Staying in Beantown
One of the most highly-anticipated decisions of the offseason was made on Monday when Red Sox’ outfielder/designated hitter J.D. Martinez decided not to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract.
Martinez is coming off of another tremendous season offensively in which he slashed .304/.383/.557 with 36 homers, 98 runs scored and 105 RBI in 146 games.
The 32-year-old slugger has three years and $62.5 million remaining on his contract. Rather than gamble that he’ll be able to earn more than that on the open market — especially given how long it took him to find work prior to the 2018 season — Martinez will remain a fixture in the middle of the Red Sox’ lineup.
This complicates things for the Red Sox who are intent on shedding payroll this offseason in an effort to get under the luxury tax threshold. The decision by Martinez to remain in Boston could mean the end of Mookie Betts’ tenure in Boston — as the club is likely to entertain trade offers on their 27-year-old superstar this winter.
The Red Sox could also look at dealing Martinez, though given his struggles defensively, they’re limited to looking at American League teams that can afford to have a designated hitter on the books making more than $20 million per season over the next three years. Betts, on the other hand, should draw interest from nearly every team around the league and should fetch a tremendous haul of prospects in return.
And the Nominees Are ...
Major League Baseball gave a major preview of the award season on Monday, announcing the three finalists for each of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America honors — the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year Awards.
Without further ado, the nominees are ...
Had Mike Trout’s season not ended prematurely due to injury in early September, the Angels’ outfielder would have been an absolute lock to take home the third MVP award of his young career. As it stands, he’s still the favorite, but Alex Bregman has a legitimate claim to the honor as well. The winner will be announced on November 14.
Wow. This is by far the hardest one to handicap, as all three players had unbelievable seasons. Had Yelich not been shut down by a fractured knee on September 10, he would very likely be the favorite to capture his second consecutive NL MVP award. Rendon had an unbelievable season on both sides of the ball while leading the Nationals to a World Series title, but my money is on Dodgers’ superstar Cody Bellinger to bring home the hardware. We’ll find out on November 14.
Next to the battle for the NL MVP, this is the most intriguing race. With all due respect to Charlie Morton, this is going to come down to his former teammates. Cole posted a 2.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 326/48 K/BB ratio over 212 1/3 innings, while Verlander came in with a 2.58 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 300/42 K/BB ratio over 223 frames. My lean here is Verlander — as it’s only based on regular season performance and does not take the postseason into account — but it’s unbelievably close. The winner will be announced on November 13.
Noticeably absent from the list are Stephen Strasburg and Jack Flaherty. DeGrom would appear to be a safe bet to win this one for the second year in a row. The Mets right-hander put up a 2.43 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 255/44 K/BB ratio over 204 innings this season. The winner will be announced on November 13.
With apologies to Lowe and Means, this is a one-horse race. Alvarez wasn't called up by the Astros until June but still hit 27 home runs, drove in 78 and posted a blistering .313/.412/.655 batting line across 87 games. The winner will be announced on November 11.
Had Fernando Tatis Jr. remained healthy and played an entire season, it’s possible that he could have put up the phenomenal numbers required to challenge for this award. As it stands, Pete Alonso should be a unanimous selection after he broke the single-season rookie home run record with 53 bombs and finished with a .260/.358/.583 batting line, 120 RBI and 103 runs scored. The winner will be announced on November 11.
Manager of the Year - American League: Rocco Baldelli, Aaron Boone, Kevin Cash
Predicting who will take home a Manager of the Year award is a fool's errand, but Baldelli seems like a good bet here after the Twins made a 23-win jump in his first year on the job. Minnesota finished with a 101-61 record before being swept by the Yankees in the ALDS. The winner will be announced on November 12.
Manager of the Year - National League: Craig Counsell, Mike Shildt, Brian Snitker
Unable to crack the top three was Dave Martinez -- who led the Nationals to their first World Series title -- and Dave Roberts -- who led the Dodgers to a franchise-record 106 wins. Voting was done before the playoffs, though. If venturing a guess, I’d lean slightly toward Craig Counsell. The winner will be announced on November 12.
The deadline for teams to extend one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offers to pending free agents was Monday. 10 players in total received qualifying offers. These players will now have 10 days to decide whether or not to accept the offer, or to try their luck on the open market.
If a player rejects the qualifying offer — and does not work out a deal with their existing team — the team that does sign them will have to sacrifice draft pick compensation. The team that extended the qualifying offer would receive a compensatory pick if the player declines the offer and signs elsewhere.
Here’s the full list of players mulling their qualifying offers:
Mets - Zack Wheeler
Twins - Jake Odorizzi
Braves - Josh Donaldson
Cardinals - Marcell Ozuna
Astros - Gerrit Cole
Giants - Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith
White Sox - Jose Abreu
American League Quick Hits: The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Chase Anderson from the Brewers in exchange for first base prospect Chad Spanberger. The Jays then exercised his $8.5 million option for 2020… Indians’ right-hander Danny Salazar elected to become a free agent after declining an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus… A.J. Cole, Cody Anderson and Tyler Olson did the same… Juan Centeno elected free agency… Tyler Lyons reused his outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, making him a free agent… The Athletics claimed left-hander T.J. McFarland off of waivers from the Diamondbacks… The Twins declined their $7.5 million club option on southpaw Martin Perez… The Angels declined their $14 million option on outfielder Kole Calhoun… The Astros declined their $2.625 million option on Chris Devenski, though he still has a couple of years of arbitration left and will remain with the organization… Twins’ right-hander Kohl Stewart — the former number four overall pick — elected free agency… The Blue Jays sent Devon Travis outright to Triple-A Buffalo… The Jays also designated Ryan Tepera for assignment… Jack Curry of YES Network reports that the Yankees interviewed David Cone for their pitching coach vacancy last week.
National League Quick Hits: The Braves re-signed Tyler Flowers to a one-year, $4 million contract… The Cubs declined their $5 million option on David Phelps, making the right-hander a free agent… Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Monday that it's "too early to tell" if Yoenis Cespedes (ankle) will be back in 2020… Van Wagenen also admitted that the team has discussed moving Seth Lugo and/or Robert Gsellman back to the club’s starting rotation… The Pirates exercised their $9 million option on Chris Archer for 2020… The Cubs declined their $3 million option on right-hander Kendall Graveman… The Brewers, somewhat surprisingly, declined their $7.5 million club option on Eric Thames, making the 32-year-old slugger a free agent… The Brewers picked up their $1.85 million option on Manny Pina… The Braves re-signed Nick Markakis to a one-year, $4 million deal… The Braves declined their $12 million club option on Julio Teheran… The Cubs declined their $3 million option on Tony Barnette… The Cubs also declined their $12 million option on former closer Brandon Morrow… The Cubbies picked up their $16.5 million option on Anthony Rizzo… Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will hit free agency after refusing his outright assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley… the Phillies declined their club options on Jason Vargas ($8 million) and Jared Hughes ($3 million)... The Mets claimed Stephen Gonsalves off of waivers from the Twins… The Pirates exercised Starling Marte’s $11.5 million option for 2020… The Giants re-signed Cristhian Adames and Zach Green to minor league contracts with spring training invites… The Padres designated Eric Yardley and Jacob Nix for assignment… Carl Edwards Jr. refused an outright assignment to Triple-A and is now a free agent… The Cardinals announced a new three-year contract for manager Mike Shildt… Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Tuesday that Adam Wainwright plans to return to the club in 2020… The Rockies claimed Rico Garcia off of waivers from the Rockies… The Giants claimed Keon Wong off of waivers from the Angels and claimed Trevor Oaks off of waivers from the Royals.