Rangers deal Elvis Andrus to Athletics for Khris Davis

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Elvis is leaving Texas.

Veteran infielder Elvis Andrus was traded to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, just over two months after the Texas Rangers said the only player remaining from their only two World Series appearances would no longer be the starting shortstop after 12 seasons in that role.

Texas is sending the 32-year-old Andrus, catcher Aramis Garcia and $13.5 million to the A’s for designated hitter Khris Davis, along with catcher Jonah Heim and right-hander Dane Acker.

Andrus, who made his MLB debut with the Rangers at age 20 in 2009, is owed $14 million in each of the next two seasons. The $120 million, eight-season deal he signed in 2015 also includes a $15 million option for 2023 that now, because of the trade, becomes a player option if he has 550 plate appearances in 2022, or 1,100 combined in 2021-22.

The AL West champion A’s, who have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, recently lost shortstop Marcus Semien to Toronto in free agency.

Rangers president Jon Daniels said the deal had been discussed earlier in the winter, and conversations picked up in the past week. Daniels made a call Thursday night to Andrus, who could have vetoed any trade.

“From a career standpoint, I think he understood it right away, which was, we’ve made decisions based on our plan,” Daniels said. “This is an opportunity for him to play shortstop, which is, you know, what he has done his whole career and is very confident in his abilities to do that for a very good club.”

The Rangers said in December that Gold Glove-winning third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who will be 26 when the season opens, would be given the opportunity to be their starting shortstop. They told Andrus then to prepare to play all infield positions.

When Andrus made his big league debut, the Rangers moved Michael Young – then 32 himself – to third base after he had been an All-Star shortstop the previous five seasons. Young is still the team’s career leader and Andrus is second on the list for games played, at-bats and triples. Young is also the career leader for hits and runs, with Andrus third in both those categories.

“On behalf of the Texas Rangers, I want to thank Elvis Andrus for the tremendous impact he has made on our organization over the last 12 years. His play on the field, his connection to our fans, and his work in the community have played an integral part in shaping our franchise,” Rangers chairman and manager partner Ray Davis said. “He will forever be a member of the Texas Rangers family.”

Andrus has batted .274 over his 12 seasons, and the two-time All-Star is the only MLB player with at least 10 seasons of 145 games or more since he debuted in 2009, before the Rangers went to the World Series in each of the next two seasons. He hit .194 last season when limited to 29 games because of lingering lower back issues.

The 33-year-old Davis led the majors with 48 home runs in 2018. He has hit .243 with 218 homers and 580 RBIs in 938 big league games for the A’s (2016-20) and the Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15). He is signed for $16.75 million this season.

In 79 career games against the Rangers, Davis hit .271 with 15 doubles, 32 homers and 80 RBIs.

Heim, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut with the A’s in 2020, hitting .211 with five RBIs in 13 games. Acker was the A’s fourth-round selection out of Oklahoma n shortened MLB draft last summer.

Garcia was acquired by Texas from San Francisco on a waiver claim in November after he missed all of the 2020 season while recovering from surgery on his right hip labrum.

The Rangers were an AL-worst 22-38 last season, and turned their focus to younger players. They had three 22-year-old rookies in the starting lineup on the final day of the season, a decade after the team’s first World Series when Andrus was the youngster.

“That’s really one of the most exciting parts about this. As great as those teams were, it was a decade ago,” Daniels said. “Obviously we’ve moved past that. And I’m excited to see these guys compete and form their own identity as a club. … It allows them in some ways kind of a free runway ahead of them to to demonstrate who they are and the style of play that we want.”

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.