Yunel Escobar, Rays agree to two-year contract extension

Yunel Escobar

Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar runs to first base after getting a hit against the Minnesota Twins during an exhibition game.

(Will Vragovic / McClatchy-Tribune)

Shortstop Yunel Escobar and the Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a two-year contract extension covering 2015 and 2016 worth a guaranteed $13 million.

The deal announced Saturday also includes a club option for 2017. The extension replaces a 2015 club option. The 31-year Escobar played in a career-high 153 games and made 149 starts last season for the Rays.

After establishing club records with a .989 fielding percentage and 53 consecutive errorless games at shortstop, he was a finalist for the American League Gold Glove.

Pirates sign Neal Huntington, Clint Hurdle to contract extensions


The Pittsburgh Pirates signed General Manager Neal Huntington and Manager Clint Hurdle through the 2017 season, with a club option for 2018.

Hurdle and Huntington have orchestrated the Pirates’ turnaround. The Pirates had the worst record in the majors in 2010 but have improved in each of Hurdle’s three seasons at the helm.

Pittsburgh won 94 games in 2013 and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1992, and Hurdle was honored as the manager of the year in the National League.

Huntington, hired in the fall of 2007, rebuilt the team’s farm system into one of the best in baseball.


Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt retire as Astros

Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt signed one-day contracts and officially retired as Houston Astros.

Berkman is among Houston’s franchise leaders in home runs, runs batteed in, walks, runs and slugging percentage.

Oswalt, the most valuable player of the 2005 NL Championship Series, ranks second in victories and strikeouts in franchise history.

Berkman spent 12 of his 15 seasons in the majors with the Astros after being Houston’s first pick in the 1997 draft out of Rice.

For his career, he hit .293 in 1,879 games with 366 home runs and 1,234 RBIs with a .406 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage.

Oswalt finished his 13-season career with a 163-102 record in 365 appearances — 341 starts — with a 3.36 earned-run average. Oswalt, a three-time All Star, reached 20 victories in 2004 and 2005 and was a 19-game winner in 2002.

After being selected by the Astros in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft, Oswalt was called up to the majors in 2001, finishing that season with a 14-3 record in 28 appearances — 20 starts — with a 2.73 ERA.