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AP sources: Dylan Moore, Mariners agree to nearly $8.9M deal

SEATTLE (AP) — Dylan Moore and the Seattle Mariners have agreed to a three-year contract worth $8,875,000, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the agreement, first reported by ESPN, had not been announced.

Moore had asked for a raise from $1.35 million to $2.25 million, and the Mariners had offered $1.9 million when proposed arbitration figures were exchanged on Jan. 13.

The 30-year-old utilityman would have been eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, but the new agreement pushes that back a year.

Moore played every position except pitcher and catcher last year, including 39 games in right field, seven in center, 18 in left, two at third base, 26 at shortstop, 12 at second, eight at first and three at designated hitter.

He is expected to play more second base this season, sharing time with Kolten Wong, and also is likely to spell J.P. Crawford at shortstop.

Moore was selected by Texas in the seventh round of the 2015 amateur draft, traded to Atlanta a year later and then released by the Braves in March 2018. He signed with Milwaukee, was released at the end of the season and then signed with Seattle that November.

Moore made his big league debut in March 2019 when Seattle played Oakland in Tokyo.

He hit .224 with six homers and 24 RBIs last year, down from 12 homers, 43 RBIs and a .181 batting average in 2021. Moore is a .208 career hitter with 35 homers and 112 RBIs.

Seattle defeated Diego Castillo on Wednesday in the first salary arbitration decision this year, and the relief pitcher will get a raise to $2.95 million rather than his request of $3,225,000.

Outfielder Teoscar Hernández, acquired by the Mariners from Toronto, also remains on track for a hearing. He asked for a raise from $10.65 million to $16 million, and Seattle offered $14 million.

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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport



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No lease extension, but O's and governor tout partnership

The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership" to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state's new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn't announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday's joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team's future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

"We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state's previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership."

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team's ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.twitter.com/noahtrister

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Mariners hope offseason additions have closed gap in AL West

SEATTLE (AP) — Jerry Dipoto saw up close last year during the regular season and again in October where the differences lie if the Seattle Mariners expect to close the gap on Houston in the AL West.

While this winter lacked any significant splashes in free agency, Dipoto said Wednesday the Mariners are confident they’re an improved team from the one that last season ended the longest playoff drought in baseball.

“The goal every year is to win the division, get into the postseason and try to do some damage. We’ve never been more convinced of this team’s ability to do those things than we were at the end of last season,” said Dipoto, Seattle's president of baseball operations. “I think that goes for all the players in the clubhouse because for us in the front office, our staff, we do feel like we got meaningfully better this offseason and we are a deeper, more complete team than we were at the end of last season.”

There is a buzz and excitement about the Mariners in the Pacific Northwest that’s been missing for the better part of two decades. Last season’s run to a wild-card berth and playoff series win over Toronto — and all the dramatics that surrounded it — reinvigorated the slumbering baseball region.

But capitalizing on that — in a season that also includes Seattle hosting the All-Star Game — means closing ground on the World Series champion Astros both when it comes to the regular season but also in the playoffs. It was Houston that won the AL West by 16 games and then swept second-place Seattle out of the Division Series on the strength of a few big swings.

So the question remains whether the Mariners did enough this offseason to be a threat to the Astros. Seattle’s foundation will continue to be its starting pitching and the everyday players back from last year like AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez, Ty France, J.P. Crawford and others.

The Mariners added second baseman Kolten Wong, outfielders Teoscar Hernández and AJ Pollock, and infielder Tommy La Stella. And while those additions should give Seattle a deeper and more versatile roster, they were not viewed from the outside as being impactful enough to make up the difference.

“It was a struggle for us offensively last year, certainly early in the season, getting consistent offense up and down the lineup,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “So with more experience, guys going through things late in the season, in the playoffs, hopefully will really help us getting off to a little bit better start. And we’ve added some pieces.”

WBC IMPACT

Seattle is expected to lose several players to the World Baseball Classic during spring training. Rodríguez, Hernández and reliever Diego Castillo are all expected to play for the Dominican Republic; third baseman Eugenio Suárez with Venezuela; reliever Matt Festa with Italy; reliever Matt Brash with Canada and top prospect Harry Ford with Great Britain.

One name notably missing from the list is starting pitcher Luis Castillo, who was expected to be part of the formidable Dominican staff. Dipoto said Castillo has opted not to pitch in the event.

“It’s something that we are pleased with that he’ll be (at spring training),” Dipoto said. “It’s a choice that we made together and I’m excited to see him from beginning to end.”

