Major League Baseball
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  • A's Melvin, Braves' Snitker named top managers
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 13, 2018

    Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics and Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves were winners of the Manager of the Year awards in the American League and National League, respectively, announced on Tuesday.

    • Melvin, a three-time winner of the award (2007 with Arizona, 2012 with Oakland), led the A's to the fourth-best record in the major leagues (97-65) and a postseason berth in 2018. With 18 of 30 first-place votes, he beat out Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox (seven) and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays (five) for this year's honor.

      Since the award's inception in 1983, only eight managers have earned the honor three or more times, including Dusty Baker, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Maddon, Lou Piniella and Buck Showalter.

      Snitker, who led the Braves to the playoffs this season for the first time since 2013, received 17 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, six more than Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell. The Rockies' Bud Black and Cubs' Joe Maddon each received one vote.

      The Braves went 90-72, their first winning record since 2013, and won the NL East in Snitker's second full year at the helm. Snitker, who has been a part of the organization in a variety of roles dating back to 1977, is 221-227 through two-plus seasons as manager after taking over for Fredi Gonzalez midway early in 2016.

      Snitker joins Hall of Famer Cox as the only Braves manager ever to win the award.

      Snitker twice won Manager of the Year awards during 20 years managing for the Braves in the minor leagues.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB investigating discrimination claims against Mariners
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 13, 2018

    Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it will investigate claims of racial discrimination against the Seattle Mariners that were made on Monday by a former employee.

    • "MLB is aware of the allegations made by a former employee of the Seattle Mariners regarding the conduct of Club employees," the league said in a statement to The Athletic. "Consistent with our policies, we are investigating the allegations."

      Lorena Martin, the team's former director of high performance, accused the organization of discrimination and derogatory remarks in an Instagram post Monday. She singled out general manager Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and director of player development Andy McKay, saying the trio called Latin American players "LAZY, DUMB, and STUPID, especially the DOMINICANS."

      Martin also accused the team of "firing innocent trainers for trying to do the right thing and because of their color/race."

      The Mariners quickly replied to the post with a statement denying the accusations, revealing Martin was relieved of her duties with the team on Oct. 10. It did not give a reason for her dismissal.

      "While it is our policy to not comment on personnel issues, we do feel it is important to respond to the outrageous, false claims made by [Martin] today on social media," the team's statement reads. "And to note that Martin did not make any of these false allegations until after she was relieved of her duties.

      "The Mariners categorically deny that any member of our management or coaching staff made racist remarks regarding any of our players or staff. Additionally, we have not terminated [or threatened to terminate] any trainers during the off-season."

      Martin responded to the team's statement by saying she "had reported many other discriminatory incidences to HR and other Mariners staff members throughout the season."

      Martin was hired on Oct. 30, 2017. She was responsible for "coordinating all aspects of the Mariners physical and mental training approach of players and staff, including oversight of the entire organization's medical, strength and conditioning, nutrition and mental skills departments."

      Prior to joining the Mariners, Martin was director of sports performance analytics for the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Phillies manager Kapler loses Malibu home in wildfire
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 13, 2018

    After losing his Malibu home in the California wildfires, Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he wants to raise awareness for those who are less fortunate.

    • "Keep talking about it," Kapler told The Athletic on Monday. "When you're out in your community, talk about it with other people. Use it as a way to come together. I sent this text message back to people: Talk about it. Shine light on it. Raise awareness. Feel it.

      "That's my main point for other people. We're good. Our family is good. There are a lot of other families who are not."

      Kapler, who was in Philadelphia over the weekend, said his ex-wife, Lisa, and two sons safely evacuated before the Woolsey Fire had crossed the 101 Freeway and entered his neighborhood. The home was totally destroyed, with only a charred staircase left behind.

      "It's crazy to me," Kapler said. "All of it."

      Kapler appealed for donations on social media.

      "Many have lost everything in these fires, and even basic needs are going to be hard to meet," he tweeted.

      As of early Tuesday, the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire have killed more than 40 people, scorched more than 200,000 acres and destroyed more than 7,000 structures.

      --Field Level Media

  • Red Sox RHP Wright undergoes knee surgery
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 12, 2018

    Boston Red Sox right-hander Steven Wright underwent left knee surgery Monday, the team announced.

    • Wright had an arthroscopy and debridement at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. He is expected to return to pitching in the 2019 season, though a specific timeframe was not announced.

