Shohei Ohtani voted major leagues' top designated hitter for 3rd straight year

NEW YORK (AP) — Shohei Ohtani was voted the majors’ best designated hitter on Thursday and joined David Ortiz as the only players to win the award three years in a row.

Ohtani won the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award after hitting .304 with an AL-high 44 homers, 96 RBIs, eight triples and 20 stolen bases for the Los Angeles Angels in a season at the plate that ended Sept. 3 because of an oblique injury. The two-way star was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts on the mound, striking out 167 and walking 55 in 132 innings before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Aug. 23.

Ortiz won the DH award five years in a row from 2003-07.

Ohtani finished ahead of Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna, Houston’s Yordan Alvarez, Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ J.D. Martinez in voting by beat writers, broadcasters and public relations departments. Players were eligible with 100 or more at-bats as a designated hitter.

The 29-year-old Ohtani became the first two-time unanimous MVP, winning the AL honor in 2021 and this year.

Ohtani and Martinez became free agents after the World Series.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/mlb


Mets and free-agent pitcher Luis Severino finalizing $13 million, 1-year deal, AP source says

NEW YORK (AP) — Free-agent pitcher Luis Severino and the New York Mets are finalizing a $13 million, one-year contract, according to a person familiar with the agreement.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the team had not announced the deal.

Severino is set to move across town following a horrendous season with the New York Yankees abbreviated by lat and oblique injuries. A two-time All-Star, the 29-year-old right-hander went 4-8 with a 6.65 ERA in 18 starts and one relief appearance while earning $15 million in the option year of a contract that paid him $52.5 million over five seasons.

But the Mets have several holes to fill in their rotation under new president of baseball operations David Stearns, and they're hoping Severino can regain the form that once made him one of the best starters in the American League.

He has spent his entire eight-year career in pinstripes, going 54-37 with a 3.79 ERA in 141 games, including 125 starts.

It's the second time this offseason the Mets have stayed in New York City and plucked a new addition from the crosstown-rival Yankees. Earlier this month, they hired former Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza as their manager.

Mendoza spent the last four seasons working under skipper Aaron Boone on a Yankees team that got only 37 regular-season starts from an injury-plagued Severino during that span — all of them coming in the past two years.

He went 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 31 starts at age 23 in 2017, finishing third in AL Cy Young Award voting. The next year he was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts, making his second All-Star squad.

Severino surpassed 190 innings pitched in both those seasons, but is just 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA over 45 starts in the five years since as injuries took a toll. He strained a latissimus dorsi muscle in 2019 and didn’t make his first start until Sept. 17. He made two more starts in the postseason, then had Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020.

Severino returned in September 2021 and made three appearances, then missed two months in 2022 because of right shoulder tightness. He finished 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 19 regular-season starts before making two more in the playoffs.

But this year was a wreck. Severino didn't make his debut until May 21 because of a strained lat muscle, and his season ended Sept. 8 due to a high-grade left oblique strain. He went 2-0 in his final three starts after going 0-4 with a 14.18 ERA in his previous four appearances.

“He’s obviously at times been a great pitcher,” Boone said in September. “The start of his career as a starter was so promising. He really was one of the dominant starters and even through the injuries that he’s experienced over the last few years, when he has been healthy, he’s shown you that performance when he has been healthy and then this year really struggled for the first time.”

The Mets were one of baseball's biggest disappointments last season, finishing fourth in the NL East at 75-87 despite the highest payroll in major league history. They are eagerly seeking pitching this offseason, with NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Kodai Senga and veteran left-hander José Quintana the only holdovers assured spots in a projected 2024 rotation.

The free-agent market features a host of available starters, but Aaron Nola (Phillies), Sonny Gray (Cardinals), Kyle Gibson (Cardinals), Lance Lynn (Cardinals) and Kenta Maeda (Tigers) have already been signed.

New York is expected to pursue Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, along with a multitude of other teams.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Baltimore’s Félix Bautista and Milwaukee’s Devin Williams win MLB's Reliever of the Year Awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Baltimore’s Félix Bautista was a unanimous winner of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and Milwaukee’s Devin Williams won the Trevor Hoffman National League honor on Wednesday.

Bautista, a 28-year-old right-hander, was 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA and 33 saves in 39 chances for the AL East champion Orioles. He made his final appearance on Aug. 25 and had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 9, which likely will cause him to miss the 2024 season.

