It’s a repeat. Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was announced as the winner of the American League Most Valuable Player Award by the BBWAA this evening, beating out finalists Mike Trout and Chris Davis.
Cabrera received 23 out of the 30 first-place votes to accomplish the repeat. Trout received five first-place votes while Davis and the Athletics’ Josh Donaldson each got one first-place vote. Donaldson finished fourth in the balloting.
While few would dispute that Trout was the better all-around player this season, it’s no surprise to see Cabrera take home the honors once again. Continuing to show that he’s the best hitter on the planet, the 30-year-old batted .348/.442/.636 with 44 home runs and 137 RBI over 148 games this season. He led the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. By the way, his OPS (1.078) was higher than his Triple Crown season last year. And that was despite a late-season abdominal injury which limited him to one home run and a .728 OPS in September. It’s scary to think that his season could have been even better if he was healthy all along, but it was a monster offensive year by any measure.
Cabrera is the first player in either league to win back-to-back MVPs since Albert Pujols did it as a member of the Cardinals from 2008-2009. Frank Thomas (1993-1994) was the last to do it in the American League. Cabrera’s teammate, Justin Verlander, won the American League MVP Award in 2011, so a member of the Tigers has taken home the American League’s top honors in three straight years.
Complete voting results for the American League Most Valuable Player Award can be found at BBWAA.com.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.