First-third awards – NL Rookie of the Year

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I’m tempted to just skip this one, as no one is worth of the honor. Not
one NL rookie pitcher ranks in the league’s top 40 in innings pitched.
Here are the ERAs of everyone to have made at least seven starts:

Kenshin Kawakami – 4.63 ERA in 58 1/3 IP
Josh Geer – 5.44 ERA in 48 IP
Shairon Martis – 5.62 ERA in 57 2/3 IP
Jordan Zimmermann – 5.71 ERA in 52 IP
Felipe Paulino – 6.21 ERA in 42 IP

That’s it. But it’s no less impressive than the list of position players. Here’s the top 10, according to VORP.

1. Joe Thurston – 7.3
2. Ryan Roberts – 7.3
3. Ryan Hanigan – 5.1
4. Edwin Maysonet – 4.9
5. Jason Jaramillo – 4.7
6. Micah Hoffpauir – 3.7
7. Dexter Fowler – 3.6
8. Drew Macias – 3.4
9. Colby Rasmus – 3.3
10. Tyler Greene – 2.9

That 7.3 figure puts Thurston 57th overall among NL position
players. Seth Smith comes out a little higher at 7.8, but he doesn’t
technically qualify as a rookie after spending too much of last season
on Colorado’s bench.

Fowler does deserve additional credit for his defense, but he’s been
a well below average regular since his five-steal game made headlines
in late April.

So, basically, the NL Rookie of the Year candidates through one-third of the season are mostly relievers.

The top pitchers, according to VORP.

1. J.A. Happ – 14.1
2. Randy Wells – 13.3
3. Mark DiFelice – 11.6
4. Ronald Belisario – 10.6
5. Juan Gutierrez – 9.0
6. Luke Gregerson – 8.2
7. Jason Motte – 7.2
8. Dan Meyer – 6.9
9. Bobby Parnell – 6.4
10. Jesse Chavez – 6.3

Ramon Troncoso is ineligible because of the time he spent in the majors last year.

I prefer Happ for the rest of the season, but I think Wells deserves
the nod here, even if he’s gone 0-2 while posting a 1.69 ERA in his
five starts. He allowed three runs over seven innings in his worst
outing to date, and it’s hardly his fault that Kevin Gregg and Aaron
Heilman keep letting him down.

First-third NL Rookie of the Year

1. Wells
2. Happ
3. Fowler

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.