Williams, a 29-year-old right-hander, was 8-3 with a 1.53 ERA and 36 saves in 40 opportunities for the NL Central champion Brewers. Williams also won the award in 2020 and joined former teammate Josh Hader, Edwin Díaz, Liam Hendriks, Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel as the only multiple winners of the honor, known as the Delivery Man of the Year Award from 2005-13.

Rivera and Hoffman were among the six voters, joined by fellow Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers along with John Franco and Billy Wagner. Balloting was based on the regular season and used a system in which the first choice got five points, the second three and the third one.

Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase was second in the AL after winning last year and Toronto’s Jordan Romano was third.

Pittsburgh’s David Bednar was second in the NL and San Diego’s Josh Hader third.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Dawson's request to change Expos cap on Hall plaque 'shot in the gut'

Andre Dawson's desire to have the cap on his Hall of Fame plaque changed from a Montreal Expos logo to a Chicago Cubs one was a "shot in the gut" for Perry Giannias.

The 69-year-old Dawson made headlines Tuesday when he told the Chicago Tribune that he sent a letter to Baseball Hall of Fame chair Jane Forbes Clark asking to change the cap. Having an Expos logo on his plaque is a decision he had disagreed with dating back to his entry into the hall back in 2010.

"Andre had made that clear back in the day when he got elected. But I thought it sort of passed. So when I read that article yesterday, I'm not going to lie, it sort of was like a shot in the gut," Giannias, the president of Expos Fest, a gala that celebrates the team's history, said on the phone from Montreal.

"Just reminded me that he had those feelings. So I guess they haven't changed and I understand. I've known Andre for a long time and sometimes, you know, when you get older, you want your legacy to reflect the way you feel. And I think that's what this is all about."

Dawson is one of three Hall of Famers whose plaques have an Expos cap, alongside former teammates Tim Raines and the late Gary Carter.

Carter expressed a desire to have a New York Mets cap on his plaque in 2003.

Players could make the decision through the 2001 induction, and the hall took over the decision ahead of the 2002 vote.

The change followed reports in 1999 that Tampa Bay offered to compensate the newly retired Wade Boggs if his plaque bore a Devil Rays logo. Boggs was inducted in 2005 and his plaque has a Boston Red Sox logo.

But Scott Rolen and Fred McGriff were apparently able to make their own choice when inducted earlier this year.

"While the Hall of Fame provides guidance to each new inductee as to which logo, if any, may be represented on the cap of his plaque, the Hall of Fame retains the final say," a spokesman for the Hall of Fame said.

"As a history museum, the plaque's historical accuracy is paramount, and that includes the logo is reflected on the plaque. All teams are listed in the text of the plaque."

Dawson spent the first 11 of his 21-year career in Montreal, where he enjoyed much of his success as a pro.

Between 1976 and 1986, Dawson was named National League rookie of the year and earned three of his eight career all-star appearances, six of his eight Gold Glove awards and three of his four Silver Slugger awards.

Dawson left for Chicago in free agency, where he spent six seasons. His stint with the Cubs was highlighted by his 1987 campaign, in which he led the NL in home runs and RBIs en route to winning NL MVP.

He then spent two years with the Boston Red Sox and two more with the then-Florida Marlins to conclude his career.

Giannias says Dawson's exit from Montreal may have a role in his desire to switch caps. Dawson has said he felt he was "forced out" of Montreal and had trouble finding a team in free agency in 1986, likely due to what was later ruled to be collusion among baseball owners to restrict player movement.

"I just know what everybody else knows, is the way he left the Expos," he said. "When you talk about the stars of the Montreal Expos, especially in the '80s, ... and in the 35 years (of their existence) in general, it's Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Gary Carter, right?

"So, when Carter moved on, when they got rid of him, the prodigal son should have been Andre and the way they treated him during the collusion thing (Dawson , … that was really dirty. I don't know if somebody forgets that. Obviously, that plays a role in it.

"But I don't believe it's got much to do about that anymore, but just his love for Chicago, because Chicago embraced him, like right away and he's had a great relationship with the city ever since. So I think it's less of a grudge and more of an appreciation for his adopted city, he's an ambassador there."

— With files from The Associated Press.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023.

Wagner out as Blue Jays radio voice after Sportsnet declines to renew contract

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays will have a new radio voice next season after rights-holder Sportsnet elected not to renew the contract of broadcaster Ben Wagner.

