Hobbled Yankees lose another star, place DJ LeMahieu on IL

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — The injury-riddled New York Yankees placed infielder DJ LeMahieu on the 10-day injured list with inflammation of his right second toe.

LeMahieu had been dealing with the injury for several weeks but managed to play through the discomfort until recently, missing the first three games of New York’s series against Minnesota. Yankees manager Aaron Boone believes the issue really began to impact LeMahieu during a three-game set at Boston from Aug. 12-14.

One of New York’s most consistent hitters, the two-time batting champion was 0 for 12 last weekend in Tampa Bay and has scuffled at the plate since that weekend at Fenway Park, batting just .143 (10 for 70) with no extra-base hits over his last 18 games.

“It’s just been sore and I think it’s just prevented him from really getting off his swing,” Boone said. “I talk about these guys, they’re like race cars. A little something’s off and it prevents you from being that race car.”

The Yankees had hoped the reliable LeMahieu could avoid the IL. That outlook changed, with Boone noting that treatment and playing through the pain simply hasn’t worked well enough.

“There’s pain things. We’ve talked about the orthotics he’s got. We talked about the treatments that they do on it every day,” Boone said. “Are there other injections that are safe and effective? These are all things that they’re talking about.”

The move is retroactive to Sept. 5, opening up the possibility that LeMahieu could be back at Milwaukee. While Boone remains cautiously optimistic, he did not set a timetable for LeMahieu’s return.

“I’m concerned about it obviously because DJ’s been dealing with this now for a few weeks where I think it’s clearly compromised him,” Boone said. “So yeah, there’s that concern but there’s also hope with that.”

Leading the AL East by five games, New York has been hampered by a rash of injuries lately, with 15 players on the IL.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo landed on the IL with headaches that followed an epidural injection to treat lower back pain.

Slugger Giancarlo Stanton is dealing with the after effects of fouling a ball off his left foot in the series opener. He was expected to participate in a full pregame routine and could be available over the weekend when the second-place Rays visit the Bronx.

Matt Carpenter was seen rolling through the clubhouse on a scooter, his broken left foot in a boot.

Luis Severino (strained right lat) allowed two runs on four hits over four innings for Double-A Somerset. The right-hander might make one more rehab start but if not is a possibility to return for a two-game series at Boston Sept. 13-14, Boone said. A former 19-game winner, Severino last pitched in the majors on July 13.

Trade deadline acquisition Lou Trivino is dealing with back spasms, something the reliever noted usually takes two to three days to resolve. Right-hander Scott Effross (strained right shoulder) is expected to throw a bullpen session  and could be close to returning.

All-Star Nestor Cortes (strained left groin) was activated from the 15-day IL to start against the Twins. The left-hander hurled six innings of one-run ball against Toronto on Aug. 21.

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.