Shohei Ohtani hits record-breaking home run

Shohei Ohtani
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Hours after Angels’ slugger/pitcher Shohei Ohtani told reporters he intended to finish out the year as the club’s designated hitter, the 24-year-old wunderkind hammered his 19th home run of the season to set a new record for Japanese rookie ballplayers in MLB.

The blast came on an 0-2 fastball from left-hander Carlos Rodon and scored David Fletcher and Mike Trout to cap a four-run spread in the third inning of Friday’s game against the White Sox. It’s also Ohtani’s fourth home run this month: He hit one out during Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Rangers and returned for another pair of dingers the following day.

Per MLB.com’s Max Gelman, the talented DH is the first Japanese rookie to record 19 or more home runs in MLB history. The previous record-holder, former Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima, collected 18 homers during his first major-league campaign in 2006. What he managed to do in 139 games during his age-30 season, Ohtani has accomplished over just 83 games in his age-23 season.

The historic home run followed Ohtani’s announcement earlier in the day, when he told reporters that he has yet to make a decision regarding an impending Tommy John procedure on his right elbow. He’s currently weighing the pros and cons of undergoing the surgery and is expected to make a final decision sometime during the offseason. Additional comments revealed that he would like to retain his status as a two-way player once he’s fully recovered from the injury and able to pitch again; until that becomes a possibility, he’ll stay on as the Angels’ lefty DH in 2018 and appears likely to return in a limited role for the club in 2019 as well.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.