MVP Awards handed
There was intrigue in both of the MVP awards this year, particularly because the two arguable favorites — Mike Trout and Christian Yelich — each missed the last few weeks of the season due to injury. That injury did one in while the other still grabbed the award. In the National League, Yelich could not win his second in a row. Instead, Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers won it, making him the first Dodgers position player to win since Kirk Gibson. On the year, Bellinger hit .305/.406/.629 for a 162 wRC+ while hitting 47 homers, stealing 15 bases and playing great defense in the outfield. There was a legitimate case to be made for Yelich even with the missed time, but Bellinger was far from an outrage to be picked. He received 19 of 30 first place votes, with Yelich receiving ten and Anthony Rendon receiving one.
Over on the other side, Mike Trout made it a sweep for Los Angeles-based MVPs. This was another one without a clear favorite, with Trout having better rate stats but Alex Bregman using a huge September to make him a legitimate candidate. That the latter made the postseason while Trout did not only made it more likely this would be another second-place finish for Trout. Instead, the Angels center fielder won his third MVP, getting 17 of the 30 first place votes. Bregman got the other 13. Trout finished the year hitting .291/.438/.645 for a 180 wRC+ with 45 homers. He has now racked up 73.4 fWAR over his career and continues what could very well go down as the best career in baseball history.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox were never going to have an MVP winner this year given how disappointing their season was, but they did have four players receive votes. Xander Bogaerts finished highest among Boston players, finishing fifth and receiving one third-place vote. Mookie Betts was next with an eight-place finish, which is actually his worst finish since 2015. Rafael Devers finished off his breakout year with a 12-place finish while J.D. Martinez received one tenth-place vote and finished in a tie for 21st.
Will Smith signs in Atlanta
I will spare you the Fresh Prince — or, more fitting for my childhood, I, Robot — puns here. Instead I’ll just tell you that former Giants reliever Will Smith has agreed to a three-year deal worth $40 million with the Braves. There is also a fourth-year option. Atlanta should theoretically be one of the most active teams in free agency this year as a young contender in the same division as the defending World Series champions as well as the talented Phillies and the Mets, who...well, they’re the Mets. The Braves had some relief issues last year and Smith was the best reliever available in free agency. Atlanta did have to give up their highest draft selection for Smith, but that was still just a late first-round pick. As for Smith and his agent, they played this well reportedly telling teams they had to offer him a deal before the qualifying offer deadline or he was staying with the Giants. That ended up getting him a multi-year deal that may not have came if they were stuck on the open market with no ultimatum to play.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox are certainly going to be in the market for bullpen help, and I think a late-inning arm like Smith is exactly what they need. That said, Smith specifically never seemed like a real option. For one thing, his AAV is not negligible at $13 million and the Red Sox are cutting payroll. Less importantly, they have two lefties in whom they seem to believe with Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez, and while that shouldn’t and likely won’t preclude them from signing another lefty it will likely make them lean towards a righty if all else is close to equal.
Two players accept the qualifying offer
This season, two players have accepted the one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer. Those two players are Jake Odorizzi of the Twins and José Abreu of the White Sox. For the former, this was to be expected. Odorizzi is coming off a strong year but he doesn’t have a huge track record of success and there is a decent amount of talent on the top two tiers of the free agent market for starting pitchers this year. This gives the righty a chance at a big payday for 2020 while also allowing himself to establish his talent a bit more and potentially re-enter the market next winter with no compensation attached. As for Abreu, he was more likely to get some real interest around the league. That said, he is an aging bat with little defensive value and also has a strong connection with the White Sox organization. They both wanted to stay together, so this is no major surprise. With these two signing and Smith signing in Atlanta, there are now seven players who will have compensation attached in free agency. Those players are: Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, Zack Wheeler, Marcell Ozuna and Madison Bumgarner.
Sox Spin: Not much to report here. This is basically the same situation as Smith, where both Odorizzi and Abreu could have potentially made sense for Boston — the latter more so if Martinez had opted out — but they aren’t going to give up draft picks for a free agent this winter. agency. Those players are: Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, Zac