Seattle is notably antsy about the WBC after losing pitcher Drew Smyly to Tommy John surgery after pitching in the tournament in 2017. Felix Hernandez also pitched in the WBC that year and ended up with two lengthy stints on the injured list due to shoulder troubles.

“It’s early in the season and these guys are playing at such a high intensity level when they haven’t been doing that for a number of months, so you’re always worried about injury,” Servais said. “You want those guys to be healthy. These are certainly key contributors for us going into the season.”

INJURY UPDATES

The Mariners expect to be mostly healthy when spring training begins. Seattle catcher Cal Raleigh is fully recovered from offseason thumb surgery. Sam Haggerty had surgery to repair a groin injury sustained late last season, but has started full baseball activity. Relief pitcher Andrés Muñoz had foot surgery but should pitch during spring training, and Dipoto said former first-round draft pick Evan White is fully healthy after two-plus seasons of dealing with injuries.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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Batting champ Arraez, Marlins go to salary arbitration

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — AL batting champion Luis Arraez went to a salary arbitration hearing Wednesday against the Miami Marlins, who acquired the infielder from the Minnesota Twins last month.

Arraez asked for a raise from $2.2 million to $6.1 million, and the Marlins argued for $5 million. The case was heard by John Stout, Mark Burstein and Scott Buchheit, who are expected to issue a decision Thursday.

Arraez hit .316 with eight homers, 49 RBIs and a .795 OPS, starting 61 games at first base, 34 at designated hitter and 31 at second. The 25-year-old was traded on Jan. 20 for starting pitcher Pablo López and a pair of prosects: infielder Jose Salas and outfielder Byron Chourio.

Arraez is eligible for free agency after the 2026 season.

Seattle defeated Diego Castillo in the first salary arbitration decision this year on Wednesday, and the relief pitcher will get a raise to $2.95 million rather than his request of $3,225,000.

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday.

Twenty-three players remain scheduled for hearings, to take place through Feb. 17.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport



O's-Nats TV dispute goes before NY's top court on March 14

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for March 14 in the long-running dispute between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals over television rights fees.

After agreeing in September 2021 to consider the case, the state's highest court said this week that it will hear arguments on the question of “whether courts have the power, after vacating an arbitration award based on 'evident partiality' related to the forum, to order rehearing in a forum other than that provided for in the parties’ arbitration agreement."

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network was established in March 2005 after the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington and became the Nationals, moving into what had been Baltimore’s exclusive broadcast territory since 1972. The Orioles have a controlling interest in the network.

MASN paid the Nationals for 2012-16 what the Orioles proposed: $197.5 million. Washington argued it should be paid $475 million.

An arbitration panel of baseball executives — Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly, Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon — heard the case in 2012 and ruled in 2014 that the Nationals were owed $298.1 million.

The Orioles appealed, and that decision was thrown out in 2015 by New York Supreme Court Justice Lawrence K. Marks, who ruled a law firm representing the Nationals was conflicted because it had worked for clubs of executives on the panel. The case was sent back to baseball to be heard by a reconstituted Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee.

A second panel of baseball executives — Milwaukee Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio, Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mather and Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro — ordered a slightly lower payment of $296.8 million. That decision was confirmed in August 2019 by New York Supreme Court Justice Joel M. Cohen.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the First Department unanimously affirmed Cohen’s decision in October 2020, ruling the Orioles failed to establish evident partiality in the second arbitration panel. The First Department’s decision was by Justices Dianne T. Renwick, Cynthia S. Kern, Saliann Scarpulla and Martin Shulman.

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Justice Department: MLB antitrust exemption should be narrow

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal appeals court to narrowly consider Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, a filing made in a case involving four eliminated minor league teams hoping to end the sport’s century-old legal protection.

MLB cut the minimum guaranteed minor league affiliation agreements from 160 to 120 in September 2020 and took over running the minors from the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which had been in charge since 1901.

The parent companies of the Staten Island Yankees, Tri-City ValleyCats, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and Norwich Sea Unicorns sued MLB in December 2021 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act caused by “a horizontal agreement between competitors that has artificially reduced and capped output in the market for MiLB teams affiliated with MLB clubs.”

The suit was dismissed in October by a judge who cited the antitrust exemption created by a 1922 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the Federal League. The teams then asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to send the case onto the Supreme Court.

“The court need not resolve the exemption’s precise contours,” the Justice Department wrote in a brief to the 2nd Circuit filed Monday by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan S. Kanter and several other lawyers. “The United States therefore does not take a position on whether the exemption applies here. Instead, the United States files this brief to reaffirm, as the Supreme Court has said, that courts should ‘not extend’ the Federal Baseball exemption.”

