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Rocco Baldelli named 2019 American League Manager of the Year

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Twins first-year manager Rocco Baldelli narrowly edged out Yankees skipper Aaron Boone to earn the 2019 American League Manager of the Year Award as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Baldelli is the second first-year manager in the AL to win the award, joining Jeff Banister who won the award with the Rangers in 2015. There have been six first-year winners in the NL: Hal Lanier (Astros, 1986), Dusty Baker (Giants, 1993), Joe Girardi (Marlins, 2006), Matt Williams (Nationals, 2014), Dave Roberts (Dodgers, 2016), and Torey Lovullo (Diamondbacks, 2017). Baldelli is the fourth Twins manager to win the award, joining Tom Kelly (1991), Ron Gardenhire (2010), and Paul Molitor (2017).

The Twins went 101-61 during the regular season, the second-highest win total in franchise history behind the 1965 team that won 102 games. The Twins were swept out of the ALDS by the Yankees.

Baldelli received 13 first-place votes and 106 total points. Boone also had 13 first-place votes but 96 points while Rays manager Kevin Cash finished in third place with 33 points. The Athletics’ Bob Melvin, the Astros’ A.J. Hinch, and the Indians’ Terry Francona also received votes.

Baldelli, of course, spent parts of seven seasons in the majors from 2003-10 with the Rays and Red Sox. After retiring following the 2010 season due to injuries, Baldelli joined the Rays’ front office as a special assistant to baseball operations while also serving as a roving minor league hitting and outfield defensve instructor. He became the Rays’ first base coach in 2014. Ahead of the 2017 season, Baldelli was named the Rays’ major league field coordinator. He put himself in the running to become the Twins’ manager following Molitor’s firing after the 2018 season and was ultimately selected

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.