Severino Extension Maxes At $52.25M – Starter Luis Severino and the New York Yankees agreed on a four-year, $40 million contract extension that buys out his arbitration years and includes a fifth-year club option that would cover one season of free agency, league sources told ESPN. The 24-year-old Severino, who has emerged as the Yankees’ ace over the last two seasons, avoided going to an arbitration hearing Friday. It was the fourth long-term deal signed by young players in the past three days. The deal, which could max out at $52.25 million over five years, includes an interesting twist. The money is front-loaded more than usual as protection against a potential work stoppage, according to sources. Severino will make $4 million with a $2 million signing bonus in 2019, $10 million in 2020, $10.25 million in 2021 and $11 million in 2022, the season after which the current collective bargaining agreement expires. A $15 million club option for 2023 includes a $2.75 million buyout. If the Yankees exercise the option, Severino will hit the open market after the 2023 season at 29 years old.
Cubs Pick Up Lefty Cedeno – In need of another left-handed option out of the bullpen, the Chicago Cubs signed reliever Xavier Cedeno on Wednesday, sources confirmed to ESPN. News of the deal was first reported by The Athletic. Cedeno, 32, went 2-0 with a 2.43 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 33⅓ innings last season for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, who acquired him in a trade on Aug. 31. The Cubs will be the sixth team for Cedeno, an eight-year veteran who also has pitched for the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays.
Twins, Polanco Near 7-Year Extension – Shortstop Jorge Polanco and the Minnesota Twins are finalizing a contract extension that will cover seven years and guarantee around $25 million, a league source with knowledge of the deal told ESPN on Thursday. The contract will buy out Polanco’s last pre-arbitration season, all three arbitration seasons and up to three free-agent years. At least five years will be guaranteed, and the overall value could jump if the Twins exercise the club option that can take the deal to a seventh season. The extension would be the second in two days, as the Philadelphia Phillies locked up ace Aaron Nola on Wednesday with a four-year, $45 million deal that includes a fifth-year club option. With the uncertainty of the free-agent market, sources said, more extensions are expected throughout the spring.
Cubs’ Launching Own ‘Cubs-Centric’ Network – The Chicago Cubs are launching their own television network, beginning in 2020, partnering with Sinclair Broadcasting to create Marquee Sports Network. “We are excited to better serve our fans with expanded and exclusive programming showcasing our remarkable players, beloved ballpark and storied past,” said Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney. “Our dedicated ‘Cubs-centric’ network will carry all available Cubs games and feature uncompromising, in-depth and behind-the-scenes coverage.” The affiliation ends a partnership with WGN-TV that has spanned 70 years. WGN was seen in homes around the country as cable TV expanded, producing Cubs fans from coast to coast. Over the past five seasons, Cubs games have been split between WGN-TV, NBCSportsChicago and the local ABC affiliate, WLS-TV. Now all games and programming will air on the Cubs’ own network.
Cubs Enhance DV Trainging Of Russell Return – The Chicago Cubs are taking steps to “enhance” their domestic violence training and awareness in the wake of shortstop Addison Russell being suspended for 40 games late last year after violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. Russell will be a full participant in spring training but will sit out the first 28 games of the regular season to complete his suspension. In the meantime, the Cubs are making sure their entire organization is better educated on the subject. “We’ve taken this plague of domestic violence to heart,” team president Theo Epstein said Tuesday from spring training. “We’ve really stepped up and enhanced our training. By the time spring training is over, every single employee in the organization will have gone through enhanced domestic violence training. Every major league player, every major league coach, every major league staff member. Every minor league player, every minor league staff member [and] every member of the front office will have gone through a pretty rigorous domestic violence training program to increase education and awareness.” Russell’s ex-wife, Melisa-Reidy Russell, went public with allegations of domestic abuse in September. The 25-year-old shortstop is the first prominent player to return to his old team after a lengthy suspension for domestic violence.
Phillies, RHP Nola Agree To 4-Year Extension – The Philadelphia Phillies and right-handed starting pitcher Aaron Nola are in agreement on a four-year extension, that includes a club option for a fifth season, the team announced. Sources told ESPN that the value of the deal is $45 million. Nola, 25, was scheduled for an arbitration hearing this week. The deal, which includes a $16 million club option with a $4.25 million buyout, can cover what would have been his first two years in free agency. Nola is coming off a career-best season — 17-6 with 224 strikeouts and a 2.37 ERA in 33 starts. He finished third in the National League Cy Young voting behind winner Jacob deGrom of the Mets and Max Scherzer of the Nationals. Nola will receive a $2 million signing bonus and make $4 million in 2019, $8 million in 2020, $11.75 million in 2021 and $15 million in 2022. He earned $573,000 last season. During arbitration exchange, the Phillies had offered Nola $4.4 million for this season; he was seeking $5.25 million.
Cubs’ Marrow Won’t Be Ready To Start Season – Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow confirmed he’ll miss the beginning of the season after undergoing minor elbow surgery in November. The oft-injured Morrow missed the final three months of 2018. “I’m feeling really good right now,” he said on Wednesday morning from Cubs camp. “I wouldn’t say I’d be ready for the beginning of the regular season. Right now, it’s just feeling it out and seeing how I respond to throwing.” Morrow, 34, intends to throw from 90 feet this week and then slowly advance to longer distances before getting back on the mound. Though he still had some pain at the end of last season, MRIs showed no damage to his elbow. That led to a more intrusive CT scan that did find an issue. Surgery followed. “Missing just the first month this year will be better than missing the last three months last year,” Morrow said. The reliever dismissed any notion that Joe Maddon pitched him too much, leading to the injury, though the team intimated at the time that throwing three games in a row in June led to his downfall. “I don’t think I was pushed into an injury,” Morrow said. “Was just one of those things that happened.”
Pirates, Melky Cabrera Do Minors Deal – The Pittsburgh Pirates and veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera have agreed to a minor league contract, according to ESPN and multiple reports. The agreement was first reported Sunday by The Athletic. Cabrera can make up to $2 million in performance bonuses, according to ESPN and reports. Cabrera, 34, appeared in 78 games with the Cleveland Indians last season, batting .280 with six home runs and 39 RBIs. He is a career .286 hitter in parts of 14 seasons with the Indians, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, Braves and Yankees. In 2012, Cabrera received a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Indians Lindor Likely To Miss Start Of Season – Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will likely miss the start of the season with a strained right calf. Lindor, one of baseball’s best all-around players, sustained the injury recently while working out in Orlando, Florida. He was checked Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Mark Schickendantz, who confirmed a moderate sprain. The Indians anticipate him being out up to nine weeks, which would place his return sometime in early April. Cleveland opens the regular season on March 28 in Minnesota.