Four-time All-Star Cole Hamels signed a one-year, $18million deal with the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

Hamels, 35, joins the Braves after a season and a half with the Chicago Cubs, having previously played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers.

An All-Star in 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2016, Hamels was the World Series MVP as the Phillies enjoyed their success in 2008.

"When it came down to it, I wanted to play on a contender," the left-hander said.

"I was very familiar with the Braves. I've watched them in the postseason and I've seen what they've been able to create.

"I've always been following them in hopes of maybe being able to pitch with some of those guys, because they have such good young talent. I know at my stage of my career what I could provide could be beneficial."

Hamels made 27 starts for the Cubs this year, posting a 3.81 ERA on his way to a 7-7 win-loss record.

Atlanta, meanwhile, made the National League Division Series (NLDS) before falling to the St Louis Cardinals.

The Braves have already signed reliever Will Smith and catcher Travis d'Arnaud this offseason.

The Pittsburgh Pirates appointed Derek Shelton as manager, the MLB franchise announced on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh turned to Shelton after Clint Hurdle was sacked in September following the franchise's worst season (69-93) since 2010.

Shelton arrives in Pittsburgh for his first managerial role, having spent the past two campaigns as the Minnesota Twins' bench coach.

"My family and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to join the Pittsburgh community and are humbled to be a part of this storied franchise," said the 49-year-old, who also spent time working with the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.

"One of the most exciting things for me during the interview process was just how evident the passion for Pittsburgh and the desire to succeed was with everyone I interacted with.

"I very much look forward to developing a strong partnership with [general manager] Ben [Cherington] and the baseball operations staff. It is going to be an exciting change of culture in our clubhouse. It is going to be a fun environment in which we will all be held accountable to each other.

"It will be a player-centric culture built on strong communication and relationships with our players, our staff and the entire organisation. We will begin to establish those relationships this offseason prior to coming together as a team in Bradenton this February."

All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu has signed a new three-year, $50million deal with the Chicago White Sox.

Abreu last week agreed an initial $17.8m one-year contract extension, but that was expected to be extended.

The White Sox on Friday announced that the 32-year-old has committed to a deal that will earn him $11m next year, $16m in 2021 and $18m 2022.

Abreu will also receive a $5m signing bonus and $4m in deferred payments.

The Cuban led the American League with 123 RBIs this year, batting .284 with 38 doubles, 33 homers and 85 runs over 159 matches.

"I have to give a special thank you to [White Sox owner] Jerry Reinsdorf and all the people involved with the White Sox who made this possible," said Abreu."This is a dream come true for me and my family.

"To the fans, I told you I would come back. I never doubted it. Everybody knows the group of talented players that we have, and I want to help guide them and together make the Chicago White Sox a championship team."

Abreu's new contract was confirmed a day after the White Sox signed free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year contract.

The Chicago White Sox have signed free-agent All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Chicago and Grandal agreed on a four-year, $73million contract – the MLB franchise announced on Thursday.

Grandal, 31, signed a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2019 season and starred en route to the wild-card game.

The two-time All-Star – who started his career with the San Diego Padres before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 – posted career highs in homers (28) and RBIs (77) last season.

Grandal also led all catchers in games played (153) and was second in extra-base hits (56) and total bases (240).

"There's a lot of young talent,'' Grandal, who will receive $18.25m per year from 2020-2023, said of the White Sox. "The way I looked at it, this team could be a dark horse in the next year or so.''

"He's such a quality guy," White Sox president Ken Williams said of Grandal. "And for him to understand our messaging, our goals, our path, and to say, 'I want to be a part of that and I'm going to commit to it early so we can move on to the next thing heading into the winter meetings,' [it] just shows what kind of character we're talking about."

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn added: "Yasmani was absolutely toward the top of our list in terms of offseason priorities. Obviously he was someone we acted on quickly."

The Atlanta Braves have bolstered their bullpen with the signing of MLB All-Star closer Will Smith.

Not to be mistaken with his namesake and the famous American actor, Smith signed a three-year deal worth $40million on Thursday.

Smith's deal with the Braves also includes a $13m club option ($1m buyout) for 2023.

The 30-year-old pitcher – who started his career with the Kansas City Royals in 2012 before joining the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014 – arrives from the San Francisco Giants, where he converted 34 of his 38 save opportunities in 2019.

