Athletics, Rangers benches empty after Ramón Laureano home run dispute

Ramon Laureano
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Things got dicey in the eighth inning of Saturday’s Athletics-Rangers game, inspiring some questionable rhetoric around MLB’s current “Let The Kids Play” campaign. With two outs and a runner on first, Ramón Laureano stepped to the plate in an attempt to extend the A’s slight one-run lead. Instead, he found himself on the receiving end of a hit-by-pitch from Rangers reliever Rafael Montero.

Both benches emptied in the moments after the plunking, though Montero and Rangers skipper Chris Woodward were the only ones ejected at the end of the scrum. The origin of the Montero-Laureano beef began in the sixth inning, when Laureano not only admired his 413-foot homer off of Rangers starter Adrian Sampson, but also had some choice words to share with the pitcher as he started to round the bases — prompting the A’s dugout to clear in anticipation of a bigger confrontation.

Laureano later clarified some of his comments to Sampson, claiming that the pitcher had ‘stepped on his bat’ at the end of the fourth inning and that he had invited Sampson to ‘step on it again’ after depositing an 88-m.p.h. changeup over the left field wall.

Granted, there’s some allowance for a batter to admire a home run, to enjoy his own performance and maybe take the game a little less seriously than the unwritten rules stipulate. (Speaking to MLB.com’s Martín Gallegos, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus disagreed with the premise of ‘Let The Kids Play’ as it pertained to those who were no longer new to the game. “They’re pimping every homer,” he said. “[…] The guys that hit a homer, they’re like 30 years old! That counts for like 20 years old, that’s a kid for me. If you’re 30, it doesn’t count as let the kids play. It says ‘Let The KIDS Play,’ not ‘Let The Old Guys Play.’” Laureano, for what it’s worth, is 25.)

Had Laureano simply taken a brief moment to admire his homer before jogging the bases, his actions might have been taken in that spirit. But given the subsequent staredown and jawing between the two, not to mention the pitch Laureano later took off of his shoulder, it was clear that wasn’t going to happen.

The clubs will face off one more time during Sunday’s series finale at 4:07 PM EDT. Whether they’re content to put Saturday’s events behind them remains to be seen.

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.