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Michael Pineda, Twins reach agreement on $20M, 2-year deal

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Right-hander Michael Pineda is returning to the Minnesota Twins as the sides have reached an agreement on a two-year, $20 million contract, sources tell ESPN.

FOX 9 of Minneapolis was the first to report on the agreement.

Pineda will begin the 2020 season serving the remainder of a 60-game suspension that began in early September. He originally was given an 80-game ban after testing positive for the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, which can mask other substances, but the penalty was reduced to 60 upon appeal.

The 6-foot-7, 280-pound right-hander still has about five weeks of the suspension left to serve, meaning he’ll be available for only five months of the coming season. Pineda apologized to the Twins following the ban for his “error in judgment,” saying he was given an over-the-counter medication by an acquaintance to help manage his weight.

The suspension was a big blow to the rotation for the AL Central champion Twins. One of the team’s steadiest starters, Pineda likely would have been near the top of the team’s playoff rotation; instead the Twins were swept by the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series.

Pineda’s presence in the rotation had been one of the most underappreciated improvements made by the Twins in 2019. Before the suspension, in his 26th start of the season, Pineda reached double-digit strikeouts for the first time since April 10, 2017, when he was with the Yankees. Pineda missed the second half of that season and, after signing with the Twins, all of 2018 while recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.

In 14 starts prior to the suspension, Pineda was 10-4 with a 2.96 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 82 innings. His success was attributed to better command and a much-improved changeup.

Pineda, who was 11-5 with a 4.01 ERA for the season, pitched 146 innings and missed bonus opportunities of $500,000 apiece for 150 innings and each additional 10 through 200. He also had to forfeit $989,247 of his $8 million salary last season due to the ban.

In 2014, Pineda was suspended 10 games while with the Yankees for putting pine tar on his neck to help get a better grip during a game against the Boston Red Sox.

Pineda was traded to the Yankees by the Seattle Mariners after a spectacular 2011 debut season that saw him finish fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting and earn an All-Star selection.

Overall, Pineda is 51-46 with a 4.04 ERA and 827 strikeouts in six seasons with the Twins, Yankees and Mariners.

ESPN’s Keith Law and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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How Starling Marte trade turns D-backs into threat to Dodgers’ NL West reign

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It was the one trade everyone has predicted all offseason and it finally happened on Monday: The Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for two prospects. The Diamondbacks needed an outfielder, and with the Pirates stuck in the mire of Nowhere Land it was for them to trade a 31-year-old outfielder while he still had two years of team contractual control remaining.

What are the Diamondbacks getting? Other than a subpar 2017, when Marte was suspended 80 games for a positive PED test, he has been a consistent performer at the plate, with an OPS+ ranging between 113 and 120 every other season since 2015. He did set career highs in 2019 in home runs (23) and slugging percentage (.503) thanks to the lively baseball.

Marte is a two-time Gold Glover, with those awards coming in 2015 and 2016 when he primarily played left field. He played center field the past two seasons and he posted the worst defensive metrics of his career in 2019 with minus-9 defensive runs saved. The Statcast numbers, however, are a little more kind to his glove work, crediting him with two outs above average and a high jump rating. Given his speed remains near-elite, Marte reasonably projects as at least an average defender in center field, sandwiched between David Peralta and Kole Calhoun.

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Pirates trade Starling Marte to Diamondbacks for two prospects

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Outfielder Starling Marte was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday for two prospects and $250,000 in international signing bonus pool money.

Marte, 31, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Pirates. He has a career .287 batting average with 108 homers, 420 RBIs and 239 steals. He had career highs last season with 23 homers and 82 RBIs.

Marte won Gold Gloves in 2015 and ’16.

He reached the All-Star game in 2016 but also served an 80-game suspension in 2017 after testing positive for steroids.

The Pirates are in the midst of a rebuild after revamping their leadership structure following a last-place finish in the NL Central in 2019. The ascension of outfielder Bryan Reynolds during a breakout rookie season in 2019 and Gregory Polanco’s expected recovery from shoulder issues that limited him to 42 games last season gave Pittsburgh all the flexibility it needed to move Marte

The players going to Pittsburgh are right-handed pitcher Brennan Malone, the 33rd pick in the 2019 draft and shortstop Liover Peguero, a toolsy 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic who excelled in short-season ball.

“We’re excited about adding two young players of this caliber and the opportunity we’ll have to help them continue to grow.” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said in a prepared statement. “In addition, we now have a greater ability to acquire impact-type talent in this year’s international free agent market.”

Malone, a hard-throwing right-hander, was considered one of the top prospects in the Arizona system. He went a combined 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in seven appearances in Class A. Peguero hit a combined .326 (74 for 227) with 11 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 38 RBIs in 60 games in the low minors last season.

Arizona was dealing from a farm system that is one of the deepest and best in baseball, along with San Diego’s and Tampa Bay’s.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pirates trade Starling Marte to Diamondbacks

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Outfielder Starling Marte has been traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Arizona Diamondbacks, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan Monday.

It was not immediately clear what compensation was headed to the Pirates.

Marte, 31, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Pirates. He has a career .287 batting average with 108 homers, 420 RBIs and 239 steals. He had career highs last season with 23 homers and 82 RBIs.

Marte won Gold Gloves in 2015 and ’16.

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