The network confirmed the decision in a statement on Wednesday.

"After six seasons as the voice of our baseball radio broadcasts, Sportsnet has decided not to renew Ben Wagner's contract for next season. Thank you, Ben, for sharing your voice and expertise with listeners across Canada. We wish you the very best."

Wagner succeeded longtime radio voice Jerry Howarth in the position. Howarth retired in early 2018 after 36 years of calling games for Canada's lone Major League Baseball team. 

Sportsnet plans to announce its radio broadcast plans "prior to the start of the 2024 season," network spokesman Jason Jackson said in an email. 

Interview requests with Sportsnet executives were declined. A message left with Wagner was not immediately returned. 

Before moving to the big leagues, Wagner spent 11 seasons as a radio and television broadcaster for the Buffalo Bisons, the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate. The 43-year-old native of New Paris, Ind., started broadcasting professional baseball games in 2004 with the Class-A Lakewood BlueClaws.

Wagner was always an early arrival at the ballpark before each Blue Jays game. He had a penchant for asking thoughtful, probing questions to help strengthen the storytelling on the broadcast. 

His ability to do that was hampered starting in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the season and forced broadcasters around the sports world to pivot due to travel and access restrictions.

Sportsnet has yet to resume a full-time pre-pandemic setup of regular on-site radio broadcasts of road games. 

"Radio (play by play) is not long for this world in the SN ecosystem," sports media analyst Adam Seaborn said in a text message. "Not an area to invest, to grow or to build."

In 2021, Sportsnet decided to simulcast television broadcasts on its radio network. The much-criticized decision left Toronto as the lone big-league market without a dedicated radio broadcast crew.

At the time, the network said the decision to streamline production was made to minimize travel and closely adhere to team, league, and government protocols related to the pandemic.

Wagner, meanwhile, remained with the broadcast team by providing live hits from the Blue Jays’ temporary home of TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., and serving as a contributor to radio and television segments. 

The team later played home games in Buffalo, N.Y., before eventually returning to Rogers Centre.

In an early-season 2021 interview with The Canadian Press, Wagner said he had a “wide range of emotion” when told of the radio developments for that year.

“A lot of momentum from this past off-season led to a lot of disappointment,” Wagner said. "I love the craft of radio. I love the nuances of baseball on radio, let alone just live sporting events on radio.”

“It was hard not to take it personally, but with that then came opportunity,” he added. “(Like) the fact that I’m involved with the No. 1 product on how Blue Jays baseball is consumed by its fanbase. I’ve been given way more opportunity and greater opportunity to show my skillset and do new things at the same time in this company.”

In 2022, Sportsnet used remote coverage for road games — Wagner called games from a screen at the network's Toronto studio — before shifting back to traditional in-person broadcasts for most of the second half of the season. 

Remote coverage resumed in 2023 and continued for the entire season. The Blue Jays were one of only two franchises in Major League Baseball — the other being the Los Angeles Angels — that did not go back to on-site radio coverage of road games.

Seaborn, the head of partnerships at Toronto-based media company Playmaker Capital, said having an owner (Rogers Communications) that also owns the TV and radio network, the stadium and the team "creates a culture of cost-cutting as opposed to competition."

"If the team was owned by a random billionaire, the radio rights would go up for bid every 5-10 years, and the highest bidder would be forced to put a guy on the road and put together a top-notch broadcast," he said. 

The Blue Jays will kick off the 2024 regular season on March 28 at Tampa Bay. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

Andre Dawson asks baseball Hall of Fame to change cap on plaque to Cubs from Expos

CHICAGO (AP) — Andre Dawson says he sent a letter to baseball Hall of Fame chair Jane Forbes Clark asking to change the cap on his plaque from the Montreal Expos to the Chicago Cubs, a decision by the hall he disagreed with as soon as it was made over his objection 13 years ago.

“I don’t expect them to jump on something like this,” Dawson told the Chicago Tribune on Monday, the paper said. “If they elect to respond, they’ll take their time. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t respond.”

Players could make the decision through the 2001 induction, and the hall took over the decision ahead of the 2002 vote. The change followed reports in 1999 that Tampa Bay offered to compensate the newly retired Wade Boggs if his plaque bore a Devil Rays logo. Boggs was inducted in 2005 and his plaque has a Boston Red Sox logo.

“We plan to speak to Andre but have not yet received the letter,” Hall spokesman Jon Shestakofsky said Wednesday.

