Royals sweep Orioles, head to first World Series since 1985

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They swept the 98-win Angels and they swept the 96-win Orioles.

And fittingly the Royals’ only two runs in Game 4 came on a fielder’s choice/error combo with two runners in scoring position thanks to a bunt by their No. 3 hitter and aggressive baserunning. Ned Yost Baseball, which is now 8-0 in the playoffs and also undefeated in making critics shake their heads.

Kansas City is going to its first World Series since 1985, with not so much as a playoff appearance in between, and somehow the Royals have won six of their eight postseason games by just one or two runs while simultaneously seeming like an unbeatable bunting-and-running machine.

Jason Vargas, whose four-year, $32 million contract was viewed by many as an overpay this offseason, allowed just one run in 5.1 innings and Yost gave him a quick hook after being questioned for leaving starters in too long earlier this postseason. And as usual the Royals’ bullpen was fantastic, as Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland combined for 3.2 shutout innings.

Kansas City–which had a 48-50 record on July 21 and trailed Oakland by four runs with five outs to go in the Wild Card Game–now waits, with homefield advantage, for the San Francisco-St. Louis winner in the World Series. I’m not sure there’s any proper way to explain it and, really, why would you even want to? The Royals haven’t lost a playoff game since October 23, 1985.

Rays’ Yandy Díaz gets three-year, $24 million deal to avoid arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a three-year, $24 million contract that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.