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Diamondbacks’ top draft pick pays off family’s mortgage as Christmas present

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ first-round draft pick gave his family an unforgettable Christmas gift, Sports Illustrated reported.

>> Read more trending news

Pavin Smith, the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, received a signing bonus of more than $5 million. The former University of Virginia star used part of that money to pay off his family’s mortgage, and he revealed his plans to his family in an emotional letter on Christmas Day, the magazine reported.

Smith’s family, naturally, was floored by the gift, and broke down after reading his letter:

Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels, wife donate $9.4 million mansion to charity

Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, have donated a mansion worth $9.4 million and 100 acres of land in southwest Missouri to a charity that hosts camps for children with special needs, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Hamels donated the 32,000-square-foot home to Camp Barnabas on Friday. The house had listed for $9,418,400, according to

Hamels said in a news release that he and his wife wanted to help the charity make children's dreams come true.

“Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it,” he said in the statement. “Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way.”

The mansion and land are near Table Rock Lake near Reeds Springs. Heidi Hamels grew up in Buffalo, Missouri, ESPN reported.

Hamels and his wife never lived in the mansion. When Hamels was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Rangers, the couple moved to Texas, ESPN reported.

Source: Marlins, Yankees agree on deal for slugger Giancarlo Stanton

In a blockbuster deal, the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins have agreed to a trade that would send reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to New York, a source told The Associated Press on Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

The trade is not official yet, since Stanton must agree to the terms stipulated in his no-trade clause, ESPN reported.

Infielder Starlin Castro would go to Miami as part of the deal, a second source familiar with the negotiations told the AP.

The deal — which will give the Yankees a potent power-hitting combination with slugger Aaron Judge — is awaiting physicals for the players involved, according to multiple reports. Stanton reportedly gave final stamp of approval to the trade on Saturday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Stanton is owed $295 million over the next 10 years. ESPN previously reported Friday night that he was prepared to listen to a proposal involving the Yankees. Castro, 27, an American League All-Star for the Yankees, has two years and approximately $23.7 million remaining on his contract, reported.

The Yankees bolstered their lineup and the Marlins will receive several prospects in addition to Stanton, but the deal stunned Miami fans, who are criticizing team CEO Derek Jeter -- a five-time World Series champion with the Yankees -- for the deal. Jeter has been ripped for already trading away an All-Star to cut payroll, as he sent second baseman Dee Gordon to the Mariners last month.

Stanton has spent  his entire eight-year career with the Marlins. In 2017, he hit 59 home runs, drove in 132 runs and batted .281 to win the NL’s MVP award.

Former pitcher Dwight Gooden plays Santa at NYC gentlemen’s club

Former New York Mets star Dwight Gooden was pitching a different kind of game Tuesday night.

>> Read more trending news

The former major-league pitcher played Santa Claus but was not handing out presents to children. The 1985 National League Cy Young Award winner, who was dressed up as St. Nick for the first time, instead posed with dancers at the Vivid Cabaret in New York City, a club The New York Times said “is politely described” as a gentlemen’s club.

“It’s Christmastime, and I got a lot of presents to buy,” said Gooden, who made more than $36 million during his 16-year career. “I got seven kids, four grandkids, with another on the way any minute now, and two ex-wives. So every dollar counts.”

While the amount Gooden was paid was not revealed, the Times, quoting an anonymous source, said the former right-handed pitcher was paid $500. Gooden is not the first former member of the New York Mets to play Santa at the club, the Times reported. Former teammate Len Dykstra -- who, like Gooden steered the Mets to a World Series title in 1986 -- donned a wig and a red suit to the club last year.

“Normally, guys pay to come here,” Gooden told  the Times. “I’m getting paid to come here.”

Gooden, who lives in Piscataway, New Jersey, in a rented apartment, said his life is in order now, a statement in stark contrast to the substance abuse problems he had during his playing career. Those addictions also followed him after he retired from the game in 2000.

But Gooden makes appearances at memorabilia shows to sign autographs and has just begun selling a line of T-shirts, caps and sweatshirts that carry a silhouette of the pitcher’s high leg kick on his website,

“My life is pretty good right now,” Gooden told the Times.

Gooden, 53, said he is receiving pension money from the players’ union. For a player with 10 years of major-league service time who waits until he is 62, that amounts to $210,000 a year. Gooden took the pension early and is receiving a reduced amount, the Times reported.