Three weeks after Dawson was elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 2010, the hall said it decided the plaque will have an Expos cap.

“I respect the Hall of Fame’s decision to put an Expos logo on my cap, and I understand their responsibility to make sure the logo represents the greatest impact in my career,” Dawson said then in a statement issued by the hall. “Cubs fans will always be incredibly important in my heart, and I owe them so much for making my time in Chicago memorable, as did the fans in Montreal, Boston and South Florida, my home. But knowing that I’m on the Hall of Fame team is what’s most important, as it is the highest honor I could imagine.”

However, on the day the hall announced its decision, Dawson told WMVP-AM in Chicago: “I’m disappointed,” adding: “I can proudly say that because Chicago was my preference.”

At the time of the decision, then Hall president Jeff Idelson said: “You want the logo to represent where this guy made his greatest impact. He was impactful in Montreal. He was impactful in Chicago, and to a much lesser extent Boston and Florida, but it’s more of a case sitting down and collectively make a decision.”

The hall said Dawson had 1,575 of his 2,774 hits with the Expos, won six of his eight Gold Glove awards in Montreal and led the Expos to their only postseason series win while in Montreal with a five-game victory over the Phillies in the 1981 NL Division Series. Idelson also said it’s the museum’s responsibility to “properly interpret the game’s history.”

Dawson played his first 11 seasons with Montreal, batting .285 with 225 home runs and 838 RBIs. He was selected an All-Star three times and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1977. He played six seasons with the Cubs, where he won the 1987 NL MVP award after batting .287 with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs. He also played two years each for Boston and Florida before retiring in 1996.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/mlb

Kyle Gibson can earn $500,000 in annual performance bonuses in deal with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kyle Gibson can earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses each season in his deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, which guarantees the 36-year-old right-hander $13 million.

Gibson's contract, announced Nov. 21, calls for a $12 million salary next year and includes a $12 million club option for 2025 with a $1 million buyout. He would earn a $500,000 bonus in any year he pitches 175 or more innings.

Gibson would receive a $1 million assignment bonus if traded. He gets a hotel suite on road trips.

Sonny Gray's $75 million, three-year contract, announced Monday, calls for a $10 million salary next year, $25 million in 2025 and $35 million in 2026, according to details obtained by The Associated Press. The deal includes a $30 million option for 2027 that the team must first decide. If the option is exercised by the team, the pitcher has the right to opt out.

If the option is not exercised by either side, Gray would receive a $5 million buyout payable in $1 million installments each Jan. 15 from 2027 through 2031.

Gray, a 34-year-old right-hander who was the AL Cy Young Award runner-up with Minnesota, receives a full no-trade provision and a hotel suite on road trips.

Gray went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA for Minnesota last season. The 36-year-old Gibson set career highs this year with 15 wins and 33 starts for AL East champion Baltimore.

St. Louis had to fill rotation spots with only right-hander Miles Mikolas and left-hander Steven Matz under contract for next year as likely starters. In addition to Gray and Gibson, the Cardinals also reached an agreement with 36-year-old left-hander Lance Lynn.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/

Jays GM feels 'really good' about team in place and opportunity to make it better

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins had barely settled into his seat for a media availability at a downtown restaurant when a Shohei Ohtani question was volleyed his way.

The two-way superstar is the plum of this year's free-agent class and will command a monster salary. So is Canada's lone big-league team in on the pursuit?

"I wish I could get into specifics on free agents," Atkins said at a meeting of the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "For a lot of reasons that you're all very aware of, we can't do that. I feel really good about the team in place and the opportunity to make it better.

"Stepping away from that question specifically, we've always had incredible support from ownership to make this team better, and we have a good one and we're working hard on making it better."

The Los Angeles Dodgers are considered one of the favourites to land the two-time most valuable player, but the Blue Jays have been reported to be in the mix as a sleeper candidate.

The Blue Jays have also been at the forefront of trade rumours — most notably including Bo Bichette — ahead of next week's winter meetings in Nashville. Atkins said the Blue Jays are committed to their star shortstop.

"We are very fortunate to have him," he said. "And he is our shortstop moving forward."

This should be an interesting off-season for Atkins, who has been on the job as GM for eight years. Toronto was swept in the first round of the playoffs last month for the third time in four years.

The team is in win-now mode and the pressure will be on to reach the second round of the post-season for the first time since 2016.