      Wright, a knuckleballer, underwent an invasive surgery that included a cartilage restoration procedure on the same knee in May 2017. He began the 2018 season on the disabled list and returned for two other stints on the DL later in the year with left knee inflammation, including one during the first round of the postseason that left him sidelined for the remainder of the Red Sox's World Series run.

      The 34-year-old was 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 games (four starts) for Boston last season. He was an All-Star in 2016, going 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 24 starts.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former Mariners employee accuses team of discrimination
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 12, 2018

    A former Seattle Mariners employee has leveled accusations of discrimination and derogatory remarks against the team in an Instagram post Monday night.

    • Lorena Martin, the team's former director of high performance, singled out general manager Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and director of player development Andy McKay in her post, saying the trio called Latin American players "LAZY, DUMB, and STUPID, especially the DOMINICANS."

      "The Mariners organization has major issues," Martin began in her post. "The things I've witnessed and heard first hand have left me shocked."

      Martin also accused the team of "firing innocent trainers for trying to do the right thing and because of their color/race."

      The Mariners quickly replied to the post with a statement denying the accusations, revealing Martin was relieved of her duties with the team on Oct. 10.

      "While it is our policy to not comment on personnel issues, we do feel it is important to respond to the outrageous, false claims made by [Martin] today on social media," the team's statement reads. "And to note that Martin did not make any of these false allegations until after she was relieved of her duties.

      "The Mariners categorically deny that any member of our management or coaching staff made racist remarks regarding any of our players or staff. Additionally, we have not terminated (or threatened to terminate) any trainers during the off-season."

      Martin was hired into her role on Oct. 30, 2017. She was responsible for "coordinating all aspects of the Mariners physical and mental training approach of players and staff, including oversight of the entire organization's medical, strength and conditioning, nutrition and mental skills departments."

      Prior to joining the Mariners, Martin was director of sports performance analytics for the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Ohtani, Acuna named ROY winners
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 12, 2018

    Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani and Atlanta Braves phenom outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. were named the runaway winners of the Rookie of the Year in the American and National League, respectively, on Monday.

    • Ohtani received 25 of 30 first-place votes in besting Miguel Andujar (five first-place votes) and Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees for the AL honor. Acuna received 27 first-place votes in beating out the Washington Nationals' Juan Soto (two) and Los Angeles Dodgers' Walker Buehler (one).

      Ohtani, 24, is the third Angels player to win the award, and first since Mike Trout in 2012. He is the fourth Japanese-born player to take home the honor in either league, joining Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000) and Hideo Nomo (1995).

      Acuna, 20, is the eighth Brave to win the NL award; the last Atlanta player to take home the honor was Craig Kimbrel in 2011. Acuna joins Luis Aparicio in 1956 and Ozzie Guillen in 1985 as the only native Venezuelans to be named Rookie of the Year.

      --Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted the team's one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer, bypassing the opportunity to become a free agent.

      Ryu was the only one of seven players to accept his qualifying offer prior to the 5 p.m. ET deadline. Declining offers were Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, Boston Red Sox right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel and the Arizona Diamondbacks combo of left-hander Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock.

      Ryu is just the sixth player to accept the qualifying offer since the system started in 2012. The others were Brett Anderson, Jeremy Hellickson, Neil Walker, Colby Rasmus and Matt Wieters.

      --An emotional Joe Mauer said his farewells to the Minnesota Twins, making his retirement from his hometown team official.

      "I'm 100 percent behind the decision, and look forward to the next chapter in my life," Mauer said at a news conference at Target Field. "I still feel like I could compete at this level ... but I made the right decision."

      Mauer, 35, was born in St. Paul, Minn., and never had to leave home. The Twins made the catcher the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft, and he was called up to the majors for good in the 2005 season. Mauer said he plans to remain in Minnesota and perhaps one day play a role in the organization.

      --Field Level Media

  • Angels' Ohtani, Braves' Acuna named ROY winners
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 12, 2018

    Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani and Atlanta Braves phenom outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. were named the runaway winners of the Rookie of the Year in the American and National League, respectively, on Monday.

    • Ohtani received 25 of 30 first-place votes in besting Miguel Andujar (five first-place votes) and Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees for the AL honor. Acuna received 27 first-place votes in beating out the Washington Nationals' Juan Soto (two) and Los Angeles Dodgers' Walker Buehler (one).