After the case was filed, MLB moved to dismiss while citing the sport’s antritrust exemption, alleging lack of standing and claiming there was no antitrust violation.

U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter ruled on Oct. 26 that the minor league teams had standing and “had pleaded sufficient facts to show an actual adverse effect on competition in the identified market.” But he dismissed the suit because of the antitrust exemption.

“Plaintiffs believe that the Supreme Court is poised to knock out the exemption, like a boxer waiting to launch a left hook after her opponent tosses out a torpid jab,” Carter wrote. “It’s possible. But until the Supreme Court or Congress takes action, the exemption survives; it shields MLB from plaintiffs’ lawsuit.”

The Supreme Court granted baseball an antitrust exemption in the Federal League case when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that baseball was not interstate commerce but exhibitions exempt from antitrust laws. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the decision in a 1953 case involving New York Yankees farmhand George Toolson and in the 1972 Curt Flood decision, saying any changes should come from Congress.

A 1998 law applied antitrust laws to MLB affecting the employment of major league players at the major league level.

“This court must, of course, apply controlling precedent even when it is wrong,” the minor league teams wrote in a Jan. 9 brief to the 2nd Circuit. “But the court should, if it sees fit, dispatch this case to the Supreme Court with a message attached: Enough already.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport



M's beat Diego Castillo in year's 1st arbitration decision

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Seattle Mariners defeated Diego Castillo in the first salary arbitration decision this year, and the relief pitcher will get a raise to $2.95 million rather than his request of $3,225,000.

Richard Bloch, Melinda Gordon and Brian Keller made the decision on Wednesday, a day after hearing arguments.

A 29-year-old right-hander who made $2.15 million last season, Castillo was 7-3 with a 3.64 ERA and seven saves in 59 relief appearances, striking out 53 and walking 22 in 54 1/3 innings. The Mariners made the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and lost to eventual World Series champion Houston in the Division Series.

Castillo signed with the Rays in 2014 and pitched for Tampa Bay from 2018 until he was traded to Seattle in July 2021. He is 24-18 with a 3.12 ERA and 35 saves in five major league seasons, and is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series.

Outfielder Teoscar Hernández, acquired by the Mariners from Toronto, also remains on track for a hearing. He asked for a raise from $10.65 million to $16 million, and Seattle offered $14 million.

Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe and Los Angeles argued the first case of the year on Monday in a decision that is being held for later announcement. He asked for a raise from $7.65 million to $11.9 million, and the Angels argued for $11.25 million.

Twenty-four players remain scheduled for hearings, to take place through Feb. 17.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport



Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to welcome Barfield, Boucher, Harden, Wiwchar

Considered one of the best trios in the big leagues at the time, Jesse Barfield spent his prime years patrolling the Blue Jays outfield with George Bell and Lloyd Moseby. 

He'll soon join his former teammates in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Barfield was named to the Class of 2023 by the Hall on Wednesday along with Denis Boucher, Rich Harden and Joe Wiwchar. The induction ceremony is set for June 17 in St. Marys, Ont. 

Barfield hit 179 home runs over parts of nine seasons with Toronto. The Joliet, Ill., native also spent four years with the New York Yankees. 

Bell was inducted in 2013 and Moseby got the nod in 2018. Now it's Barfield's turn. 

"I knew eventually it would come," Barfield said on a video call. "I'm not worried about how I got there and how long it took. We're there and that's the main thing. 

"The guys that are there now deserve to be there and I knew eventually I would have the chance to get in and it worked out great."

Boucher, a Montreal native, played for the Blue Jays and Expos over a 10-year pro career that included parts of four seasons in the big leagues. He later served as a pitching coach for the Canadian men's team.

Harden, a Victoria native, posted a 59-38 career record and 3.76 earned-run average over nine MLB seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

Wiwchar is a longtime Manitoba baseball coach and executive. The Winnipeg native served as an assistant coach on the provincial team that won silver at the 1977 Canada Summer Games.

"Each of this year’s inductees has had a significant impact on the game of baseball in Canada in their own distinct way,” said Hall board chair Jeremy Diamond. "We’re proud and excited to celebrate their outstanding careers in St. Marys this June."

The new inductees will be honoured alongside former Blue Jays first baseman John Olerud and former Expos broadcaster Jacques Doucet. They were elected in 2020 but were previously unable to attend the ceremony.

