Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Josh Bell, Nationals agree for 2021

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — NL batting champion Juan Soto, shortstop Trea Turner and first baseman Josh Bell agreed to 2021 contracts for substantial raises with the Washington Nationals, leaving the team with no players headed to arbitration.

Soto’s one year-deal is worth $8.5 million, Turner’s is for $13 million and Bell’s is $6.35 million. Friday was the scheduled exchange by players and teams of proposed salary figures for arbitration.

A young, slugging outfielder, Soto hit .351 in 2020, also leading the National League in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695). He finished with a team-high 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 47 games during the pandemic-truncated season.

Soto made just above $233,111 in prorated salary in 2020; he had been due to make s$629,400 if it had been a full season.

This was his first time being eligible for arbitration.

Soto, who turned 22 in October, has primarily been a left fielder in the majors, but he also spent some time in right field in 2020 and could make a full-time shift over there next season, allowing free-agent signing Kyle Schwarber to play left.

“I mean, when you look at Soto, I mean, obviously, I think he’s probably – I think he’s the best hitter in the game. I really do,” Schwarber said last week after joining Washington. “Even at his age, I think he’s one of the best hitters in the game. I mean, he’s showing it on a consistent basis right now, what he can do.”

Soto was fifth in NL MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger award, a year after helping Washington win the franchise’s first World Series title.

Turner came in seventh place in the MVP tally after topping the NL in hits with 78 and coming in fourth in batting average at .335. He led Washington with 41 RBIs and 12 stolen bases and finished second on the club with 12 homers.

The 27-year-old Turner is a fixture at the top of the lineup and pairs with Soto to give the Nationals two offensive cornerstones.

Turner was supposed to make $7.45 million in 2020, but that was reduced to a prorated salary of $2,759,259.

General manager Mike Rizzo has pursued a long-term deal for Turner.

“Trea is part of that core that we’re talking about. You are looking at a young player that’s really coming into his own and becoming a real factor in the game, so he’s a guy that we have had discussions in the past,” Rizzo said in September. “We certainly would love to continue to have discussions.”

Washington traded for Bell last month in its first significant move of the offseason, filling a hole at first base while also hoping to add some pop to the batting order by getting him from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Nationals are counting on the 28-year-old Bell to play like the version that earned an NL All-Star berth for a terrific first half of the 2019 season – he batted .302 and produced 27 homers and 84 RBIs – rather than the player he’s been since.

He slumped to a .233 average with 10 homers the rest of the way that season, then dropped to a career-worst .226 average with eight homers and 22 RBIs in 57 games in 2020.

Bell collected a prorated salary of $1,777,778 last season; his contract was worth $4.8 million before the pandemic shortened the schedule.

Note: The Nationals also announced Friday that they agreed to terms with 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Armando Cruz and nine other international free agents. A total of five are from the Dominican Republic, four from Venezuela and one from Aruba; all are teens.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.