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  • Astros agree to 2020 salary with Gurriel
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    The Houston Astros agreed to a $8.3 million salary in 2020 for first baseman Yuli Gurriel, USA Today reported Monday.

    • Gurriel is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2020 season. He is completing a five-year commitment that would have allowed him to file for arbitration if the two sides didn't reach a deal for the upcoming season's salary.

      Gurriel signed the contract in July of 2016 after defecting from the Cuban national team.

      The 2020 contract contains $250,000 in awards bonuses.

      The 35-year-old Gurriel established career bests of 31 homers and 104 RBIs last season. He hit .298 with 40 doubles.

      Gurriel has a .293 career average with 65 homers, 123 doubles and 279 RBIs in 455 games over parts of four seasons with the Astros.

      --Field Level Media

  • Japanese pitcher Yamaguchi to be posted this offseason
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Another name is being added to the deep free agent pitching class in baseball, as Japanese starter Shun Yamaguchi will reportedly be posted this offseason.

    • According to the Japan Times on Monday, the Yomiuri Giants, Yamaguchi's club in Nippon Professional Baseball, will grant their pitcher's wish to pursue his MLB dream.

      "I will take a shot at my dream of playing in the majors. I'd like to express my appreciation to Yomiuri Giants officials, manager Mr. (Tatsunori) Hara, my coaches, teammates and fans for the past three years," Yamaguchi reportedly said at a news conference at a Tokyo hotel.

      "I will work even harder as I pursue a new challenge."

      The 32-year-old is the first player ever posted by the Giants. He was 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 170 innings pitched in 26 games. He gave up only 137 hits and walked 60. Yomiuri plays in the Central League, which does not use a designated hitter.

      He pitched only 21 innings in 2017 as he was suspended following an alleged off-field incident with a security guard at a hospital.

      Yamaguchi will join three other Japanese players expected to hit the market via free agency or the posting system this offseason -- outfielders Yoshitomo Tsutsugo of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars and Shogo Akiyama of the Seibu Lions, and Hiroshima Carp infielder Ryosuke Kikuchi.

      Among the current MLB starting pitchers hitting the free agent market are AL Cy Young winner Garret Cole of the Houston Astros, World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals, New York Mets hard-throwing righty Zack Wheeler, and three-time World Series winner Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jeter headlines 2020 Hall of Fame ballot
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Five-time World Series champion and longtime New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter headlines a group of 18 new candidates on the 32-member 2020 Hall of Fame ballot.

    • Other first-timers up for Cooperstown consideration on the list released Monday include pitchers Cliff Lee and Josh Beckett, outfielders Bobby Abreu and Alfonso Soriano, and first basemen Jason Giambi and Paul Konerko.

      Ballots are being mailed this week to more than 400 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots to gain election.

      The 14 holdovers include four players who were named on more than half the ballots in 2019: pitchers Curt Schilling (60.9 percent) and Roger Clemens (59.5) and outfielders Barry Bonds (59.1) and Larry Walker (4.6).

      This is Walker's 10th and final year on the ballot.

      The other holdovers are pitchers Andy Pettitte and Billy Wagner, first baseman Todd Helton, second baseman Jeff Kent, third baseman Scott Rolen, shortstop Omar Vizquel and outfielders Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa.

      The other newcomers on the ballot are pitchers Heath Bell, Brad Penny, J.J. Putz and Jose Valverde, first basemen Adam Dunn and Carlos Pena, second baseman Brian Roberts, third baseman Eric Chavez, shortstop Rafael Furcal, infielder Chone Figgins and outfielder Raul Ibanez.

      --Field Level Media

  • Twins prospect Costello, 23, dies in New Zealand
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 18, 2019

    Minnesota Twins prospect Ryan Costello was found dead Sunday in his hotel room in Auckland, New Zealand. He was 23.

    • The Connecticut native was there to play for the Auckland Tuatara of the Australian Baseball League.

      Preliminary indications suggested Costello died of natural causes, according to multiple reports.

      "On behalf of the entire organization, the Twins send their most sincere condolences to Ryan's family, friends, coaches and teammates," the Twins said in a press release Monday.

      Originally drafted in the 31st round by the Seattle Mariners in 2017, Costello was traded to Minnesota in July 2018.

      He split the 2019 season between Class A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola, playing 108 games and batting .223 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs. He played primarily at first base and third base.

      Costello's career totals in the minors include a .256 batting average with 43 homers and 163 RBIs in 280 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Astros front office asked scouts to spy in 2017
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 17, 2019

    A Houston Astros front-office executive sent an email in August of 2017 asking scouts to spy on opponents and suggesting the use of cameras, according to multiple reports Saturday.

    • The Athletic first reported the news, providing a portion of the email that was sent to multiple recipients but keeping the sender unidentified. However, ESPN reports the email was sent by Kevin Goldstein, a special assistant to general manager Jeff Luhnow.

      "One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout," the email read in part, according to The Athletic. "What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can't) do and report back your findings."

      According to both The Athletic and ESPN, many scouts were taken aback by the email, not wanting to risk the possibility of being caught. ESPN reported others were "intrigued."

