January 3 – Veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki signed a one-year contract with the New York Yankees after missing the entire 2018 season due to bone spurs. The Yankees will pay Tulowitzki the major league minimum salary for 2019 ($555,000), and the contract includes a no-trade clause. For the Yankees, Tulowitzki offered a lost-cost solution to their hole at shortstop, as Didi Gregorius will miss at least the first part of 2019 while he rehabs from Tommy John Surgery.
January 11 – The Boston Red Sox and American League MVP Mookie Betts settled on a one-year deal worth $20 million. The salary figure is a record for a player in his second year of arbitration eligibility, with Betts still having one more year of arbitration-eligibility to go. Betts won his arbitration case with the Red Sox a year ago, securing $10.5 million, and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
January 15 – Longtime Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster and former pitcher Steve Blass announced that he would be retiring following the 2019 season, his 60th with the Pirates organization. Blass, 76, was signed as a player in 1960. He spent his entire ten-year career in the majors with the team. His most productive season came 1n 1972, when he posted a 19-8 record with a 2.49 ERA, 12 complete games and five shutouts, while earning an All Star berth and finishing as the runner-up in NL Cy Young voting. In addition, he pitched two complete games victories for the Pirates in Games 3 and 7 of the 1971 World Series triumph over the Baltimore Orioles. Afterwards, Blass joined the team’s broadcast crew in 1983. Since 2005, he worked Pirates home games and select road trips, and the 2019 season will be his club-record 34th year as a color analyst for the organization.
January 21 – The Cincinnati Reds acquire veteran starting pitcher Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees, which was followed by signing him to a three-year extension of $30,500,000 that includes a $12 million club option for 2023. Reiver Sanmartin, a minor league pitcher, also came to Cincinnati along with prospect second baseman Shed Long winding up in Seattle after being traded by the Yankees. New York also received an undisclosed draft pick.
January 22 – For the second consecutive year, the Baseball Writers' Association of Americaelects four players into the Hall of Fame, including the first player ever selected unanimously, Mariano Rivera, Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader, who was listed on all 425 ballots cast. Rivera is joined by Roy Halladay and Edgar Martínez, both of whom receive 363 votes (85.4%), and Mike Mussina, who receives 326 votes (76.7%). Rivera and Halladay are both elected in their first year on the ballot, while Mussina is elected in his sixth year and Martínez in his tenth and last. Halladay, who died in a plane crash in November 2017, also becomes the first player to be elected posthumously by the BBWAA since Roberto Clemente in 1973. Also in his final year of eligibility, Fred McGriff was unable to receive enough votes to be elected in to Cooperstown by the BBWAA.
January 26 – The Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent center fielder A. J. Pollock a four-year, $55 million deal, plus a $10 million player option for a fifth year. If Pollock declines that option, the Dodgers must buy out his fifth year for $5 million.
MLB commissionerRob Manfred indicated at the annual owner's meeting that the league is not open to the introduction of the designated hitter rule to the National League. It emerged recently that MLB and the MLB Players Association were exchanging proposals on a variety of significant potential rules changes before the upcoming season. Some of those, including the introduction of a twenty-second pitch clock and a rule requiring any pitcher that enters a game to face at least three hitters, were set forth by the league.
The Philadelphia Phillies acquired All-Star catcher J. T. Realmuto in a four-player transaction with the Miami Marlins. In exchange, the Marlins received right-handed pitcher Sixto Sánchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro, lefty-handed pitching prospect Will Stewart and international bonus slot money.
February 22 – The San Diego Padres announced the signing of free agentManny Machado. The 10-year deal will pay Machado $30 million annually through the 2028 season, and contain a six-team no-trade clause. He will play at third base for San Diego.
February 26 – The Colorado Rockies and third baseman Nolan Arenado agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract with an opt-out in three years. A four-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner, Arenado will receive the highest annual salary of $32.5 million, surpassing the $31 million of Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, and behind the top earner in Major League Baseball, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke, at $34.4 million for the largest in MLB history.