Toronto's pitching staff is anchored by one of the best rotations in the big leagues but the team's offence needs to improve. Third baseman Matt Chapman, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and reliever Jordan Hicks are some of the notable players who became free agents.

Atkins declined to get into specifics regarding meetings with free agents, but said some had already occurred and others "would occur moving forward."

The groundwork for potential trades is often developed at the winter meetings. And once a big free-agent domino falls, others tend to follow.

While not tipping his hand, Atkins said the Blue Jays are open to a lot of possibilities.

"This very good team that we want to lean into, we need to lean into in any possible way," he said. "If that means trading for a player that only has one year of control, or signing a player to a one-year deal as you've seen we've done, we are absolutely open to that.

"But we are also willing to get into lengthier deals and trade for players with significant years of club control, and that is pricey. So we're in a position where we're able to do both fortunately."

Atkins also said that right-hander Alek Manoah, who had a down year in 2023, is throwing again and feeling excited about the upcoming campaign.

"I feel confident about him being a large part of our success next year, a significant piece in the rotation, and I know Alek isn't thinking about winning the fifth spot," he said. "He's thinking about excellence.

"He's thinking about being one of the better starters in the game, and we believe that he can build back towards that."

Also Tuesday, the BBWAA's Toronto chapter announced the winners of its annual awards.

Bichette was the unanimous choice as Blue Jays player of the year and Kevin Gausman took all 22 votes for pitcher of the year. Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi was named most improved player and Davis Schneider was a near-unanimous pick for top rookie.

Luis Rivera and Mike Shaw were named co-winners of the John Cerutti Award. It’s given to a person associated with the club who exemplifies goodwill, co-operation and character.

The retiring Rivera served as a third-base coach and infield coach last season. Shaw, who'll be leaving the team next month to pursue another MLB opportunity, is the director of team travel and clubhouse operations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

Reliever Liam Hendriks and outfielder Cody Bellinger selected MLB's Comeback Players of the Year

NEW YORK (AP) — Reliever Liam Hendriks and outfielder Cody Bellinger were selected Major League Baseball's Comeback Players of the Year on Tuesday.

The pair, both free agents, were chosen in voting by MLB.com beat writers.

Hendriks, a 34-year-old right-hander, made his season debut on May 29 following treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He went 2-0 with one save and a 5.40 ERA in five appearances for the Chicago White Sox, the last on June 9. He went on the injured list with right elbow inflammation and on Aug. 2 had Tommy John surgery, which will sideline him until late in the 2024 season or 2025.

A three-time All-Star, Hendriks is 33-34 with a 3.82 ERA and 116 saves in 140 appearances in 13 major league seasons for Minnesota (2011-13), Kansas City (2014), Toronto (2014-15), Oakland (2016-20) and the White Sox (2021-23).

Hendriks went 8-3 with a 2.54 ERA and a career-high 38 saves in 2021, his first year after signing a $54 million, three-year deal with Chicago as a free agent, then 4-4 with a 2.81 ERA and 37 saves in 2022. The White Sox declined a $15 million option and will pay a $15 million buyout in 10 equal installments from 2024-33.

Bellinger, 28, hit a career-high .307 with 26 homers and 97 RBIs after signing a $17.5 million, one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs as a free agent. He went free again after declining a $25 million mutual option and taking a $5 million buyout. He gets a $1 million bonus for being selected a Comeback Player of the Year.

A two-time All-Star voted the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year and 2018 National League Championship Series MVP with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bellinger was limited to 95 games during the 2021 regular season, when he was on the injured list three times and batted .165. He hit .353 in 12 games in that postseason and had the go-ahead RBI single in Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the San Francisco. Bellinger also had a tying, three-run homer against Atlanta in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/

Tigers sign Japanese RHP Kenta Maeda to $24M, 2-year contract to win games and mentor young pitchers

DETROIT (AP) — Kenta Maeda gave the Detroit Tigers what they were looking for in free agency, a veteran talented enough to bolster their rotation with an approach they want pitchers on model on the mound.

“We think he’s going to both help us win games and influence our young starters,” general manager Scott Harris said Tuesday after Detroit and the 35-year-old Japanese right hander finalized a $24 million, two-year contract.

Maeda joins a projected rotation with pitchers in their 20s, a group that potentially includes Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Reese Olson, Tarik Skubal, Joey Wentz and perhaps Casey Mize.

