Nelson Cruz is your new home run leader

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With White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu on the sideline dealing with a left ankle injury, Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz used the opportunity to become baseball’s latest home run leader. Cruz belted his 16th homer of the season, a fifth inning solo shot off of Indians starter Trevor Bauer, breaking a tie with Abreu to move ahead.

Cruz has been very productive for the Orioles after hurriedly signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the club in late February. Along with the 16 homers, Cruz has 44 RBI which is the most in the American League and second only to Giancarlo Stanton’s 47. Cruz is also slashing .295/.361/.612.

If not for Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Cruz would be in the running for Player of the Month honors, now with nine home runs, 19 RBI, and a .305/.346/.642 slash line in the month of May.

Report: Pirates sign Felipe Rivero to four-year contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.

Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.

Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.

Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”