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."

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler signed a new contract, the MLB franchise announced on Friday.

The Giants rewarded Kapler with a deal through until 2024 after leading the team to a franchise-best 107-win season.

Kapler's two-year extension comes after completing his second season with a 107-55 record before losing to rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series (NLDS).

The 46-year-old guided the Giants to their first National League (NL) West title since 2012.

Kapler was hired as Giants manager in November 2019 on a three-year deal, replacing Bruce Bochy following his retirement.

"Gabe has done an extraordinary job in his role as field manager over the past two seasons, is a key contributor to our front office, and the Giants organisation takes great pride in his active engagement with the community," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a statement.

"Coming off a season in which his work and leadership were instrumental to our success, it was a high priority for us to provide a level of stability and certainty to our continued partnership. We're thrilled about today's announcement."

He is 136-86 in his two seasons with the Giants, who surprisingly beat the Dodgers to the NL West crown in 2021.

Kapler, who also previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies and had a journeyman playing career, was delighted to ink the extension.

"There is nowhere I'd rather be, and I am excited to continue preparing with the entire organisation," he said.

Kapler is a National League (NL) Manager of the Year finalist alongside the Milwaukee Brewers' Craig Counsell and the St Louis Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt.

Clayton Kershaw will "always have a spot" on the Dodgers if he wants to remain in Los Angeles next season, says team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. 

Drafted out of high school by the Dodgers in 2006, Kershaw has spent his entire career with the franchise but is a free agent this offseason after the team declined to issue him a qualifying offer for 2022. 

That decision was not a surprise, as forearm problems caused Kershaw to miss more than two months during the regular season and the entire postseason. 

But Friedman told reporters on Tuesday that move should not be seen as a sign that the door is closed. 

"We've been very outspoken that we really want Kersh to come back, not only what he's meant to us looking back, but also what we think he will mean for us looking forward," Friedman said at the MLB general managers' meetings in California, via ESPN. 

"That being said - just like every free agent, but Kersh even a little bit more so - he has earned the right to be in this position and figure out what's best for him and his family.

"So there's like a personal and a professional tug of war for me. Professionally I really hope he's back, personally I want them to do what makes the most sense for their family, and we'll figure out what that means."

Kershaw wrapped up a three-year, $93million contract this season, and the Dallas-area native's hometown Texas Rangers are expected to make a strong push to sign him. 

The 33-year-old went 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 121.2 innings this season, the ERA representing the second-worst of his career ahead of only a 4.26 as a rookie in 2008. 

Kershaw has a 185-84 career record with 2,670 strikeouts and a 2.49 ERA, winning three Cy Young Awards and eight All-Star selections along the way in addition to the 2014 National League MVP award. 

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers declined to extend a qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw as the veteran ace prepares to enter free agency amid uncertainty over his MLB future.

Kershaw, who did not pitch in the MLB playoffs as the Dodgers lost to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) due to the recurrence of a forearm problem, has spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles.

The World Series champion and three-time Cy Young Award winner is a free agent following the conclusion of his three-year, $93million contract with the Dodgers.

While the Dodgers lodged offers to free agent All-Stars Corey Seager and Chris Taylor prior to Sunday's deadline – worth $18.4m for one year – there was none forthcoming for future Hall of Famer Kershaw.

However, the Dodgers are reportedly still keen on bringing Kershaw back to LA for at least one more season as both parties take time to determine the 33-year-old's health.

Kershaw – an eight-time All-Star and 2014 NL MVP – made his debut for the Dodgers in 2008.

In 2021, Kershaw finished with a 3.55 ERA, the worst of his illustrious career since his rookie year (4.26) with the Dodgers.

Kershaw had a 10-8 record this season with 144 strikeouts in 121.2 innings pitched.

Overall, Kershaw has a 185-84 win-loss record with 2,670 strikeouts and a career 2.49 ERA.

San Francisco Giants great Buster Posey surprisingly called time on his illustrious MLB career on Thursday.

Posey enjoyed a resurgence in 2021, helping the Giants to a franchise-record 107 wins and their first National League (NL) West title since 2012 before falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

The three-time World Series champion and seven-time All-Star, who opted out of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, was among a number of Giants players to enjoy a rejuvenation this term.

