Jim Leyland clarifies comments on Justin Verlander for MVP

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Tigers manager Jim Leyland made some waves earlier this week when he said that pitchers shouldn’t win the MVP award. This was a very bold statement considering that one of his own starters, Justin Verlander, is quickly gaining momentum for MVP consideration in the American League.

Despite his opinion on the topic, Leyland told Chris Iott of MLive.com earlier today that he would support Verlander for MVP under the current system.

“I will support Justin Verlander for the MVP to the hilt,” Leyland said. “I want to make that perfectly clear. The question that was asked of me was if I thought a pitcher should be the MVP. And my answer to that is no. But under the way the system is, I certainly will support Verlander to the hilt.”

To be fair, what else did we expect the guy to say? No need to continue to the controversy for another minute.

Anyway, Dennis Eckersley was last the pitcher to win an MVP award in 1992. While we can look back now and argue that it was a bit of a stretch to give the MVP to a relief pitcher, is it really that crazy to consider someone who has faced 803 batters coming into today’s action compared to a hitter who has maybe 700 plate appearances over the course of a season? I don’t think so. I still think Jose Bautista deserves the award at this moment, but we should leave the door open for special seasons from starting pitchers.

By the way, Verlander is currently going for his 20th win against the Twins. If you are into that sort of thing.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.