Team Puerto Rico will enter the World Baseball Classic semifinals as one of two undefeated teams on Monday. They dominated Venezuela on Saturday afternoon, capitalizing on a strong showing from starter Jose De Leon and putting up a five-spot in the seventh inning en route to a 13-2 finish.
Jose De Leon and Giovanni Soto combined for five scoreless frames to start the game, limiting Venezuela to just four total baserunners before Hiram Burgos took the mound in the sixth. Team Venezuela promptly bounced back with a two-run homer from Rougned Odor, but failed to build on that momentum during the last three innings of the afternoon.
While Venezuela struggled to find their footing, Puerto Rico tacked on another five runs in the seventh inning. They boosted their advantage to an eight-run lead with a handful of RBI singles from Mike Aviles and Angel Pagan, a double from Rene Rivera and a sacrifice double play off the bat of Carlos Correa. A throwing error gave them an extra run in the eighth inning, and by the ninth, their eight-run surplus had ballooned to eleven runs after Kennys Vargas went deep in Puerto Rico’s only home run of the game.
The semifinals are scheduled to kick off in Los Angeles on Monday, when Team Puerto Rico will take on the Netherlands at 9 PM EDT. The winner of the Dominican Republic-USA game on Saturday night will determine which Pool F runner-up will face Japan (and their undefeated 6-0 record) on Tuesday.
Update (7:05 PM EST): The Rays and Dodgers have both announced the trade.
Update (6:57 PM EST): That was fast. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the two sides have agreed to the trade. Forsythe for De Leon. An announcement is expected shortly.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Dodgers and Rays are “deep into discussions” on a trade involving second baseman Logan Forsythe. Passan adds that the two sides have discussed pitcher Jose De Leon — the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect — as part of the return for Forsythe, but it’s unclear if he’s in the deal currently being discussed.
Forsythe, 30, hit a productive .264/.333/.444 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI in 567 plate appearances in 2016. He was even better the year before, finishing with an .804 OPS. Forsythe can fill the Dodgers’ obvious need at second base, but he also has experience playing third base, first base, shortstop, and corner outfield.
Forsythe is entering the second year of his two-year, $10.25 million contract extension with the Rays. He’ll earn $5.75 million in 2017 and his controlling team has an $8.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout for the 2018 season.
If you want Brian Dozier, now’s the time to make your pitch. At least, that’s the message the Twins appear to be sending to the second baseman’s suitors this week. La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the club’s patience is wearing thin, and a source says that if a deal can’t be worked out during the next few days, the team will prepare to keep him on board for the 2017 season.
The 29-year-old hit his stride in Minnesota during 2016, turning in career-best numbers with a .268/.340/.546 batting line, 42 homers and 99 RBI over 691 PA. Dozier has incurred plenty of interest from teams this offseason, including the Giants, Cardinals and Nationals. The Dodgers appeared to be frontrunners for the infielder, though negotiations stalled earlier this month after their proposed one-to-one swap for pitching prospect Jose De Leon underwhelmed Minnesota brass, who were seeking at least one more prospect for Dozier.
The Twins seem unlikely to budge on their desired return package for the star second baseman, which makes it hard to believe that a trade will be pushed through anytime soon. Per Neal’s report, had the club been open to a one-to-one trade at any point this offseason, it would already have happened by now.