The winner of the 2019 Home Run Derby will earn a $1 million bonus, and there is a boost coming for this year’s All-Star selections, MLB announced Thursday in a rules update for the upcoming season.
The proposed changes must be ratified by baseball’s 30 owners to become official.
The total prize pool for the 2019 Home Run Derby, which takes place the night before the All-Star Game scheduled for July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, is up to $2.5 million. The winner will claim $1 million. Whether the increase is enough incentive to keep stars interested in the swing-a-thon is unclear.
For example, new Philadelphia Phillies slugger Bryce Harper took part in the event when it was held in his home park with the Nationals, but his new contract pays him the equivalent of $50,000 per plate appearance.
—The Milwaukee Brewers announced that 31-year-old right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will get the Opening Day start against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on March 28.
“Jhoulys earned the honor from what he did last year,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He deserves it, for sure.”
Chacin, who compiled a 15-8 record with a 3.50 ERA in 35 starts last season, also started openers for the Colorado Rockies in 2013 (a no-decision vs. the Brewers) and the San Diego Padres in 2017 (allowing nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers).
—Los Angeles Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney looks to be out of the running to be the team’s Opening Day starter after he was shut down because of elbow inflammation, manager Brad Ausmus said.
Heaney had an MRI exam that did not reveal any structural damage, but his upcoming downtime could lead to him starting the season on the injured list, Ausmus said.
Heaney was scratched from his March 3 spring training start but resumed throwing last week. He recorded two outs against the Chicago White Sox on Friday but came out of that game when he felt more discomfort.
—The Seattle Mariners could be without third baseman Kyle Seager until early June after the eight-year veteran had hand surgery, general manager Jerry Dipoto revealed.
Seager, 31, had surgery Tuesday in Phoenix and recovery time is expected to be 8-10 weeks. Dipoto confirmed, however, that Seager won’t even be able to swing a bat for eight weeks, meaning that his return could be in the range of 10-12 weeks.
Seager, a Gold Glove Award winner in 2014, batted a career-low .221 last season with 22 home runs and 78 RBIs. It was his lowest home run total since 2013, the year before he made his lone All-Star Game appearance.
—The Toronto Blue Jays reassigned Vladimir Guerrero Jr., their top prospect, to their minor league camp, Sportsnet reported.
The third baseman has been sidelined since last weekend with a left oblique strain and will start the season with Triple-A Buffalo. Recovery time is expected to be about three weeks.
Guerrero, who will turn 20 on Saturday, spent time last season at Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo. The son of Hall of Fame member Vladimir Guerrero batted .402 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs in 61 games in New Hampshire.
—Right-hander Michael Fulmer was shut down by the Detroit Tigers for an indefinite period of time, one day before his next scheduled spring outing.
“He took a step back to refine his lower-body mechanics,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, reading from a statement written on a legal pad, after the Tigers and Red Sox played to a 4-4 tie. “We have no timetable on when he’s going to get back on the mound.”
Asked follow-up questions by a reporter, Gardenhire said, “We’re not going to go any further than that. We have to let him do his thing and let the trainers do their thing.”
—Left-handed reliever Tony Sipp signed a one-year deal worth up to $1.25 million with the Washington Nationals.
Sipp’s deal includes a mutual option for 2020 and gives the Nationals a third left-hander in the bullpen to counter a division loaded with mashing lefties — Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper included.
Sipp posted a 1.86 ERA in 38 2/3 innings with the Houston Astros in 2018 and fills the bullpen vacancy created when the Nationals cut Sammy Solis, another lefty specialist, last week.
—Field Level Media