NEW YORK — Carlos Carrasco got a welcome call from new Mets owner Steven Cohen.
“He was so excited. He can’t wait to meet me. I can’t wait to meet him, too,” the pitcher said Tuesday. “The way he talked, the way he said everything is — he looked like a really nice guy.”
New York has bulked up since Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of New York from the Wilpon and Katz families on Nov. 6. Carrasco is expecting a postseason contender.
“I’m so happy right now. I wish spring training started next week, to meet everyone and start wearing this jersey,” Carrasco said during a news conference. “It’s something really important for me, just wearing this jersey right now.”
Carrasco and All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor were acquired from Cleveland last week for infielders Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario plus a pair of minor league prospects: right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene.
A right-hander who turns 34 in March, Carrasco missed three months of the 2019 season while fighting leukemia. He pitched through the coronavirus pandemic, going 3-4 in 12 starts with a 2.91 ERA, his best since a career-best 2.55 ERA when he split 2014 between Cleveland’s rotation and bullpen.
“The first time that I found out that I had leukemia, I just think about it for 10 seconds, the worst thing,” he recalled. “But after that, I just always had my wife on my side and she told me, ‘You’re going to be fine. From day one to even now this morning, your fine, you don’t have anything.′ And that’s what I needed to hear.”
A positive thinker, Carrasco said that has been a key to his return to health.
“Just given to the simple, of just being strong,” he said. “I never feel down. I always think about it a different way. I have kids. I have a wife. My parents, friends, I don’t want them to see me sad. I always be strong and that’s what I’ve been feeling right now. I’m feeling really strong about that.”
Carrasco joins two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman in the rotation, which also may include from among David Peterson, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo. Noah Syndergaard is likely to return from Tommy John surgery at some point from June until the season’s end.
After going 88-73 with a 3.73 ERA over 11 seasons with the Indians, joins a team seeking its first World Series title since 1986, one that feels it is positioned to contend around its pitching and a core offensive group that includes Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto.
Carrasco will keep his No. 59 in New York and Lindor his No. 12. Winner of Major League Baseball’s 2019 Roberto Clemente Award for best exemplifying baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the contribution to his team, Carrasco is looking forward to starting community work in the New York area.
New York’s offseason has included Stroman accepting an $18.9 million qualifying offer and deals for right-handed reliever Trevor May ($15.5 million for two-years), catcher James McCann ($40.6 million for four years) and Syndergaard ($9.7 million for one season).
“The potential is to make it to the playoffs and to the World Series, too,” Carrasco said. “We have a really good team. Adding myself, Lindor is going to be really, really good, really nice. We have really good players, starting pitchers, relievers, I think we’re going to be fine.”
Sources — New York Yankees acquire pitcher Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh Pirates for four prospects
The New York Yankees have added another bounce-back candidate to their starting rotation, acquiring Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates for four minor-league prospects, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and multiple reports.
Pittsburgh will receive pitchers Miguel Yajure and Roansy Contreras, infielder Maikol Escotto and outfielder Canaan Smith in the trade, sources tell Passan.
Taillon, 29, was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2010 and was a 14-game winner for the Pirates in 2018. But the hard-throwing right-hander appeared in just seven games in 2019 and missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.
The Yankees agreed to the trade less than two weeks after signing former Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, who also is looking to rebound from back-to-back injury-marred seasons.
How timing and circumstance finally allowed the Toronto Blue Jays to land a star
All along, the plan of the Toronto Blue Jays had been to start looking for opportunities — either in trades or in free-agent signings. The priority was to entrench the team’s core of promising young players — Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and others — in the big leagues, and then add to them. In front-office meetings in recent years, they spoke of the 2020 trade deadline and the offseason that followed as perhaps the first windows to augment the roster with established players.
Ryan Zimmerman seals deal with Washington Nationals, says this might not be last year
Zimmerman and the Nationals made it official Saturday, announcing his $1 million, one-year contract. The deal came after the Nats’ longest-tenured player opted out of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
“If I can settle into this role and do well this year, by no means does this have to be my last year,” the 36-year-old Zimmerman said on a video call with reporters. “At least that’s the way I’m looking at it.”
Zimmerman is a two-time All-Star and bats right-handed. His playing time likely will diminish after Washington traded for switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell from Pittsburgh last month.
It’s still uncertain whether the National League will employ the designated hitter this year. It was used as part of the new rules added for the virus-abbreviated season.
Zimmerman, however, wasn’t looking for a new opportunity in another city.
“Playing anywhere else would be really weird. Wouldn’t really be worth it,” he said.
Zimmerman has played 15 seasons in the majors, all for the Nationals. They took him with their first pick in the 2005 draft soon after moving from Montreal to Washington.
Zimmerman boosted the franchise to its World Series championship in 2019. He didn’t play last year, choosing to sit out because of concerns about his family’s health during the pandemic. His mother has multiple sclerosis; he and his wife had their third child last year.
“Me coming back this year was in no means for like a victory lap sort of thing,” he said. “This is about coming back because I still think I can play the game at a high level, and I still think I can help the team win.”
The Nationals went 26-34 last season, tied with the Mets for last in the NL East.
Zimmerman batted .257 with six homers and 27 RBIs in 171 at-bats in 2019. He is a career .279 hitter with 270 home runs and 1,015 RBIs.
Zimmerman said he was pretty certain he’d return to the diamond.
“I don’t think it was ever 100%, but I don’t think it was under, like, 95%,” he said. “Once I was hanging out at home and watching the games and kind of getting into life without baseball, I think that number shot up to pretty close to 100% very quickly on my end.”
Zimmerman thanked general manager Mike Rizzo and the organization for the chance to play again.
“I didn’t know if they were going to offer me a major league deal, or if they were going to want me to come down on a minor league deal,” he said. “I’m 36 years old, and I haven’t played baseball in a year. So I think that shows, obviously, the respect that [Rizzo] and the team have for me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.”
Zimmerman gave up a $2 million salary last season, but received a $2 million buyout for the declined option at the end of his previous contract.
In addition to his $1 million base salary this year, Zimmerman can earn $250,000 for games: $50,000 each for 50, 65, 80, 95 and 100. He also can make $250,000 for plate appearances: $50,000 apiece for 200, 250, 300, 350 and 400.
He also gets a one-day use of Nationals Park for charity, as a provision in his contract.
Zimmerman’s deal includes $500,000 if he’s league MVP or $200,000 if he finishes second through fifth in voting. He would get $100,000 for making the All-Star team and another $100,000 if he’s the top vote-getter. Zimmerman would earn $250,000 for World Series MVP, $150,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $100,000 for Gold Glove, $100,000 for Silver Slugger, $100,000 for the Hank Aaron Award and $100,000 if he is Baseball America or The Sporting News player of the year.
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