The New York Mets believe Buck Showalter is the man who will lead the team back to the postseason after a five-year absence. 

Showalter officially took over as Mets manager on Monday, agreeing to a three-year deal. 

Owner Steve Cohen had announced the hire via Twitter on Saturday. 

"Buck has been one of the best baseball minds for the last two decades and he makes teams better,” Cohen said in a release. "We have a lot of talent on this team and Buck is the right manager to take us to the next level and lead us to sustained success. I am excited he is our new manager."

The 65-year-old Showalter has 20 years of experience managing MLB teams, most recently leading the Baltimore Orioles to three postseason appearances during his stint there from 2010-18. 

He previously managed the Texas Rangers (2003-06), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000) and New York Yankees (1992-95). 

A three-time Manager of the Year, Showalter has a career record of 1,551-1,517.

He has twice led teams to the postseason after they had lost more than 90 games the previous years, and the Mets will be hoping for a repeat of that magic after posting just one winning campaign since their last postseason trip in 2016. 

He replaces Luis Rojas, who had his contract option declined after going 103-119 the last two seasons. 

Showalter will be the fifth man to manage the Yankees and Mets, joining Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Dallas Green and Joe Torre.

The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has described the league lockout as a move designed by team owners "to pressure players into relinquishing rights and benefits".

MLB has entered a lockout situation after it could not find agreement on new labour terms with the MLBPA.

This had long been anticipated after months of fruitless negotiations regarding a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) – the deal that governs the working relationship between players and teams.

It means that from Thursday, employees will not be able to work until a new deal is struck, with team officials and players unable to communicate in any way.

A previous strike led by players forced the 1994 World Series to be scrapped and it lasted into 1995, but MLB chiefs are optimistic there will be no such disruption this time.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he hoped the development would serve to "jump-start the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time". The 2022 season is due to begin on March 31.

On its part, the MLBPA declared a determination to strike a deal.

The MLBPA said in a statement: "Major League Baseball has announced a lockout of players, shutting down our industry.

"This shutdown is a dramatic measure, regardless of timing. It is not required by law or for any other reason. It was the owners' choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure players into relinquishing rights and benefits and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not just players, but the game and industry as a whole.

"These tactics are not news. We have been here before, and players have risen to the occasion time and again – guided by solidarity that has been forged over generations. We will do so again here.

"We remain determined to return to the field under the terms of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement that is fair to all parties, and provides fans with the best version of the game we all love."

The shutdown confirmation followed a flurry of high-profile free-agency deals.

Manfred, speaking for MLB, said the players had been inflexible in negotiations, claiming the MLBPA "came to the bargaining table with a strategy of confrontation over compromise". He described the MLBPA's demands as "the most extreme set of proposals in their history".

Seattle Mariners recruit Robbie Ray said he is ready to bring a World Series to the franchise following his unveiling on Wednesday.

After capping a career year with the American League (AL) Cy Young Award, Ray opted to leave the Toronto Blue Jays for the Mariners in free agency.

Ray signed a five-year, $115million contract in Seattle, where the 2017 All-Star will headline their rotation after his breakout year in Toronto.

"This team, the city is hungry for a World Series," Ray said during his introductory news conference midweek – the Mariners have never won the World Series or an AL pennant.

"To be a part of it and bring it back right here, I just wanted to be here."

Ray enjoyed a stellar campaign for the Blue Jays, who narrowly missed out on the MLB playoffs despite a 91-win season.

The 30-year-old boasted a 2.84 ERA – the best among qualifiers in the AL, having come off a 6.62 ERA last year.

Ray – acquired by the Blue Jays in 2020 – led the AL in ERA-plus (154) and WHIP (1.045), while striking out an MLB-best 248 batters in 32 starts.

"It just seemed like a really good fit and we were ready to move forward," Ray said of joining the Mariners. "I mean, it happened really quickly, but we're glad that it did."

"I've always had the mindset of going out and attacking. But it didn't necessarily match up with the delivery," Ray said. "This year, I feel like I really nailed that down and I feel really good about the consistency of the delivery. That consistency, matched with that mindset, I feel like is what allowed me to succeed this year."

Seattle's president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto added: "I think that's one of the main attractions for us is we want to be the team where, when other teams are coming to Seattle to play us, they look at the three pitchers or the four pitchers that are lined up for that series and they say, 'Oh man'".