      Ohtani is the third Angels player to win the award, and first since Mike Trout in 2012. He is the fourth Japanese-born player to take home the honor in either league, joining Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000) and Hideo Nomo (1995).

      Acuna is the eighth Brave to win the NL award. The last Atlanta player to take home the honor was Craig Kimbrel in 2011.

      Acuna joins Luis Aparicio in 1956 and Ozzie Guillen in 1985 as the only native Venezuelans to be named Rookie of the Year.

      Ohtani, 24, signed with the Angels last offseason after five years with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japan Pacific League. Touted as both a pitcher and hitter, he spent the first half of the season splitting time in both roles before an elbow injury kept him from pitching.

      Despite the ailment, Ohtani kept hitting, slugging 22 home runs and amassing 61 RBIs to go with a .285 average in 104 games. He had a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts before being shutdown.

      Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of the season and will not pitch in 2019 as a result.

      Acuna, 20, signed with the Braves as an international free agent in July 2014. He debuted with Atlanta in late April, hitting .293 with 26 home runs, 64 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 111 games.

      Between both leagues, Acuna was the only player named on every ballot.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers' Ryu accepts one-year, $17.9M qualifying offer
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 12, 2018

    Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted the team's one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer on Monday, bypassing the opportunity to become a free agent.

    • Ryu's signing further bolsters the rotation of the Dodgers, who recently retained staff ace Clayton Kershaw.

      Catcher Yasmani Grandal also received a $17.9 million qualifying option from the Dodgers but he declined. Grandal will become a free agent and the Dodgers will receive draft pick compensation.

      Ryu and Grandal were two of seven major leaguers who received qualifying others. Ryu was the only one to accept prior to the 5 p.m. ET deadline.

      Also declining offers were Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, Boston Red Sox right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel and the Arizona Diamondbacks combo of left-hander Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock.

      By extending a qualifying offer, a team is in line to receive draft-pick compensation if the player signs with another team.

      Ryu is just the sixth player to accept the qualifying offer since the system started in 2012. The others were Brett Anderson, Jeremy Hellickson, Neil Walker, Colby Rasmus and Matt Wieters.

      Ryu, 31, went 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in regular-season starts last season. He missed three months with a groin injury.

      Grandal batted .241 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs in 140 games in 2018. He struggled during the postseason and lost playing time to Austin Barnes as the Dodgers lost in the World Series for the second straight season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Emotional Mauer says goodbye to Twins
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 12, 2018

    An emotional Joe Mauer said his farewells to the Minnesota Twins on Monday, making his retirement from his hometown team official.

    • "I'm 100 percent behind the decision, and look forward to the next chapter in my life," Mauer said at a news conference at Target Field. "I still feel like I could compete at this level ... but I made the right decision."

      Mauer, 35, was born in St. Paul, Minn., and never had to leave home. The Twins made the catcher the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft, and he was called up to the majors for good in the 2005 season.

      Among the people in attendance at his farewell news conference were his former managers, Ron Gardenhire and Paul Molitor, and former teammate Justin Morneau. He thanked a number of people, among them his parents, his wife, his coach at St. Paul's Cretin-Derham Hall High School and former general manager Terry Ryan.

      "Thanks for taking a chance on a kid from St. Paul. That draft was loaded," he said to Ryan.

      Mauer said he plans to remain in Minnesota and perhaps one day play a role in the organization.

      "I definitely want to be connected, but my role is unsure ... hopefully there will be some discussions down the road," he said. "Helping this organization get better ... I'd definitely be open to that."

      He added: "I don't see this as a farewell. I'm going to raise my kids here. I'm not going anywhere."

      Mauer was a six-time All-Star and the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player, but his career was shortened by concussion issues.

      He is the only catcher in major league history to win three batting titles, retiring with a career average of .306 with 143 homers and 923 RBIs. His 2,123 hits rank second in Twins history behind Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, and he is the all-time franchise leader in doubles with 428.

      Mauer's eight-year, $184 million contract expired after the 2018 season. He batted .282 with six homers and 48 RBIs in 127 games during his final season.

      Members of the organization had high praise for the three-time Gold Glove winner.

      "When you draft a guy, especially in the first round, you're looking for talent and character. And he had plenty of both," Ryan said, per the Star Tribune. "Joe carried himself about as well as any player I ever was around. He had respect of everyone in the game -- the opposition, opposing managers, the umpires, teammates, and the total respect of our fan base.

