Report: Cardinals to acquire Arenado from Rockies

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The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to acquire All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies in a trade needing approvals before it can be finalized, a person familiar with the swap tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday night because the trade had not yet been finalized.

Arenado, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, signed a $260 million, eight-year deal with Colorado in February 2019 and is owed $199 million for the six remaining seasons.

Colorado would pay St. Louis a large amount of cash as part of the trade, the person said, and Major League Baseball must approve a cash transaction of more than $1 million.

Arenado’s contract has a no-trade provision that requires his approval for any assignment.

He may restructure his contract as part of a trade, the person said, which could require approval of the players’ association. The trade agreement was first reported by The Athletic.

The 29-year-old Arenado has hit .293 with an .890 OPS over eight seasons, averaging 35 home runs and 114 RBIs per 162 games. Aided in part by hitter-friendly Coors Field, he’s led the National League in home runs three times and led the majors in RBIs twice.

The Cardinals finished second in the NL Central last season and lost a first-round playoff matchup against the San Diego Padres. Arenado will bump Matt Carpenter out of his role as the starting third baseman and play in an infield with All-Stars Paul DeJong at shortstop and Paul Goldschmidt at first base.

Arenado slumped during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, hitting .253 with eight home runs and a .738 OPS over 48 games. He earned $12,962,963 in prorated pay.

Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich acknowledged last offseason that he was listening to trade offers on the five-time All-Star, and Arenado said in February of 2020 that “there’s a lot of disrespect around there” and “there is no relationship anymore” between him and Bridich.

Like Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday before him, Arenado grew tired of losing, especially in an NL West division ruled by the Los Angeles Dodgers every year he’s been in the big leagues.

Arenado’s contract called for salaries of $35 million annually from 2021-24, $32 million in 2025 and $27 million in 2026. His deal included a provision allowing him to opt out after the 2021 season to become a free agent.

St. Louis brings back much of the same team that made last year’s postseason, including veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright, who finalized an $8 million, one-year deal Friday. Wainwright is returning for his 17th season with St. Louis, matching Bob Gibson (1959-75) for the second-most seasons with the Cardinals among pitchers, one behind Jesse Haines (1920-37).

Wainwright was 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA last season, striking out 54 in 65 2/3 innings. He is 167-98 with a 3.38 ERA in his career, earning three All-Star selections and two Gold Gloves.

All-Star catcher Yadier Molina remains a free agent. The 38-year-old could still return for an 18th season with the Cardinals after hitting .262 with four home runs in 2020.

In the ten years since the Platinum Glove Awards were introduced honoring the best fielder regardless of position in each league, Molina and Arenado are tied for the most with four each.

Arenado would be the latest established star acquired by St. Louis in his prime.

Mark McGwire came over from Oakland in July 1997 and agreed two months later to a $28.5 million, three-year contract rather than test the market. Jim Edmonds was obtained from the Angels in March 2000 and reached a $57 million, six-year deal that May. Matt Holliday arrived in a swap with the Athletics in July 2009, became a free agent and agreed in February to a $120 million, seven-year deal.

Most recently, the Cardinals acquired Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star, from Arizona prior to the 2019 season, and he signed a $130 million deal to stay with St. Louis through 2024.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.