Friday's MLB: Yankees reach deals with Kluber, Brother Rice's LeMahieu

Ronald Blum
Associated Press

New York — The New York Yankees made a pair of big moves on the free-agent market, reaching a deal with right-hander Corey Kluber worth $11 million for one year and agreeing to a $90 million, six-year contract to keep AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because each agreement is subject to a successful physical.

Kluber, the 2014 and 2017 AL Cy Young Award winner, won 56 games for Cleveland over the 2016-18 seasons, then missed the rest of the 2019 season after he was hit on the right forearm that May 1 by a comebacker off the bat of Miami’s Brian Anderson. He finished 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts.

DJ LaMahieu

Traded after the season to Texas, Kluber tore a muscle in his right shoulder in his Rangers debut on July 26, finishing his season after one inning. The injury did not require surgery, and he held a workout for scouts on Wednesday.

Kluber, who turns 35 on April 10, is a three-time All-Star who is 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 seasons, the first nine with the Indians.

He joins a rotation headed by Gerrit Cole that also includes Deivi García, left-hander Jordan Montgomery and, at some point, Luis Severino when he returns from Tommy John surgery last Feb. 27. It is not clear whether the Yankees will re-sign Masahiro Tanaka, who became a free agent. In addition, Domingo Germán is expected back from a domestic violence suspension that caused him to miss last season.

LeMahieu (Birmingham Brother Rice), who turns 33 in July, became the first player to win undisputed batting titles in both leagues. He won his first AL batting title last year at .364, the highest average for an AL batting champion since Minnesota’s Joe Mauer hit .365 in 2009, after winning the NL championship with Colorado in 2016.

A three-time All-Star, LeMahieu signed a $24 million, two-year contract with the Yankees in January 2019. He had 10 homers and 27 RBIs in the shortened 2020 season after hitting .327 with 26 homers and 102 RBIs in his first season in New York.

LeMahieu started his big league career with the Chicago Cubs in 2011, then was traded to Colorado. He has a .305 average with 85 homers and 478 RBIs in 10 big league seasons, and he has won three Gold Gloves at second base.

White Sox sign Hendriks

Liam Hendriks saw the talent the White Sox had and knew he wanted to join the team. The move became official on Friday.

Chicago finalized a $54 million, three-year deal with the former Athletics’ closer, another big move as the White Sox set their sights on a championship run.

“At the end of the season, my wife and I sat down and made a list of teams,” Hendriks said. “On paper, the White Sox were the team that I wanted to go to.”

The deal calls for a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $11 million this season, $13 million in 2022 and $14 million in 2023. The White Sox hold a $15 million option for 2024 with a $15 million buyout that would be paid in 10 equal installments from 2024-33.

General manager Rick Hahn the buyout matching the 2024 salary “helped bridge the gap” between Hendriks’ desire for four guaranteed years and the White Sox’s desire for three. Spreading out the buyout helps the team maintain payroll flexibility.

It’s a strategy chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has used in negotiating contracts for his other team, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. And he suggested it again over the weekend.

“Jerry’s always mentioned that to us as a device that appealed to him in the right situation,” Hahn said.

Hendriks joins a team with a loaded lineup featuring AL MVP José Abreu and 2019 major league batting champion Tim Anderson. Ace Lucas Giolito leads a solid rotation along with Dallas Keuchel and newcomer Lance Lynn. The White Sox also hired Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, bringing him back to replace Rick Renteria, 34 years after they fired him.

Now, they have one of the game’s best closers to anchor a deep bullpen after more than a year-long pursuit.

Bellinger's payday

Dodgers star Cody Bellinger agreed to a one-year, $16.1 million, one-year contract with the World Series champions that avoided salary arbitration.

Los Angeles also agreed to one-year deals with shortstop Corey Seager for $13.75 million and left-hander Julio Urías for $3.6 million.

Bellinger, an outfielder and first baseman, was the 2019 NL MVP and 2017 NL Rookie of the Year. He hit a career-low .239 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in the shortened season, down from a .305 average with 47 homers and 115 RBIs, all career bests.

He slumped to a .136 average (3 for 22) with one homer and three RBIs in the World Series against Tampa Bay as the Dodgers won their first title since 1988.

A two-time-All Star, Bellinger earned $4,259,259 in prorated pay last year from an $11.5 million salary. He is eligible for free agency after the 2023 season.

Seager won MVP honors in the NL Championship Series and World Series, batting .400 with two homers and five RBIs in the Dodgers’ six-game defeat of the Rays. He hit .307 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs during the shortened regular season.

The 26-year-old is in his third year of arbitration eligibility and can file for free agency next offseason. He made $2,814,815 in 2020, prorated out of his $7.6 million salary.

Personnel dept.

The Rangers agreed to one-year deals with right fielder Joey Gallo and expected starting shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, avoiding arbitration with their two Gold Glove winners.

... The Indians avoided salary arbitration with catcher Austin Hedges, right-hander Phil Maton and infielder Amed Rosario, agreeing to one-year deals with three players who joined them via trade in the past six months.

Hedges will make $3.28 million in 2021, Rosario $2.4 million and Maton $975,000.

... Third baseman Matt Chapman reached agreement on a $6.49 million, one-year contract with the Athletics.

... Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez agreed to a $4,325,000, one-year contract with the Blue Jays, who reached a $3 million, one-year deal with right-hander Ross Stripling.

... The Mets agreed to one-year contracts with eight players to avoid salary arbitration, including shortstop Francisco Lindor ($22.3 million), outfielder Michael Conforto ($12.25 million) and first baseman-outfielder Dominic Smith ($2.55).

... The Red Sox agreed to a $4,575,000, one-year deal with third baseman Rafael Devers that avoided salary arbitration.

... The Royals agreed to one-year contracts with right-hander Brad Keller ($3.35 million) and infielder Adalberto Mondesi ($2.525 million) and have no further players eligible for salary arbitration.

... The Los Angeles Angels avoided arbitration with right-hander Dylan Bundy ($8,325,000), left-hander Andrew Heaney ($6.75 million), right-hander Mike Mayers ($1.2 million), right-hander Felix Peña ($1.1 million) and catcher Max Stassi ($1.6 million). Two-way standout Shohei Ohtani is the team’s last remaining player still eligible for arbitration. The team also agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with catcher Kurt Suzuki.

... The Orioles agreed to a one-year, $4.75 million, with slugger Trey Mancini, who is recovering from Stage 3 colon cancer. The team had not come to terms yet with outfielder Anthony Santander.

... The Cardinals and ace Jack Flaherty have not agreed to terms on a 2021 contract. Flaherty, 25, asked for $3.9 million and the team offered $3 million.

... NL batting champion Juan Soto ($8.5 million), shortstop Trea Turner ($13 million) and first baseman Josh Bell ($6.35 million) agreed to 2021 contracts for substantial raises with the Nationals.

... The Cubs signed third baseman Kris Bryant ($19.5 million), catcher Willson Contreras ($6.65 million) and shortstop Javier Baez ($11.65 million) to one-year deals, avoiding arbitration with all three players.