MLB has entered a lockout for the first time since 1990 after the league and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) failed to reach a new labour agreement.

A lockout had long been anticipated after months of fruitless negotiations regarding a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

After a flurry of high-profile free-agency deals, MLB confirmed a lockout following the expiry of the collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday.

From Thursday, employees will not be able to work until a new deal is struck, with team officials and players unable to communicate in any way.

A players strike forced the 1994 World Series to be scrapped and it lasted into 1995 but that 26-year agreement has now come to an end.

In a letter addressed to fans, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote midweek: "This past season, we were reminded of how the national pastime can bring us together and restore our hope despite the difficult challenges of a global pandemic. As we began to emerge from one of the darkest periods in our history, our ballparks were filled with fans; the games were filled with excitement; and millions of families felt the joy of watching baseball together.

"That is why I am so disappointed about the situation in which our game finds itself today. Despite the league's best efforts to make a deal with the Players Association, we were unable to extend our 26 year-long history of labour peace and come to an agreement with the MLBPA before the current CBA expired. Therefore, we have been forced to commence a lockout of Major League players, effective at 12:01am ET on December 2.

"I want to explain to you how we got here and why we have to take this action today. Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season. We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association's vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It's simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions.

"When we began negotiations over a new agreement, the Players Association already had a contract that they wouldn't trade for any other in sports. Baseball's players have no salary cap and are not subjected to a maximum length or dollar amount on contracts. In fact, only MLB has guaranteed contracts that run 10 or more years, and in excess of $300million. We have not proposed anything that would change these fundamentals. While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is 'broken' – in the month of November $1.7billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x. By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.

"We worked hard to find compromise while making the system even better for players, by addressing concerns raised by the Players Association. We offered to establish a minimum payroll for all clubs to meet for the first time in baseball history; to allow the majority of players to reach free agency earlier through an age-based system that would eliminate any claims of service time manipulation; and to increase compensation for all young players, including increases in the minimum salary. When negotiations lacked momentum, we tried to create some by offering to accept the universal Designated Hitter, to create a new draft system using a lottery similar to other leagues, and to increase the Competitive Balance Tax threshold that affects only a small number of teams.

"We have had challenges before with respect to making labour agreements and have overcome those challenges every single time during my tenure. Regrettably, it appears the Players Association came to the bargaining table with a strategy of confrontation over compromise. They never wavered from collectively the most extreme set of proposals in their history, including significant cuts to the revenue-sharing system, a weakening of the competitive balance tax, and shortening the period of time that players play for their teams. All of these changes would make our game less competitive, not more.

"To be clear: this hard but important step does not necessarily mean games will be cancelled. In fact, we are taking this step now because it accelerates the urgency for an agreement with as much runway as possible to avoid doing damage to the 2022 season. Delaying this process further would only put Spring Training, Opening Day, and the rest of the season further at risk – and we cannot allow an expired agreement to again cause an in-season strike and a missed World Series, like we experienced in 1994. We all owe you, our fans, better than that.

"Today is a difficult day for baseball, but as I have said all year, there is a path to a fair agreement, and we will find it. I do not doubt the League and the Players share a fundamental appreciation for this game and a commitment to its fans. I remain optimistic that both sides will seize the opportunity to work together to grow, protect, and strengthen the game we love. MLB is ready to work around the clock to meet that goal. I urge the Players Association to join us at the table."

The Texas Rangers rolled out an expensive but exciting new era with mega deals for star duo Corey Seager and Marcus Semien on Wednesday.

Texas mean business heading into the 2022 MLB season after splashing out $500million to lure championship winner and World Series MVP Seager, and All-Star Semien to the franchise.

The Rangers gave free agent Seager – a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger with the Los Angeles Dodgers – a 10-year contract worth $325million.

After finishing third in the American League (AL) MVP race following his exploits for the Toronto Blue Jays, Semien signed a seven-year, $175m deal in Texas.

"How can you not be excited about that?" Seager said. "Not only the elite player, but he's an elite person who carries himself well. He's a great team-mate. There's not a bad word that you can say about Marcus.

"To be able to learn from somebody who's that talented and to take little things that he does in this game that I might not and be able to bounce off each other and to be up the middle here for a long time, it’s all very exciting."

