Cy Young Winners Named
Awards week continued along on Wednesday with the Cy Youngs being handed out by the BBWAA. We’ll start over on the American League side of things, and there was no drama whatsoever this year for this award. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber won the award unanimously, getting all 30 first-place votes.
Bieber broke out in 2019 in his first full season to really put himself on the map, but he took things to even another level in 2020, not only winning this award easily but putting himself on the short list for best pitcher in the game. The righty tossed a total of 77 1⁄3 innings this past summer over 12 starts, pitching to a ridiculous 1.63 ERA with peripherals not too far behind, striking out over 41 percent of batters while walking only seven percent.
You’ll be shocked to learn no Red Sox pitchers received votes for the Cy Young. Kenta Maeda, who the Red Sox had a chance to trade for in the Mookie Betts deal but (correctly, probably) assessed he wasn’t really in their timeline, finished with a comfortable margin in second place while Hyun-Jin Ryu took third.
Over on the National League side, things were much more up in the air. Trevor Bauer was certainly the favorite, but there were enough other good choices that it certainly wasn’t as assumed as Bieber’s win. In the end, though, it was Bauer who took home the award, making it a clean sweep for the state of Ohio.
Bauer had an undeniably great campaign for the Reds, pitching to a 1.73 ERA over 73 innings and 11 starts. He struck out 36 percent of his opponents while walking just six percent. The argument against him, and the reason I would have had Jacob deGrom slightly in front of the pack in this race, was that he only had to face Central teams. That region of MLB play this summer was much worse offensively than the other two, though there’s some chicken or egg to this conversation as a number of great pitchers play in these divisions as well. For Bauer, it was even more extreme as he avoided teams like the Twins and the Cardinals and only had to face the White Sox once. Of course, he also dominated a great Braves lineup in the postseason, though that doesn’t count towards Cy Young consideration.
Ultimately though, while I would have picked someone else it’s much too close to gripe over and Bauer was certainly deserving. He got 27 of the first-place votes with Yu Darvish finishing second and receiving the other three. The aforementioned deGrom finished third. Bauer is currently the top free agent pitcher, and now has this trophy to add to his resumé.
Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman accept qualifying offers
Wednesday was also the deadline for players to make decisions about the qualifying offers they were extended. To no one’s surprise, Bauer, DJ LeMaheiu, George Springer and J.T. Realmuto all declined them and will become free agents. If/When either of them sign with another team, said team will give up draft pick compensation while their former club receives compensation.
The other two, however, accepted the offer. Those would be Marcus Stroman, who returns to the Mets, and Kevin Gausman, who goes back to the Giants. Neither of these decisions are particularly surprising to me, particularly considering the brutal offseason we’re about to witness for players. While they are both very good pitchers — Stroman has a lower ceiling but is more established while Gausman doesn’t have the track record but has the prospect pedigree and recent performance — they aren’t the kind of elite free agent that seems to rise above otherwise slow markets.
This is a bit of a blow to the Red Sox, though the bigger blow was them being given the qualifying offer at all. I suspect a team in the Red Sox’ position, meaning a team who wants to win but isn’t going to push all-in right now, wasn’t ready to give up a high second rounder for one of these two. Had they been available compensation-free, they would have been two of my favorite potential targets this winter. As it stands, the biggest impact I see from this move is simply that it takes teams that would have been in on them even with the draft pick attached and moves them into the marketplace for pitchers the Red Sox would more realistically target.