      "We were fortunate enough to have the first pick. Catching is the toughest position to fill, and he just happened to be the best player in the country. And he grew up seven miles from the Metrodome! It's just unbelievable when you think about it."

      Twins president David St. Peter said Mauer's place in baseball history should be cemented one day.

      "It's our view, and admittedly we're biased, that Joe's body of work should someday make him the fourth person from St. Paul to make the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown," he said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Altuve vows to be '120 percent' for spring training
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 11, 2018

    All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve said Sunday he expects to be fully recovered from knee surgery when the Houston Astros report to spring training in February.

    • Wearing a brace on his right leg but walking under his own power, Altuve addressed the media for the first time since undergoing surgery Oct. 19 to repair a patella avulsion fracture in his right knee.

      "We have a lot of time before spring training," he told reporters at Minute Maid Park in Houston, where he was attending a private fan event. "We're not doing a lot. The only thing they told me is we're going to be 120 percent for the first day of spring training, and that's what really matters."

      Altuve, 28, was hurt sliding into second base at Colorado in July and struggled with the knee for the rest of the season.

      The six-time All-Star and 2017 American League MVP batted .276 with four homers and 15 RBIs in his final 127 regular season at-bats after coming off the disabled list.

      A three-time batting champion, Altuve finished the season with a .316 average, 13 home runs, 61 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 137 games.

      In the Astros' postseason series against the Cleveland Indians and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, he batted .265 with one homer and four RBIs in eight games.

      "I don't think a lot of guys were 100 percent, and that's what makes this team so beautiful, because you just try to go out there and overcome adversity and play for each other," Altuve said. "That's what we did."

      --Field Level Media

  • Verlander, Upton reveal birth of daughter
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 11, 2018

    Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and supermodel wife Kate Upton shared photos Saturday of their first child, Genevieve Upton Verlander.

    • Upton gave birth to their daughter on Wednesday.

      The couple was married in Italy last year, just days after Verlander's World Series triumph with the Astros.

      The 26-year-old Upton shared a photo of the baby on Instagram on Saturday.

      Verlander, 35, also shared an image featuring the caption, "Welcome to the world Genevieve Upton Verlander. You stole my [heart] the first second I met you!!! 11.7.2018"

      --Field Level Media

  • Astros' Correa feeling better after nose surgery
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 10, 2018

    Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa revealed Saturday that he had surgery to repair a deviated septum that caused him to experience trouble breathing during the regular season.

    • Correa had the procedure earlier this week. He spoke during a charity event at Minute Maid Park.

      "It's annoying," Correa said to a group of reporters. "I was having trouble breathing. I saw a doctor. He told me I needed surgery on my nose. I was like, 'All right, let's fix it.'"

      The 24-year-old struggled at times last season, although it is unclear how much his respiratory issues had to do with that. Correa hit .239 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs, which marked a steep drop from his output in 2017 (.315, 24 homers, 84 RBIs).

      The Astros advanced to the AL Championship Series despite a down season from their shortstop.

      Correa is hungry for another World Series title after winning one in 2017. He was asked about Marwin Gonzalez, a free agent who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Astros.

      "He's a free agent, but he loves Houston, obviously, he loves playing with this group of guys," Correa said. "But at the end of the day, he's got to do what's best for him and his family. Whatever that is, if it's in Houston, that will be great, we'd love to have him here. If it's somewhere else, that would be great, as well.

      "The guy has worked his whole life to get to this point and be able to make really good money coming from Venezuela. This is his chance."

      --Field Level Media

  • Ruth, Staubach, Page earn presidential honors
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 10, 2018

    Three sports legends will be among seven people awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday.

    • New York Yankees icon Babe Ruth, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan C. Page are all set to be honored in President Donald Trump's first batch of award recipients.

      Page, a nine-time Pro Bowler and one-time MVP, was a long-time judge on the Minnesota Supreme Court after his Hall of Fame career.

      Ruth and Staubach were also Hall of Famers.

      The award is considered the highest honor bestowed upon civilians in the United States.

      The other winners are Miriam Adelson, wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, legendary singer Elvis Presley and Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court Justice.

      --Field Level Media

  • Twins icon Mauer announces retirement
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 9, 2018

    Longtime Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer announced his retirement on Friday in a letter to fans.