“I’m taking it not so much for me but for my kids,” he said. “I mean, I’m 53 now and you never know. If anything happens to me, my kids get it. And I wouldn’t have collected it, then the ex-wives would get it.”

J.J. Watt and Jose Altuve nab Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year

Two Houston sports icons are bringing home another colossal title: Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year.

>> Read more trending news

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and the Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve nabbed the honors from the vaunted sports publication thanks to Watt’s massive collection efforts on the part of Hurricane Harvey relief, and Altuve’s ability to bring home a World Series title to a city still reeling in the aftermath of the storm.

Says S.I.:

By the third week of September, less than a month after Hurricane Harvey had devastated Houston and its surrounding region, Watt had raised more than $37 million in relief aid. The SOTY candidacy of the Texans’ defensive end was unaffected by the gruesome, season-ending leg injury he suffered in Week 5. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year—the best defensive player of his generation, really—could have had the best season of his career, or the worst. His place as a Sportsperson of the Year had already been engraved.

“Nothing J.J. Watt has achieved in his career, or might still achieve, will measure up to what he did for Houston,” Peter King, The MMQB’s editor-in-chief, said.

For Altuve’s part, the American League MVP was lauded for his inspirational impact on the city:

The 5′ 6″ Altuve had his own contribution to Houston’s post-storm recovery. The personal journey of the Astros second baseman is an inspirational one, a classic tale of an underestimated athlete overcoming the longest of odds. And this fall, Altuve was the joyous catalyst for one of the most unlikely World Series runs in recent memory. Championships don’t save communities, and we should be careful to assign too much weight to their powers of healing. But what other event can bring a million-plus people together and provide a platform, however ephemeral, to cast aside the differences that drive so many of us to sports in the first place?

“The city of Houston has treated me really good,” Altuve told S.I.’s Tom Verducci. “I felt at that time that I owed them something. So when they were having a hard time, I wanted to give something back to them.”

Astros fans win again: Furniture company refunds $10 million 

Because the Houston Astros won the World Series this season, patrons of a Houston furniture store are sleeping easier.

>> Read more trending news

Gallery Furniture is paying off on a wager it made with customers, KTRK reported. This year, the company bet that if the Astros won the World Series, customers who spent at least $3,000 on mattresses would receive a full refund.

The losing bet cost Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale $10 million in refunds, but he said the promotion was worth it, KTRK reported

had to refund $10 million, he said the promotion was worth it.

Gallery Furniture began issuing refund checks Sunday night, and the line wrapped around the store, KTRK reported.

The refunds will go a long way toward helping some Astros fans who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in August.

“I'm going to buy new furniture, a new couch because we had to throw everything out,” Thelma Rosenberg told KTRK.

During the hurricane and its aftermath, McIngvale opened his stores to flood evacuees, who slept in the warehouses until the waters receded.

McIngvale was not sure if he’d have an encore wager next season as the Astros defend their World Series crown.

“You have to ask my wife about that one,” he told KTRK.

Breaking: Coppolella banned for life as part of MLB’s sanctions against Braves

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella has been banned for life by Major League Baseball as part of discipline handed down by the league Tuesday for major infractions committed in the international free-agent market.

In addition, special assistant Gordon Blakeley has been suspended for one year.

In handing down the punishment, the league announced that Braves will forfeit rights to 13 international prospects, will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period and are restricted from signing players in the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

The highest-profile signee that the Braves will lose is infielder Kevin Maitan.

Here is the complete statement from MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred:

“My office has completed a thorough investigation into violations of Major League Rules by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves cooperated throughout the investigation, which was conducted by MLB’s Department of Investigations. The senior Baseball Operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves. I am confident that Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Alex Anthopoulos and their staffs have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the Club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been.

“The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club’s signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a ‘foreign professional’ under MLB rules. Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

“As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period. These players were Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Kevin Maitan, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Peña, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga. In addition, the Braves entered into additional ‘package’ agreements in 2016 and 2017 in which they signed Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre for reduced amounts, and provided additional money to those players’ agents by signing other players affiliated with their agents to contracts with inflated bonuses. In order to remedy these violations, I am releasing these players from their contracts with the Braves and declaring them free agents eligible to sign with any other Club. The procedures governing the players’ release and the signing process will be communicated to MLB Clubs under separate cover. 

“The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason’s agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.

