Tuesday was a life-changing day for one first-round fantasy pick — and a season-altering day for another.
First, the life-changing news: Ronald Acuna, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, signed an eight-year, $100 million contract extension. The deal also includes club options for 2027 and 2028, which could raise the total value of the contract to $124 million, taking it potentially as far as Acuna’s age-30 season.
It’s widely being characterized as an extremely team-friendly contract, and understandably so, but it’s also the biggest deal ever for a player with less than one year of service time. (No one needs reminding at this point, but in just 111 games last season, Acuna hit .293 with 26 homers, 64 RBI and 16 steals, and he’s 3-for-14 with a homer and a steal so far in 2019.)
Now, the season-altering news: Just as Trea Turner was taking off (he had a monster two-homer, four-RBI, one-steal effort on Sunday), his season hit a significant roadblock. In his first plate appearance on Tuesday, Turner squared around to bunt and took a Zach Eflin fastball flush off his right index finger. He left the game immediately, and word came down late Tuesday night that his finger is broken, a non-displaced fracture leaving Turner with what's likely to be a lengthy recovery time (though no official timetable has been announced yet). Wilmer Difo replaced him in the lineup on Tuesday, but isn’t a legit mixed league consideration after hitting .230 (with seven homers and 10 steals) last season. For those clamoring for top shortstop prospect Carter Kieboom, it looks like we'll have to wait. Indications as of early Wednesday morning were that Difo would get an extended chance to fill in for Turner, while Adrian Sanchez — not Kieboom — would take Turner's roster spot.
Deals Deals Deals
Acuna wasn’t the only notable player put ink to paper on Tuesday. The Rockies and German Marquez agreed to a five-year, $43 million extension on the heels of a big 2018 season for the 24-year-old. During his breakout campaign, Marquez went 14-11 with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 230. He also finished the season in dominant fashion, including a 2.47 ERA over his final 17 starts, and started out strong in 2019 by holding the Marlins to one run over six innings with seven strikeouts on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays front office tore up the phone lines as well, first trading Kevin Pillar to the Giants (more on that in a minute), then signing Randal Grichuk to a five-year, $52 million extension. The new deal keeps the 27-year-old — coming off a 26-homer season — in Toronto through 2023. Grichuk homered on Monday, but is off to a 2-for-17 start at the plate.
As for the Pillar trade, the Jays sent him to San Fran for a package of players including RHP Juan De Paula, who had a 1.72 ERA between Low-A and Class A in 2018. Toronto recalled speedy OF Anthony Alford from Triple-A, who went 0-for-3 on Tuesday night, but could be worth a look for steals in deeper leagues. Pillar, who joins an anemic lineup in San Francisco, is 1-for-16 so far this season.
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Waiting for Lindor
Meanwhile, Miguel Andujar (shoulder) will go the rest/rehab route and avoid surgery for the moment, and said that a physical test on his shoulder “came back with good results” and showed that “the strength is there.” DJ LeMahieu is set to be the regular third baseman while Andujar is out, and had a pair of singles with a run scored on Tuesday.
Aces Bounce Back
Reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell wasn’t at his sharpest in his season debut last week, allowing five earned runs and three homers in six innings (with just three strikeouts) against the Astros. Not that there were any major concerns, but Snell corrected things in a very serious way on Tuesday, throwing seven shutout innings against the Rockies, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out 13 to tie a career-high in that department.
For the moment, we can also put aside any early-season stress for Zack Greinke, who gave up seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first start, but unleashed an absolute tour de force performance on Tuesday. Greinke allowed three earned runs and struck out 10 with no walks in six innings, and also launched a pair of bombs with four RBI. In the process, Greinke became the first pitcher to record a multi-homer game since Madison Bumgarner in 2017. Bumgarner, who hit one of those 2017 dingers off of Greinke, also homered on Tuesday. (Cue 'brain exploding' emoji here.)
Chris Sale was coming off a discouraging opener as well (seven earned runs in three innings against the Mariners), and he looked better — at least on the surface — in his second start against the A’s. Sale allowed three hits and one earned run, but also had just one strikeout in his six innings of work as there continue to be questions about his velocity early on.
AL Quick Hits: Adalberto Mondesi hit his first homer of the season (an inside-the-park job) and stole his first base. … The Mariners activated Anthony Swarzak, who immediately got into the mix for saves, closing out a victory for Marco Gonzales (8 1/3 innings, four hits, one earned run, three strikeouts). Swarzak looks like the front runner for closing duties in that bullpen right now, though another potential Seattle saves candidate, Shawn Armstrong (oblique), is on course to be activated between April 12 and April 17. … As part of their hectic Tuesday, the Blue Jays somewhat surprisingly released Bud Norris. … CC Sabathia (heart surgery, suspension) threw a four-inning simulated game on Monday, and could rejoin the big league rotation in mid-April. … Luis Severino (shoulder) still hasn’t thrown off a mound. … Dellin Betances (shoulder) should start facing hitters soon as he trends toward a mid-April return. … Jonathan Loaisiga will get the call to start for the Yankees on Wednesday against Detroit. … Sean Manaea threw on flat ground for a second straight day, but is still a ways off as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery. … Matt Olson (hand) took grounders on Tuesday but is likely at least three weeks away from a return. … Edwin Encarnacion was scratched due to a sore left hand and is day-to-day. … Jordan Zimmermann continued his impressive start to the season, throwing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the aforementioned/oft-mentioned Yankees. … Rowdy Tellez hit his second homer of the season for Toronto. … Ian Kennedy blew a save in an extra-innings loss to Minnesota, and Blake Parker picked up his first save for the Twins. … Byron Buxton left that game early due to back pain after crashing into the wall trying to chase down Mondesi's inside-the-park dinger.
NL Quick Hits: Bryce Harper was booed vigorously in his return to Nationals Park, struck out his first two times up, and finished 3-for-5 with a homer — a 458-foot shot — and three RBI. He also really went for it on the bat flip. … Zach Eflin threw five scoreless innings and tied a career high with nine strikeouts as the Phillies started 4-0 for the first time since... 1915. … Cody Bellinger hit his fifth homer of the season in his sixth game. (Last year, he didn't hit his fifth homer until his 39th game.) ... Daniel Murphy (avulsion fracture in his left index finger) is set to miss a month of action. … Brandon Nimmo left Tuesday’s game after getting hit by a pitch on the left hand. Preliminary X-rays were negative, but according to the SNY TV crew, he was set to be reevaluated on Wednesday. … Hyun-Jin Ryu threw seven strong innings (six hits, two earned runs, no walks, five strikeouts) while picking up his second win of the season over the Giants. ... Maikel Franco took Max Scherzer deep for his third homer of the young season. … Eugenio Suarez went yard for the first time in 2019. … Jhoulys Chacin picked up his second win, and Josh Hader got his fourth save. … Anthony DeSclafani (3 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) struck out eight in five innings of one-run ball against Milwaukee. … Christian Walker drilled his third homer of the year.