Seager led the Dodgers to World Series glory in 2020 with a slash line of .328/.425/.746, while he was .297/.367/.504 as the Los Angeles franchise reached the National League Championship Series (NLCS) before losing to eventual winners the Atlanta Braves in 2021.

The 27-year-old shortstop finished the season with 16 homers and 54 runs on 108 hits, and 57 RBIs.

Semien enjoyed a stunning campaign for the Blue Jays, where he played all 162 games and slashed .265/.334/.538 en route to his first All-Star appearance, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards.

The 31-year-old hit 45 homers – a single-season record for a primary second baseman, to go with 102 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in Toronto.

Semien finished third in AL MVP voting, behind winner Shohei Ohtani and former Blue Jays team-mate Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

"Marcus' reputation around the game is impeccable. He's a leader in every clubhouse he steps into, respected for the way he goes about his work and how he treats others," said Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels.

"There are few players in the game who garner the level of respect that he does from team-mates and opponents alike. We're thrilled to add a player of his calibre to the organisation."

"We feel that Marcus is an excellent fit for the Rangers organisation from a talent, culture, and leadership standpoint," said Rangers executive vice president and general manager Chris Young. "Beyond his ability as a player, Marcus is an outstanding person who leads by example both on and off the field."

Kevin Gausman joined the Toronto Blue Jays to get his hands on a World Series championship, saying "I want to go somewhere and win" following his blockbuster arrival.

The World Series-chasing Blue Jays lost American League (AL) Cy Young winner Robbie Ray in free agency but replaced him with All-Star ace Gausman.

Gausman and the Blue Jays – who heartbreakingly missed out on last season's playoffs despite recording 91 wins – finalised a five-year, $110million contract on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Gausman spent two seasons with the San Francisco Giants, where he played a key role in their franchise-best 107-win campaign in 2021.

 

"It just made sense the closer it got to decision time. This is the team I think I'm going to win the most with," Gausman said on Wednesday.

Gausman ended the regular season with a career-high 2.81 ERA as the Giants claimed the best record in baseball after fending off the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League (NL) West title.

It was San Francisco's first division crown since 2012, with Gausman boasting a career-high 227 strikeouts prior to the playoffs.

Gausman finished the year behind only NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes in Stats Perform's Strike+ metric, which measures which pitchers rack up both whiffs and called strikes.

"I feel more confident in myself now than I ever have in my career," Gausman added.

"It's just about being really good at what you're great at. My command has gotten better, and I just have a better overall feel for who I am and what I need to do to have success."

Gausman has also spent time with the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds in MLB.

"The impact that pitchers like Kevin can have in an organisation beyond the scope of winning is massive," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said midweek.

"His experiences, first and foremost his character, his reputation [are] as strong as they come in baseball. So, all that we would ever ask is for him to be himself."

Max Scherzer is embracing the pressure associated with his blockbuster switch to the New York Mets, who also confirmed the arrivals of Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar.

The Mets caused a splash in MLB free agency after signing future Hall of Famer Scherzer to a mammoth three-year, $130million contract.

Scherzer's $43.3m per season deal is the largest in MLB history as the three-time Cy Young winner prepares to team up with fellow superstar ace and two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.

"The pressure is a privilege, not a problem," World Series winner Scherzer told reporters during his introductory news conference on Wednesday.

Scherzer was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Washington Nationals during the 2021 season, going 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA for both teams – a number only bettered by 2021 National League (NL) Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 37-year-old was third for winning percentage (78.9) last season and fourth for strikeouts (236).

Overall, Scherzer is 190-97 with a 3.16 ERA in his career for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, Nationals and Dodgers.

"I called Jake after our meeting just to get a sense of what New York was like, how he’s feeling and just get a state of where he's at, and came away happy with it," Scherzer said.

"The dream of pitching with him -- we can do some great things together. I've been very fortunate throughout my whole career to have great starting pitchers beside me. I know how powerful that can be when you have guys to feed off of and watch great pitchers."

The Mets, who last won the World Series in 1986, are coming off their fourth losing season in five years after missing the playoffs once again.

"Max is one of the greatest pitchers of this and any generation -- 190 wins, more than 3,000 strikeouts, three Cy Youngs, a World Series ring and he went 15-4 this past season with a 2.46 ERA," said Mets owner Steve Cohen.

