Report: Twins, Pablo López agree to 4-year, $73.5M contract extension

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The Minnesota Twins and starting pitcher Pablo López agreed to a contract that adds $73.5 million over four seasons, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

The person confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract was still pending completion of a physical exam and had not yet been announced by the club.

López’s first season with the Twins has started splendidly after he arrived in a trade with Miami that sent 2022 American League batting champion and fan favorite Luis Arraez to the Marlins. The right-hander has a 1.73 ERA through four starts with 33 strikeouts in 26 innings and only 15 hits allowed.

López was the hard-luck loser Sunday in New York, when Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pitched a two-hit shutout to beat the Twins 2-0. That was the second complete game in the major leagues this year. The first one also came at López’s expense, when 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara pitched a three-hit shutout April 4 to beat the Twins 1-0.

López is making $5.45 million this season, his second year of arbitration eligibility. The new deal will give the Twins some additional long-term stability around a rotation that has emerged in 2023 as a clear strength of the team. The Twins entered their day off Monday with a 2.58 starting pitcher ERA that was the best in the major leagues.

Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle are all in the final year of their contracts, eligible to become free agents in the fall. Their uncertain status for next season only underscored the team’s interest in committing to López, who posted a 3.94 ERA over 94 starts with the Marlins.

Joe Ryan is the only other starter under club control beyond 2023. There’s viable depth in Triple-A, including Bailey Ober, who has a 3.81 ERA in 31 major league starts, and Chris Paddack is due back from Tommy John elbow surgery around midseason this year. But the 27-year-old López, a native of Venezuela, has given the Twins an ace-caliber leader to build around. He took the mound for a career-high 32 starts last season.

The Twins, who lead the AL Central with a 10-6 record, start a three-game series in Boston against the Red Sox.

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

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SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.