March 2 – The Philadelphia Phillies reached an agreement to sign free agent outfielder Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract. Harper will receive a $10 million salary and a $20 million signing bonus for the upcoming season. He will then be paid $26 million annually from 2020 through 2028 and $22 million annually from 2029 to 2031. In addition, Harper received full no-trade rights and does not possess any opt-out opportunities. It now stands as the largest fully guaranteed contract in the history of North American team sports, surpassing the 10-year, $300 million contract that Manny Machado signed with the San Diego Padres just the previous week, as well as the 13-year, $325 million deal that Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Miami Marlins in 2014. Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez signed an 11-fight contract worth $365 million in 2018, but the contract is not guaranteed.
Active rosters, currently limited to 25 players prior to September 1 (with very limited exceptions), will increase to 26 players.
The "expanded roster", which takes effect on September 1 of each season, will be reduced from 40 to 28 players.
Players will be specifically designated as "pitchers" or "position players", with one exception. Players who have pitched at least 20 innings and started at least 20 games in the field or as a designated hitter during their MLB careers (most notably Shohei Ohtani) will instead be designated as "two-way players". From 2020, players designated as "position players" will be prohibited from pitching unless a game is in extra innings, or either team has a lead of at least seven runs.
A joint MLB/MLBPA committee will make recommendations on limiting the size of pitching staffs that, if approved, will also take effect in 2020. MLB has proposed limiting pitching staffs to 13 through August 31, and 14 from September 1 to the end of the regular season.
March 19 – The Anaheim Angels sign outfielder Mike Trout to a ten-year extension that will pay him $426.5 million through the 2030 season. This represents the largest contract ever in sports history, overtaking boxer Canelo Álvarez, who signed an 11-fight $365 million deal with sports service DAZN in 2018. It is also almost $100 million more than Bryce Harper received on March 2, when he agreed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
March 20 – The Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics 1–0 in the first game of the 2019 regular season at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. This was the first of a two-game series that was widely expected to be the finale for Ichiro Suzuki as a player.
March 21 – Immediately after the Seattle Mariners' 5–4, 12-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics in the second and final game of their Tokyo series, Ichiro Suzuki goes 0 for 4 as Seattle's right fielder, then leaves after the 8th inning. Suzuki announced his retirement after the game, ending a playing career in both NPB and MLB that spanned 27 seasons.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Atlanta Braves agreed to a $100 million, eight-year contract extension, which is the largest deal for a player under club control with less than one year of service. By way of team options for 2027 and 2028, the deal would max out at $124 million over 10 years. At 21, Acuña became the youngest player to sign a nine-figure contract in major league history, while winning the National League Rookie of the Year in 2018.Through 132 career games, the Venezuelan outfielder posted a .293/.366/.552 slash line, including 32 home runs, 26 doubles, 18 stolen bases, a .934 OPS (144 OPS+) and 5.6 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.
Bryce Harper made his return to Nationals Park for the first time as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Showered by jeers for much of the game, Harper rebounded from a pair of early strikeouts against former Washington Nationals teammate Max Scherzer, by hitting a fifth-inning double off Scherzer and a sixth-inning RBI single off reliever Matt Grace before towering a two-run home run off Jeremy Hellickson in the eighth inning, while leading his new team to a 8–2 victory.
April 11 – Kansas City Royals outfielder Whit Merrifield saw his team-record hitting streak ended at 31 games, dating back to last season, after he went 0-for-6 in the Royals' 7–6 loss to the Seattle Mariners. The day before, Merrifield had passed George Brett for the longest streak in franchise history, which was set in 1980.
April 13 – Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis ended his historic MLB record slump at 0-for-54 at Fenway Park, hitting a single and two doubles while driving in four runs as the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox, 9–5, to stop a four-game losing streak. Davis, a two-time major league home run champion, had been 0-for-33 this season, as his single off pitcher Rick Porcello in the first inning was his first hit since September 14 of last season. The previously record for a position player had been established by Eugenio Vélez, a former San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers infielder who went 0-for-46 during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The all-time record for a hitless streak by any player was an 0-for-85 drought by Chicago Cubs pitcher Bob Buhl between 1962 and 1963.
