Guardians complete deals with All-Star Giménez, Stephan

SEATTLE (AP) — The Cleveland Guardians locked up two more key players to long-term contracts before opening another season.

The AL Central champions signed All-Star second baseman Andrés Giménez to a seven-year contract and completed a four-year deal with reliever Trevor Stephan on Thursday before facing the Mariners in their first game of 2023.

Giménez’s $106.5 million deal, which was previously reported by the AP, runs through the 2029 season and includes a $23 million club option for 2030. Stephan’s contract goes through 2026 and includes club options for 2027 and 2028.

“It was special. I told my wife, my mom, my grandma, and they were they were extremely happy,” Giménez said. “That was one moment we were expecting, not this soon, but we were kind of ready. The excitement was a lot.”

The 24-year-old Giménez was one of the league’s best all-around players last season, batting .297 with 17 homers and 69 RBI while winning a Gold Glove. Giménez, who finished sixth in MVP voting, was the key piece for Cleveland when they traded All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets in 2021.

Chris Antonetti, the team’s president of baseball operations, said the negotiations with Giménez “took a lot of twists and turns” before the sides reached an agreement that gives both security going forward.

“We just believe in Andrés as a player and as a person,” Antonetti said. “We think he has a really bright future ahead of him. So, we looked and spent a lot of time thinking about ways in which we could extend the time he would be with us and thankfully he had an interest in doing that.”

With Giménez signed along with All-Star third baseman José Ramírez (seven years, $141 million through 2028), the Guardians are guaranteed to go forward with two of the game’s top infielders. The team has also discussed an extension with shortstop Amed Rosario.

A year ago, the Guardians wrapped up their deal — the largest in club history — for Ramírez on the eve of opening day.

“Hopefully they’re foundational pieces to allow us to be successful championship-caliber teams because we believe they’re both elite players and that’s a great starting point for building good teams moving forward,” Antonetti said. “It also allows us to plan around them and understand what our commitments are, what our team could look like and where we may want to complement that group.”

Stephan was dominant last season while helping the Guardians run away with the division.

The right-hander went 6-5 with three saves and a 2.69 ERA in 66 appearances. A Rule 5 Draft section in 2020, Stephan led the club with 82 strikeouts in relief and gave manager Terry Francona a dependable set-up man for elite closer Emmanuel Clase.

Stephan, 27, turned it up in the postseason, striking out 11 of 18 batters faced over 5 2/3 hitless innings. Stephan said conversations about a long-term contract started early in spring training and progressed quickly.

“I feel like they made a fair offer. We got to a fair number that it was competitive through those arbitration years and this is where I wanted to be,” Stephan said. “This is organization I like pitching for. I feel like they give me the best chance to be successful and it’s just a stepping stone to playing in this league a long time.”

Notes: Starter Triston McKenzie was officially placed on the 15-day injured list with a shoulder strain. He’s been shut down for at least two weeks before he’ll be re-evaluated. The team said it’s possible he could miss up to two weeks. For now, Hunter Gaddis is filling McKenzie’s rotation slot and will start Friday’s game against the Mariners. RHP Xzavion Curry has been recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take Gaddis’ bullpen spot.