of his 10-year career . . . The Cubs signed 38-year-old Jesse Chavez to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to big league camp, adding the veteran reliever after he posted a 2.14 ERA in 33⅔ innings last year and 6⅓ scoreless innings in the postseason for champion Atlanta . . . Righthander Aníbal Sánchez signed a minor league deal with Washington, with whom he played in 2019-20 before sitting out the 2021 season despite efforts to join another club. Sánchez is 112-113 in a 15-season MLB career, which has seen him pitch for the Marlins, Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington, with whom he excelled on the way to a 2019 championship. If he makes the majors, he’ll make $2 million, with $1.5 million in performance bonuses possible, according to the New York Post.

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