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.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.