Nelson Cruz homers for 1,000th career RBI

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz had been sitting on 999 career RBI since hitting a solo home run one week ago against the Orioles. Cruz finally crossed into quadruple digits, blasting a solo home run off of Padres starter Joey Lucchesi in the bottom of the fifth inning on Wednesday night. Cruz’s homer, his 35th of the season, helped cut the Mariners’ deficit to two runs at 5-3.

Cruz, 38, has had a remarkable offensive career. He has spent 14 seasons in the big leagues, but the first four he wasn’t given the opportunity to play regularly. Still, he has managed 1,000 career RBI, something only 285 other hitters have done in their careers, along with 358 homers and an overall .275/.342/.519 batting line.

Cruz is tied for 86th on the all-time home run leaderboard with Yogi Berra and Carlos Lee. Cruz is a free agent after the season. Given his age and the recent trend of a weak free agent market, it remains to be seen just how much further up the ladder he can go. If he’s able to play and stay health next season, he should at least get to 400 career dingers, something only 55 players to date have done.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.