After being the architect of a team which went from worst to first in the American League East and scored an eventual World Series victory over the Cardinals, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has been voted as the Sporting News Executive of the Year.
The award was voted on by a panel of 31 MLB executives prior to the postseason. Cherington was presented with the award tonight at the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
“I’ve always felt this award is about the organization, not the GM,” Cherington told Sporting News. “I understand the GM is receiving it, and I’m happy to receive it, but I’m proud of the organization. This is for everyone who works for us and went through a tough time in 2012, and committed to making things better, getting things right. I’m not sure it was necessarily a World Series outcome we had in mind, but we were fortunate that the people in our clubhouse accomplished great things. It was fun to be a part of.”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington finished second and had a very strong case for the award, but MLB executives were understandably impressed by Boston’s rapid turnaround. The makeover really began last August when Cherington unloaded the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers, which gave him the flexibility to sign Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, and David Ross over the winter. The signings all paid dividends while players who were injured or underperformed in 2012 bounced back. He also acquired Jake Peavy in a midseason deal to fortify the rotation. While Cherington was recognized by his peers for his success this evening, Red Sox manager John Farrell is the odds-on favorite to be named the American League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA tomorrow night.
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.