Yusei Kikuchi posted by Seibu Lions
One of the stories of this offseason is that the starting pitching leaves something to be desired. There are a few solid middle-of-the-road starters, but overall the free agent crop this year is nothing too exciting. Well, there’s going to be a new name added to the market. The Seibu Lions of of Japan’s NPB have posted left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi is not a future ace like a Yu Darvish or Shohei Ohtani, but he is 27 years old and has a 2.81 career ERA in Japan. There are some durability concerns and whether or not his stuff can carry over to the big leagues is a legitimate question, but he’ll get plenty of interest. Kikuchi has 30 days to negotiate with all teams before making his decision. The Red Sox should be in the market for a starting pitcher this year, but Kikuchi might be too expensive and too risky. Plus, I don’t anticipate them signing another left-handed pitcher to join their rotation.
GM’s may try to eliminate trade waivers
The GM Meetings are taking place in San Diego right now. This is the unofficial start to the offseason and the groundwork for later deals are laid here, but generally we don’t get too much news from these meetings. This year, there’s an interesting nugget from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. According to the report, GMs around the league are considering eliminating trade waivers and just making one, regular trade deadline pushed back to around mid-August. First of all, this is not something GMs can do on their own. The players would have to sign off on this too, though I’m not sure if or why they would oppose it. This makes sense to me, because the August waiver trade period always seemed overly complicated and too easily gamed by other teams. I would guess some of the questions around Josh Donaldson’s trade to Cleveland this past August played a role in this being brought up this year. I’m not sure we’ll actually see any changes, but it’s interesting that it’s being brought to the public to gauge reactions.
White Sox ready to make a splash?
Another nugget from Morosi: He says the White Sox could be in the market for both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. On its face, it does make some sense. The White Sox are a rebuilding team, but they should be ready to enter their contention window soon and they have virtually no money on the books. They are the second team in Chicago, but they are still a Chicago-based baseball team. The money should be available to make this kind of splash. However, they have never spent money like this. Jose Abreu’s contract is the biggest they’ve ever handed out. It’s not impossible that they make these moves and shock the world but, well, I’ll believe they’d even be willing to sign one when they actually do it, and not a minute earlier.
The Rest of the BBWAA awards
We know that Alex Cora was a finalist for AL Manager of the Year and the Mookie Betts was a finalist for AL MVP. For whatever it’s worth (not much), I’d expect Bob Melvin to win Manager of the Year and Betts to take home the MVP. Let’s take a quick look at the other awards.
NL Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuña, Walker Buehler and Juan Soto were the finalists. This is a fun race between two all-time talented young bats, but I expect Acuña to win.
AL Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andújar, Shohei Ohtani and Gleyber Torres were the finalists. Ohtani missed time this year, but ultimately he’s too unique, too exciting and frankly too good to lose this.
NL Manager of the Year: Bud Black, Craig Counsell and Brian Snitker were the finalists. All three of these managers made the playoffs, but Counsell’s Brewers had the narrative all year and I expect him to win.
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer were the finalists. deGrom should and will win, and it probably won’t be close.
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber, Blake Snell and Justin Verlander were the finalists. This is an interesting one. I could see either of the last two getting it, but I’ll predict it goes to Verlander.
NL MVP: Nolan Arenado, Javy Baez and Christian Yelich were the finalists. Yelich is going to win, and it’s wild that deGrom didn’t finish in the top three.