This time last year Welington Castillo was viewed as a potential long-term building block for the Cubs, but he struggled this season and now Chicago is apparently looking to make an upgrade at catcher.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Cubs “are going to target” free agent Russell Martin, who’s expected to turn down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Pirates.
Martin figures to have plenty of suitors after hitting .290 with a .402 on-base percentage and .832 OPS in 111 games for the Pirates, but unlike most interested teams the Cubs wouldn’t have to forfeit a first-round draft pick because theirs is protected. They’d lose a second-rounder instead.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has launched what appears to be the beginning of an auspicious career, made all the more notable by the 50 home runs he’s produced for the Mets so far this season. The All-Star slugger pushed his home run streak to four straight games on Friday, collecting no. 50 on an eighth-inning fastball from the Reds’ Sal Romano.
It’s just the latest of a long line of accomplishments for the 24-year-old infielder. Entering Friday’s series opener against Cincinnati, the first-time All-Star carried a .266/.366/.590 batting line with a league-leading 49 homers, 113 RBI, a .956 OPS and 4.9 fWAR through 648 plate appearances. Among those who are still rounding out their rookie seasons in 2019, he ranks first in home runs and fWAR by a long shot: the White Sox’ Eloy Jiménez is second in home runs with 28 dingers, while the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez plays second fiddle in fWAR with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement.
Even more remarkable: Alonso is the second rookie in MLB history to deliver at least 50 home runs in a single season. The first? Aaron Judge, who clubbed a jaw-dropping 52 homers for the Yankees in 2017.