First-third awards – AL Cy Young

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Yeah, it’s a no-brainer, but let’s look at a few lists anyway.

Top 10 in ERA

1. Zack Greinke – 1.10 in 82 IP
2. Jered Weaver – 2.26 in 75 2/3 IP
3. Edwin Jackson – 2.30 in 74 1/3 IP
4. Erik Bedard – 2.37 in 60 2/3 IP
5. Roy Halladay – 2.77 in 91 IP
6. Mark Buehrle – 2.91 in 74 1/3 IP
7. Cliff Lee – 2.96 in 82 IP
8. Josh Outman – 3.02 in 53 2/3 IP
9. Jarrod Washburn – 3.22 in 64 1/3 IP
10. Kevin Millwood – 3.23 in 78 IP

Halladay and Lee are the only pitchers here that have made 12 starts so
far. The rest are at 10 or 11, except for Outman at nine.

Top 10 in VORP

1. Zack Greinke – 43.4
2. Roy Halladay – 31.3
3. Jered Weaver – 31.3
4. Cliff Lee – 28.5
5. Mark Buehrle – 25.7
6. Edwin Jackson – 25.4
7. Kevin Millwood – 23.0
8. Erik Bedard – 22.3
9. CC Sabathia – 21.1
10. James Shields – 20.8

Halladay’s innings count boosts him here. Jackson, who has given up
more unearned runs than any of the contenders (six), falls back a bit.

Top 10 in FIP

1. Zack Greinke – 1.57
2. Justin Verlander – 2.31
3. Roy Halladay – 2.76
4. Cliff Lee – 3.13
5. Felix Hernandez – 3.28
6. Edwin Jackson – 3.31
7. Gil Meche – 3.35
8. CC Sabathia – 3.51
9. Erik Bedard – 3.56
10. Jered Weaver – 3.57

Verlander soars once one tries to separate defense from pitching.
I’m not sure I buy it, though: he really was that bad at the start of
the season. Of course, he’s been right there with Greinke as the AL’s
best pitcher over the last five weeks.

By virtue of that innings total, I think Halladay is pretty
comfortably in second place right now. Third is a tougher call, with
Weaver and Lee having the best cases. I’m giving the edge to Weaver,
mostly because he’s had a somewhat more difficult schedule.

First-third AL Cy Young

1. Greinke
2. Halladay
3. Weaver

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.