Guardians, Shane Bieber agree to $6 million contract for 2022

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Cleveland Guardians ace Shane Bieber avoided salary arbitration when he agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract.

Bieber’s deal completed a day in which Cleveland signed all seven of its arbitration-eligible players: Bieber, shortstop Amed Rosario ($4.95 million), slugger Franmil Reyes ($4.55 million), catcher Austin Hedges ($4 million), starter Cal Quantrill ($2.51 million), and outfielders Bradley Zimmer ($1.3 million) and Josh Naylor ($1.2 million).

Bieber made $679,700 last season, when he was sidelined for three months with a strained shoulder muscle. The 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner has said he’s open to signing a long-term deal with the Guardians.

Team president Chris Antonetti has indicated the Guardians could have talks with Bieber about a new contract. However, Bieber is arbitration-eligible for two more seasons so there’s no urgency to get it done quickly.

Rosario was one of Cleveland’s most consistent offensive players last season, batting .282 with 11 homers and 57 RBIs in 141 games. It was the 26-year-old’s first season with the Guardians after coming over from the Mets in the Francisco Lindor trade.

Rosario made $2.4 million last season.

The biggest bat in Cleveland’s lineup, Reyes hit 30 homers and drove in 85 runs despite being limited to 115 games in 2021 due to a strained left oblique muscle.

Hedges doesn’t do much at the plate but he’s solid behind it. He’s taking over as the starter after the Guardians chose not to pick up Roberto Perez‘s option. He threw out 24% of base stealers last season.

Quantrill went 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA last season, giving Cleveland a major lift after Bieber and Aaron Civale went down with injuries. The 27-year-old right-hander is expected to begin ’22 in the rotation.

Zimmer has been dogged by injuries for several seasons. He stayed healthy enough last year to play 99 games, the most since his 2017 rookie season. He batted .227 with eight homers, 35 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.

Naylor broke his left leg in a violent outfield collision in June. He’s almost fully recovered and gives the Guardians versatility and a spark. He can also play first base and fill in at DH.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.