Rob Manfred

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.

Phillies, Mets to play 2nd MLB Little League Classic Game next August

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Phillies, Mets to play 2nd MLB Little League Classic Game next August

When the Phillies host the Mets on Aug. 19 next summer, the game won't be at Citizens Bank Park. It will take place at 7 p.m. at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa. as the Phils and Mets take part in MLB's second annual Little League Classic game.

Last month, MLB for the first time held a regular-season game (Pirates-Cardinals) at the home of the Little League World Series as a way to give little-leaguers and big-leaguers a chance to meet and build more youth interest.

"The interactions throughout the day between the Major League Players and Little Leaguers was something that those involved will remember forever," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "We are pleased to once again have the opportunity to help create these special memories next August."

Phillies and Mets players will attend the LLWS games earlier in the day.

"It's experiences like the 2018 MLB Little League Classic that create baseball fans for life," Phillies executive vice president David Buck said, "and we are honored to be a part of it."

Under new CBA, All-Star Game no longer determines World Series start

Under new CBA, All-Star Game no longer determines World Series start

Updated: 9:15 a.m.

NEW YORK — The league that wins baseball's All-Star Game no longer will get home-field advantage in the World Series, which instead will go to the pennant winner with the better regular-season record.

The change was included in Major League Baseball's tentative new collective bargaining agreement and disclosed early Thursday to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the deal, reached Wednesday evening in Irving, Texas, had not been announced.

In addition, players and management agreed the minimum stay on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

Home-field advantage in the World Series generally rotated between the leagues through 2002. Baseball, led by then-Commissioner Bud Selig, and Fox television promoted the "This Time It Counts" innovation after the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie when both teams ran out of pitchers. Selig was booed in his own Milwaukee backyard.

"This energizes it. This gives them something to really play for," Selig said after owners approved the change by a 30-0 vote in January 2003. "People pay a lot of money to see that game. They deserve to see the same intensity they see all year long. Television people pay a lot of money for the game. It was not and should not be a meaningless exhibition game."

What began as a two-year experiment was extended. The American League won 11 of 14 All-Star Games played under the rule, and the AL representative won eight World Series in those years.

"It will put back a little of the sizzle," San Francisco Giants executive Larry Baer said in 2003.

As part of the changes for next year, players in the All-Star Game will have the incentive to play for a pool of money.

The DL change will allow teams to make quicker decisions on whether to bring up a roster replacement rather than wait to see whether the injured player would be ready to return to action in less than two weeks.

An international play plan is part of the new agreement that includes a payment schedule for potential games in Asia, Mexico, Latin America and Britain, plus U.S.-based special events such as this year's July 3 game between Atlanta and Miami in a specially built ballpark on a military base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.