Rookie of the Year Winners announced
Monday was the start of awards week in baseball, with the Rookie of the Year award winners being announced in both leagues. Over in the National League, we almost got a unanimous winner, with Cincinnati Reds infielder Jonathan India taking home the award with 29 first place votes out of a possible 30. India was the fifth overall pick back in 2018, and was up in the majors all season. Over the course of 150 games and 631 plate appearances, the infielder hit .269/.376/.459 for a 122 wRC+. The other first place vote went to Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers, and Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson was the third-place finisher.
Over in the American League, 2020 postseason hero and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena took home the win. He was the heavy favorite coming into the season, and while he was challenged a bit by his teammate he was able to make good on his favorite status with a good overall season to win the award. Arozarena finished the season hitting .274/.356/.459 for a 128 wRC+. He received 22 of 30 first-place votes, with Houston starter Luis Garcia finishing second and Wander Franco, Arozarena’s teammate, finishing third.
Why Red Sox Fans should care: There’s two Red Sox angles to take here. The first is that no Boston players received votes, which isn’t a huge surprise. That said, Bobby Dalbec and Garrett Whitlock had some hope for down-ballot votes. If each ballot contained five players rather than three then I suspect the would have gotten a couple of votes. The other part of this is that, with a Rays player winning the award, Arozarena’s arbitration price when the time comes should increase, which in turn increases the likelihood he will be traded before he hits the open market for the first time.
New York Mets to hire Billy Epler
One of the big stories around baseball in this early part of the offseason has been the Very Bad Time the Mets have been having trying to fill their front office. After setting out with an extremely ambitious list of candidates to start the winter, they were shut down even trying to get candidates to interview time and time again. It seems they have finally found their match, with Billy Epler expected to get the job.
Epler had previously been the Angels general manager, overseeing that organization during a disappointing run in which they employed the best player in the world but could not build enough around Mike Trout to get into the postseason. Epler was, to his credit, in charge when the Angels signed Shohei Ohtani. The Angels parted ways with Epler last winter. In New York, it’s still not clear exactly how much control Epler will have, as Sandy Alderson still looms and many think he ultimately has say on personnel decisions. There have also been reports that, if the Mets have their way, whoever was hired this winter would be serving under David Stearns, current Brewers executive, by next season.
Why Red Sox fans should care: There’s not a whole lot of Red Sox connection here, but Boston executive Raquel Ferreira was one of the executives who turned down a chance to interview. She obviously will be staying with the Red Sox.
Braves sign Manny Piña
The catching market this winter, like most winters, is extremely weak, and one of the few solid options has come off the board early. The Braves on Monday signed former Brewers backstop Manny Piña to a two-year deal worth $8 million. He is expected to serve as Atlanta’s backup behind incumbent starter Travis d’Arnaud. Piña is coming off a season in which he hit .289/.293/.439 for a 95 wRC+. He’s typically hovered around league-average with the bat, usually leaning towards the below-average side of the equation.
Why Red Sox fans should care: This does make it more likely that Kevin Plawecki will be tendered a contract when the time comes, though that was already expected to happen. This could also make some young catchers available from Atlanta, most notably former top prospect William Contreras. The Red Sox already have four catchers on the 40-man, though, so it’s unlikely they were to pursue any trade talks down that road.