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Keller getting biggest contract for Pirates pitcher while Mets shut down Senga

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller, greets catcher Yasmani Grandal during a baseball spring training workout on Saturday.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller, greets catcher Yasmani Grandal during a baseball spring training workout on Saturday.

One National League All-Star right-hander is getting the largest contract for a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, and another is expected to miss the season’s start for the New York Mets.

Mitch Keller and the Pirates have agreed to a $77 million, five-year contract, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press today. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical and not yet final.

The contract will replace a $5,442,500 one-year agreement reached last month. The 27-year-old likely will make his second opening day start in a row.

A second-round pick by the Pirates in the 2014 amateur draft, Keller was 13-9 with a 4.21 ERA last season, when he was a first-time All-Star like Mets right-hander Kodai Senga.

Senga was shut down at the Mets camp and likely will start the season on the injured list because of a shoulder strain.

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said today an MRI was taken after Senga twice felt shoulder fatigue following throwing sessions in camp. Stearns described the strain in the back of the pitcher’s right shoulder as moderate.

Stearns said it was unclear how long Senga will be out.

The 31-year-old Senga is going into the second season of a $75 million, five-year contract with New York after 11 seasons pitching in Japan. He was 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts last year, and finished second in voting for NL Rookie of the Year.

HONORING SEIDLER

There was a moment of silence for late San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler before the first game this spring training.

Seidler, the team’s owner and chairman, died in November at age 63.

San Diego hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers in Peoria, Arizona, in the only game today.

The Padres will wear a memorial patch on their jerseys this season to honor Seidler.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

The Dodgers got spring training started by scoring eight runs in the first inning of their 14-1 win over the Padres.

Mookie Betts coaxed a leadoff walk from right-hander Joe Musgrove, and three batters later Teoscar Hernández, who in January signed a $23.5 million contract, brought home the first two runs with a ground-rule double. New Padres manager Mike Shildt then pulled Musgrove, who didn’t get an out.

Shohei Ohtani was not among several potential starters who played for Los Angeles. Gavin Lux walked in his first plate appearance after missing the 2023 season following a knee injury in spring training.

STEINBRENNER SPEAKS

Hal Steinbrenner said the New York Yankees aren’t done looking to improve and might spend more money if necessary, even with what the owner considers a championship-caliber roster and payroll of more than $300 million.

“Given where we are payroll-wise, any addition to the club is going to be a costly one, but I’m still willing to consider anything that comes my way,” Steinbrenner said when talking to reporters in camp today.

The Yankees are coming off a fourth-place finish, which Steinbrenner called “a failure on every level.” They were 82-80, missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and had their lowest finish since fourth in a seven-team division in 1992.

VERDUGO ON CORA

Alex Verdugo, now with the Yankees after being acquired from the Red Sox, insists he has no hard feelings toward Alex Cora, the manager that benched him twice last year.

Verdugo, a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder, played for Cora for three seasons before a rare trade between the AL East rivals in December.

“It’s one of those things that, it’s a little bit weird because outside of the game, he was great. Even as a manager, he’s a good manager,” Verdugo said today from the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Florida.

“In certain ways, AC was hard on me, but I don’t have any hard feelings toward him. It’s one of those things toward the end we kind of ran our course out a little bit,” he said. “But as a person and outside of baseball, I loved him. I loved his kids, his family.”

Verdugo was first benched by Cora on June 8 for not hustling between first and second base on a grounder a night earlier, and again Aug. 5 for arriving late at the ballpark.

ADDED INFIELDERS

— Former AL batting champion Tim Anderson agreed to a $5 million, one-year contact with the Miami Marlins, a person with knowledge of the decision told the AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal for the shortstop was pending a physical and was not yet announced.

— Infielder Gio Urshela agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers. He can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances.

RYU GOING HOME

Hyun Jin Ryu is returning to South Korea to play for his former team after 10 seasons in the major leagues.

The Hanwha Eagles said today that the 36-year-old Ryu signed an eight-year contract. The $12.8 million deal makes him the league’s most expensive player.

Ryu, the NL starter in the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, was 78-48 with a 3.27 ERA in 186 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2013-14 and 2016-19) and Toronto (2020-23). He started 11 games for the Blue Jays at the end of last season after returning from Tommy John surgery in 2022.

Ryu was 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA and 27 complete games for Hanwha from 2006-12.

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