Barfield helped lead the Blue Jays to their first American League East title in 1985 when he hit 27 home runs and drove in 84 runs. He also had 22 stolen bases, 22 outfield assists and finished seventh in MVP voting that year.

"I'm still in disbelief with the news of being voted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame," he said. "Being drafted by and then playing for the Blue Jays has always meant so much to me and my family. 

"I'm truly honoured, humbled and speechless right now."

Boucher was the first Canadian to have played for both the Blue Jays and Expos. He made his debut with Toronto in 1991 and was dealt by the San Diego Padres to Montreal two years later. 

On Sept. 6, 1993, at Olympic Stadium, Boucher made his first start for the Expos, with Windsor, Ont., native Joe Siddall behind the plate and Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker in right field.

It was the first time in modern baseball history that three Canadians were in the starting lineup for the same team. Boucher worked six innings in a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Harden, meanwhile, posted 949 strikeouts over his career. His 17.9 WAR ranks sixth all-time among Canadian big-league pitchers.

Wiwchar devoted seven decades to baseball in his home province. He served as a player, coach, volunteer, executive and administrator. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.



Dodgers, Gonsolin agree to $6.65M, 2-year contract

LOS ANGELES (AP) — All-Star pitcher Tony Gonsolin and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed on a $6.65 million, two-year contract Tuesday that avoided an arbitration hearing.

Gonsolin gets $3.25 million this year and $3.4 million in 2024.

His salary in the second season can escalate by up to $3 million based on a points system in which he will be credited one point for each start, or each relief appearance of 3 1/3 innings: $500,000 apiece for 14, 16, 18, 20, 24 and 28 points. The 2024 salary also would increase by $1,125,000 for winning a Cy Young Award this year, $625,000 for finishing second or third in the voting and $500,000 for finishing fourth or fifth.

The sides exchanged salary proposals on Jan. 13, with Gonsolin seeking a raise from $720,000 last season to $3.4 million this year, while the Dodgers offered $3 million.

The 28-year-old right-hander was 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 24 starts during a breakout season last year. Gonsolin earned his first All-Star selection with an 11-0 record and a 2.02 ERA in the first half. He finished with the highest winning percentage (.941) in franchise history.

Gonsolin has been with the Dodgers for parts of four seasons since being drafted in the ninth round out of Saint Mary’s College in 2016. He is 26-6 with a 2.51 ERA in 59 career games.

He helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series during the pandemic-shortened season.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



Blue Jays sign reliever Chad Green to $8.5M, 2-year deal

TORONTO (AP) — Free agent reliever Chad Green and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to an $8.5 million, two-year contract on Tuesday.

The deal includes options for 2025 and 2026 and could be worth $29.25 million over four seasons.

Green is likely to miss at least the early portion of this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He injured his pitching elbow last May with the New York Yankees and was sidelined the rest of the year.

The right-hander got off to a solid start last season with a 3.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 15 innings. He left New York's game against the Baltimore Orioles on May 19 with right forearm discomfort and three days later the Yankees announced he needed Tommy John surgery.

Typical recovery time for the ligament-replacement procedure is 12-18 months.

Green gets a $2.25 million salary this year, and the Blue Jays must decide after this season whether to exercise a club option calling for $9 million salaries in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Green has a conditional player option for 2024 at $6.25 million that can be exercised only if Toronto declines its option. Green’s conditional option includes performance bonuses of up to $1 million: $250,000 each for 40, 45, 50 and 55 appearances.

If both the Blue Jays and Green decline their initial options, Toronto has a conditional option at $10.5 million annually for 2024 and 2025. Those options have $1 million in performance bonuses for appearances: $500,000 each for 60 and 65 games.

The 31-year-old Green is 33-22 with a 3.17 ERA in seven major league seasons, all with the Yankees. He has 11 saves and 53 holds.

Green has struck out 494 batters and walked only 96 in 383 2/3 innings. He set personal bests in 2021 with 10 wins, 67 appearances and 83 2/3 innings while posting a 3.12 ERA.

To make room on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Matt Gage was designated for assignment by Toronto.

The Blue Jays also appointed Jeff Ware (bullpen) and David Howell (strategy) as assistant pitching coaches. The team said the rest of last year's big league coaching staff will return this season.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



Diego Castillo, Mariners argue case in salary arbitration

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Diego Castillo and the Seattle Mariners went to salary arbitration Tuesday, with the relief pitcher asking for $3,225,000 and the team offering $2.95 million.

