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MLB notebook: Trout, Bellinger earn MVP honors

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout became the 11th player in baseball history to win at least three MVP awards, topping Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman in results announced Thursday.

In voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, Trout received 17 first-place votes and 355 voting points. Bregman was the runner-up with 13 first-place votes and 335 points, and Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien was a distant third with 228 points.

Trout joins a list of players with three-plus MVPs that is headed by Barry Bonds, a seven-time winner. No one else has won more than the three captured by Trout, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio and Jimmie Foxx.

Trout finished in the top two in AL MVP voting for the seventh time in eight full major league seasons. This year, he led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage and the AL with a .645 slugging percentage while batting .291 with 45 homers (second in the AL) and 104 RBIs.

–Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player, topping the 2018 winner, Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich.

Bellinger received 19 of the 30 first-place votes by the BBWAA and finished with 362 voting points. Yelich got 10 first-place votes and wound up with 317 points. Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon received the other first-place vote and took third place with 242 points.

Bellinger, 24, won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2017, and he captured his first Gold Glove this year. He batted .305 with a .406 on-base percentage, a .629 slugging percentage, 47 homers and 115 RBIs — all career highs — while leading the league with 351 total bases.

–Gerrit Cole officially became a free agent when he declined a qualifying offer from the Houston Astros. He was one of 10 pending free agents who received qualifying offers of a one-year, $17.8 million contract from their current teams on Nov. 4.

Two of the 10 accepted the offer, making them signed players for 2020: Minnesota Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

The other eight players declined the qualifying offer and will head into free agency: Cole, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg and third baseman Anthony Rendon, San Francisco Giants left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna and New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler.

–Smith subsequently signed with the Braves, getting a three-year, $39 million contract in a deal that includes a 2023 club option for $13 million.

The 30-year-old left-hander was an All-Star with the Giants in 2019, finishing 6-0 with 34 saves and a 2.76 ERA in 63 appearances.

Smith struck out 96 batters and walked 21 in 65 1/3 innings, holding opponents to a .196 average. Left-handed hitters batted just .157 against him with two extra-base hits.

–Former major league catcher and first baseman Mike Napoli will join the Chicago Cubs’ coaching staff, according to multiple reports.

Napoli, who hit 267 home runs over 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, will become the Cubs’ quality assurance coach under new manager David Ross, according to The Athletic. Napoli and Ross were teammates with the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

Napoli, 38, won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013 and was on the Indians team that advanced to the World Series in 2016. Cleveland was defeated in that series by the Cubs, the organization Napoli will now join.

–The New York Yankees made it official, announcing Matt Blake as their new pitching coach after reports of his hiring surfaced last week.

Blake served as the Cleveland Indians’ assistant director of player development for three seasons before being promoted to be the team’s director of pitching development. The 34-year-old will replace Larry Rothschild, who had served as the Yankees’ pitching coach since 2011 before he was fired on Oct. 28.

Despite a rash of injuries this year, New York finished in the middle of the pack (14th) in the major leagues with a 4.31 regular-season ERA. The Yankees’ 2.87 ERA in the postseason ranked second among the 10 playoff teams.

–Field Level Media

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