April 15 – Christian Yelich hit three home runs and drove in a career-high seven runs to carry the Milwaukee Brewers to a 10–7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. The Brewers outfielder and reigning National League MVP has now hit seven home runs in his team’s five games against the Cardinals to date in 2019. Besides, Yelich previously hit one homer apiece in the four-game season-opening series in Milwaukee, a record-tying start to a regular season.
April 20 – Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols surpassed Babe Ruth for fifth place in Major League Baseball history with his 1,993rd career run batted in in a 6–5 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium. Pujols drove home Andrelton Simmons with a double off Seattle's pitcher Yusei Kikuchi in the third inning to tie Ruth. In the ninth innning with the Angels trailing 6–4, Pujols passed Ruth with a solo home run off of Anthony Swarzak. Pujols only surpassed Ruth according to a MLB official starting point for the mark. It was not an official statistic until 1920, when Elias Sports Bureau did not count Ruth’s RBIs from 1914-1919. Ruth played his first year with the New York Yankees, though his career began in 1914 with the Boston Red Sox. Nevertheless, according to the leaderboard at sites such as Baseball Reference, Ruth would have an overall total of 2,213 RBI, which would rank second all-time behind Hank Aaron with 2,297.
July 20: In honor of the 40th anniversary of the last championship in the city of Pittsburgh members of the 1979 Pirates will be honored in a pre-game ceremony prior to that night's game against the Phillies.
January 5 – Rick Down, 68, a long time and successfully minor league manager and well-respected hitting coach for the Yankees, Orioles, Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels and Mets.
January 6 – Lenny Green, who died on his 86th birthday, a speedy outfielder whose career spanned 12 years from 1957 to 1958, beginning with the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Senators before they relocated to Minnesota as the Twins, following stints with the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox, while ending his major league career with his hometown Detroit Tigers, where he was a steady contributor in part of two seasons.
January 10 – Johnny Hetki, 96, long relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Browns and Pittsburgh Pirates in all or parts of eight seasons spanning 1945–1954, who made history during the longest game played in Winter League history in 1952, as he battled to a 3–3, 18–inning tie game which lasted three hours and ten minutes while pitching all 18 innings, setting a record for a WL pitcher that still stands.
January 12 – Larry Koentopp, 82, majority owner of the PCL Las Vegas Stars, who was responsible for bringing Las Vegas its first-ever Triple-A baseball franchise.
January 13 – Mel Stottlemyre, 77, five-time All-Star pitcher who played from 1964 though 1974 for the New York Yankees, winning 20 games on three separate occasions before becoming one of the most respected and successful pitching coaches in the game, most notably for the New York Mets (1984–1993) and Yankees (1996–2005), appearing in only one World Series as a player (the 1964 Fall Classic won by the St. Louis Cardinals) while winning five world championships as a coach for the Mets (1986) and Yankees (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000), being honored with a plaque at Monument Park in 2015.
January 14 – Dick Brodowski, 86, pitcher who played for the Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians in a span of six seasons from 1952–1959.
January 14 – Eli Grba, 84, pitcher for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels over the course of five seasons from 1959–1963, who made history as the first Angel player to throw out the first-ever pitch in the franchise's history, while pitching a 7–2 complete game victory over the host Baltimore Orioles on April 11, 1961.
January 16 – Tom Hausman, 65, steady long reliever and spot starter who played for the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves across seven seasons between 1975 and 1982.
January 23 – Jim McKean, 73, Canadian umpire who officiated at three World Series, five American League Championship Series, three American League Division Series and three All-Star Games, also the home plate umpire for the first interleague game in MLB history between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers in 1997, serving later as an MLB umpire supervisor and umpiring consultant for ESPN, while being inducted in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.
January 27 – Peter Magowan, 76, businessman and managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants from 1993 through 2008, who is considered the man who saved Major League Baseball in the San Francisco area, when his management group purchased the team from previous owner Bob Lurie who had planned to sell the franchise to a group from St. Petersburg, Florida.