Posey boasted his best SLG (.499) and OPS (.889) since the Giants were crowned world champions in 2012, while the 34-year-old's 18 home runs were his most since his 19-homer campaign six years ago.

However, the future Hall of Famer – the first catcher in MLB history to hit .300 or better in his final year – announced his retirement, citing family and the physical toll of the game.

"I want to do more stuff from February to November with family," Posey – the 2012 NL MVP – said in a news conference. "Physically, it's much harder now. It's hard to enjoy it as much when there is physical pain that you're dealing with.

"It was getting to the point that things that I was enjoying were not as joyful anymore."

"I've been blessed to play in a league that has the most talented baseball players in the world," Posey added. "It's a fraternity that I've watched from afar from the time I was five years old until I arrived in September 2009.

"And one of the greatest benefits that comes along with that is that you get to meet a lot of great teammates that have a lot of similar interests as you do. ... I feel very fortunate to have made some of those friendships over the years. I look forward to them lasting for years to come."

Posey said: "The last week to 10 days I've been thinking, 'How do you thank a fan base?' And the Giants fan base is more than just fans, it's a community. And that sense of community is something we as players could feel in the ballpark when we took the field each night.

"I also hope it's worked the other way -- I hope over the years that you've been able to see that our team has a sense of pride that we've all taken in coming together each night and each day, working hard with a common goal and pushing each other along the way."

Jorge Soler says the Atlanta Braves gave him the instant welcome he needed following his mid-season trade from the Kansas City Royals before going on to win the World Series MVP on Tuesday.

Soler, who was traded to the Braves in July, hit three home runs across the six games in the World Series, including a three-run go-ahead blast in the decisive 7-0 Game 6 win over the Houston Astros to earn the MVP.

The 29-year-old Cuban's three home runs were all go-ahead blasts, becoming only the sixth player in history to achieve the feat in a World Series, joining Babe Ruth (1926), Lou Gehrig (1928), Gene Tenace (1972), Curtis Granderson (2015) and George Springer (2017).

Soler had struggled earlier in the season with the Royals, hitting at .192 with 13 home runs, 37 RBIs and 59 hits across 94 games.

Following his switch to Atlanta, Soler hit at .269 with 14 home runs, 33 RBIs and 56 hits in 55 regular season games, before an explosive postseason.

Soler, who missed the National League Championship Series due to COVID-19, hit at .242 across the postseason, headlined by his three home runs and six RBIs in the World Series, hitting at .300.

"I was traded over here, and it was challenging at first," Soler told reporters after the game when asked about his form turnaround. "I felt a little out of my comfort zone. I didn't really know people.

"Everyone in that clubhouse welcomed me in, and it felt instantly, after a little while, just like a family. It's top to bottom, from the entire organisation since I joined, I always felt extremely welcome here."

Soler becomes only the second Cuban to win the World Series MVP, following Livan Hernandez with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

"[Winning MVP] means a lot to me, to my family, to the organisation," Soler said. "It's something really special."

Soler also posted a slugging percentage of .800 against the Astros in the World Series, earning praise from manager Brian Snitker.

"He's been swinging the bat so good," Snitker said. "This whole World Series. Even just the walks he was taking were really big."

While the pain of World Series is still raw, Dusty Baker said the hurting Houston Astros will use it as a source of motivation to go one step further in MLB next season.

The Astros were unable to stop the red-hot Atlanta Braves, who clinched their first World Series title since 1995 with a 7-0 rout in Houston on Tuesday.

Houston needed to win Game 6 on home soil to force a championship decider, but there was no denying the Braves – who were fuelled by home runs from World Series MVP Jorge Soler, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman.

The Astros – who were featuring in their third World Series in five years – and their big hitters were unable to get going, with postseason experts Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa blanked by Atlanta.

After a 4-2 series loss, veteran Astros manager Baker said: "Yeah, it's tough, but you know something? You've got to keep on trucking, and that gives you even more incentive next year.

"It's tough to take now, but this too shall pass. I mean, it really hurts, but it's over."

 

It could be an end of an era for the Astros, with World Series-winning star Correa set to enter free agency.

The Astros have already lost Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) and George Springer (Toronto Blue Jays) in free agency over the past two years and the departure of two-time All-Star Correa looms large.

Veteran pitchers Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are also soon-to-be free agents.