"He is a Hall of Famer who knows how to win, and that’s a great quality to add to the clubhouse, too. Now we get to pair Max with one of the other great generational pitchers, Jacob deGrom.

"I told you last year I wanted to win, and I talked about sustained winning and winning championships, and I mean it. And I think the Mets today are closer to that than we were then. We are a better team today than we were two weeks ago."

The Nets also confirmed deals for All-Star outfielder Marte and Canha – both from the Oakland Athletics – and 2021 All-Star Escobar via the Brewers.

"I've had a good relationship with Robinson Cano, and I've always wanted to be his team-mate," Marte said. "I have a lot of family in New York and I felt like it was the right time for me to take on this opportunity."

"When I saw those names, I was like, 'OK, we're cooking a little bit now,'" Canha said.

Wander Franco wants to bring a World Series title to the Tampa Bay Rays following his record-setting contract extension with the MLB franchise.

Franco finalised a mouth-watering 11-year, $182million contract in Tampa, where the deal includes a club option for the 2033 season, on Saturday.

It is the largest financial commitment to a player in the Rays' 24-year history, while it is also the biggest deal in MLB history for a player with less than a year of major league service time.

Franco, who made his debut in June, enjoyed a remarkable season after recording a 43-game on-base streak to tie Cincinnati's Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest in MLB history among player aged under 21.

The 20-year-old shortstop helped the Rays win the American League (AL) East – Tampa Bay clinching back-to-back titles for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 victories before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS).

"I'm really happy for this opportunity, and the one thing I want to do is bring a championship to the organisation," Franco said during Monday's news conference as the Rays target a maiden World Series championship.

"With this, I can help my family and have nothing in my mind when I'm playing on the field … and be happy with this opportunity."

Franco also finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting after slashing .288/.347/.463 with 18 doubles, five triples and seven home runs in 2021.

"The Rays have given me the support that I need, the development, the people that they have here," Franco said. "I wish to stay here for my whole career."

Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander added: "The chance for a homegrown star to be with the club for the foreseeable future, that in and of itself is a really big deal.

"Our on-field goal is to win a World Series, and as we've said many times over now, our desired approach to making that happen is to be as competitive as possible in as many years as possible.

"This commitment certainly increases our confidence that we're going to continue to be competitive and eventually be that last team standing."

Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz are among the newcomers on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2022, which was announced Monday by the Hall.

Their arrival coupled with 2022 being the last year on the ballot for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens guarantees questions about how the game should grapple with the legacy of performance-enhancing drugs will remain at the forefront for another election cycle.

Ten-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) can vote for up to 10 of the 30 players on this year's ballot, and a candidate must receive at least 75 per cent of the votes to be elected. Results will be announced on January 25. 

The BBWAA did not elect anyone last year, with Curt Schilling coming the closest at 71.1 per cent followed by Bonds (61.8) and Clemens (61.6). 

All three will be in their 10th and final year on the writers' ballot, along with Sammy Sosa. 

Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have seen their candidacies stall thanks in part to long-standing rumours of PED use, and Rodriguez and Ortiz could face similar hurdles. 

Unlike the others, Rodriguez was suspended for violating MLB's drug policy, missing the entire 2014 season, while Ortiz reportedly was among the players who tested positive during unofficial survey testing in 2003. 

Voters will have to weigh that against their impressive on-field accomplishments. Rodriguez is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen, a three-time American League MVP and 14-time All-Star whose 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs rank fourth in baseball history. 

Ortiz was a 10-time All-Star who led the Boston Red Sox to three World Series titles after a decades-long drought for the franchise and remains one of the most beloved figures of his era. 

Other first-time players on the 2022 ballot include longtime first baseman Mark Teixeira, 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins, 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau, 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy and the man who won that award the next two seasons, Tim Lincecum. 

Closers Joe Nathan and Jonathan Papelbon, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, speedy outfielder Carl Crawford and slugger Prince Fielder also are on the ballot for the first time.

Players must get at least five per cent of the vote each year to remain on the ballot for the following election. 

Other holdovers from previous ballots back this year include Scott Rolen (52.9 per cent last year), Omar Vizquel (49.1), Billy Wagner (46.4), Todd Helton (44.9) and Gary Sheffield (40.6). 