Smith also earned his first All-Star selection, having posted a 2.76 ERA over 63 appearances and limited opponents to a .196 batting average.

Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout won his third American League (AL) MVP award, while the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger was crowned the National League (NL) winner.

Trout, 28, added to his wins in 2014 and 2016 after enjoying another fine MLB season with the Angels.

The outfielder – an eight-time All-Star – finished 2019 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs and a .291 batting average.

Only MLB great Barry Bonds (seven) has won more than three MVP awards.

Los Angeles owned the 2019 MVPs, with Dodgers star Bellinger winning the NL prize.

Bellinger – who already won the 2019 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards to complete the trifecta – hit 47 home runs and 115 RBIs during the season, batting at an impressive .305.

"It's absolutely incredible," said the 24-year-old via MLB Network. "It's really cool that my family and friends are here. I'm a little emotional. It's really cool. It's what you dream of, man, for sure."

Despite Trout's heroics, the Angels missed the playoffs, while the Dodgers were eliminated in the NL Division Series.

New York Mets star Jacob deGrom secured back-to-back National League Cy Young Award honours, while Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander was also recognised again in the American League.

MLB's biggest pitching prize was announced on Wednesday, with DeGrom topping the votes in the NL and Verlander in the AL midweek.

DeGrom became the 11th pitcher to secure successive Cy Young Awards after appearing at the top of all but one of the 30 ballots this year.

"Words can't express it," DeGrom said. "I said it was a dream to win one, but to win back to back, honestly, I'm kind of speechless right now."

A three-time All-Star, DeGrom had a 1.89 ERA and .538 opponents' OPS in his final 23 starts, covering 152 innings, as the Mets missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

DeGrom led the NL in strikeouts (255) and ranked second in ERA (2.43) after the Mets posted a 77-85 win-loss record in 2019.

As for Houston's Verlander, the eight-time All-Star finally added to his 2011 AL Cy Young Award.

Verlander produced one of his best seasons as the Astros reached the World Series before falling to the Washington Nationals – leading the league in wins (21), innings (223), batting average against (.172) and WHIP (0.80).

The 36-year-old finished ahead of Astros team-mate Gerrit Cole, who has been linked with a move away from Houston.

The San Francisco Giants appointed Gabe Kapler as their manager on a three-year contract on Tuesday.

Kapler, 44, was fired by the Philadelphia Phillies last month after two disappointing seasons during which they went 161-163.

The Giants announced the appointment of Kapler, who replaces Bruce Bochy after the 64-year-old retired at the end of the 2019 MLB season.

"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," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said.

"After an exhaustive and comprehensive search, we are delighted to welcome Gabe Kapler as the next manager of the San Francisco Giants."

Kapler played for numerous MLB teams, winning the World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004.

The Minnesota Twins' Rocco Baldelli and St Louis Cardinals' Mike Shildt were named Managers of the Year in tight votes on Tuesday.

Baldelli became the eighth rookie manager to win the award after the Twins claimed the American League (AL) Central title before falling short in the AL Division Series.

The 38-year-old finished with 106 points to win AL Manager of the Year, just ahead of the New York Yankees' Aaron Boone (96), while the Tampa Bay Rays' Kevin Cash (33) was third.

"You take on a responsibility, and it's one that you take seriously when you take on the role of manager," Baldelli said, via the Twins' website.

"You don't do it for anything that points back to yourself. You don't do it for awards. You do it to bring a group together in the best possible way you can.

"When you do get acknowledged for something individual, it's an interesting feeling, but you are certainly floored by being acknowledged in that way."

The National League race was also close, with Shildt (95 points) finishing ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers' Craig Counsell (88) and Atlanta Braves' Brian Snitker (45).

The Cardinals reached the NL Championship Series before being swept by eventual World Series champions the Washington Nationals.

New York Mets star Pete Alonso and Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez were named Rookies of the Year on Monday.

Alonso, 24, blasted 53 home runs for the Mets in 2019 and was a runaway winner in the National League.

The Home Run Derby winner finished with 148 points, well clear of the Atlanta Braves' Mike Soroka (82) and San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. (26).

Alvarez was the unanimous winner in the American League with 150 points, becoming the third Astros player to claim the prize.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a fine season that included 27 home runs and 78 RBIs as the Astros reached the World Series.