"I was just thinking this is crazy how you spend — and you give your life and everything you have to an organisation and then one day you don't belong to the organisation anymore just in a matter of seconds," the 27-year-old Correa said post-game.

"So it's obviously tough to process."

"I hope it's not, that it's not over yet," Baker said of Correa, who debuted for the Astros in 2015. "He's a professional. He's a real leader. ... He doesn't give an alibi or any excuses. He just comes out and plays the game the way he's supposed to play it."

Baker added: "I can tell how our guys gravitate towards him. I can tell even how the opposition always shows respect for him, especially when they're around second base. ... He just plays the game the way it should be played."

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker and star Freddie Freeman lauded the team's resilience in overcoming obstacles on the road to winning their first World Series since 1995.

The Braves claimed the best-of-seven World Series 4-2 thanks to a 7-0 win over the Houston Astros in Game 6, becoming the eighth side in a row to clinch the title away from home.

The triumph is Atlanta's first championship in 26 years, while it comes after they lost star outfield Ronaldo Acuna Jr. in July due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury along with starting pitcher Charlie Morton to a fractured fibula in Game 1 of the World Series.

Atlanta had off-field issues too, with two-time All-Star Marcell Ozuna placed on the commissioner's exempt list after being arrested and charged with aggravated assault in May.

The Braves traded in Alex Duvall and acquired Joc Pederson in July, with both hitting three home runs during the postseason, along with 10 and nine RBIs respectively.

"These guys never gave up on themselves. We used a lot of guys," Snitker said during the post-game ceremony.

"We lost a lot of pieces over the course of the summer. It was just the next man up. These guys never stopped believing in themselves.

"They never stopped working. I've got a rock star coaching staff that make sure these guys stay consistent every day. They always played the game the way you're supposed to play it."

Freeman, who has been with the Braves since 2010 and won last season's National League (NL) MVP, hailed the side's resilience.

"I think the most gratifying thing is this team, we hit every pothole, every bump that could've happened this year," Freeman said. "Injuries, everything that could've gone wrong. We overcame every single one of those things.

"This group came very single day, prepared and worked and worked and worked and ended up world champions."

Freeman, who padded the lead with a seventh-inning solo home run, added: "This is what you dream about every single year. You come to spring training wanting this to happen and it happened this year.

"It means everything. We've been waiting for a championship in this city for a long time. I'm glad we delivered it."

Snitker has spent all of his 45 seasons in professional baseball with the Braves, including the past six years as manager.

"It takes a lot to make this happen," Snitker said. "I'm very proud of our organisation and this club. There's nothing better. We're world champions."

Jorge Soler was named World Series MVP after hitting three go-ahead home runs across the six games. He becomes the second Cuban to claim the honour, behind Livan Hernandez with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

Soler also becomes the sixth player to hit three or more go-ahead home runs in a World Series, joining Babe Ruth (1926), Lou Gehrig (1928), Gene Tenace (1972), Curtis Granderson (2015) and George Springer (2017).

"I was just really focused during that at-bat," Soler said about his third-inning go-ahead three-run blast. "I feel like he'd thrown my every pitch he had in his arsenal so I just kept fouling the pitchers off and eventually got to that 3-2 count and he hung the slider and I was able to drive it."

The Atlanta Braves returned to the summit of MLB, claiming their first World Series crown in 26 years after blitzing the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday.

Atlanta had the chance to clinch on home soil on Sunday but were denied by a desperate Astros franchise, who overturned a four-run deficit to prolong the best-of-seven series.

But the Braves were not to be denied in Game 6 as home runs from Jorge Soler, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman secured a 4-2 series victory and their first World Series since 1995.

The drought-ending success delivered a fourth World Series title to the Braves, with all four championships being clinched in different cities – Boston, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Houston.

After two scoreless innings in Houston, the Braves seized control thanks to a three-run third inning at Minute Maid Park, where the bats of Astros stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yordan Alvarez fell silent.

Soler was the instigator, his 446-foot three-run homer off Luis Garcia seeing him become the fourth player in Braves history to hit a three-run homer in a World Series after Hank Aaron (1957), Lonnie Smith (1991) and Ryan Klesko (1995).

 

The red-hot Braves did not let up in the fifth as Swanson delivered a two-run homer after Freeman's double had allowed Soler to score earlier in the inning.