January 27 – Matt Turner, 51, hard-throwing reliever who played from 1993 to 1994 for the Florida Marlins and Cleveland Indians, whose promising career was cut short by Hodgkin's lymphoma.
February 3 – Bob Friend, 88, three-time All-Star and the most consistent pitcher in Pittsburgh Pirates history, who never spent a day on the disabled list during his 16-year career, becoming the first National League pitcher to have the lowest earned run average, at 2.83, for the 1955 Pirates last-place team, as well as collecting a string of 11 straight seasons with 200 or more innings pitched, topping 260 in six of them, leading the league with 22 wins in 1958, setting franchise career-records for innings (3,480 ⅓), starts (477) and strikeouts (1,682), also leading the team in games started and innings pitched while posting an 18-12 record and 3.00 ERA in 1960, when the underdog Pirates defeated the powerful New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series with the dramatic game-ending home run by Bill Mazeroski in decisive Game 7.
February 5 – Joe Presko, 90, part-time starter who enjoyed a short, yet unremarkable, career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers spanning six seasons from 1951–1958, winning 25 games while compiling five saves, two shutouts and 15 complete games in 128 pitching appearances.
February 9 – Jerry Casale, 85, starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers over five seasons from 1958–1962, who posted a 13-8 record in his rookie season and was a feared hitter in his career, hitting four memorable home runs in his brief MLB stint, including a 450-feet home run to deep LF-CF in addition to a complete game, 7-3 win in his first start at Fenway Park, later one homer each against star pitchers Early Wynn at cavernous Comiskey Park and Bob Turley over the Green Monster that same season, before finally batting the first homer by an Angels pitcher in its inaugural campaign of 1961.
February 9 – Milt Welch, 95, bullpen catcher for the Detroit Tigers during wartime, who eventually played one game as an emergency catcher in the 1945 season.
February 11 – Jack Crimian, 92, pitcher who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Athletics and Detroit Tigers in a four-season span from 1951–1957.
February 13 – Dick Manville, 93, pitcher who played parts of two seasons with the Boston Braves in 1950 and for the Chicago Cubs in 1952.
February 14 – Tommy Giordano, 93, slick-fielding middle infielder for the 1953 Philadelphia Athletics, who later spent more than seven decades in a variety of baseball roles, serving as a scouting director, player development executive and assistant to the general manager while working for the Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves, evaluating potential stars like Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Manny Ramírez, among others.
February 14 – Rocky Krsnich, 91, third baseman who played for the Chicago White Sox in 1949 and from 1952 to 1953.
February 16 – Sal Artiaga, 72, American-born of Spanish descent whose 48-year career as a baseball executive included a stint as the ninth president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues from 1988 through 1991, being praised in baseball circles for helping and teaching Latino ballplayers in many aspects of the game, through cultural assimilation programs designed to prepare them for life in the United States.
March 4 – John Romano, 84, slugging catcher whose 10-year career included four All-Star Games over ten seasons, appearing from 1958 through 1967 for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals.
March 20 – Randy Jackson, 93, two-time All-Star third baseman whose 10-year career included stints with the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, who became the player to hit the final home run in Brooklyn Dodgers history in 1957 before the franchise moved to Los Angeles a year later.
March 22 – Art Mazmanian, 91, second baseman for the 1948 USC Baseball team, who later became a minor league manager and served as a coach at his high school alma mater in a span of 31 years from 1968 to 1998.
March 29 – Jim Holt, 74, outfielder and first baseman who spent nine seasons in the majors with the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics from 1968–1976, and also was a member of the 1974 World Series champion Athletics.
March 30 – Greg Booker, 58, pitcher who played from 1983 through 1990 for the San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants, serving later as a pitching coach for the Padres from 1997 to 2003.
April 11 – Scott Sanderson, 62, All-Star pitcher who compiled a 163-143 record and a 3.84 ERA in 472 appearances with seven teams in a 19-year career from 1978 to 1996, pitching more than 200 innings four times, while also helping the Chicago Cubs win two National League East Division titles in 1984 and 1989 to break a 38-year playoff drought.