The Chicago Cubs have announced the acquisition of 2021 World Series champion Drew Smyly on a one-year contract with an option for 2023.

Smyly joins the Cubs from the Atlanta Braves on a deal worth $5.25million with the potential to earn an additional $2.5m in bonuses, according to ESPN.

The 32-year-old left-handed pitcher won the World Series with the Braves last season where he pitched twice, allowing three runs over four innings against the Houston Astros.

Smyly went 11-4 with a 4.48 ERA in 29 appearances (23 starts) for the Braves last season.

The former Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Braves pitcher is 46-39 with a 4.18 ERA across his MLB career.

The Cubs, who finished 71-91 last season, also confirmed one-year agreements with left-hander Daniel Norris and infielder Jonathan Villar.

Five-time All-Star Freddie Freeman will leave the reigning world champion Atlanta Braves for the Los Angeles Dodgers on a bumper multi-year deal according to ESPN.

The 2020 National League (NL) MVP has agreed to a six-year, $162million deal with the Dodgers after reaching free agency for the first time in his career.

The 32-year-old has spent his whole professional career with the Braves dating back to 2007, before guiding them to their first World Series triumph since 1995 last year.

California-native Freeman hit .300 with 31 home runs, 83 RBIs and a NL-best 120 runs in their triumphant 2021 MLB season.

The Dodgers' blockbuster move for Freeman follows lucrative deals for Trevor Bauer in 2021 and Mookie Betts in 2020.

Freeman had rejected the Braves' qualifying offer after his contract expired following the World Series triumph, before becoming a free agent in November.

The Braves had signed Matt Olson earlier this week on an eight-year deal, making Freeman's exit more probable, with the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees also pursuing him.

The Dodgers are yet to confirm the deal with the move subject to Freeman completing a physical.

"Did that really happen?" Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Thursday. "Once Atlanta made that deal for Olson, it kind of came to pass. We're a much better ball club today than we were yesterday."

Four-time All-Star Kris Bryant and the Colorado Rockies have agreed to a seven-year $182million contract according to reports.

The 2016 World Series champion and 2016 National League (NL) MVP will join the Rockies after being traded to the San Francisco Giants from the Chicago Cubs in July last year.

The 30-year-old third baseman hit a combined .265 with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs last season for both the Cubs and Giants, earning All-Star selection for the fourth time.

Bryant also had eight hits in the Giants' National League Division Series 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Rockies missed the postseason after a 74-87 season where they finished fourth in the NL West as they embarked on a roster upheaval. The bumper multi-year deal reportedly includes a no-trade clause.

San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr had surgery on his broken left wrist on Wednesday, and is expected to be out of action for three months.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller said the team believes Tatis sustained the injury early in the off-season, but that he only started noticing the symptoms when he started swinging a bat again.

While it has not been confirmed by the organisation, there were reports that Tatis was involved in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic in December.

Tatis, 23, is entering the second year of his 14-year, $340million deal after an incredible start to his career.

Despite missing time in 2021 due to left shoulder inflammation, Tatis still managed to lead the National League with 42 home runs in just 130 games.

He hit .282, stole 25 bases and had the league's third-highest OPS at .975, finishing the year third in the NL in MVP voting.

Zack Greinke is returning to where he started his major league career, agreeing to a one-year, $13 million contract with the Kansas City Royals, pending a physical, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The Royals selected Greinke with the sixth overall pick of the 2002 draft and he made his MLB debut for the club two years later.

Spending his first seven seasons in Kansas City, Greinke won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award with a league-leading 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 229 1/3 innings.

Pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, he won his second ERA title, recording a 1.66 ERA, and finished second in NL Cy Young voting.

The 38-year-old, who has been selected to six All-Star Games and has won six Gold Gloves, has also pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks and spent the last three seasons with the Houston Astros.

In 29 starts and one appearance out of the bullpen last season, the right-hander went 11-6 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in a team-leading 171 innings.