Richard Bloch, Melinda Gordon and Brian Keller heard the case. A decision is expected Wednesday.

A 29-year-old right-hander, Castillo was 7-3 with a 3.64 ERA and seven saves in 59 relief appearances last year for the Mariners, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and lost to eventual World Series champion Houston in the Division Series.

Castillo struck out 53 and walked 22 in 54 1/3 innings. He had a $2.15 million salary.

Castillo signed with the Rays in 2014 and pitched for Tampa Bay from 2018 until he was traded to Seattle in July 2021. He is 24-18 with a 3.12 ERA and 35 saves in five major league seasons, and is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series.

Outfielder Teoscar Hernández, acquired by the Mariners from Toronto, also remains on track for a hearing. He asked for a raise from $10.65 million to $16 million, and Seattle offered $14 million.

Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe and Los Angeles argued the first case of the year on Monday in a decision that is being held for later announcement. He asked for a raise from $7.65 million to $11.9 million, and the Angels argued for $11.25 million.

Twenty-four players remain scheduled for hearings, to take place through Feb. 17.

Three players who had been scheduled to have their cases heard agreed to multiyear contracts Tuesday. New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil got a $50 million, four-year deal and Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract. Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin signed a $6.65 million, two-year deal.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport



Batting title put McNeil in driver's seat for $50M deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Winning a batting title put Jeff McNeil in the driver's seat — for a big-money contract and a new car.

New York Mets teammate Francisco Lindor told McNeil early last season he would gift him a vehicle if McNeil won a batting championship. The second baseman led the major leagues at .326, and the Mets rewarded him Tuesday with a $50 million, four-year deal.

“I did send Lindor a pretty good video of some very nice cars the other day," McNeil said during a Citi Field news conference. "So any one of those should be up to my standards.”

McNeil was coy about the make and model other than to say “they were one brand of a very nice ...” before cutting himself off.

Lindor's reply?

“He said those were nice cars,” McNeil recalled. “We'll see what happens in spring training.”

A 12th-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft, McNeil was at Double-A Binghamton as a 26-year-old in 2018.

“Wondering if you’re going to get paid,” he said.

He was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas that June and made his big league debut that July 24 with a first-pitch, pinch-hit single against San Diego's Phil Hughes. McNeil earned $202,177 in the majors that year, $567,714 in 2019, $228,769 for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and $642,251 in 2021 before a raise to $3 million last year in his first season of arbitration eligibility.

“You never know what’s going to happen. You're one injury away from being out of this game. And that’s frustrating, that's scary sometimes," the two-time All-Star said. "But this deal is able to kind of take that off my mind, and I'm just going to go out there and play hard and be the baseball player I know I am.”

His wife Tatiana and son Lucas, born last July 13, watched from the first row.

“My wife puts him in front of the TV. He’s got no clue,” McNeil said. “But when mom starts cheering, he gets pretty excited as well.”

McNeil's contract calls for a $6.25 million salary this year, $10.25 million in 2024 and $15.75 million in each of the following two seasons. The Mets have a $15.75 million option for 2027 with a $2 million buyout, a season that if exercised would make the agreement worth $63.75 million over five years.

“When you are able to bring players through your system up to the big leagues, the connectivity that you feel in the organization and the morale that it kind of inspires is a really strong feeling for everybody,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said. “Jeff had the talent, the resolve to scratch, claw, fight through a lot of adversity and to make it to this point, and this is a very well-deserved day for him.”

McNeil's worth to the Mets has increased in the inverse to his uniform number, which dropped from 68 as a rookie to 6 in 2019 and to 1 last year. Primarily a second baseman the past two seasons, he also plays the corner outfield spots on occasion.

New York has boosted its projected luxury tax payroll to around $390 million heading into its third season under owner Steve Cohen, which would leave the team with a tax bill of about $116 million. The Mets added pitchers Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, José Quintana and David Robertson this offseason, along with catcher Omar Narváez and outfielder Tommy Pham. They also re-signed outfielder Brandon Nimmo for $162 million over eight years and closer Edwin Díaz for $102 million over five years.

McNeil could have become a free agent after the 2024 season.

“It starts with ownership. They want to put a winner on the field and it’s been pretty amazing to see what the Mets look like the last few years,” he said. “I want to be a part of that.”

Eppler sidestepped questions about a possible long-term deal for slugging first baseman Pete Alonso, who has a $14.5 million, one-year contract and can go free after the 2024 World Series.

“I really don’t want to have kind of our business out on the street,” Eppler said. “I don’t think it’s fair to the people involved.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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