MLB Midseason Award Winners: Manager of the Year

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There was no baseball yesterday. There is no baseball today. There will be baseball tomorrow, but not until 7:05 PM, so it’s basically three days without anyone throwing a pitch in anger. Let’s kill the time, then, by arguing about who, if the season ended today, would be your award winners. Last up: Manager of the Year.

You’ve all heard my spiel about the Manager of the Year Award many times, but there’s nothing going on today, so I’ll offer it again.

The Manager of the Year Award says more about people on the outside, not the inside. On their expectations for a team as opposed to what the manager actually does. This is because a manager’s success is insanely dependent on his team’s talent level and health and because the things he actually does — motivation, clubhouse management, subtle pulls of the lever across a six month period, often involving data and background information of which we are not aware — are largely opaque to outsiders. If you do better with what outsiders thought you had six months earlier, hooray, you’re the manager of the year.

As such, the Manager of the Year Award does not really lend itself to analysis and prediction in the way the other awards do. The fact that the Giants suck does not mean that Bruce Bochy forgot how to be a good manager. The fact that the Cubs are underachieving does not mean that Joe Maddon has lost his way. The fact that the Twins and Brewers have exceeded expectations does not mean that Paul Molitor and Craig Counsell are now destined for Cooperstown. Stuff happens. Managers of the Year are picked either because their team is insanely dominant or because their team did better than most people thought they would.

Based on those factors, you could make a dominance case for A.J. Hinch of the Astros and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers. Or you could make an expectations case for Bud Black of the Rockies, Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks, Molitor or Counsell. I’d probably give it to Hinch and Roberts, but again, what does that really mean?

I’m sure you all have an idea about this. Let’s hear your arguments in the comments.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.