    • The 2009 American League MVP said health and family were the primary reason he was stepping away from the game after 15 seasons.

      "After much consideration, I have decided to retire from playing baseball," Mauer said in the letter. "This decision did not come easily as baseball always has been, and always will be, one of my greatest passions. ...

      "The decision came down to my health and my family. The risk of concussion is always there and I was reminded of that this season after missing over 30 games as a result of diving for a foul ball. ... I am soon to be a father of three and I find myself thinking about my future health and its impact on my family more than I had years ago."

      Mauer, 35, will hold a formal press conference on Monday.

      Mauer spent all 15 years of his career with his hometown Twins. The six-time All-Star is the only catcher in major league history to win three batting titles and had a career average of .306 with 143 homers and 923 RBIs.

      Mauer's eight-year, $184 million contract expired after the 2018 season. He batted .282 with six homers and 48 RBIs in 127 games during his final season.

      Mauer said he struggled with the thought of retiring but began to lean toward walking away after getting to catch one pitch at the top of the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox in his final big-league game. It was his first time behind the plate since suffering a concussion on a foul tip on Aug. 19, 2013.

      "I realized in that moment that this is how I wanted to finish my career," Mauer said. "I wanted to finish on my home field in front of our amazing fans, my family, my friends, my teammates, and the organization that means so much to me."

      Mauer was the No. 1 overall pick out of Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul in 2001 and reached the majors in 2004.

      He won his first batting crown in 2006 with a .347 average, and won the title again two seasons later when he hit .328.

      His best season was the MVP campaign in 2009 when he won the batting title while establishing career highs for batting average (.365), homers (28) and RBIs (96).

      Mauer also won three Gold Gloves as a catcher, eventually moving to first base in 2014 because of the serious concussion he suffered in 2013.

      Mauer also stated he was proud to play for just one team in his career.

      "Thank you, Minnesota Twins, and thank you, fans, for making my career as special and memorable as it was," Mauer said. "Because of you I can leave the game I love with a full and grateful heart."

      --Field Level Media

  • Cubs' Epstein downplays report Bryant on trading block
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 9, 2018

    Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein downplayed reports Friday that the team has been willing to discuss trading third baseman and outfielder Kris Bryant.

    • Earlier in the day, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Cubs have been telling teams that nearly every player on the team -- including Bryant -- is available.

      But the Chicago Tribune said that when Epstein stated earlier in the week at the general managers meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. -- that the team doesn't have "untouchable" players -- it didn't mean he was trying to move Bryant.

      "I answered a general question about whether we have untouchables," the Cubs president said, per the Tribune. "Like most every organization, we will listen to anything, but that's just an operating philosophy.

      "We are lucky to have some impact players, and we are looking to add to them, not subtract."

      Bryant, 26, rejected a long-term contract extension offer from the Cubs worth at least $200 million last month, according to multiple reports.

      He won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the league's Most Valuable Player award the following season, when the Cubs won the World Series.

      The Cubs have underperformed in the years since, and Epstein reportedly is concerned about a lack of prospects in the farm system.

      Bryant is under club control through 2021. He earned $10.85 million in 2018, the most ever awarded to a first-year, arbitration-eligible player. Bryant is eligible for arbitration for three more years and won't hit the free agent market until 2022 at age 30.

      Because of a lingering shoulder injury, he appeared in just 102 games in the 2018 season. Bryant had 13 home runs and 52 RBIs and hit .272, all career lows. In his MVP season, he hit 39 home runs with 102 RBIs and a .292 average.

      This is not the first time that Bryant and the Cubs' front office have disagreed. In 2015, the Cubs kept him in the minor leagues longer than he wanted to have an extra year of control on his contract. Had they not, he could have been eligible for free agency a year earlier.

      --Field Level Media

  • Red Sox's Martinez doubles up on Silver Slugger honors
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 8, 2018

    J.D. Martinez pulled off an unprecedented feat Thursday, becoming the first player to capture two Silver Slugger awards in the same year.

    • The Boston Red Sox star received American League honors at designated hitter, where he played 93 games this season, and in the outfield, where he played 57 games.

      The honors go to the top hitter at each position in each league. Votes are cast by managers and coaches, who are prohibited from selecting players on their teams.