“While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves’ international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

“The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club’s attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

“With respect to individual discipline, former Braves General Manager John Coppolella will be placed on the permanently ineligible list, effective immediately. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley will be suspended for a period of one year, effective immediately, and may not perform services for any MLB Club during his suspension. I intend to discipline other Braves’ International Baseball Operations employees who participated in the misconduct after the completion of our internal procedures. My staff will speak to the Players Association and officials in the Dominican Republic regarding appropriate consequences for the representatives of the players who intentionally participated in schemes to circumvent our rules, none of whom are certified by the Players Association.”

Check for a full report on the Braves and the punishment.

Bobby Doerr, Red Sox Hall of Famer, dead at 99

The Boston Red Sox announced Tuesday the death of Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr.

Doerr, who is regarded as the greatest second baseman in Boston Red Sox history, died in Junction City, Oregon, at 99.

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2017

Born in Los Angeles on April 7, 1918, Doerr was the oldest living Major League Baseball League player prior to his death.

He's also the only member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame to live to be 99 years old.

“Bobby Doerr was part of an era of baseball giants and still stood out as one himself,” Red Sox principal owner John Henry said Tuesday. “And even with his Hall of Fame achievements at second base, his character and personality outshined it all. He will be missed.”

>> Read more trending news

Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy said the entire Sox family is mourning his passing.

“There is something fitting about Bobby Doerr becoming the patriarch of baseball, outliving all of those he played with and against,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Bobby was a special player, to be sure, a Hall of Famer, but he also commanded universal respect from all those fortunate enough to have crossed his path. We celebrated his return every time he came back to us here at Fenway Park, and we now mourn his passing, grateful for the wonderful memories he left.”>> Visit for complete coverage

Kate Upton weds Astros' Justin Verlander days after celebrating his World Series win

Model Kate Upton is officially off the market.

Just a few days after celebrating fiancé Justin Verlander’s World Series win, the couple exchanged “I do’s” in front of family and friends in Italy, according to People.

>> See the photo here

The bride wore a long-sleeved lace gown while her groom donned a classic black tux. E! News reports that the nuptials took place at the Rosewood Castiglion Del Bosco resort, and the ceremony was in a medieval church on top of a hill overlooking the Montalcino Valley and vineyards.

>> Read more trending news

Following the 30-minute ceremony, the couple and their guests retreated to the restaurant on the property for dinner and dancing.

The couple began dating in 2014 and were engaged two years later. They kept their engagement private for a few weeks before going public at last year’s Met Gala.

>> On 18 months after the devastating loss of his wife, Patton Oswalt marries again

“I’m really excited. He asked me right before season started so we’ve been keeping it on the down low for quite a while,” she told E! at the time. “So, I’m excited to finally be able to share it with the world!”

Upton has always been supportive of her baseball beau and took to Instagram on Saturday to celebrate his World Series win with the Houston Astros.

>> See the post here

Ahead of the wedding, Upton celebrated with a few gal pals at a lavish bachelorette party at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.

>> See the photo here

At the end of 2016, Upton and Verlander reportedly purchased a Beverly Hills home for $5.25 million. The home is complete with five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a tennis court and a pool.

Houston Astros win first-ever World Series title, make history after devastating Hurricane Harvey

Following a second straight World Series implosion from Yu Darvish of the Los Angeles Dodgers early in Game 7, the Houston Astros made history with their 5-1 win.

>> WATCH: Houston Astros' Carlos Correa proposes on live TV after World Series win

Their World Series title is the first in franchise history and comes following Hurricane Harvey, which brought devastation to the city.

“This one’s for Houston,” Astros owner Jim Crane said after the game.

>> PHOTOS: Houston Astros win first World Series title in franchise history

“I always believed that we could make it,” All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve said after the game. “We did this for them.”

George Springer led off the evening with a double against Darvish, and soon it was 2-0. Springer hit his fifth homer — tying the mark set by Reggie Jackson and matched by Chase Utley — when he connected for a record fourth game in a row, making it 5-0 in the second inning.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“We’re coming home a champion, Houston,” Springer said after accepting the World Series MVP trophy named this year after Willie Mays for the first time.

Altuve, one of four carry-overs from a club that lost an embarrassing 111 times in 2013 after switching from the NL to the AL, and this collection of young stars silenced Dodger Stadium from the get-go.

>> Read more trending news

Normally a starter, Charlie Morton finished up with four stellar innings of relief for the win.

“We held down a really tough lineup,” Morton said. “For my teammates, for the city of Houston, it’s just unbelievable.”

– The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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