Matthew Pouliot

Victor Martinez

Examining the DH market

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In light of the surprising and quite likely erroneous report that free agent Billy Butler is sitting on a three-year, $30 million offer, let’s take a quick look at who is actually searching for a DH this winter. There would seem to be plenty of options, with Victor Martinez, Butler and Kendrys Morales essentially locked in as a designated hitters and Nelson Cruz more valuable there than he is in the outfield. Fellow free agents Adam LaRoche, Mike Morse, Jonny Gomes, Josh Willingham, Delmon Young, Corey Hart and Ryan Ludwick could also be viewed as at least part-time designated hitters.

So, who needs a DH?

Baltimore: The Orioles will address the spot somehow, whether it’s re-signing Cruz or bringing in a part-time option to mix in with Steve Pearce.

Boston: This is the one team we can be certain won’t be signing any DH types.

New York: The Yankees will almost certainly need to rotate Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in as designated hitters at times, making it highly unlikely that they’ll sign a regular for the position. They could add another role player who would DH on occasion.

Tampa Bay: The Rays are trying to reduce payroll. Ideally, they’d probably trade Matt Joyce or David DeJesus and then find a cheap part-time DH to help out, probably one of the guys who slips through the cracks.

Toronto: The Jays dealt Adam Lind in part because they wanted to increase their flexibility in the DH role. One angle that’s gotten some play is signing Russell Martin and putting Dioner Navarro into the DH mix, though that’s a long shot. It’s hard to imagine they’ll sign a Butler or a Morales, but they will want some help here.

Chicago: If Dayan Viciedo is back, it should be as a designated hitter. The White Sox, though, would be better off trading him and bringing in a mid-priced veteran.

Cleveland: Between Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana, the Indians are settled at DH and first base.

Detroit: The Tigers will certainly sign a designated hitter, though all they really want to do is retain Martinez.

Kansas City: The Royals will re-sign or replace Butler, but they’d probably prefer it wasn’t a full-time DH. They’re more worried about the pitching market right now, and it seems they’re rightfully figuring someone will fall into their laps laterr.

Minnesota: Between Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia and Josmyl Pinto, the Twins have more young designated hitter options than they know what to do with.

Houston: Jonathan Singleton looked bad enough last season that the Astros could consider adding a first baseman-DH to pair with Chris Carter. It’d likely be a cheap one, though.

Los Angeles: Since Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols both will likely need to spend some time DHing next year, the Angels won’t spend here. They’ll probably stick with C.J. Cron.

Oakland: Between their three-headed catching monster (Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso) and first base options like Brandon Moss, Kyle Blanks and Nate Freiman, the A’s should be covered here.

Seattle: The Mariners are the Tigers’ chief rival for Martinez, with Butler looming as a fallback. It’d be a surprise if they didn’t sign one of them or maybe Cruz.

Texas: The Rangers are saying they’ll tender Mitch Moreland, suggesting that he’ll be the primary DH with Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo also logging time there.

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So, to wrap it up, that’s Detroit and Seattle almost surely signing starting DHs, with Kansas City and Baltimore in the probable camp and Chicago, Toronto and Tampa Bay as the maybes.

That’d seem to make it a buyer’s market. My guess is that the Tigers bring back Martinez and the Mariners sign Butler. If Cruz signs as a DH or one or two other teams decide on trades to plug the hole, that could leave Morales scrambling for work and potentially facing more competition from a field of non-tenders that could include Viciedo, Ike Davis and Juan Francisco.

In other words, if you’re a player not named Victor Martinez and you get a solid offer early, you should probably take it.

Report: Billy Butler gets a three-year, $30 million offer

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Take it with a huge grain of salt, since it’s Phil Rogers. But this is what he wrote on MLB.com:

A source indicated to MLB.com that Butler has received a three-year, $30 million offer. That team is widely believed to be the Orioles.

Orioles GM Dan Duquette denied it, telling FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal that it’s “not true. Not even close.”

It’s hard to imagine any team would make such a commitment to a player as limited as Butler. On the one hand, he’s just 28 and he was one of the AL’s better hitters in 2012. However, he’s slipped from 29 homers in 2012 to 15 in 2013 to nine last season. His OPS has declined from .883 to .786 to .712. And even if he does bounce back, he’ll do so as a one-dimensional, terribly slow designated hitter.

Given that there are only 15 teams using the DH and that many of them now prefer not being locked into a single option at the position, it really shouldn’t take a large commitment to sign Butler. If someone really bid $30 million for three years… well, it’s hard to see who they could be bidding against.

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Related: Examining the DH market.