Entering the game, Freeman had eight career postseason home runs, with half of them coming in 2021 and the Braves star tied a franchise record.

Freeman matched Fred McGriff with his fifth homer of the playoffs – a joint Braves record for most home runs in one postseason after going long in the seventh inning.

Braves ace Max Fried became the first starter in history to have six-plus strikeouts, zero walks and no runs in a potential World Series-clinching game.

The Atlanta Braves won their first World Series title since 1995 after defeating the Houston Astros in six games in MLB's showpiece.

After missing out on their first chance to close out the World Series against the Houston Astros on Sunday, the Atlanta Braves are confident heading into Game 6. 

As the teams prepare to reconvene at Houston's Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, Braves manager Brian Snitker said his side are not feeling any ill effects from their 9-5 home defeat in Game 5. 

Atlanta need just one more victory to win their first World Series since 1995, and Snitker insists the players are showing no signs of letting the pressure affect them. 

"We're in the World Series right now. There's no pressure," Snitker told a news conference Monday. "Like I say, it's pressure in the NLCS when you're trying to get here. We all want to finish this off, but there's no pressure.

"We're one of two teams remaining in our sport, and [I haven't] sensed any kind of pressure out of these guys internally. The only time I hear about that is in this [press conference] room. In that room out there, I never hear it."

Six teams have blown a 3-1 World Series lead in a seven-game series, but it has only happened once in the last 36 years: the 2016 Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs. 

The Braves will feel good about their chances of avoiding a similar fate primarily because they can expect to get significant innings out of their starting pitchers in Game 6 and, if needed, the decisive Game 7. 

Thanks to a lack of depth in their rotation exacerbated by the loss of veteran Charlie Morton to a broken leg suffered in Game 1, the Braves have had to start relief pitchers each of the last two games. 

Dylan Lee faced just four batters in Game 4 before Kyle Wright picked up the slack with an impressive 4.2 innings of relief work, while Tucker Davidson recorded only six outs on Sunday. 

The Braves will send Max Fried to the mound Tuesday, giving him another chance against the Astros after a rough start in Atlanta's Game 2 defeat.

"I expect to see Max on top of his game tomorrow," Snitker said. "I expect that every time he goes out. I mean, this guy probably, since the All-Star break, is one of the best pitchers in the game. So that's kind of the version of Max that I expect to see tomorrow."

Fried also got knocked around in his NLCS Game 5 start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the 27-year-old said he views what will be his final start of the season as a chance at redemption. 

"Any time that you go out there and you don't perform the way that you want, you don't win, you want to go back out there and redeem yourself," Fried said.

"I'm ready to go out there and leave it all on the field. It's probably going to be my last outing of the year, so there's nothing to hold back."

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker says his side "don't know how to quit" after fighting back from conceding a first-inning grand slam to force a Game 6 in the World Series against the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves raced to a 4-0 lead from Adam Duvall's first-inning grand slam as they looked to clinch the World Series on home soil at Truist Park leading the series 3-1.

The Astros, who were world champions in 2017, American League (AL) winners in 2019 and fought back from a 3-0 deficit in last year's AL Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays to force a Game 7, responded with back-to-back two-run inning, before a three-run rally in the fifth inning to take the lead.

"We've been through many of these battles," Baker said at the post-game news conference. "They don't know how to quit.

"They're always looking for an edge or an opening. Fortunately tonight we took advantage of some."

Carlos Correa, who was part of the title-winning 2017 team, had three hits and two RBIs for the game, while Martin Maldonado came up with three RBIs. The Astros catcher was the first player in history to drive in runs with a hit, walk and sacrifice fly in a postseason game.

Maldonado's improbable contribution came after the Braves appeared on their way to securing their first World Series since 1995 after Duvall's first-inning grand slam.

"I always say, if it's going to happen, let it happen early," Baker said about the grand slam. "You don't want it to happen in the middle of the game or toward the end of the game."

The home crowd was electric after Duvall's grand slam, demanding a curtain call, but he insisted they did not get carried away.

"We celebrated it, we got excited and that's what you do when you hit home runs, but it's a long game," Duvall said.

"That happened in the bottom of the first. It's a nine-inning game, and they didn't quit."

Braves manager Brian Snitker added: "We knew we had a long, long way to go in that game and anything could happen. It would have been great if we could have kept adding on. We just weren't able to do that."

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