AP Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera wins second straight AL MVP Award

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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.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.