Orioles’ Buck Showalter named AL Manager of the Year

Buck Showalter
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Having led the Orioles to their first AL East time since 1997, Buck Showalter was selected as the American League Manager of the Year in balloting released Tuesday, beating out the Angels’ Mike Scioscia and the Royals’ Ned Yost for the award.

Showalter got 25 of the 30 first-place votes and was named on 29 ballots. Scioscia got four first-place votes and was named on 23 ballots. Yost was second on 11 ballots and third on eight. The one other first-place vote went to the Mariners’ Lloyd McClendon, who finished fourth.

It’s Showalter’s third time receiving the honor, each spaced 10 years apart. He won in 1994 in his third year with the Yankees and in 2004 in his second year with the Rangers. He also finished second in 1993 and 2012.

Voting for the award took part before the postseason. Otherwise, the nod might have gone to Yost, who skippered his team to the World Series, beating the Orioles along the way, after finishing second in the AL Central and claiming a wild card spot.

Like Showalter, Scioscia had won the award twice before, though from 2010-13, he was named on a ballot only once, finishing sixth in 2011. His Angels finished with baseball’s best record this year, improving from 78-84 in 2013 to 98-64. That’s a bigger leap than either the Orioles (11 games) or Royals (three games) made, and that leap forward in record is usually what rules in the day in Manager of the Year award voting. However, in this case, Showalter most certainly got some extra credit for doing so well with a team that lost Matt Wieters and Manny Machado to season-ending injuries.

Nationals’ Matt Williams selected as NL Manager of the Year

Matt Williams
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Rookie skipper Matt Williams, who led the Nationals to a first-place finish in the NL East, got 18 of the 30 first-place votes to claim NL Manager of the Year honors in balloting released Tuesday.

Williams topped Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle (eight first-place votes) and San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy (three first-place votes) for the award. He was named on 25 of the 30 ballots, compared to 24 for Hurdle and just 12 for Bochy. Marlins manager Mike Redmond got the other first-place vote, that coming from a Miami writer (Luis E. Rangel).

Voting, of course, took place for Williams made a mess of the NLDS in a loss to the Giants. The Nationals improved from 86-76 in their final year under Davey Johnson to 96-66 with Williams at the helm. Still, expectations were plenty high going in, with most predicting the Nationals would win the NL East. Williams is likely being credited for his handling of the clubhouse, in particular his benching of Bryce Harper for not running out a groundout in April. He did a fine job of handling the closer switch in September when Rafael Soriano fell apart.

Still, it’s hard to believe any of the writers who voted for Williams would currently say anyone except Bochy is the NL’s best manager. His Giants won their third World Series in five years last month, doing so with less frontline talent than the Nationals possessed. Voting was done before the postseason, but it’s bizarre that 60 percent of the voters couldn’t find room for him on their ballots.

Jose Abreu is a unanimous selection for AL Rookie of the Year

Jose Abreu
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White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, who finished third in the AL in homers and first in slugging percentage last season, was the unanimous choice for the AL Rookie of the Year award, announced Monday.

Abreu topped Angels starter Matt Shoemaker and Yankees setup man Dellin Betances for the award in a strong class of AL rookies. Any one of those three, Collin McHugh, Masahiro Tanaka and Yordano Ventura probably would have won the award in 2013 over 88 games of Wil Myers.

Shoemaker finished second with 12 of the 30 second-place votes, though he was named on just 16 ballots. Betances got seven second-place votes and was named on 13 ballots. McHugh finished fourth, getting six second-place votes. Tanaka was fifth with three second-place votes.

Recognized as Cuba’s best hitter before defecting, the 27-year-old Abreu became the White Sox’s everyday first baseman after signing a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox in the offseason. He ended up hitting .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers and 107 RBI despite serving an early DL stint due to an ankle injury.

Shoemaker is the only controversial selection. While undeniably a fine starter, he got the nod over McHugh and Tanaka strictly because of his 16-4 record for baseball’s best team. Digging a little deeper:

Shoemaker: 3.04 ERA, 124 K in 136 IP
McHugh: 2.73 ERA, 157 K in 154 2/3 IP
Tanaka: 2.77 ERA, 141 K in 136 1/3 IP
Ventura: 3.20 ERA, 159 K in 183 IP

McHugh should have been the pick as the AL’s top rookie starter. He actually faced the Angels four times this year and had a 1.90 ERA. In all, he had a 1.55 ERA in seven starts against playoff teams. Shoemaker had a 4.40 ERA in his five starts against playoff clubs.

Betances, a failed starter in the minors, was simply an overwhelming reliever for the Yankees, rivaling Wade Davis for the best numbers of any reliever in the majors. He had a 1.40 ERA and a 135/24 K/BB ratio in a whopping 90 innings out of the pen. Only the Mets’ Carlos Torres threw more innings in relief last season.