After a pair of frustrating seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani was finally healthy in 2021, and he answered every challenge put before him on the way to an MVP season. 

The two-way sensation was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player on Thursday – early Friday in Japan – on the heels of a season that saw him perform feats that left fans and peers alike in awe. 

Ohtani easily led MLB players in WAR (wins above replacement) at 9.1 as he finished third in the majors with 46 home runs while also striking out 156 batters in 130.1 innings in 23 starts as a pitcher. 

The latter was especially impressive considering Ohtani pitched only 1.2 innings the previous two seasons combined as he recovered from elbow surgery, but the 27-year-old handled the workload with relative ease this season. 

"It was definitely challenging, but at the same time I had a lot of fun with it,” Ohtani told reporters through an interpreter on a conference call.

"I felt like the expectations from the team were very high and I wanted to do my best to try to answer those expectations."

He added: "I’ve always dealt with a lot of doubters, especially from my days in Japan. I tried to not let that pressure get to me. I just wanted to have fun and see what kind of numbers I could put up, and what kind of performance I could put up." 

After the voting results were announced Thursday, with Ohtani easily outdistancing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien to win, former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia tweeted that the two-way star is the "BEST PLAYER I'VE EVER SEEN". 

Ohtani's Angels team-mate Mike Trout, the last unanimous AL MVP in 2014, also lauded his friend's performance. 

"Shohei’s season was nothing short of electric," Trout said in a statement released by the team. "At times, I felt like I was back in Little League. To watch a player throw eight innings, hit a home run, steal a base and then go play right field was incredible.

"What impresses me the most about him though, is the way he carries himself both on and off the field. With so much on his plate daily, he still manages to do it with a smile. Congratulations Shohei!"

Angels manager Joe Maddon added in a statement: "Shohei came to the States to play among the best on both sides of the ball and he accomplished that mission on the highest level

"Knowing him, this award is going to serve as motivation to exceed his previous accomplishments. I cannot wait to watch how his game helps push us to our goal of playing in the last game of the season and winning it. Congratulations to Shohei and his entire family on this special honour."

The best news for Maddon and the Angels is that Ohtani is under team control for the next two seasons, and is set to play 2022 on a team-friendly salary of $5.5million. 

Ohtani brushed off a question from reporters about a possible contract extension Thursday but made it clear how he feels about his team. 

"This is not the time to talk about contract stuff, but I want to make it clear that I love the Angels organisation and am looking forward to being a big part of the team for a long time," he said. "Right now I want to focus on winning next season with the Angels."

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player for 2021, while Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies took home the National League award. 

It was the first time since 1987 neither league's MVP appeared in the postseason, but Ohtani and Harper were rewarded for their overall dominance. 

The 27-year-old Ohtani electrified baseball with an all-round game not seen in the 100 years since Babe Ruth gave up pitching to focus on hitting full-time and was the runaway winner in voting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. 

Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes for a total of 420 points. Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. received all but one second-place vote as he compiled 269 points, and Marcus Semien of the Toronto Blue Jays was third with 232 points. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (171 points) and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros (163) were next in the voting. 

Ohtani hit .257 with 46 home runs and an MLB-leading eight triples and also stole 26 bases while posting a .865 on base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

He was also dominant at times as a pitcher, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts while striking out 156 in 130.1 innings. 

Harper received 348 points, taking 17 of the 30 first-place votes. Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals was second with 274 points and six first-place votes, while Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres was third with 244 points and two first-place votes.

Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants (213, four) and Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers (185, one) rounded out the top five. 

Harper, 29, led the majors with a 1.044 OPS as he hit .309 with 35 home runs and an MLB-best 42 doubles.

He also won the NL MVP award in 2015 while playing for the Washington Nationals. 

 

The Cleveland Indians will officially become the Cleveland Guardians on Friday as the MLB franchise usher in a new era.

Known as the Indians since 1915, the organisation announced in December 2020 that they were to begin the search for a new nickname, having held discussions with a number of different groups, including the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and the National Congress of American Indians.

Guardians was announced as the choice through a video in July, though the red, white and navy colour scheme will remain, and the team will begin the transition following Wednesday's announcement.