      Martinez led the AL with 130 RBIs, and he ranked second in both batting average (.330) and home runs (43). MLB.com noted that his offensive stats were better as an outfielder (.384 average, .450 on-base percentage, .680 slugging percentage) than as a DH (.297/.373/.597).

      He previously won one Silver Slugger, as an outfielder with the Detroit Tigers in 2015.

      The other AL outfield winners were Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who captured his sixth Silver Slugger, and Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, who was honored for the second time.

      Betts, the AL Most Valuable Player front-runner, led the league with a .346 average and a .640 slugging percentage. He hit 32 homers, drove in 80 runs and stole 30 bases.

      A year ago, Trout saw his streak of winning a Silver Slugger end. He was honored in each of his first five full major league seasons but missed a large chunk of the 2017 season because of injury. He returned to form in 2018, hitting .312 with an AL-best .460 on-base percentage, an AL-best 1.088 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 39 homers, 79 RBIs and 24 steals.

      National League MVP front-runner Christian Yelich received his second Silver Slugger award. The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder led the NL with a .326 average and a .598 slugging percentage. He tied for second with 110 RBIs and tied for third with 36 homers.

      The full list of Silver Slugger winners, with the number of awards the players now have won:

      AMERICAN LEAGUE

      Catcher, Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals, second

      First base, Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox, second

      Second base, Jose Altuve, Houston Astros, fifth

      Shortstop, Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians, second

      Third base, Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians, second

      Outfield, Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox, second

      Outfield, Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, sixth

      Outfield, J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox, second and third

      Designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox, second and third

      NATIONAL LEAGUE

      Catcher, J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins, first

      First base, Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks, fourth

      Second base, Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs, first

      Shortstop, Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies, first

      Third base, Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, fourth

      Outfield, Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers, second

      Outfield, David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks, first

      Outfield, Atlanta Braves, Nick Markakis, first

      Pitcher, German Marquez, Colorado Rockies, first

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers expect SS Seager's return by spring training
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 8, 2018

    The Los Angeles Dodgers remain hopeful that shortstop Corey Seager will be ready for the start of spring training, president of baseball operations Andy Friedman told the Los Angeles Times.

    • Seager is recuperating from Tommy John surgery in his throwing arm in April and a hip operation in August.

      "Everything, to this point, all the checkpoints have been really good, really positive," Friedman said at the general manager's meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. "Until you start really ramping up, you don't really know. He's worked extremely hard. He's in really good hands, so we remain optimistic."

      Seager played in just 26 games in 2018 and batted .267 with two homers and 13 RBIs. He injured hip in early April and then tore the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow later in the month.

      Friedman said the hip surgery wouldn't prevent the 24-year-old Seager from remaining at shortstop.

      "The surgery is pretty common with a really high rate of return with guys returning similar to what they were," Friedman said. "So I don't think so. But obviously, any one player can play out in different ways. But I know firsthand how much he's dominated the rehab process and putting in the work, so that makes us feel as confident as we can, sitting here in November, that he won't miss a beat."

      Seager's season-ending injury led to the eventual trade in which the Dodgers acquired Manny Machado to fill the hole at shortstop.

      Machado is now a free agent. The Dodgers aren't projected to seriously pursue him with Seager expected to return and Justin Turner entrenched at third base.

      Machado batted just .227 in the postseason, had times when his hustle lacked and was accused of dirty play during the National League Championship Series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Machado was booed on the road for the rest of the postseason, including during the World Series. The Boston Red Sox won the series in five games, and Machado went 4-for-22 with no homers.

      "I think it's never a fun thing to watch, at least from my perspective and vantage point," Friedman said of the fan reaction. "But I do think it's important to dig further and I think there are times when guys do that and they don't really care. ... And by care I mean, the effort they put into their work, what type of teammate they are, and Manny checks all of those boxes.

      "So would I rather see more effort as I'm watching? Of course. I think anybody would say that. But I think that, in itself, isn't as critical of a dynamic if he didn't care, if he didn't put in the work, didn't put in the effort. That, in our 3 1/2 months being around him, was really strong."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: MLB owners expected to approve Manfred contract
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 8, 2018

    Major League Baseball owners are expected to unanimously approve a five-year contract extension for commissioner Rob Manfred when they meet next week in Atlanta, USA Today reported Thursday.

    • He needs the approval of 23 of 30 owners.

