The debate has raged on for months. And now we finally have a winner.
Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was named the American League MVP this evening by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Despite the impassioned and often contentious arguments dating back to the summer, the balloting wasn’t all that close.
Cabrera received 22 out of the 28 first-place votes to finish with 362 points. Angels outfielder Mike Trout got the other six first-place votes and finished in second place with 281 points. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre received one second-place vote — over Trout — and finished third. He was the only player other than Cabrera or Trout to get a second-place vote. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton rounded out the top five on the ballot. Full ballot results can be found at BBWAA.com.
Cabrera won the award on the strength of the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, leading the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139). While the Triple Crown functioned as a “trump card” for many voters given that we went 45 years without one, Cabrera also led the league in slugging percentage (.606), OPS (.999), total bases (377) and extra-base hits (84).
Cabrera couldn’t touch Trout’s contributions on the basepaths or on defense, prompting the debate about all-around value and the true meaning of “most valuable,” but the narrative for him to win the award was strengthened by a variety of factors, including his move to third base to accommodate Prince Fielder, his strong performance down the stretch and the Tigers making the playoffs. Still, it’s safe to say that the Triple Crown had just enough cachet left to give Cabrera the edge over Trout.
This is Cabrera’s first career MVP award. He came close two years ago, but finished second to Hamilton. Justin Verlander took home the hardware last year, so the Tigers have MVP award winners in consecutive seasons.
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.
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.
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.
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.