SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona pitcher Zac Gallen already knew he was probably going to face Mookie Betts multiple times this season. Manny Machado, too. He also wasn’t particularly surprised when Freddie Freeman joined the Dodgers.
“But Kris Bryant?” Gallen said Thursday. “That one was a little bit of a shock.”
Such is life in the NL West, which has arguably solidified its status as baseball’s toughest division over the last 24 hours.
It’s a group of teams that want to win now and aren’t afraid to spend money. The Dodgers have been spending for years while the Padres and Giants haven’t been afraid to open their pocketbooks, either. Even the Rockies got into the act on Wednesday, nabbing Bryant on a $182 million, seven-year deal.
Bryant was technically already in the division after being traded to the Giants from the Cubs in a midseason deal. But now the third baseman will be in the West for the foreseeable future.
The Giants took the division in a scintillating pennant race last season, winning 107 games while the Dodgers were right behind with 106.
“The division has been tough and it always will be tough with these teams,” Gallen said. “But it’s awesome, it’s good to have that test pretty much every week. There’s no easy games in the NL West, which is fine.
“You want to earn your keep here.”
The deals for Bryant and Freeman — who agreed to a $162 million, six-year deal — continued a frenzied free agent signing period following a 99-day lockout that froze player transactions through much of the offseason. The two deals increase nine-figure contracts to a dozen this offseason, totaling $1.75 billion.
TIGERS BOLSTER BULLPEN
Left-hander Andrew Chafin and the Tigers finalized a $13 million, two-year contract, giving Detroit one of the top relief pitchers on the free agent market.
Chafin gets a $1 million signing bonus, $5.5 million this season and $6.5 million in 2023.
The 31-year-old had a 1.83 ERA with a career-high five saves and 64 strikeouts in 71 games in 2021, splitting the season with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics. His ERA ranked No. 5 in the majors among relievers and he ranked among baseball’s leaders in opponents’ on-base and slugging percentage and opponents’ slugging percentage.
Chafin has appeared in 311 games since 2017, trailing only Oakland’s Yusmeiro Petit’s total of 318 games.
RANGERS ADD MILLER
Brad Miller has agreed to a $10 million, two-year contract with the Texas Rangers, who add a player who has started games at every infield and outfield position in his career.
Miller hit 20 home runs for Philadelphia last season, when he started games at first base, second base, third base, right field and left field. The 32-year-old Miller will make $6 million this season, and $4 million in 2023.
The Rangers also agreed to a minor league contract with Charlie Culberson.
Culberson, who had a team-high 60 starts at third base for the Rangers last season, would have a $1.75 million base salary while in the majors if added to the 40-man roster.
CUBS PICK UP NORRIS, GSELLMAN
The Chicago Cubs have agreed to contracts with pitchers Daniel Norris and Robert Gsellman.
Right-hander Chris Martin also finalized his one-year deal with Chicago, and left-hander Brad Wieck was placed on the 60-day injured list with a left elbow strain.
Norris’ one-year contract is worth $1.75 million, according to a person familiar with the deal, and the left-hander can earn up to $2 million in incentives. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
Gsellman is in Cubs camp on a non-roster contract, according to a second person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced by the team.
Martin pitched for the World Series champion Braves last year, going 2-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 46 appearances.
AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and Jay Cohen contributed to this story.
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