Francisco Cervelli is done catching

Francisco Cervelli
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In an exclusive interview with Dejan Kovacevic of DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli announced that he’s ready to transition out of a catching role. It’s a position he’s held for the entirety of his 12-year trek in the majors, and one that has triggered an alarming number of concussions as well. Now, in the middle of another lengthy recovery from his sixth concussion — this one sustained after he took a Joc Pederson broken bat backswing off of his helmet — it appears the veteran backstop is ready to take a step back.

“That’s enough,” Cervelli told Kovacevic. “This time is different. I can’t live like this.”

Kovacevic adds that Cervelli’s decision is not the result of any coercion by the Pirates. Rather, it appears to be a natural response to one too many traumatic injuries. The 33-year-old backstop also made it clear that he isn’t contemplating retirement anytime soon, but anticipates a possible return to the Pirates’ roster once he completes additional medical evaluations and plays through a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis.

After that, it’s not clear what the future holds for Cervelli. While he has some prior experience working both infield corners, the Pirates are pretty well set with Josh Bell and Colin Moran at first and third, respectively, and may not have great need for the veteran backup infielder as they jockey for a better position in the NL Central standings during the second half of 2019. Cervelli has yet to impress at the plate this year, too, as he slashed a paltry .193/.279/.248 with four extra-base hits and a .526 OPS in 123 plate appearances for the team before landing on the 10-day injured list in late May.

Still, there’s reason to believe that he may find another way to extend his major-league career. He’ll finish out a five-year run with the Pirates at the end of the year and, barring some creative restructuring of their roster, will be free to seek another opportunity via free agency.

Source: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach $360M, 9-year deal

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday because the deal had not been announced.

Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.

Judge was offered a long-term deal by New York before last season that was worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down in the hours before opening day in April.

The 6-foot-7 Judge bet on himself — and won.

Judge set an American League record with 62 homers in 2022, powering the Yankees to the AL East title. He also tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and just missed a Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

New York was swept by Houston in the AL Championship Series, but Judge became the first AL MVP for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Judge, 30, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat.

A year later, he was one of baseball’s breakout stars. He hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 2017, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.