Judge, Ohtani among 3 finalists for AL MVP award next week

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and Yordan Alvarez are the finalists for American League MVP in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

St. Louis Cardinals teammates Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt remain contenders for NL MVP, along with San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado.

The BBWAA also revealed finalists for the Cy Young Awards, Rookies of the Year and Managers of the Year. Balloting was conducted at the conclusion of the regular season, and winners will be announced next week.

Justin Verlander of the World Series champion Houston Astros is a heavy favorite to win his third Cy Young Award after the 39-year-old ace went 18-4 with a major league-low 1.75 ERA this season in a marvelous comeback from Tommy John surgery.

Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox and Alek Manoah of the Toronto Blue Jays are the other AL Cy Young finalists.

Miami ace Sandy Alcantara, Atlanta left-hander Max Fried and Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Julio Urias are the top three vote-getters for the NL Cy Young Award.

Judge broke the AL record with 62 home runs, tied for the big league lead with 131 RBIs and was second in the AL with a .311 batting average.

He also led the majors in runs (133), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.686), OPS (1.111), extra-base hits (90) and total bases (391) to help the New York Yankees win the AL East. The 6-foot-7 outfielder became a free agent Sunday.

Ohtani, last year’s AL MVP, put together perhaps the greatest two-way season in baseball history for a third-place Los Angeles Angels team that finished 73-89.

The superstar from Japan went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 28 starts on the mound covering 166 innings. At the plate, he batted .273 with 34 homers, 95 RBIs and an .875 OPS.

Alvarez, the Houston slugger who launched a go-ahead homer in the clinching game of the World Series last weekend, hit .306 with 37 home runs, 97 RBIs and a 1.019 OPS during the regular season.

Seattle center fielder Julio Rodriguez is expected to win a crowded AL Rookie of the Year race that also includes Cleveland left fielder Steven Kwan and Baltimore catcher Adley Rutschman.

Notably absent from the trio of finalists was Houston shortstop Jeremy Pena, a breakout star in the postseason following his solid regular season.

Pena, who won a Gold Glove last week, was the World Series MVP against Philadelphia and the AL Championship Series MVP versus the Yankees. He became the first hitter to take those three prizes in an entire career, according to OptaSTATS – doing it all in his rookie season.

Cardinals utilityman Brendan Donovan joined Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II and pitcher Spencer Strider in the top three for NL Rookie of the Year.

Cleveland’s Terry Francona, Baltimore’s Brandon Hyde and Seattle’s Scott Servais are in the running for AL Manager of the Year.

In the National League, it’s Dave Roberts from the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers, first-year New York Mets skipper Buck Showalter, and Brian Snitker of the NL East champion Braves.

Showalter is trying to join Hall of Famers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa as the only managers to win the award four times.

Rob Thomson didn’t make the cut after taking over the NL champion Phillies when Joe Girardi was fired in early June and guiding them to their first playoff berth in 11 years.

Philadelphia was 22-29 when Thomson was promoted from bench coach to interim manager, and the Phillies went 65-46 the rest of the regular season. He was rewarded with a two-year contract last month.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.