The ERA and WHIP were both his highest since 2016, when he posted a 4.37 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his first season for Arizona.

He ranks 23rd on the all-time strikeout list with 2,809 and third behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander among active pitchers, but his strikeout rate of 6.32 per nine innings last season was his lowest since it was at 5.61 during his second year in the majors in 2005.

The Chicago Cubs owners, the Ricketts family, and billionaire hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin have partnered together to launch a bid to buy Chelsea.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich, who has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, is attempting to sell the Premier League club.

The deadline for bids is expected to be Friday, with a plethora of investors interested – including British billionaire and boyhood Blues fan Nick Candy.

The Ricketts family, who became major shareholders of Major League Baseball's Cubs in 2009, have reportedly combined with American Griffin to form a consortium capable of taking over at Stamford Bridge.

A widely reported statement from the Ricketts family on Wednesday confirmed their role in the bid and added: "As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts Family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community.

"We look forward to sharing further details of our plans in due course."

The Cubs' owners have overseen an impressive period of success at the franchise, both on and off the field.

Chicago ended a 108-year wait for World Series success in 2016 and completed a $1billion renovation of home ground Wrigley Field, a project which is thought to appeal to Chelsea fans demanding improvements to Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich, whose 19-year tenure at the London club is soon set to come to an end, had his British assets – including Chelsea – frozen last week and was disqualified as director of the club.

The Russian has owned Chelsea since 2003, with the club claiming 21 trophies during his spell at the helm.

 

 

The reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves appear to be moving on from free agent and fan favourite Freddie Freeman at first base, having acquired Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics on Monday.

The Braves are sending four prospects – outfielder Cristian Pache, catcher Shea Langeliers and right-handed pitchers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes – to Oakland in return for the left-handed slugger.

The 27-year-old Olson, who was raised in the Atlanta suburbs, enjoyed a breakout season in 2021 and was named to his first All-Star Game, leading the A's in homers (39), doubles (35), RBIs (111) and OPS (.911).

Since his first full season in the majors in 2017, his 142 home runs are tied with Mike Trout for 10th in MLB.

The addition of Olson signals that the Braves will be moving on from Freeman, who has spent his entire 12-year career in Atlanta, culminating with a World Series championship last November.

A five-time All-Star and the 2020 National League MVP, the 32-year-old Freeman is a career .295-hitter and ranks sixth on the Braves all-time home run list with 271 and third in doubles with 367.

All-Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. could be sidelined up to three months with a fractured left wrist that will likely require surgery, San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller said on Monday.

The 23-year-old Tatis hurt his wrist earlier in the offseason, according to Preller, and the injury reappeared when he intensified baseball activities leading up to the start of spring training.

The injury is a major let-down for one of the brightest young stars in baseball on a Padres team hoping to make a return to the playoffs in 2022 after collapsing down the stretch last season, finishing 79-83.

Despite missing time in 2021 due to left shoulder inflammation, Tatis still managed to lead the National League with 42 home runs in just 130 games.

He hit .282, stole 25 bases and had the league's third-highest OPS at .975, finishing the year third in the NL in MVP voting.

The Padres are scheduled to begin the season on April 7 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and will play their home opener a week later against the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves.

Three-time Cy Young award winner and former NL MVP Clayton Kershaw has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $17million.

First reported by The Athletic, the deal means the future Hall of Famer – who turns 34 later this month – will return to the Dodgers for the 15th consecutive season, keeping Kershaw as a one-club player as he enters the tail-end of his prime years.

The deal is still pending a physical, which may play a factor if the elbow injury that forced Kershaw to miss the end of the 2021 season – including the postseason – remains an issue.

However, no team will have a better idea about the health of Kershaw than the Dodgers, suggesting it is exceedingly unlikely that anything would show up on the physical with the potential to torpedo the deal.

It was not a rushed decision from the Los Angeles ball club, as they opted not to tender Kershaw's $18.4m qualifying offer following the World Series, allowing more time to gather information and come to a decision.

