Midseason NL Most Valuable Player

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Fortunately, this one is going to be a lot easier to figure out than the AL ballot.

Let’s start with the NL’s top position players according to VORP:

1. Albert Pujols – 62.6
2. Hanley Ramirez – 46.6
3. Chase Utley – 46.0
4. Prince Fielder – 43.4
5. Pablo Sandoval – 37.8
6. Raul Ibanez – 34.0
7. Ryan Braun – 33.6
8. Carlos Beltran – 32.8
9. David Wright – 32.8
10. Matt Kemp – 31.6
11. Miguel Tejada – 30.4
12. Brad Hawpe – 29.9
13. Adam Dunn – 28.2
14. Justin Upton – 27.8

Adrian Gonzalez has dropped from fifth to 23rd since the first-third MVP ballot on June 5.
Apart from the top 14, the only other player that looks like a
legitimate option for the top 10 is Shane Victorino, who ranks 17th at
25.8.

The OPS list isn’t a whole lot different from the one VORP came up with:

1. Albert Pujols – 1179 – 90 games
2. Prince Fielder – 1056 – 88 games
3. Raul Ibanez – 1015 – 64 games
4. Chase Utley – 1004 – 84 games
5. Hanley Ramirez – 979 – 82 games
6. Brad Hawpe – 973 – 80 games
7. Pablo Sandoval – 964 – 82 games
8. Carlos Beltran – 952 – 62 games
9. Adam Dunn – 943 – 87 games
10. Lance Berkman – 929 – 85 games
11. Ryan Braun – 921 – 86 games
12. Justin Upton – 918 – 84 games

There also aren’t any big surprises at the top of the WPA list:

1. Albert Pujols – 4.83
2. Prince Fielder – 4.31
3. Chase Utley – 3.85
4. Raul Ibanez – 3.53
5. Pablo Sandoval – 3.13
6. Ryan Howard – 3.05

Obviously, it’s a race for second. If Pujols stays healthy, it’s
going to be extremely difficult for anyone to overtake him. Maybe
Fielder could in the minds of the real voters if the Brewers reach the
postseason and the Cards don’t, but it’s a long shot.

VORP has the next three pretty tight. I favor Utley because of his
defense, but Hanley and Fielder both belong in the top four. After that
group, it’s more of a free for all. Beltran and Ibanez are right there
with the Utley group in terms of performance, but both have missed a
quarter of the season. Sandoval and Braun offer little defensively, and
Hawpe and Dunn are significant liabilities. Wright, always an overrated
fielder, is having his worst year with the glove. Kemp, on the other
hand, has played a nice center field. With so many imperfect options,
I’m definitely including both Dan Haren and Tim Lincecum in the top 10.

Midseason NL MVP

1. Pujols
2. Utley
3. H. Ramirez
4. Fielder
5. Haren
6. Sandoval
7. Lincecum
8. Braun
9. Ibanez
10. Kemp

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.