      The report of the email comes five days after The Athletic reported the Astros used a center field camera to capture the catcher's signs to the pitcher in 2017, the year the team won its only World Series. Former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers was openly quoted in recalling the team's efforts.

      Major League Baseball has since opened an investigation into electronic-based sign stealing, not only surrounding the Astros but other teams as well.

      The league's rules do not inherently prohibit sign stealing, but the involvement of technology is a gray area. The rules were written more broadly in 2017, but the use of technology to steal signs and use them in real-time during a game would likely be punished.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Pirates to name Cherington GM
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 15, 2019

    The Pittsburgh Pirates will name Ben Cherrington as the team's new general manager, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday.

    • The former Boston Red Sox executive vice president and general manager, 45, has been the Toronto Blue Jays' senior vice president of baseball operations for just over three years.

      Cherington, who replaced Theo Epstein in Boston following the 2011 season, spent four seasons in his Red Sox post before Dave Dombrowski was brought aboard as the team's president of baseball operations. Cherington was invited to remain as GM, but he left his role with the Red Sox with a year remaining on his contract.

      The 2013 Red Sox won the World Series with Cherington making the personnel moves, but the team failed to reach the playoffs in his other three seasons at the helm.

      Cherington orchestrated the 2012 trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also replaced manager Bobby Valentine with John Farrell before the 2013 season, and the Red Sox went on to win the title.

      The Pirates fired general manager Neal Huntington last month. They also parted ways with president Frank Coonelly in October. One of Cherington's first major moves will be to replace manager Clint Hurdle, who was fired at the end of September.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Trout, Bellinger earn MVP honors
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 14, 2019

    Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout became the 11th player in baseball history to win at least three MVP awards, topping Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman in results announced Thursday.

    • In voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, Trout received 17 first-place votes and 355 voting points. Bregman was the runner-up with 13 first-place votes and 335 points, and Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien was a distant third with 228 points.

      Trout joins a list of players with three-plus MVPs that is headed by Barry Bonds, a seven-time winner. No one else has won more than the three captured by Trout, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio and Jimmie Foxx.

      Trout finished in the top two in AL MVP voting for the seventh time in eight full major league seasons. This year, he led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage and the AL with a .645 slugging percentage while batting .291 with 45 homers (second in the AL) and 104 RBIs.

      --Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player, topping the 2018 winner, Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich.

      Bellinger received 19 of the 30 first-place votes by the BBWAA and finished with 362 voting points. Yelich got 10 first-place votes and wound up with 317 points. Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon received the other first-place vote and took third place with 242 points.

      Bellinger, 24, won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2017, and he captured his first Gold Glove this year. He batted .305 with a .406 on-base percentage, a .629 slugging percentage, 47 homers and 115 RBIs -- all career highs -- while leading the league with 351 total bases.

      --Gerrit Cole officially became a free agent when he declined a qualifying offer from the Houston Astros. He was one of 10 pending free agents who received qualifying offers of a one-year, $17.8 million contract from their current teams on Nov. 4.

      Two of the 10 accepted the offer, making them signed players for 2020: Minnesota Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

      The other eight players declined the qualifying offer and will head into free agency: Cole, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg and third baseman Anthony Rendon, San Francisco Giants left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna and New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler.

      --Smith subsequently signed with the Braves, getting a three-year, $39 million contract in a deal that includes a 2023 club option for $13 million.

      The 30-year-old left-hander was an All-Star with the Giants in 2019, finishing 6-0 with 34 saves and a 2.76 ERA in 63 appearances.

      Smith struck out 96 batters and walked 21 in 65 1/3 innings, holding opponents to a .196 average. Left-handed hitters batted just .157 against him with two extra-base hits.

      --Former major league catcher and first baseman Mike Napoli will join the Chicago Cubs' coaching staff, according to multiple reports.

      Napoli, who hit 267 home runs over 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, will become the Cubs' quality assurance coach under new manager David Ross, according to The Athletic. Napoli and Ross were teammates with the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

      Napoli, 38, won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013 and was on the Indians team that advanced to the World Series in 2016. Cleveland was defeated in that series by the Cubs, the organization Napoli will now join.

      --The New York Yankees made it official, announcing Matt Blake as their new pitching coach after reports of his hiring surfaced last week.

      Blake served as the Cleveland Indians' assistant director of player development for three seasons before being promoted to be the team's director of pitching development. The 34-year-old will replace Larry Rothschild, who had served as the Yankees' pitching coach since 2011 before he was fired on Oct. 28.

      Despite a rash of injuries this year, New York finished in the middle of the pack (14th) in the major leagues with a 4.31 regular-season ERA. The Yankees' 2.87 ERA in the postseason ranked second among the 10 playoff teams.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cole declines qualifying offer; two accept
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 14, 2019

    Gerrit Cole officially became a free agent Thursday when he declined a qualifying offer from the Houston Astros.

    • Ten pending free agents received qualifying offers of a one-year, $17.8 million contract from their current teams on Nov. 4.