      Manfred, 60, was elected as baseball's 10th commissioner by unanimous vote in 2014 to replace Bud Selig, who held the post for 17 years. He assumed the role in January 2015.

      Prior to becoming commissioner, Manfred had served as MLB's chief operating officer since Sept. 28, 2013. Prior to that, he was executive vice president of labor relations for 15 years.

      --Field Level Media

  • Yankees C Sanchez undergoes shoulder surgery
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 8, 2018

    New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez underwent surgery on his left shoulder Thursday, the team announced.

    • Sanchez's non-throwing shoulder is expected to need at least three months of recovery time. The Yankees are hoping he will be ready for Opening Day.

      Sanchez, who turns 26 next month, reportedly had debris removed from the shoulder.

      The shoulder has bothered Sanchez for most of the past two years. He reportedly twice had cortisone shots during the 2018 season to reduce the pain.

      Sanchez batted just .186 with 18 homers and 53 RBIs in 89 games this season. He also served two stints on the disabled list with groin injuries.

      Sanchez was an All-Star in 2017 when he batted .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs in 122 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mariners reacquire OF Smith, trade C Zunino to Rays
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 8, 2018

    The Seattle Mariners acquired outfielder Mallex Smith and minor league outfielder Jake Fraley from the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher Mike Zunino, outfielder Guillermo Heredia and minor league left-handed pitcher Michael Plassmeyer.

    • Smith, 25, hit .296 with 27 doubles, 10 triples, two home runs and 40 RBIs with Tampa Bay in 2018. He made 127 starts, including 20-plus games at all three outfield positions, and hit .305 as the team's leadoff batter.

      After debuting with the Atlanta Braves in 2016, Smith was traded to the Mariners and then dealt to the Rays in the Drew Smyly deal.

      Zunino, 27, was named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at catcher on Wednesday. Last season, he batted .201 with 20 home runs, 18 doubles, 150 strikeouts and just 24 walks over 113 games with the Mariners.

      Zunino was the third overall pick by the Mariners in the 2012 MLB draft, and his salary could climb as high as $4.2 million this offseason, which marks his second year of arbitration eligibility. By contrast, Smith is scheduled to make the league minimum in 2019 and is under club control through the 2022 season.

      Fraley, 23, hit .347 with 19 doubles, seven triples, four home runs and 41 RBIs in 66 games in High-A ball.

      The 27-year-old Heredia has a .236 batting average over three MLB seasons, which followed six seasons of professional baseball in Cuba.

      Plassmeyer, 22, was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.

      Trading Zunino leaves David Freitas as the only catcher on the Mariners' 40-man roster. It also creates questions about what Dipoto plans to do with the roster.

      While Smith can play all three outfield spots, he is Seattle's only true centerfielder. His arrival could lead to Dee Gordon's return to full-time second base duties, with Robinson Cano seeing more time at first base and designated hitter after returning from his suspension last season.

      Designated hitter Nelson Cruz is a free agent, and it is unclear if the Mariners will attempt to re-sign him. Jon Heyman reported Wednesday that the Rays, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros have all expressed interest in Cruz.

      --Field Level Media

  • Pirates sign 3B Kang to one-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 8, 2018

    Jung Ho Kang signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates and will compete to be the everyday third baseman in 2019.

    • General manager Neal Huntington declined Kang's $5.5 million option on Oct. 31, but indicated he would be given another chance with the organization.

      "We appreciate Jung Ho's hard work to get back to being a productive Major League player, while continuing to handle himself appropriately off the field," Huntington said. "We feel that bringing Jung Ho back in 2019 will make us better as he will have the ability to make a positive impact on our lineup. Competition and options are important to any organization and this signing provides us with both."

      Colin Moran was the primary third baseman last season.

      Kang turns 32 next season and is coming back from wrist surgery. He hit 36 home runs combined in 2015 and 2016.

      His return to the United States in 2018 was delayed months due to a December 2016 DUI arrest in his native South Korea. It was his third such charge since 2009.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Phillies likely Harper landing spot
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 8, 2018

    Bryce Harper is destined to join the Philadelphia Phillies, according to executives polled on the free agent's future by USA Today.

    • Harper, 26, turned down a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Washington Nationals on September 26. General manager Mike Rizzo said the franchise did its best to take advantage of the exclusive negotiating window while Harper was still under contract. Rizzo said that offer is now off the table and the Nationals will go about their business.

