Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera

If it’s the Most Valuable Player, shouldn’t salary matter?

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Miguel Cabrera will be named the American League Most Valuable Player again next week. There’s a good chance it will be unanimous, and if not, it will be pretty darn close. Yet, factoring in defense and baserunning, it’s very easy to come away with the idea that Mike Trout was the better player. Of course, many of those voting for the award believe that “best” and “most valuable” are not  synonymous.

So, let’s run with that idea — that the best player and the most valuable player aren’t necessarily one and the same — for a minute. I mean, I can go along with it, to an extent. If this other-worldly player was a derisive force in the clubhouse — say he was one of those guys drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse between DH at-bats — you could ding him. Or maybe if an outstanding player was credited with giving his teammate a tip that made him better… well, that would add to his value without affecting his WAR.

But how about money? It’s pretty much indisputable that the guy hitting 30 homers making $500,000 is helping his team more than the guy hitting 30 homers while earning $20 million (let’s give them the same WAR, too). But it seems completely verboten to discuss money in MVP talks. Certainly, I’ve never seen a voter bring up a guy’s salary in defending his vote.

I think that’s silly. If we’re going with the idea that it’s the Most Valuable Player and not the Best Player, then money absolutely should factor in. I imagine there are a couple holdout major league general managers who would still rate Cabrera as a better player than Trout, but even they wouldn’t actually trade Trout for Cabrera given the difference in salaries. No sane person would. Cabrera made $21 million last season. Trout earned $510,000. Why, if the Angels had to pay $21 million for Trout last year, they probably wouldn’t have been able to sign Josh Hamilton! Where would they be right now without him?

OK, bad example. It doesn’t destroy the point.

Personally, I’m in the Best Player camp, so I don’t care what kind of cash they’re making. But for those arguing that valuable means something different entirely (RBIs and good teammates, mostly) and that no stat could ever truly encompass it, well, salary needs to be factored into that value component, too.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.