Buster Posey

Buster Posey first catcher in 40 years to win NL MVP award

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The Giants’ Buster Posey was the runaway winner for National League Most Valuable Player honors Thursday, claiming 27 of the 32 first-place votes.

Posey was listed in the top three on every ballot to finish with 422 points. Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun came in second place with three first-place votes and 285 points. Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen was third with 245 points. He edged the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina even though he got no first-place votes and Molina got two. Molina finished with 241 points.

Besides those four, only one player got a top-three vote: Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was second on Tracy Ringolsby’s ballot. He finished eighth overall. San Diego’s Chase Headley was fifth, while the Mets’ David Wright and the Nationals’ Adam LaRoche tied for sixth.

Back from the broken leg that limited him to 45 games in 2011, Posey hit .336/.408/.549 with 24 homers and 103 RBI in 530 at-bats for San Francisco last season. He won the batting title because of a rule amendment that disqualified suspended teammate Melky Cabrera. Baseball-reference’s WAR had him as the league’s top player ahead of McCutchen and Braun.

Posey became the first Giant to win the award since Barry Bonds won his fourth straight in 2004. He’s the first catcher since the Reds’ Johnny Bench in 1972. Twins catcher Joe Mauer was the AL MVP in 2009.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Travis Ishikawa hits an RBI-single off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias to drive home Neil Walker in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Andy LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.

Mariners sign reliever Joel Peralta

Joel Peralta
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Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.

He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.

White Sox sign Mat Latos

Mat Latos
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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.

Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year.  Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.

In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.

 

Jason Castro loses arbitration hearing against Astros

Jason Castro
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Veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Astros went through with an arbitration hearing over a difference of $250,000 and the three-person panel ruled in favor of the team.

That means Castro will make $5 million this season rather than his requested amount of $5.25 million. This is his final year of arbitration eligibility, so the 29-year-old catcher will be a free agent after the season.

Castro showed a lot of promise early on, including making the All-Star team at age 26 in 2013, but since then he’s hit just .217 with a .650 OPS in 230 games. His power and pitch-framing skills are a valuable combination even within sub par overall production, so 2016 will be a key year for the former first-round draft pick.