 

The Chicago Cubs have re-signed manager and former World Series hero David Ross for at least two more seasons after two relatively positive campaigns under his watch.

Ross, who guided the Cubs to a division win with a 34-26 record in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, had different expectations this past season after the organisation opted to trade star players Kris Bryant, Javi Baez and Anthony Rizzo with an eye towards the future.

With a slew of young prospects, and plenty to prove, bookmakers have the Cubs at 100-1 to win the next World Series, indicating that Ross' extension will hopefully provide stability and a consistent voice throughout this rebuild.

The two-year extension through 2024 also includes a third-year team option, which means the organisation can tack on an extra year if things are trending in the right direction.

Ross finished his playing career with the Cubs, hitting a home run in game seven of the 2016 World Series to help break a 108-year championship drought for the franchise.

Major League Baseball has announced an agreement with the MLB Players Association that will end baseball's lockout in time for the 2022 regular season to start on April 7.

A full 162-game schedule is to be played this year after a new collective bargaining agreement was belatedly secured.

MLB had previously cancelled Opening Day and then games up until April 14 as part of the lockout, vowing a shortened season would be the result, with players not compensated for lost games.

Finally, though, on Thursday, the two sides came to terms on a deal that was ratified by owners in a unanimous 30-0 vote and sets the new season in motion.

And the four series that had been removed from the calendar will now be rescheduled.

Detailed the new CBA, MLB said: "The new five-year CBA includes increased minimum salaries, a new pre-arbitration bonus pool to reward the top young players in the game, a raise in competitive balance tax thresholds, the introduction of a universal designated hitter, the widest-ranging Draft lottery in pro sports, a system to prevent alleged service-time manipulation and limits on the number of times a player can be optioned in a season to address concerns regarding 'roster churn'.

"The deal also includes an expanded 12-team postseason format, bringing playoff baseball to two additional markets each year."

Commissioner Rob Manfred said of the news: "I am genuinely thrilled to say Major League Baseball is back and we're going to play 162 games.

"I want to start by apologising to our fans. I know the last few months have been difficult."

The MLB has cancelled games until April 14 as the league's lockout goes on, with the decision criticised as "completely unnecessary" by the players' association.

The owners and players have still to reach a resolution on a new collective bargaining agreement, with MLB enduring the ninth work stoppage in its history, which has already seen Opening Day cancelled.

In a statement on Wednesday, commissioner Rob Manfred said: "In a last-ditch effort to preserve a 162-game season, this week we have made good-faith proposals that address the specific concerns voiced by the MLBPA and would have allowed the players to return to the field immediately. 

"The Clubs went to extraordinary lengths to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA. On the key economic issues that have posed stumbling blocks, the Clubs proposed ways to bridge gaps to preserve a full schedule. Regrettably, after our second late-night bargaining session in a week, we remain without a deal.

"Because of the logistical realities of the calendar, another two series are being removed from the schedule, meaning that Opening Day is postponed until April 14th. 

"We worked hard to reach an agreement and offered a fair deal with significant improvements for the players and our fans. I am saddened by this situation's continued impact on our game and all those who are a part of it, especially our loyal fans.

"We have the utmost respect for our players and hope they will ultimately choose to accept the fair agreement they have been offered."

In response, the MLBPA said: "The owners' decision to cancel additional games is completely unnecessary.

"After making a set of comprehensive proposals to the league earlier this afternoon [Wednesday], and being told substantive responses were forthcoming, players have yet to hear back.

"Players want to play, and we cannot wait to get back on the field for the best fans in the world.

"Our top priority remains the finalisation of a fair contract for all players, and we will continue negotiations toward that end."

Among the key monetary issues being discussed are the scale of a Competitive Balance Tax, minimum salaries and bonus pool money for pre-arbitration players.

Player salaries have dropped four per cent since 2015, when Manfred became commissioner.

Players stand to lose $20.5million in salary for every day of the season that is cancelled.