From Friday, Cleveland's name will switch to the Guardians on all their social media platforms, while new merchandise will be released at Progressive Field.

At the time of the announcement of the name change, team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said: "Hearing first-hand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them.

"We also spoke to local civic leaders who represent diverse populations in our city and who highlighted the negative impact our team name has had on our broader population and on under-represented groups across our community.

"I am truly grateful for their engagement and input, which I found enlightening and insightful. When a sports team is aligned with its community, it unlocks the ability to unite people from different backgrounds and bring people together in support of their home team.

"While Indians will always be a part of our history, it is time to move forward and work to unify our stakeholders and fans through a new name."

World Series champions in 1920 and 1948, the Indians failed to reach the playoffs in 2021.

Toronto Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray capped his career year with the American League (AL) Cy Young Award, while Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes was the National League (NL) winner.

Ray was rewarded for his fine season in Toronto, where the Blue Jays narrowly missed out on the MLB playoffs despite a 91-win campaign.

The 2017 All-Star boasted a 2.84 ERA – the best among qualifiers in the AL, having come off a 6.62 ERA last year.

Ray – acquired by the Blue Jays in 2020 – led the AL in ERA-plus (154) and WHIP (1.045), while striking out an MLB-best 248 batters in 32 starts.

It is the fifth time a Blue Jays pitcher has claimed the AL Cy Young and the first since Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in 2003, while Ray is just the ninth pitcher in history to earn the top honour heading into free agency.

In the NL, Milwaukee's Burnes reigned supreme after starring for the Brewers, who lost to eventual World Series champions the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

Burnes ended the season as the leader in ERA (2.43), strikeout rate (35.6), strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.88), fielding independent pitching (1.63) and barrel rate (2.9 per cent).

The right-hander – Milwaukee's first Cy Young winner since Pete Vuckovich in 1982 – had started the season by striking out a record 58 batters before issuing his first walk.

San Francisco Giants boss Gabe Kapler and Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays were named Managers of the Year for 2021 in MLB.

Kapler scooped National League (NL) honours after leading the Giants to a franchise-record 107-win season and the best winning percentage (66.0) since 1913.

The 46-year-old guided the Giants to their first NL West title since 2012, dethroning the Los Angeles Dodgers before losing to their rivals in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

Prior to Kapler – who signed a contract extension through to 2024 – the only other Giants manager to win the award was Dusty Baker in 1993, 1997 and 2000, having held off Milwaukee Brewers skipper Craig Counsell and former St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt.

Cash, meanwhile, became the first American League (AL) manager to receive the award in back-to-back seasons.

Tampa Bay's Cash – in his seventh season as manager – beat out Baker of the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais.

The Rays clinched back-to-back AL East title for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 victories before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS).

Tampa Bay Rays star Randy Arozarena and Cincinnati Reds sensation Jonathan India were named MLB's Rookies of the Year for 2021.

Rays outfielder Arozarena scooped American League (AL) honours after beating out team-mate Wander Franco and Luis Garcia of the Houston Astros on Monday.

Arozarena led all rookies with a 4.1 WAR while compiling a .815 OPS as he hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases – the 26-year-old becoming the third rookie in the last decade to compile a 20-20 campaign.

After helping the Rays clinch back-to-back AL East titles for the first time in franchise history with a record 100 wins before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series (ALDS), Arozarena became the fourth Tampa Bay player to win the Rookie of the Year.

"I know last year I had a pretty good year – a great year, actually," Arozarena said. "I know I was the favourite to be the Rookie of the Year this year. But my mind wasn't set on winning the award.

"My goal was to have another good year. There has been a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifices along the way, and the results at the end of the year made it a well-deserved prize."

In the National League (NL), Cincinnati second baseman India claimed the ROTY prize.

The 24-year-old India edged Miami Marlins left-hander Trevor Rodgers and Dylan Carlson of the St Louis Cardinals to the award.

India – the eighth Reds player to receive the honour – led all MLB rookies in on-base percentage (.376), doubles (34), walks (71), runs scored (98) and games played (150), while ranking second in OPS (.835).

"I said at the beginning of the year this was my goal, my personal goal," said India, who became the first Reds second baseman to debut on Opening Day since 1963. "I don't set many personal goals for myself. I just had a feeling this was what I wanted."

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