CHICAGO — Tony La Russa, the Hall of Famer who won a World Series with the Oakland Athletics and two more with the St. Louis Cardinals, is returning to manage the Chicago White Sox 34 years after they fired him.

The 76-year-old La Russa rejoins the franchise where his managing career began more than four decades ago. He takes over for Rick Renteria after what the White Sox insisted was a mutual agreement to split.

“We are extremely excited about the future of this team,” General Manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. “As we showed in 2020, this is a young, talented club that we expect to only grow better and better in the coming years. Adding in a Hall of Fame manager who is recognized as being one of the best in the history of the game, we are a step closer to our goal of bringing White Sox fans another championship.”

La Russa inherits a team loaded with young stars and productive veterans that made the playoffs for the first time since 2008, only to sputter down the stretch and get knocked out in the wild-card round.

He becomes the oldest manager in the major leagues by five years. Houston’s Dusty Baker is 71.

“While I have had other inquiries about managing since retiring, this opportunity with the White Sox brings together a number of important factors that make this the right time and the right place,” La Russa said.

La Russa, who started his managing career with the White Sox during the 1979 season, is returning to the dugout for the first time since 2011, when he led St. Louis past Texas in the World Series. He also won championships with Oakland in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006.

La Russa is 2,728-2,365 with six pennants over 33 seasons with Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis. He was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2014. Only Hall of Famers Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) have more victories.

MARINERS: Seattle re-signed right-handed pitcher Kendall Graveman to a one-year contract Thursday.

Seattle initially declined Graveman’s $3.5 million option for the 2021 season, making him a free agent following the World Series. His free agency was short-lived as Seattle locked up the converted reliever.

Graveman signed last year to a two-year deal with the intention of becoming a starter in Seattle’s rotation. He made two starts before going on the injured list with a neck spasm. Graveman later revealed he has a benign bone tumor in his cervical spine, but could continue pitching and would be most effective as reliever.

Graveman made nine appearances out of the bullpen in September and was 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings pitched. Graveman’s longest relief outing was two scoreless innings in his final appearance of the season against Oakland.

BREWERS: The Milwaukee Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual 2021 option on veteran outfielder Ryan Braun as the franchise’s career home run leader ponders whether to continue playing.

Braun is due a $4 million buyout.

The 37-year-old often said this year that this might be his final season. He has spent his entire career in Milwaukee and has a franchise-record 352 career home runs.

YANKEES: The Yankees plan to plan to exercise two option years on reliever Zack Britton worth $27 million and to decline options on outfielder Brett Gardner and pitcher J.A. Happ.

The decisions were disclosed by a person familiar with the team’s decisions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had not been announced.

Gardner and Happ would become eligible for free agency. Gardner would get a $2.5 million buyout rather than a $10 million salary. Happ’s deal did not have a buyout.

Britton, a 32-year-old left-hander, was 1-2 with a 1.89 ERA in 20 appearances, getting eight saves and filling the closer role when Aroldis Chapman was sidelined by COVID-19 from the start of the shortened season until Aug. 17.

His deal calls for salaries of $13 million next year and $14 million in 2022. In addition to the team’s two-year option, Britton’s contract included a $13 million player option for 2021.

Gardner, 37, has been with the Yankees since 2008 and is their last player from the 2009 World Series champions. He hit .223 with five homers and 15 RBI in the shortened season, down from .251 with career highs of 28 homers and 74 RBI in 2019. The Yankees agreed to a deal with a $2 million signing bonus and an $8 million salary for 2020, which became $2,962,963 in prorated pay.

He lost playing time in 2020 to Clint Frazier, who hit .267 with eight homers and 26 RBI.

Happ, a left-hander who turned 38 on Oct. 19, was acquired from Toronto in July 2018, went 7-0 in 11 starts and was rewarded with a $34 million, two-year contract. He went 12-8 in 2019 and struggled at the start of this season, prompting the Yankees to skip his turn.

He got stronger as the season went on and finished with a 2-2 record and 3.47 ERA in nine starts. His $17 million option originally would have become guaranteed with 27 starts or 165 innings, but the threshold was reduced to 10 starts with the shortened season and he fell one short.


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