"I'm very happy, very thankful to my family, to the team, to everybody who has supported me, to everybody in Cuba," Alvarez said through an interpreter, via MLB.com.

"I appreciate all the help everybody has given me during the season, especially my team-mates and all the fans."

Five months on from the Raptors' stunning NBA Finals triumph in Oakland, the city of Toronto will hope to be celebrating further success after the MLS Cup final.

The Raptors defeated two-time defending champions the Golden State Warriors for their first title, and Toronto FC can add another championship by beating Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

Toronto and Seattle are facing one another in the season decider in MLS for the third time in four years, winning a title apiece at BMO Field before this showdown at CenturyLink Field.

Victory would cap a sensational 2019 for sports in Toronto, but other cities have similarly been able to hail two or more major championships in the same year previously. We take a look at the seven most recent examples.
 

1998: CHICAGO - Bulls (NBA), Fire (MLS)

Michael Jordan's NBA dominance with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s gave the city's other sports teams plenty of opportunities to complete a double. In 1998, two years after the introduction of MLS, early force Chicago Fire were able to deliver.

Jordan ended his final season in Chicago a champion once again, the MVP and Finals MVP as the Utah Jazz were beaten 4-2 in June. Fire then defeated DC United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl in October, capping a fine year for the Windy City.
 

2000: NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK - Devils (NHL), Yankees (MLB)

The sports teams in the greater New York area brought in the millennium in real style as both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Yankees were able to clinch championships.

The second of the Devils' three Stanley Cup successes to date came against the Dallas Stars in June's Game 6, before a New York victory at the World Series was guaranteed as the Yankees faced the Mets four months later. The Yankees won inside five games for a third straight title.
 

2002: LOS ANGELES - Lakers (NBA), Galaxy (MLS), Angels (MLB)

Few cities have enjoyed a year as dominant as Los Angeles did in 2002, with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Anaheim Angels all triumphing.

The Lakers won the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year in June, crushing the New Jersey Nets 4-0, before October brought double delight for the city's sports fans, with Galaxy beating New England Revolution 1-0 as the Angels began their World Series campaign, ultimately edging out the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
 

2004: NEW ENGLAND/BOSTON - Patriots (NFL), Red Sox (MLB)

It should have surprised no one to see the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, their second of three in four years, but it was a far bigger deal to see the Boston Red Sox come out on top in the World Series.

Tom Brady earned his second ring as the Carolina Panthers were edged out in a dramatic fourth quarter in February, before neighbours the Red Sox ended the 'Curse of the Bambino' and an 86-year wait for a championship by thrashing the St Louis Cardinals in October, having earlier come from 3-0 down against the Yankees.

2009: PITTSBURGH - Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL)

Pittsburgh sports fans have had plenty to celebrate since the turn of the century. The Pirates have largely toiled in MLB, but the NFL Steelers and NHL Penguins have each seen success - and did so in the same year in 2009.

The Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls when they held off a fourth-quarter fightback from the Arizona Cardinals in February, while the Penguins avenged their 2008 Stanley Cup defeat to the Detroit Red Wings against the same team in Game 7 in June.
 

2012: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

If Toronto can win a second MLS Cup in three years, they will then hope to kick on and pursue Galaxy's record of five titles - the fourth of which came in December 2012, six months after the Los Angeles Kings broke their Stanley Cup duck.

Playing just the second Finals in their history, the Kings dealt established winners the Devils a six-game defeat. Galaxy, far more accustomed with success, then defeated Houston Dynamo for the second year running in the MLS Cup final.


2014: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

Having waited so long for a first triumph, the Kings wasted little time at all to double their tally - much like Toronto FC, the Reds will hope.

Another New York outfit, the New York Rangers, were dispatched 4-1 in June, setting up another magnificent double with Galaxy when Bruce Arena's men beat New England thanks to an extra-time Robbie Keane strike in December.

St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has signed a three-year contract extension, the MLB franchise announced.

Shildt's new deal is through to the 2022 season after leading the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series.

The 51-year-old was hired as interim manager to replace Mike Matheny in July 2018 before being appointed on a permanent basis a little over a month later.

Shildt – whose initial contract ran through 2020 – led the Cardinals to a 91-71 record in 2019 and St Louis' first NL Central title since 2015.

The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series before falling to eventual champions the Washington Nationals in the NLCS.

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak signed a new deal on Tuesday, while St Louis also exercised a 2020 option on general manager Mike Girsch, who penned a two-year extension.

