Andruw Jones

Rejuvenated Andruw Jones leads the way as Yankees down Red Sox

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Figuring his right-handed stroke would serve him well at Fenway Park, the Red Sox pursued Andruw Jones for a part-time role over the winter. Andruw, though, had fun in his first year in the Bronx and opted to stick around, perhaps passing up some money in the process.

For a measly $2 million — one percent of the Yankees’ payroll — Jones has 11 homers this season, including four in the last three games. He delivered a two-run blast and an RBI single tonight as part of the Yankees’ 7-3 win in Boston.

The Red Sox lost three out of four in the series to fall back to .500 (43-43) with the first half over. They’re a full nine games back of the Yankees (52-33).

For what it’s worth, missing out on Jones probably didn’t hurt the Red Sox. If they had signed Andruw, it’s doubtful they would have added Cody Ross later, and Ross has hit .265 with 13 homers and 40 RBI in 56 games this year.

Still, Jones has been a bargain for the Bombers two years running now, delivering 24 homers and 55 RBI in 317 at-bats as a member of the Yankees.

Jones has played pretty strictly against lefties, but there’s little reason to think he wouldn’t be at least adequate in regular playing time. He hasn’t hit for average in limited action against righties the last two years, but he’s barely gotten to face them and he’s still showed good power against them. Also, while he certainly can’t cover ground like he used to, he’s still a pretty good defender in a corner.

That Jones has spent the last few years as a role player — he hasn’t had even 300 at-bats in a season since 2007 — could well cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. But that’s probably not fair. As great of a defender as he used to be, he played at a Hall of Fame level at his peak. And while the fact that he’s hitting 15 homers per year now instead of 25 will hurt his career numbers,  he’s contributing more as a role player than Hall of Famers like Jim Rice, Roberto Alomar and Lou Brock did as regulars towards the end of their careers.

That said, the fact that he was done as a regular at age 30 is damning, even if he ends up getting to 500 homers. At age 35, he’s just 69 away, so he still has a legitimate shot.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.