      Two of the 10 accepted the offer, making them signed players for 2020: Minnesota Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

      The other eight players declined the qualifying offer and will head into free agency: Cole, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg and third baseman Anthony Rendon, San Francisco Giants left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna and New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler.

      For those eight, their 2019 team will receive draft-pick compensation if they sign with a new team -- and that scenario already applies in the case of Smith.

      The 30-year-old reliever immediately moved on from the Giants, signing a three-year, $39 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. Per multiple media reports, the deal features a $13 million option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout.

      Smith converted 34 of 38 save opportunities this year while going 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 63 games. He struck out 96 in 65 1/3 innings.

      Cole, 29, finished 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, going 16-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his last 22 starts. The right-hander also topped the majors with 326 strikeouts, and he was third in the AL with 212 1/3 innings pitched.

      Rendon, 29, and Strasburg, 31, figure to join Cole on the short list of the winter's most coveted free agents after helping lead the Nationals to their first World Series championship.

      Rendon led the majors with 126 RBIs and shared the NL lead with 44 doubles. He batted .319 with 34 homers before adding three homers and 15 RBIs in Washington's postseason run.

      Strasburg was the World Series MVP after going 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA in two starts during the Nationals' seven-game win over the Astros. In the postseason overall, he went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA in six appearances (five starts). Strasburg led the NL in wins this year while going 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and a league-leading 209 innings pitched.

      Odorizzi and Abreu became the seventh and eighth players to accept a qualifying offer out of the 90 who have had the opportunity since the current system was implemented in 2012.

      Odorizzi, 29, made an All-Star team for the first time this year, posting a career-high win total while going 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 30 starts.

      Abreu, 32, earned his third All-Star selection this year. He led the American League with 123 RBIs and hit .284 with a .330 on-base percentage, a .503 slugging percentage and 33 homers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Trout joins elite list with third AL MVP honor
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 14, 2019

    Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout became the 11th player in baseball history to win at least three MVP awards, topping Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman in results announced Thursday.

    • In voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, Trout received 17 first-place votes and 355 voting points. Bregman was the runner-up with 13 first-place votes and 335 points, and Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien was a distant third with 228 points.

      Trout joins a list of players with three-plus MVPs that is headed by Barry Bonds, a seven-time winner. No one else has won more than the three won by Trout, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio and Jimmie Foxx.

      "It's pretty incredible," Trout said on MLB Network. "My career so far has gone by so fast, and it's been unbelievable.

      Trout, 28, also won the award in 2014 and 2016. His latest victory came despite the fact that he missed the last three weeks of the season due to a lingering foot injury.

      Asked if he thought the early end to his year might cost him the MVP award, Trout said, "It definitely did. I was playing probably a month with (the injury), and it was to the point where I couldn't play anymore. And obviously Bregman, we play against him all the time, and Semien, just an unbelievable season they had. I was definitely following all of them. Every time we face Oakland or the Astros, they were doing something special."

      Trout finished in the top two in AL MVP voting for the seventh time in eight full major league seasons. This year, he led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage and the AL with a .645 slugging percentage while batting .291 with 45 homers (second in the AL) and 104 RBIs.

      Bregman, 25, tied for third in the AL with 41 homers and came in fifth in the league with 112 RBIs. He batted .296 with a .423 on-base percentage (second) and a .592 slugging percentage (third).

      Semien, 29, was an MVP finalist even though he has yet to make an All-Star team in his career. His key offensive numbers this year were all career highs: .285 average, .369 on-base percentage, .522 slugging percentage, 33 homers and 92 RBIs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bellinger beats out Yelich for NL MVP
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 14, 2019

    Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player, topping the 2018 winner, Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich.

    • The results of voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America were announced Thursday.

      Bellinger received 19 of the 30 first-place votes and finished with 362 voting points. Yelich got 10 first-place votes and wound up with 317 points. Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon received the other first-place vote and took third place with 242 points.

      Arizona Diamondbacks utility man Ketel Marte came in fourth place, and Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. took fifth place.

      When the announcement was made, Bellinger hugged his father, Clay Bellinger, who was a major-leaguer with the New York Yankees and then-Anaheim Angels from 1999-2002.

      "It's absolutely incredible," Cody Bellinger said on MLB Network. "Little emotional. ... It's what you dream of, for sure."

      Bellinger, 24, won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2017, and he captured his first Gold Glove this year. He batted .305 with a .406 on-base percentage, a .629 slugging percentage, 47 homers and 115 RBIs -- all career highs -- while leading the league with 351 total bases.

      He is the first Dodger to win NL MVP since Clayton Kershaw in 2014. The last Dodgers position player to capture an MVP award was Kirk Gibson in 1988.

      Yelich, 27, topped the league with a .329 average, a .429 on-base percentage and a .671 slugging percentage that also led the majors. He hit 44 homers and 97 RBIs before his season ended Sept. 10 due to a broken kneecap.

      Rendon, 29, drove in a major-league-high 126 runs and tied for the NL lead with 44 doubles. He batted .319 with 34 homers in the regular season before leading the Nationals to their first World Series championship.

      --Field Level Media

  • Braves sign closer Smith to 3-year, $39M contract
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 14, 2019

    The Atlanta Braves signed All-Star closer Will Smith to a three-year, $39 million contract Thursday. The deal includes a 2023 club option for $13 million.

    • The 30-year-old left-hander was an All-Star with the San Francisco Giants in 2019, finishing 6-0 with 34 saves and a 2.76 ERA in 63 appearances.

      Smith struck out 96 batters and walked 21 in 65 1/3 innings, holding opponents to a .196 average. Left-handed hitters batted just .157 against him with two extra-base hits.

      Smith is 26-22 with a 3.53 ERA and 49 saves in 359 career games with the Giants (2016, 2018-19), Milwaukee Brewers (2014-16) and Kansas City Royals (2012-13). He missed the 2017 season after having Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

      --Field Level Media

  • Napoli to join Cubs as quality assurance coach
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 14, 2019

    Former major league catcher and first baseman Mike Napoli will join the Chicago Cubs' coaching staff, according to multiple reports Thursday.

    • Napoli, who hit 267 home runs over 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, will become the Cubs' quality assurance coach under new manager David Ross, according to The Athletic.

      Napoli and Ross were teammates with the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

      Napoli won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013 and was on the Indians team that advanced to the World Series in 2016. Cleveland was defeated in that series by the Cubs, the organization Napoli will now join.

      In addition to his power, Napoli was known for a keen eye at the plate and his ability to drive up opponents' pitch counts. He averaged 4.37 pitches per plate appearance during his career, including a career-best 4.57 in both the 2013 season with the Red Sox and the 2016 season with the Indians.

      Napoli, 38, was a career .246 hitter and drove in 744 runs, with a .475 slugging percentage. He made his only All-Star Game appearance in 2012 as a member of the Rangers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Yankees officially tab Blake as pitching coach
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 14, 2019

    The New York Yankees made it official Thursday, announcing Matt Blake as their new pitching coach after reports of his hiring surfaced last week.

    • Blake served as the Cleveland Indians' assistant director of player development for three seasons before being promoted to be the team's director of pitching development.

      The 34-year-old Blake will replace Larry Rothschild, who had served as the Yankees' pitching coach since 2011 before he was fired on Oct. 28.

      Last season, the Indians saw five young starters who worked with Blake contribute at the major league level. Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Adam Plutko and Aaron Civale were developed in Cleveland's farm system.

      Prior to joining the Indians, Blake was associated with Cressey Sports Performance, which has Florida and Massachusetts locations. A Holy Cross graduate, Blake was an area scout for the Yankees in 2010.

      Despite a rash of injuries this year, New York finished in the middle of the pack (14th) in the major leagues with a 4.31 regular-season ERA. The Yankees' 2.87 ERA in the postseason ranked second among the 10 playoff teams.

      New York wound up losing the American League Championship Series to the Astros, with Jose Altuve's ninth-inning homer off Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 sending Houston to the World Series.

      Rothschild had previous experience as manager of the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-2001) and as pitching coach of the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, then-Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs -- a resume far different than the one Blake brings to the role.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mets' deGrom, Astros' Verlander win second Cy Young Awards
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom ran away with the voting to repeat as the winner of the National League Cy Young Award, while Houston Astros righty Justin Verlander edged a teammate to win the AL trophy for a second time Wednesday.

    • DeGrom went 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA in 32 starts, striking out an NL-best 255 in 204 innings.

      He earned 29 of 30 first-place votes.

      "I said it was a dream to win one, but to win back-to-back, honestly, I'm kind of speechless right now," he said on MLB Network.

      Verlander, 36, previously won in 2011, when he also took home the American League MVP award. He was 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 34 starts this season, striking out 300 for the first time in his career while pitching a major-league high 223 innings.

      "It's truly incredible," said Verlander, who led the majors in wins.

      "You know, 2011 was just a magical season, but I hadn't really had to grind through much at that point in time. I lot has changed since then personally and professionally, but I think it just makes it that much sweeter."

      For the first time in AL history, teammates finished first and second in the voting, with the Astros' Gerrit Cole being a close second. Verlander picked up 17 first-place votes and 171 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, with Cole earning the other 13 first-place nods and 159 points. No other pitcher placed second on any ballot.

      DeGrom, 31, is the first Mets pitcher to win in back-to-back seasons and the second in franchise history to win multiple times, joining Tom Seaver (1969, 1973, 1975). He started this season with a 3-6 record, but from that point in early June, he dropped his ERA from 3.45. He went at least seven innings in 19 starts over the season.

      "Last year, it was kind of smooth sailing all year," deGrom said. "But this year, I had to kind of recover from that little rough patch and figure out a way to get it done and go out there and fix some mechanical things."

      DeGrom becomes 11th pitcher to win in consecutive years, the last being Washington's Max Scherzer in the National League in 2016 and 2017.

      Scherzer tied for second in this year's voting with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu, who picked up the other first-place vote.

      Scherzer's teammate on the World Series champion Nationals, Stephen Strasburg, tied for fourth with the St. Louis Cardinals' Jack Flaherty.

      Verlander's season included his third no-hitter -- Sept. 1 at Toronto -- and his 3,000th career strikeout.

      With Wednesday's winners, there are now 21 pitchers that have won multiple Cy Young Awards.

      Verlander finally picked up his second trophy after finishing second in 2012, 2016 and 2018. He had narrow losses to David Price in 2012 and Rick Porcello in 2016.

      This time, he came out on top over Cole, who was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and a major-league-best 326 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings.

      "Having come so close a couple of other times, just everything, all that this means, it's just such an incredible feeling," Verlander said.

      Charlie Morton of the Tampa Bay Rays was third, followed by the Cleveland Indians' Shane Bieber and Lance Lynn of the Texas Rangers.

      Verlander is the fourth pitcher in Astros' history to win the award, joining Dallas Keuchel (2015), Roger Clemens (2004) and Mike Scott (1986).

      --Field Level Media

  • Piazza to manage Italian national team
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza will manage the Italian national team in the European Baseball Championship and World Baseball Classic.

    • Piazza made the announcement Wednesday morning, and will coach the team in the EBC in 2020 and the 2021 WBC.

      "Excited to announce I have reached an agreement to manage the Italian National Baseball team," Piazza wrote. "This will include a European Tournament next year and the 2021 @WBCBaseball Classic."

      Piazza retired from baseball in 2008 having spent a total of 16 seasons between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, along with brief stays with the Oakland Athletics, the then-Florida (Miami) Marlins and San Diego Padres. He won 10 Silver Slugger awards as a catcher and was a 12-time All-Star.

      Inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, Piazza has never managed or coached. But there is managerial success in the family bloodlines. Tommy Lasorda is a distance cousin of Piazza's father, Vince.

      Piazza was briefly the majority owner of third-tier Italian soccer team AC Reggiana. The franchise folded relatively soon after Piazza took control in 2016, ceasing operations at the end of the 2017-18 season.

      Italy was runner-up at the European World Baseball Championship in 2019.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants hire Kapler to be next manager
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Coming off their third straight losing season, the San Francisco Giants are once again turning to a former Los Angeles Dodger to fill a huge vacancy.

    • The team announced Tuesday night it has hired Gabe Kapler to be its next manager, replacing three-time World Series winner Bruce Bochy.

      Kapler, 44, managed the Philadelphia Phillies the last two seasons, compiling a 161-163 record before getting fired in October. Prior to that, he was the director of player development for the Dodgers for three seasons. While in Los Angeles, Kapler reported to Farhan Zaidi, the current president of baseball operations for the Giants.

      Our top priority in the next manager was to find someone who can build strong relationships with our players, coaches, front office and fans, and someone who has the drive and desire to win," Zaidi said in a statement. "After an exhaustive and comprehensive search, we are delighted to welcome Gabe Kapler as the next manager of the San Francisco Giants.

      "In my personal experience in working with Gabe, there is no one who works harder and is more committed to getting the best out of the people around him. This was also echoed in the feedback we received around the baseball community. I look forward to working with Gabe to help return the Giants to its winning tradition."

      Kapler also played in parts of 12 seasons in the majors, batting.268 with 176 doubles, 82 home runs and 386 RBIs in 1,104 career games with Detroit, Texas, Colorado, Boston, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.

      The Giants finished last season 77-85, but they have actually improved their win total in each of the last two seasons (from 64 to 73 to 77) while simultaneously finishing one spot better in the standings (from fifth to fourth to third).

      Bochy led the team to World Series titles in 2010, '12 and '14. He retired last season after compiling a 1,052-1,054 record in 13 seasons with the team. Bochy has a career 2,003-2,029 record and sits 11th in career managerial wins.

      Along with finding a new manager, San Francisco also entered this offseason with veteran lefty Madison Bumgarner and All-Star closer Will Smith entering free agency.

      --Field Level Media

  • Angels add La Russa to front office
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Hall of Famer Tony La Russa was hired by the Los Angeles Angels as senior adviser for baseball operation on Tuesday.

    • The 75-year-old La Russa will assist in all areas of baseball operations, including evaluations of major league baseball and development of minor leaguers, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a news release.

      "I've admired Tony for a very long time," Eppler said. "As our paths have crossed over the years, Tony and I discussed the potential of working together and we're excited to finally get that opportunity. Adding his knowledge and experience will be an invaluable piece to the success and continued development of our baseball operations efforts both on and off the field."

      La Russa is the third winningest manager in baseball history with 2,728 victories and won three World Series titles, one with the Oakland Athletics (1989) and two with the St. Louis Cardinals (2006, 2011). Since retiring as a manager in 2011, he has worked in front offices of the Arizona Diamondbacks (2014-17) and Boston Red Sox (2018-19).

      La Russa was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

      --Field Level Media

  • Twins' Baldelli, Cardinals' Shildt win Manager of Year awards
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins was named American League Manager of the Year, and Mike Shildt of the St. Louis Cardinals won the National League honor, it was announced Tuesday on the MLB Network.

    • The 38-year-old Baldelli is the youngest person to win the top manager honor. The Twins went 101-61 and won the AL Central title under Baldelli in his first season on the job.

      "What I can say is nobody takes on the responsibility of working in baseball or doing a job like this for personal accolades," Baldelli said in an interview after the announcement. "I do everything that I can but it doesn't matter necessarily. You need an entire group."

      The 51-year-old Shildt is the first manager of the year winner to not have professional playing experience. His Cardinals won the NL Central with a 91-71 record.

      "My personal goal was to play in the big leagues and I got to college at UNC Asheville and realized that was not going to happen," Shildt said after earning the honor. "I was a below-average college player and I set my sights on being the best coach I could be and the journey has led me here."

      Shildt won the NL award despite receiving fewer first-place votes (10) than runner-up Craig Counsell (13) of the Milwaukee Brewers. But Shildt received 14 second-place votes to Counsell's six to win the award by seven points, 95 to 88.

      Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker (45) received three third-place votes while finishing third. Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers received four first-place votes and placed fourth with 25 points. Dave Martinez (15) of the Washington Nationals was fifth.

      In the AL, Baldelli and runner-up Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees each received 13 first-place votes. But Baldelli also received 13 second-place votes for 106 points to outdistance Boone by 10. Boone received nine second-place votes.

      The Tampa Bay Rays' Kevin Cash (33) received three first-place votes while finishing third. Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics was fourth with 19 points and the Houston Astros' A.J. Hinch had 12 points. Hinch received one first-place vote.

      Minnesota smacked a major league record 307 homers in Baldelli's debut season.

      It was just the second 100-win campaign in the franchise's 59-season Minnesota era behind the 1965 Twins (102-60). Baldelli's win total was 23 higher than the team's 2018 output.

      He joins Tom Kelly (1991), Ron Gardenhire (2010) and Paul Molitor (2017) as Twins managers to win the honor.

      Baldelli is just the second AL manager to win the award in his first full season. Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers was the first in 2015.

      Boone guided the Yankees to a 103-59 record and the AL East crown while winning 100 or more games for the second straight season. He worked around a number of injuries throughout the season, a list that included lengthy stints for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, third baseman Miguel Andujar, starting pitcher Luis Severino and reliever Dellin Betances among several others.

      New York slugged 306 homers, one behind Minnesota.

      Cash led the Rays to a 96-66 record and an AL wild-card berth. The club flirted with 100 wins despite being without 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell for nearly two months due to elbow surgery.

      Shildt joins Whitey Herzog (1985) and Tony La Russa (2002) as St. Louis managers to win the award.

      Shildt's Cardinals were 44-45 after a loss on July 12 but recovered to win the division. Shildt wanted little of the credit that comes with winning the top managing award.

      "This is an organization award, this is a team award, this is really a players award," Shildt said. "My job is not to win an individual award. ... I accept it graciously on the behalf of our players and our staff and our front office and ownership. It is an amazing blessing."

      Counsell guided the Brewers to an 89-73 record and an NL wild-card berth. He oversaw a 20-4 stretch to begin September as the club prospered despite the late season loss of star Christian Yelich due to a fractured kneecap.

      Counsell was NL runner-up for the second straight season.

      Snitker finished with a 95-67 record while guiding the Braves to the NL East title. He won NL Manager of the Year honors last season when Atlanta went 90-72.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Astros stole signs electronically in 2017
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    The Houston Astros are alleged to have stolen signs electronically throughout the 2017 season, The Athletic reported on Tuesday.

    • Major League Baseball rules prohibit MLB teams from using electronics to see a catcher's signs to the pitcher.

      The Athletic talked to four people associated with the Astros in 2017, the year they won their only World Series. Among them was pitcher Mike Fiers, who reported the team used a camera stationed in the outfield at Minute Maid Park to steal signs during home games.

      The report said the feed from the camera appeared on a television monitor that was located steps from the Astros' dugout. Players and team employees would look at the monitor and when they figured out what pitch was coming, they would relay it by banging on a trash can. A bang on the trash can typically indicated a changeup or breaking ball was coming, The Athletic said.

      The Astros released a statement Tuesday afternoon.

      "Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball," the statement read. "It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."

      Fiers pitched for the Detroit Tigers (2018) and Oakland Athletics (2018-19) and told those teams about the Astros' alleged sign stealing.

      "I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they're going in there not knowing," Fiers said.

      "I had to let my team know so that we were prepared when we went to go play them at Minute Maid."

      The Astros aren't the only team accused of stealing signs, MLB said in a statement to The Athletic.

      "As a result of those concerns, and after receiving extensive input from the General Managers, we issued a revised policy on sign stealing prior to the 2019 season," Major League Baseball said. "We also put in place detailed protocols and procedures to provide comfort to Clubs that other Clubs were not using video during the game to decode and steal signs. After we review this new information we will determine any necessary next steps."

      The Astros declined to comment to The Athletic.

      MLB already is investigating the Astros and their team culture after former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman made inappropriate remarks to three female reporters in October.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wainwright, Cardinals agree to one-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Adam Wainwright has agreed to a one-year contract to return to the St. Louis Cardinals for a 16th season.

    • The team announced the signing Tuesday. The deal is for $5 million plus up to $5 million in incentives, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported.

      "We are excited to have Adam returning for 2020 and look forward to watching him continue to add to his tremendous career legacy with the Cardinals," said John Mozeliak, the team's president of baseball operations, in a statement.

      The 38-year-old Wainwright enters the 2020 season fourth all-time in Cardinals history in wins (162), second in strikeouts (1,776) and sixth in innings pitched (2,103 2/3).

      He trails only Hall of Fame members Jesse Haines (1920-37) and Bob Gibson (1959-75) in longevity among pitchers in Cardinals history.

      Wainwright had a 1.62 ERA in the 2019 postseason for the Cardinals and a 2.56 ERA at home last season.

      Wainwright, a three-time All-Star, has won two World Series with the Cardinals. He is the Cardinals all-time leader in postseason games pitched (27) and strikeouts (115).

      He has a career record of 162-95 with a 3.39 ERA in 383 games (316 starts). Last season, Wainwright was 14-10 with a 4.19 ERA in 171 2/3 innings

      --Field Level Media

  • Rays' Neander selected MLB executive of year
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander, whose team reached the playoffs despite having the lowest payroll in baseball, was named as Major League Baseball Executive of the Year on Monday.

    • The award capped a bountiful year for Neander and the Rays. Tampa Bay finished the regular season 96-66 for the seventh-best record in the majors, captured an AL wild-card berth, then knocked out the Oakland Athletics in the wild-card game. The Rays took the Houston Astros to a decisive Game 5 before losing in the American League Division Series.

      Neander shaped the playoff contender with a bevy of signings and trades over the past couple seasons. He brought in right-hander Charlie Morton and outfielder Avisail Garcia via free agency, and he turned to the trade market to grab infielder Yandy Diaz and relief pitcher Emilio Pagan.

      The Rays improved during the season by acquiring catcher Travis d'Arnaud, who hit 16 homers in 92 games for Tampa Bay, and right-hander Nick Anderson, who struck out 41 batters in 21 1/3 innings for his new team. The Rays also acquired first baseman Jesus Aguilar and infielder Eric Sogard to position themselves for a postseason run.

      The 36-year-old Neander also made an impact over the previous couple seasons. He pulled off a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018 that brought in right-hander Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows, and he seized a chance to acquire Tommy Pham from the St. Louis Cardinals' crowded outfield.

      Neander, a Virginia Tech graduate, has worked in the Rays' organization for the past 13 seasons.

      "I am both humbled and honored to be recognized by Major League Baseball and the executives who voted on the award," Neander said in a statement released by the team. "This recognition deserves to be shared across our entire staff, as well as the players who left it all on the field. It's our collective commitment that allows something like this to be possible. While we fell short of our ultimate on-field goal in 2019, I am proud of our progress and we'll do all we can to build upon that in the coming years."

      The New York Yankees' Brian Cashman finished second to Neander in the Executive of the Year voting while 2018 winner Billy Beane of the A's and Derek Falvey of the Minnesota Twins tied for third.

      --Field Level Media

  • Alonso, Alvarez easily win Rookie of Year awards
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 11, 2019

    Pete Alonso, the most productive rookie home run hitter in baseball history, and Yordan Alvarez were landslide winners of baseball's Rookie of the Year awards on Monday.

    • Alonso of the New York Mets trotted away with the National League honor after smacking 53 homers to break the rookie mark set by Aaron Judge (52) of the New York Yankees two years ago. Alvarez had a franchise-rookie-record 27 homers in just 87 games for the Houston Astros en route to unanimously winning the American League award.

      Alonso, an All-Star first baseman, received 29 of 30 first-place votes for 148 points and easily won over second-place finisher Mike Soroka (82) of the Atlanta Braves and third-place shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (26) of the San Diego Padres. The right-handed Soroka received the other first-place vote.

      In addition to his homer production, Alonso batted .260 with 30 doubles and 120 RBIs. The player nicknamed "Polar Bear" also won the Home Run Derby at the midseason All-Star Game.

      "I really feel blessed," Alonso, who turns 25 next month, said in an interview on the MLB Network. "I have to say thank you to the New York Mets for giving me the opportunity right out of spring training and believing in me from Day One."

      Soroka, 22, went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts for the Braves. The All-Star right-hander struck out 142 in 174 2/3 innings.

      Tatis was limited to 84 games due to injuries but the 20-year-old was spectacular when he played. He energized the Padres with a .317 average along with 22 homers, 53 RBIs and 16 steals.

      Alvarez received all 30 first-place votes and 150 points to easily outdistance the runner-up, pitcher John Means (53) of the Baltimore Orioles, and third-place infielder Brandon Lowe (27) of the Tampa Bay Rays.

      Alvarez, 22, fit in well with the Astros' powerful lineup by batting .313, slugging .655 and driving in 78 runs in 87 games. He is the 11th unanimous winner in AL history.

      "He wants to appreciate all the help that everyone has taught him during the season, especially his teammates and the fans who follow him," Alvarez said through a translator on the MLB Network.

