Saunders, Feldman and Wuertz agree to new deals

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Joe Saunders.jpg– The Angels and Joe Saunders avoided arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a one-year, $3.7 million contract. The 28-year-old southpaw asked for $3.85 million and was offered $3.6 million when arbitration figures were exchanged last week, so he settled for a little less than the midpoint. Saunders was 16-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 31 starts last season. He was 7-0 with a 2.55 ERA over his final eight starts after serving a stint on the disabled list due to a shoulder irritation.

– The Rangers and Scott Feldman avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $2,425,000 contract. Feldman, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, asked for $2.9 million and was offered $2.05 million when figures were released last week. Though he didn’t start the season in the rotation, the 26-year-old right-hander surprised by finishing 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He’s not nearly as good as the wins would have you think, but as Fangraphs astutely pointed out, his cut fastball was worth 25.9 runs last season, leading the majors. Yes, even better more than Mariano Rivera.

– Finally, the Athletics inked right-hander Michael Wuertz to a two-year, $5.25 million contract with a $3.5 million club option for 2012. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the 31-year-old right-hander will earn $2.2 million in 2010 and $2.8 million in 2011. The Athletics can buy out the option for $250,000. Wuertz compiled a 2.63 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 102/23 K/BB ratio in 78 2/3 innings with the Athletics last season, emerging as one of the best set-up men in the majors.

Once again, Cy Young votes from the Tampa Bay chapter were interesting

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In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.

In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.

Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.

If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.

Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.

Upton had another tweet for the occasion: