At the outset I’ll state that I disagree with a lot — and awful lot — of what Ken Rosenthal says in his latest column. The biggest disagreement is Rosenthal’s stance that an MVP should play for a contender. I’ve been over that territory many times before, so I won’t regurgitate it here.
But despite the disagreements, I do like a lot about Rosenthal’s piece. Mostly because, unlike so many, he is out front in acknowledging the subjective nature of the MVP ballot. And it really is. Those of us who want to vote with a more sabermetric approach often ignore that, insisting on making it as objective as possible. Those who vote in other ways also ignore the subjectivity of it, insisting as a matter of natural law that “valuable means X” when there is no certainty about it at all. We’re all importing our own criteria.
So like I said: Rosenthal, I believe, is wrong about a lot of the stuff in the column. But the key word there is “believe,” because when it comes to the MVP, so much of it comes down to belief. That may be cold comfort for a couple of people fighting over MVP candidates, but it’s actually kind of clarifying in some way. If for no other reason than it almost compels us to not take any MVP argument — or result — too terribly seriously as an assignation of merit.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.