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TORONTO — Mark Shapiro has been given a five-year contract extension as the Toronto Blue Jays‘ president and chief executive officer.

Rogers Communications, which owns the team, made the announcement Wednesday.

Shapiro worked for the Cleveland Indians before becoming the Blue Jays’ president on Oct. 31, 2015.

Rogers chairman Edward Rogers said Shapiro’s leadership and commitment over the last five years have been critical to the team’s growth and development.

The Blue Jays returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016.

Toronto was 32-28 during the pandemic-shortened season, earning a wild card in the expanded playoffs. The Blue Jays were swept over two games in the first round by eventual AL champion Tampa Bay.



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Tommy La Stella, San Francisco Giants finalizing contract, sources say

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Second baseman Tommy La Stella and the San Francisco Giants are finalizing a contract, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Once completed, the deal is expected to be for three years.

The Oakland Athletics, needing an everyday second baseman who could provide consistent offensive production, acquired La Stella in a late-August trade with the Los Angeles Angels. He immediately paid dividends, finishing the season with a .289 batting average in 27 games with the A’s.

One thing that the former utility infielder rarely does, is strike out. Between the Angels and A’s, La Stella only struck out 12 times in 196 at-bats this season – a rate of one per 16.3 at-bats, which led the American League by a huge margin (DJ LeMahieu was second at 9.3).

Overall, the 32-year-old infielder finished the season with a .281 average with 5 home runs, 31 runs scored and 25 RBIs. According to ESPN Stats & Information, La Stella pulled the ball on a career-high 50.8% of the time he made contact, which ranked 12th in the majors.

La Stella has shown a little more pop over the past two seasons — his 21 home runs in that span is more than double what he had in his first five seasons combined (10).

Prior to joining the Angels in 2019, La Stella was utilized primarily as a pinch hitter with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs in his first five seasons. His breakout season came with the Angels in 2019, when he set career highs with a .295 batting average, 16 home runs and 44 RBIs in 80 games before suffering a fractured right tibia. He earned his first All-Star selection, but he was unable to play due to the injury.

NBC Sports Bay Area first reported the sides were nearing a deal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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SS Andrelton Simmons, Minnesota Twins agree to 1-year, $10.5M contract, sources say

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Shortstop Andrelton Simmons and the Minnesota Twins are in agreement on a one-year, $10.5 million contract, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

A four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Simmons has established himself among the most brilliant defensive shortstops in baseball history. Since his first full season in 2013, Simmons easily leads the majors with 172 defensive runs saved (Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is second with 120).

Simmons will be the Twins’ starting shortstop, with Jorge Polanco moving to second base and Luis Arraez still expected to get plenty of at-bats in a super-utility role.

The Los Angeles Angels acquired Simmons in November 2015 — as the first major move by former general manager Billy Eppler — by sending fellow shortstop Erick Aybar and top prospect Sean Newcomb to the Atlanta Braves.

Simmons batted .281/.328/.394 in his five seasons with the Angels, compiling 36 homers, 112 doubles and 15.4 FanGraphs wins above replacement, ninth-most among shortstops from 2016 to 2020.

Simmons, 31, was selected by Atlanta in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft and made his big league debut with the Braves in 2012. He is a .269 career hitter with 67 homers and 406 RBIs in 1060 games with the Braves and Angels.

ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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Ron Johnson, former Boston Red Sox first base coach and minor league manager, dies at 64

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BOSTON — Ron Johnson, who worked 25 seasons as a minor league manager, most recently for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides in the Baltimore Orioles system, died on Tuesday. He was 64.

Johnson appeared in 22 major league games with the Kansas City Royals and Montreal Expos from 1982-84, mostly as a first baseman, batting .261 in 53 career plate appearances. He went on to manage in the Royals, Red Sox and Orioles systems.

Johnson spent 10 seasons in the Red Sox system, working his way up from Single-A Sarasota to Double-A Trenton and Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he was in charge from 2005-09. He spent the 2010 and ’11 seasons as Boston’s first base coach.

“RJ was instrumental in helping countless Red Sox players reach and succeed in the big leagues, and was an important contributor to two World Series championships,” Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran said. “His kindness, sense of humor, love of family, and passion for the game of baseball stood out among many wonderful qualities.”

Johnson managed Norfolk from 2012-18 and was the 2015 International League Manager of the Year. He also coached in in the Royals system for 14 seasons.

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