The Opener: MVP Awards, Outfield Market, Top 50
As MLB’s awards season draws to a close, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the day today:
1. MVP Results Announced Tonight
The final award announcements for the 2022-23 season are coming tonight, with the AL and NL Most Valuable Player awards being announced at 5:00 PM CT. The finalists in the AL are Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtaniand Yordan Alvarezwhile the NL finalists are Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenadoand Manny Machado. The AL race this year was a particularly remarkable one, with historic seasons pitted against each other; Ohtani arguably improved on his 2021 AL MVP campaign this year, while Judge delivered perhaps the best offensive season since the days of Barry Bonds. Alvarez, for his part, put up rate numbers that would be more strongly in the mix in just about any other year. Despite truly special seasons from all three finalists in the AL, though, Judge appears to be the favorite after he set a new AL home run record. Over in the NL, Goldschmidt flirted with the Triple Crown at one point, but his season finished on a low note, as he slashed just .245/.333/.383 after the calendar flipped to September. That may have slightly opened the door for Arenado and Machado, who posted extremely similar profiles to one another in 2022. Machado’s .298/.366/.531 season line is nearly indistinguishable from Arenado’s line of .293/.358/.533.
2. How The Teoscar Trade Changes The Market
Yesterday saw the Mariners and the Blue Jays work out a trade to send Teoscar Hernandez to Seattle, potentially shaking up the outfield market in a significant way. With Hernandez no longer penciled into right field every day, the Blue Jays are now even more likely to pursue outfield help, with george springerand Lourdes Gurriel Jr. their only regular outfielders as things stand. Both Cavan Biggio and Whit Merrifield saw time in the outfield last year, but with the Blue Jays already rumored to be in the market for another outfielder even before yesterday’s trade, they’ll likely only be more aggressive in their pursuit as the offseason progresses. The other side of the trade has implications for the market as well, as Seattle is now even deeper in outfield options. Hernandez will likely slot into right field with Julio Rodriguez in center and jesse winker (assuming he himself isn’t traded) in left, but the Mariners have Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis, Taylor Trammeland Sam Haggerty further down the depth chart, to say nothing of prospects Cade Marlowe and Zach DeLoach, who could be ready for big league action sometime next year. Needless to say, Seattle’s glut of outfielders could draw trade interest, and the addition of Hernandez makes it all the likelier that president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto will deal from that depth.
3. Talking Top 50 with Rob Bradford
MLBTR’s annual Top 50 Free Agents list and predictions dropped last week, and entries for our Free Agent Prediction contest were due last night — but that doesn’t mean all things Top 50-related are in the rearview mirror just yet. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes and Steve Adams joined Rob Bradford of Audacy Sports and WEEI on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast to discuss the Top 50 list and the free-agent class at large. You can listen to their appearance here, and you can follow Baseball Isn’t Boring and follow Rob on Twitter.