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MLB rumors, free agent news: Nelson Cruz signs with Washington Nationals, cashing in on new DH rule

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The hot stove was fired back up when Major League Baseball's lockout ended Thursday, as teams scramble to make moves with Opening Day less than a month away.

Marquee free agents are still available and trade talks are underway across the league, with a flurry of moves expected in the weeks to come.

Catch up on some of the latest moves since the start of the day on Saturday:

Nelson Cruz heading to Washington

The adoption of the designated hitter in the NL doubled the market for 41-year-old slugger Nelson Cruz, who agreed to sign a one-year, $15 million deal with the Washington Nationals.

A seven-time All-Star, Cruz hit 32 home runs in 2021, joining the Tampa Bay Rays in a midseason trade with the Minnesota Twins. Cruz has been one of baseball's most consistent sluggers for more than a decade, averaging 33 home runs and 89 RBI with an .889 OPS since 2009

The Nationals will go with Cruz as their full-time DH and have an imposing middle of the order with Cruz joining MVP runner-up Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell.

Nelson Cruz has averaged 36 home runs and 94 RBI since 2014.
Nelson Cruz has averaged 36 home runs and 94 RBI since 2014.

Yankees, Twins make a huge trade

The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins made a five-player trade that will bring former AL MVP Josh Donaldson to the Bronx.

The Twins are sending Donaldson, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortveldt to the Yankees for catcher Gary Sanchez and infielder Gio Urshela, the Yankees announced Sunday.

Donaldson, 36, is a three-time All-Star who hit 41 homers and drove in 123 runs for the A's in 2015, when he won MVP honors. He has battled injures later in his career, but hit 26 homers in 135 games last season for the Twins, splitting his time between third base and DH.

Sanchez, the runner-up for AL rookie of the year honors in 2016, is a two-time All-Star and could take over behind the plate for the Twins, who traded starting catcher Mitch Garver to Texas last week in a deal for Kiner-Falefa.

– Steve Gardner

Reds deal Sonny Gray to Minnesota

The Reds traded right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins for a prospect on Sunday in Cincinnati's first move following the lockout, which signals at least a short-term rebuild.

Gray was one of the Reds' top trade chips this offseason as the club lowers its player payroll. He is in the last year of his contract (owed $11 million) with a $12 million club option for 2023.

The Reds received right-hander Chase Petty in return for Gray, the 26th overall pick in last summer's MLB Draft. Petty, who will turn 19 in April, was rated as the No. 7 prospect in the Twins' farm system by MLB.com.

– Bobby Nightengale

Mets bolster bullpen with Adam Ottavino

The Mets added veteran Adam Ottavino to their bullpen on a one-year, $4 million deal, the right-hander returning to New York having spent 2019 and 2020 with the Yankees. Ottavino had a 4.21 ERA in 69 games for the Red Sox last year.

Dodgers solidify infield with Hanser Alberto

A career .333 hitter against left-handed pitchers, Alberto saw time at second, third and shortstop for the Royals in 2021

Mets get Chris Bassitt in trade with Oakland

The Mets bolstered their starting rotation on Saturday, striking a deal with the Oakland Athletics for right-hander Chris Bassitt.

The 33-year-old Bassitt came back to make two starts in late September, just more than a month after he took a 100 mph liner to the face on Aug. 17 in Chicago. The drive came off Brian Goodwin’s bat in the second inning of a 9-0 loss to the White Sox.

Bassitt wound up 12-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 27 starts, including his first career complete game. He had been an AL Cy Young candidate when he got hurt, going 12-3 with a 3.06 ERA before the injury.

– Associated Press

Traded to the Mets on Saturday, Chris Bassitt was an All-Star in 2021.
Traded to the Mets on Saturday, Chris Bassitt was an All-Star in 2021.

White Sox sign Joe Kelly, infielder Josh Harrison

Blue Jays fill out rotation with Yusei Kikuchi

Before the lockout, Toronto signed free agent Kevin Gausman to a five-year, $110 million deal and locked up Jose Berrios with a seven-year, $131 million extension. On Saturday, they added left-hander Yusei Kikuchi to the rotation.

Kikuchi, 30, was an All-Star for the Mariners in 2021 but finished the season with a 4.41 ERA in 29 starts.

Phillies adding Jeurys Familia to bullpen

Philadelphia is set to sign Familia, the longtime Mets right-hander to a one-year deal worth $6 million. Familia, who saved 51 games in 2016, had a 3.95 ETA in 65 games last season.

He joins Corey Knebel and Jose Alvarado at the back end of the Philadelphia bullpen.

Rockies sign Jose Iglesias, Alex Colome

With Trevor Story on his way out, Colorado found a new shortstop in Iglesias, signing the 32-year-old to a one year, $5 million deal. Iglesias hit .271 with a .701 OPS in 137 games with the Angels and Red Sox in 2021.

Colome has a 2.91 ERA in 342 appearances with 155 saves since 2016. He posted a 4.15 ERA in 67 games with 17 saves for the Twins in 2021.

Rangers, Twins make MLB's first post-lockout trade

The Texas Rangers traded Isiah Kiner-Falefa, their starting shortstop last season who was supplanted by the blockbuster addition of Corey Seager, to the Minnesota Twins for catcher Mitch Garver.

Kiner-Falefa won a Gold Glove playing third base during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season for the Rangers. It appeared that Kiner-Falefa would get the opportunity to be their starting third baseman again this season, especially after top prospect Josh Jung had shoulder surgery last month. Now it looks like Kiner-Falefa, the Hawaii native who turns 27 later this month, will be at his preferred position of shortstop in Minnesota.

Garver had a breakout season in 2019 with 31 homers in 93 games while winning a Silver Slugger award, but the 31-year-old catcher has had injurie issues the past two years. He struggled through the pandemic season in 2020, then missed most of the 2021 season after taking a foul tip to the groin area and needing surgery.

Associated Press

Orioles ink veteran starter Jordan Lyles

Lyles and the Baltimore Orioles finalized a $7 million, one-year contract on Saturday night.

The 31-year-old Lyles went 10-13 with a 5.15 ERA for the Texas Rangers last season. The right-hander joins a Baltimore staff that posted a 5.84 ERA last year, by far the worst in the major leagues.

Lyles set career highs in starts (30) and innings (180) last season.

The deal is worth $5.5 million in 2022, plus a $500,000 signing bonus. It includes an $11 million team option for 2023 or a $1 million buyout.

– Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB rumors/news: Nelson Cruz to Nationals – free agent, trade updates