"What Mo and his group have accomplished since he took over in 2008 as the head of our baseball ops is pretty impressive," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said.

"We've been in the playoffs seven times. We've had 12 consecutive winning seasons, two pennants, a world championship. ... We continue to have a robust farm system, which is not easy to do.

"When you have winning seasons, you don't draft high. But we've got a very strong scouting and player development group."

United States president Donald Trump welcomed MLB World Series champions the Washington Nationals to the White House.

The Nationals' celebrations continued on Monday as Washington took to the White House steps with Trump in DC.

Washington claimed their first World Series in franchise history after topping the Houston Astros in seven games and Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman presented Trump with his own jersey.

"America fell in love with Nats baseball. That's all they wanted to talk about," Trump said amid an impeachment inquiry. "That and impeachment. I like Nats baseball much more."

"For the first time in nearly 100 years, our nation's capital is celebrating a World Series victory," Trump said. "The last time Washington, DC, was home to the World Series champs the president was a man named Calvin Coolidge."

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle did not attend the ceremony, while Anthony Rendon, Victor Robles, Michael Taylor, Joe Ross, Javy Guerra and Wander Suero were also absent.

Zimmerman praised Trump by saying: "What an unbelievable honour to be here. This is an incredible honour that I think all of us will never forget.

"We'd also like to thank you for keeping everyone here safe in our country, and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world."

Trump also embraced Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki, who donned a "Make America Great Again" hat.

"I love him! Awww," Trump said before adding, "I didn't know that was going to happen."

 

The New York Mets introduced former star Carlos Beltran as their new manager on Monday.

First-time manager Beltran replaces Mickey Callaway, who was sacked after the Mets finished with an 86-76 record in 2019 and missed the MLB playoffs.

Beltran played 20 seasons in the majors, including just over six with the Mets at Citi Field before he left for the San Francisco Giants in 2011.

"I feel like I was coming to a place where I didn't have to sell anything," said Beltran, who interviewed for the New York Yankees' managerial position following the 2017 season before he was hired by the team in December 2018 to serve as a special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman. "They knew what kind of person I am. They knew what I can bring to the table."

Beltran brings a wealth of experience to the Mets, having won a World Series and earned nine All-Star appearances throughout his playing career.

The 42-year-old also won three Gold Glove awards and two Silver Sluggers in a career which saw him play for the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, Mets, Giants, St Louis Cardinals, Yankees and Texas Rangers.

"His familiarity with New York City, his familiarity with the Mets, his understanding of how to cope with expectations, adversity and success all factored into it," Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. "Carlos didn't want a job. He wanted this job, and that was powerful in our process."

Beltran added: "The way it has been presented to me, it's going to be collaboration. They are going to give me all this information, they are going to make me make the decisions, which I appreciate, and at the same time as a manager I understand, I want to be a part of everything because at the end of the day it's not a one-man show.

"It's a group of people doing great work to hopefully put the team in the best position possible."

 

Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado and Boston Red Sox sensation Mookie Betts highlighted the 2019 Gold Glove Award winners.

MLB announced the winners on Sunday and there were several first-time winners, including Lorenzo Cain of the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger.

The list of winners features the St Louis Cardinals' Kolten Wong, Cleveland Indians star Francisco Lindor, JT Realmuto of the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo.

Cleveland and the Oakland Athletics lead the American League with two winners each, while the Arizona Diamondbacks boast three winners in the National League.

Houston Astros ace Zack Greinke and Arizona's Mike Leake each won the award at their respective positions despite being traded to the AL and NL at the deadline in July.

The awards are determined by a vote among managers and coaches, and since 2013, a 25 per cent calculation is based on defensive metrics. 

 

MLB 2019 Gold Glove Winners

American League

1B Matt Olson, Athletics
2B Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox
3B Matt Chapman, Athletics
SS Francisco Lindor, Indians
LF Alex Gordon, Royals
CF Kevin Kiermaier, Rays
RF Mookie Bett, Red Sox
C Roberto Perez, Indians
P Mike Leake, Mariners/Diamondbacks

National League

1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
2B Kolten Wong, Cardinals
3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies
SS Nick Ahmed, Diamondbacks
LF David Peralta, Diamondbacks
CF Lorenzo Cain, Brewers
RF Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
C JT Realmuto, Phillies
P Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks

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