      But it appears Harper to do the same with multiple suitors in the bidding. How high will they go?

      Agent Scott Boras said Wednesday night that he officially opened "Harper's Bazaar," and estimated a contract worth $400 million-$500 million would be needed to land the slugger.

      Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the highest-paid player in baseball with a 13-year, $325 million deal.

      Harper, per USA Today, also wants a 13-year deal.

      "It's fashionable,'' Boras said. "It's historical. It's elite. Global certainly. It has inspirations that deal with great shoes and great hair, inspirations on the part of Bryce."

      The New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs have both reportedly told Boras they aren't landing spots for Harper. The San Francisco Giants are not expected to be interested now that the price tag is visible.

      One team USA Today reported would be in the mix with the Phillies is the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to a report, the Dodgers attempted a waiver trade to acquire Harper in August. The deal would have included Yasiel Puig.

      "You have an iconic player,'' Boras said. "For an owner to know the rocket ship of economic opportunity is just blasting off because the player is just entering the prime of his career. You're really talking about a unique and rare opportunity. ... He's almost a lock to be a Hall of Fame player.''

      --Field Level Media

  • Dodgers pick up Roberts' 2019 contract option
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have picked up the option on manager Dave Roberts' contract for 2019 but will continue to work on a multi-year contract extension, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman announced Wednesday at the GM meetings in Carlsbad, Calif.

    • The deadline was Wednesday for the Dodgers to exercise the option.

      Friedman said Roberts' contract negotiations have been put on the back burner as the team works to address immediate issues, such as free agent negotiations and filling key staff vacancies. On Tuesday, general manager Farhan Zaidi took a job with the San Francisco Giants. Third-base coach Chris Woodward has accepted the position as manager of the Texas Rangers and hitting coach Turner Ward departed for the Cincinnati Reds.

      "We exercised the option and we remain optimistic about working something out long term," Friedman told reporters. "The reason that we slowed it down a little bit is that we've had coaching staff decisions to make and interviews and it speaks more to the optimism that we have that something is going to definitely get done and it allows us to focus on what we need to near term.

      "Player personnel decision are front and center right now. They have to be. And we have to figure out staffing and prioritize what to attack first."

      The Dodgers hired Roberts before the 2016 season and he signed a three-year contract with a club option for 2019. USA Today reported in October that the option is for $1.1 million. His salary under the 2016 contract has been estimated at $1 million, which is in the bottom third in the major leagues.

      Last week, Friedman said he didn't anticipate problems reaching an agreement with Roberts.

      "We talked in spring training, made significant progress, but reached a point where focusing on the season was something we all wanted to do," Friedman said. "We agreed to table it and pick it up when we were done playing."

      In three seasons with the Dodgers, Roberts, 46, has led the team to back-to-back World Series appearances and three straight National League West titles. He has a 287-200 record as L.A.'s manager. He is the first Dodgers manager since Tom Lasorda in 1977-78 to reach consecutive World Series.

      Roberts was voted the National League Manager of the Year in 2016.

      --Field Level Media

  • Yankees' Sanchez to have shoulder surgery
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez will have surgery on his left shoulder later this week, general manager Brian Cashman announced at the GM meetings on Wednesday in Carlsbad, Calif.

    • Cashman added that Sanchez, who turns 26 next month, is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

      The procedure is to remove debris from Sanchez's non-throwing shoulder, which bothered him throughout the season.

      Sanchez is coming of the worst season of his three-year career, hitting .186 with 18 home runs and 53 RBIs in just 89 games.

      The catcher followed up his 2016 rookie campaign with an All-Star season in 2017, hitting .278 with 33 home runs and 90 RBIs in 122 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Braves SS Swanson has wrist surgery
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson underwent a surgical procedure on his left wrist earlier this week, the team announced Wednesday.

    • Swanson underwent the procedure on Monday to remove a "loose body" in the wrist.

      Swanson is slated to resume all baseball activities sometime next month. He is expected to be fully recovered prior to spring training.

      The 24-year-old wasn't on the Braves' roster for the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers because of a partially torn ligament in his left hand. That injury created additional soreness between Swanson's index finger and wrist.

      Swanson also missed two weeks in May because of fatigue in the left wrist.

      Swanson batted .238 with 14 homers and 59 RBIs in 136 games last season, his second full campaign in the majors.

      --Field Level Media