“He does a lot of things that we really like, and hope will rub off on our young starters,” Harris said.

Harris, entering his second full season in charge of the franchise, may add more players to the mound.

“You'll never hear me say we have enough pitching,” he said.

Maeda is 65-49 with a 3.92 ERA in 155 starts and 35 relief outings for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota.

He spent the past three years with the Twins and was 6-8 with a 4.23 ERA in 20 starts and one relief appearance this year in his return from Tommy John surgery two-plus years ago.

Harris said Maeda's velocity returned to pre-surgery levels, giving him even more confidence that it was wise to sign him. Maeda's four-seam fastball averaged 90.9 mph this year, up from 90.8 mph in 2021 but down from a peak of 92.3 mph in 2018.

“We felt pretty comfortable with offering two years," he said. “It gives gives us a little bit more continuity in our rotation.”

As part of the deal, Maeda will donate $70,000 next year and $50,000 in 2025 to the team’s charitable foundation.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/

Bored during summer off, Brad Ausmus ready to provide advice as Aaron Boone's Yankees bench coach

NEW YORK (AP) — After serving as Mark Kotsay’s bench coach with Oakland in 2022, Brad Ausmus stayed home in California this year.

“This past summer I didn’t do anything. I got a little bit bored, to be honest with you,” he said Tuesday, a week after he was hired as Aaron Boone’s bench coach with the New York Yankees. “I enjoy the game. I enjoy the strategy. I enjoy the people, and there’s no grander stage than New York City.”

Ausmus managed Detroit from 2014-17 and the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, winning the AL Central at 90-72 in his first season with the Tigers before Baltimore swept Detroit in a Division Series. With the Yankees he replaces Carlos Mendoza, who left to manage the Mets.

“The main aspect of a bench coach’s job is to make sure that the manager has all the information that he needs to make a decision and, if necessary, maybe push him toward one decision or another, or try to coax him in one direction or another if I feel strongly about it,” Ausmus said.

He began his professional career with the Yankees organization after New York selected him in the 48th round of the 1987 amateur draft. A Dartmouth graduate who attended college while still in the minor leagues, the catcher was taken by Colorado in the expansion draft ahead of the 1993 season.

Ausmus was traded to San Diego and made his major league debut on July 28, 1993. Ausmus hit .251 with 80 homers and 607 RBIs in 18 seasons for the Padres (1993-96), Detroit (1996, 1999-2000) and Houston (1997-98, 2001-08). He has a 386-422 record as a manager.

“I used to do the scouting reports in Houston for almost a decade and it was based on data, and then I would put it into play in the game and I found that the data was probably right 85%, but you have to use your eyes, as well,” Ausmus said. “It’s not a vacuum out there.”

New York went 82-80 this past season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Yankees haven’t reached the World Series since winning the 2009 title.

“Every single year they’re going to try and win the World Series and that can’t be said about every organization,” Ausmus said. “I want to be part of a World Series team.”

He becomes the second new Yankees coach for 2024. James Rowson was hired as hitting coach to replace Sean Casey, who took over from Dillon Lawson at the All-Star break and decided not to return.

Ausmus likes the interaction with players in the coaching role.

“The bench coach is a little more free to kind of interact with the players,” he said. “You’re not the point man. You’re not the guy in charge, so it’s easier to build relationships with players. There’s more camaraderie.”


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

White Sox finalize $1.75 million deal with SS DeJong, designate OF Haseley for assignment

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox finalized a $1.75 million, one-year contract with shortstop Paul DeJong on Tuesday and designated outfielder Adam Haseley for assignment.

DeJong can earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses for plate appearances: $150,000 for 400 and $100,000 for 500.

The 30-year-old DeJong, who grew up in Antioch and attended Illinois State, played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2017 until he was traded to Toronto this past Aug. 1. He was released by the Blue Jays on Aug. 21 and signed two days later with San Francisco.

An All-Star in 2019 when he batted .233 with 30 homers and 78 RBIs, DeJong hit .226 with 14 homers and 37 RBIs this year in the final season of a $26 million, six-year contract. He has a .229 career average with 116 homers and 344 RBIs.

Tim Anderson, Chicago’s shortstop since 2016, became a free agent after the White Sox declined a $14 million option for 2024.

Haseley was 8 for 36 with two RBIs and six runs in 28 games with Chicago last season.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/mlb

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