      The left-handed Means went 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA in 31 appearances (27 starts). The 26-year-old All-Star had a solid 1.14 WHIP and struck out 121 in 155 innings.

      Lowe, 25, batted .270 but was limited to 82 games due to injuries. The All-Star smacked 17 homers and drove in 51 runs.

      Alonso is the sixth New York Mets player to win the award but just the second position player. Outfielder Darryl Strawberry was the 1983 winner.

      Pitchers Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Dwight Gooden (1984) and Jacob deGrom (2014) are the other Mets' winners.

      The Cuban-born Alvarez is the third Houston player to win the award. Jeff Bagwell won the NL award in 1991 when the Astros were in that league and Carlos Correa won the AL honor in 2015.

      Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (20 points) and Toronto Blue Jays infielder Cavan Biggio (seven) round out the AL top five.

      Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds was fourth in the NL balloting, followed by fifth-place Dakota Hudson, a right-hander for the St. Louis Cardinals.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants tab Harris as general manager
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 10, 2019

    The San Francisco Giants named Scott Harris as their new general manager on Sunday.

    • Harris spent the last seven years in the front office of the Chicago Cubs. He was assistant general manager the past two seasons.

      "We're thrilled to be able to bring in an executive of Scott's caliber to help lead our Baseball Operations group," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a statement. "The combination of his breadth of experience, contributions toward building a championship-winning perennial contender in Chicago and his Bay Area roots made him an ideal fit for our General Manager position and I'm looking forward to executing our vision together."

      Harris, who grew up in the Bay Area suburb of Redwood City, was chosen over Pittsburgh Pirates assistant general manager Kevan Graves and Astros director of player development Pete Putila.

      "I am so appreciative and honored to join the San Francisco Giants, a storied franchise with a loyal, passionate and deserving fan base," Harris said in a statement. "I'm humbled by the opportunity to help bring the next world championship to Giants fans and San Francisco, a city that has always held a special place in my heart. I'm excited to get to work with Farhan, our baseball operations staff and the rest of the Giants family."

      The Giants haven't yet filled their managerial position, which is open after Bruce Bochy's retirement.

      San Francisco has reportedly narrowed down that search to three finalists: former Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. Espada is reportedly the favorite, according to MLB.com.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Padres hire Rothschild as pitching coach
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 8, 2019

    Former New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild will assume the same role with the San Diego Padres, according to multiple reports Friday.

    • While the team did not confirm the move, longtime Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley told The San Diego Union-Tribune that his role is changing.

      "I've been really fortunate," Balsley said Friday. "Hardly anybody hangs around 17 years in the same job. I've been treated with nothing but respect by all the general managers, the owners. I can't complain. ... A little bit melancholy, but (stuff) happens."

      Balsley, a San Diego-area product, became pitching coach in May 2003 and worked under Bruce Bochy, Bud Black and Andy Green. The 55-year-old, who has a year left on his contract, said he expects to move into a role as a special assistant working with minor league pitchers.

      New manager Jayce Tingler is putting together a new staff, which the newspaper said likely will be finalized next week.

      The Yankees and Rothschild parted ways on Oct. 28. He had been with the club since the start of the 2011 season.

      While dealing with multiple injuries in 2019, New York finished 14th in the majors with a 4.31 team ERA. The Yankees compiled a 2.87 ERA in the postseason, which ended with a six-game loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series.

      Before joining the Yankees, Rothschild managed the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1998-2001 and served on the Chicago Cubs' coaching staff from 2002-10. He has been a player coach or manager with a major league organization for 45 seasons.

      According to multiple reports Thursday night, the Yankees will hire Matt Blake, 33, for the role. He has worked with the Cleveland Indians for three years.

      -Field Level Media

  • Reports: Yankees set to hire Blake as pitching coach
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 8, 2019

    The New York Yankees, who fired veteran pitching coach Larry Rothschild last month, reportedly are adding a youthful replacement.

    • Matt Blake, 33, is set to land the job, multiple media outlets reported Thursday night.

      Blake was the Indians' assistant director of player development for three years -- until Tuesday, when he was promoted to be Cleveland's director of pitching development.

      Before joining the Indians, Blake was associated with Cressey Sports Performance, which has Florida and Massachusetts locations. A Holy Cross graduate, Blake was an area scout for the Yankees in 2010.

      According to the New York Post, other candidates to become the Yankees' pitching coach included YES broadcaster David Cone, University of Michigan pitching coach Chris Fetter and University of Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs.

      Rothschild, 65, had been on the job since 2011, but he was fired Oct. 28. Despite a rash of injuries this year, New York finished in the middle of the pack (14th) in the major leagues with a 4.31 regular-season ERA. The Yankees' 2.87 ERA in the postseason ranked second among the 10 playoff teams.

      New York wound up losing the American League Championship Series to the Astros, with Jose Altuve's ninth-inning homer off Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 sending Houston to the World Series.

      Rothschild had previous experience as manager of the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-2001) and as pitching coach of the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, then-Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs -- a resume far different than the one Blake brings to the role.

      --Field Level Media