Report: Twins, Christian Vázquez agree to 3-year, $30M deal

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins made their first significant move of the offseason by adding Christian Vazquez, agreeing to a three-year, $30 million contract with the veteran catcher.

Two people with knowledge of the contract confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending the completion of a physical exam.

Vazquez played for Boston and Houston this season, hitting .274 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 119 games. The native of Puerto Rico was traded to the Astros on Aug. 1.

The 32-year-old Vazquez also appeared in six postseason games, batting .235 with three RBIs while helping Houston win the World Series. He was the catcher in Game 4 when the Astros combined to pitch a no-hitter against the Phillies.

Vazquez broke into the majors with the Red Sox in 2014. He hit .262 with 54 homers and 266 RBIs in 698 games for Boston and won a World Series ring there in 2018.

The biggest prize on the catcher market, Willson Contreras, signed a five-year, $87.5 million contract with St. Louis last week. After trading Mitch Garver to Texas prior to last season, the Twins failed to replace his production at the plate on their way to a 78-84 finish for third place in the AL Central after leading the division for most of the summer.

Gary Sanchez, who made 80 starts at catcher after arriving in a deal with the New York Yankees, became a free agent after hitting 16 home runs in 419 at-bats with a dismal .659 OPS.

Ryan Jeffers remains under club control, entering his fourth year in the majors. His 2022 season was spoiled by injury, and his batting output – seven homers in 212 at-bats and a .648 OPS – was no better than Sanchez’s.

The Twins have been in pursuit of star shortstop Carlos Correa, who opted out of his contract after one year in Minnesota to become one of the most sought-after free agents on the market this winter. While many of the other big stars have been snatched up, the Twins have stayed patient while waiting for Correa. Prior to landing Vazquez, they acquired shortstop Kyle Farmer in a trade with Cincinnati.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.