Major League Baseball's Players Association (MLBPA) announced on Friday it will set up a $1million fund to help employees affected by the labour dispute that has delayed the start of the 2022 season.

The support program, which will be overseen by the MLBPA in conjunction with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), is designed to provide financial assistance for stadium workers and other employees who may endure hardship by owners' lockout and cancellation of games.

"There are a lot of people who make our game great. Many aren't seen or heard, but they are vital to the entertainment experience of our games," MLBPA executive board leaders Andrew Miller and Max Scherzer said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, they will also be among those affected by the owner-imposed lockout and the cancellation of games. Through this fund, we want to let them know that they have our support."

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Tuesday that the league has cancelled all games scheduled for the first week of the upcoming season due to the current impasse in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. It's the first work stoppage since the players' strike in 1994-95 that wiped out the 1994 World Series.

The MLPA added that it will work with the AFL-CIO in the coming weeks to determine which areas will be most impacted by the stoppage and outline a plan to distribute its resources to where they will be most needed.

"Whether you're a worker on the baseball field, or a worker behind the scenes, we all deserve respect and dignity on the job," AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler said. "The labour movement will do everything in our power to support these and all workers."

The owners imposed the current lockout on Dec. 2 following the expiration of the previous CBA, and Manfred announced an agreement would need to be reached by Tuesday in order to prevent a delay to the season's start. The two sides met extensively in Florida earlier this week, but remain at odds on key economic elements to prevent a deal from being reached.

Talks broke off between the two parties following Tuesday's deadline, and no decision has yet been made as to when negotiations will resume.

The 2022 MLB season will not start on time after owners and players failed to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

A deadline of 17:00 eastern time on Tuesday had been set by management, yet no deal was stuck.

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the first two series of the season were cancelled as the players remain locked out in an ongoing and bitter labour dispute.

"I had hoped against hope I wouldn't have to have this press conference where I am going to cancel some regular-season games," Manfred said on Tuesday.

"We worked hard to avoid an outcome that's bad for our fans, bad for our players and bad for our clubs.”

The MLB Players' Association issued a statement less than an hour after Manfred spoke, saying that players and fans worldwide are "disgusted, but sadly not surprised."

"What Rob Manfred characterized as a 'defensive lockout' is, in fact, the culmination of a decades-long attempt by owners to break our Player fraternity," the statement said.

"As in the past, this effort will fail."

The sides did make some progress, however, negotiating for over 16 hours on Monday before management made its "best and final offer" on Tuesday, the ninth straight day of meetings.

The players' union rejected that offer, and the owners followed through on their threat to cancel games.

Only the first week of games have been officially cancelled, so MLB could salvage a 156-game season starting on April 8 if a deal is made in the coming days, but the two sides remain divided with no imminent resolution in sight.

The players have yet to accept any cancellation and could try to negotiate for the unlikely result of rescheduled games. Manfred explained that the league will not compensate players for any cancelled games.

Among the key monetary issues still being discussed are the scale of a Competitive Balance Tax, minimum salaries and bonus pool money for pre-arbitration players.

Player salaries have dropped four per cent since 2015, when Manfred became commissioner.

Manfred – along with players' union leader Tony Clark – are likely to receive the ire of fans as baseball will have a shortened season for the second time in three years. The 2020 campaign was shortened to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Players stand to lose $20.5million in salary for every day of the season that is cancelled.

Major League Baseball has extended a deadline for talks with the MLB Players Association, which had been set for Monday.

MLB warned last week the 2022 season would be shortened and players would not be compensated if there was no new collective bargaining agreement by the end of February.

However, as talks continued between the league and the union into Tuesday, there was still hope such an outcome could be avoided.

"We want to exhaust every possibility to get a deal done," a league spokesperson said, with Tuesday now seen as the key day in negotiations.

Reports claim MLB has made a move towards MLBPA's demands in terms of the luxury tax threshold, minimum salary and bonus pool without yet meeting them.

Plans for further talks on Tuesday would suggest there is room for further movement as the two sides seek an end to the lockout.

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