Two fresh faces beat out the old guard for Cy Young awards Wednesday.
Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta, both of whom only recently made names for themselves as top-tier starters, took home the American League and National League Cy Young awards, respectively, after dominant 2015 seasons. The awards were the first for both pitchers.
Keuchel ran away with the AL award, grabbing 22 of the 30 first-place votes. He wasn't lower than second on any ballot, racking up 186 total points. David Price, who split time between the Tigers and Blue Jays, finished second, garnering the other eight first-place votes and 21 of the remaining 22 second-place votes. Sonny Gray finished a distant third.
It's hard to argue with the result. Keuchel, 27, finished 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA, American League-best 1.01 WHIP and 216/51 K/BB ratio over a league-high 232 innings. The strong season came after Keuchel burst onto the scene in 2014, posting a 2.93 ERA with five complete games in 29 starts.
The race in the National League was much closer, and for good reason. All three finalists -- Arrieta was up against the Dodgers' one-two punch of Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, among others -- had claim to the award, and all three drew first-place votes.
Arrieta earned the most, racking up 17, while Greinke received 10 and Kershaw collected the other three. All three also received third-place votes as well, as each eclipsed 100 points under the Baseball Writers' Association of America point system. Arrieta's 169 points was 22 better -- or roughly three first-place votes -- than Grienke's 147 points.
Like Keuchel, Arrieta managed to follow up an impressive 2014 season with an even-stronger 2015 campaign. Arrieta led the National League in wins (22), complete games (4), shutouts (3), hits per nine (5.9) and home runs per nine (0.4) this past season. The right-hander's 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 236 strikeouts would likely have been league-leaders in most other years as well.
With the Cy Young win, Cubs players and managers are 3-for-3 in BBWAA awards heading into Thursday's MVP announcement, a race in which the Cubs have no horse. Kris Bryant won NL Rookie of the Year on Monday, and manager Joe Maddon was named Manager of the Year on Tuesday. In the American League, Carlos Correa was named Rookie of the Year while Jeff Banister was recognized as Manager of the Year.
K-Rod Dealt To Tigers
Francisco Rodriguez saw his fantasy stock rise without lifting a finger Wednesday.
The Tigers acquired the 33-year-old closer from the Brewers on Wednesday, sending infield prospect Javier Betancourt and a player to be named later to Milwaukee. Rodriguez will make $7.5 million in 2016 with a $6 million option -- or $4 million buyout -- for 2017.
The move should benefit K-Rod's numbers, as he managed to save 44 and 38 games, respectively, over the past two seasons with a subpar Brewers club. Rodriguez posted a 2.21 ERA and 62/11 K/BB ratio over 57 innings last year.
Tigers general manager Al Avila wasted no time handing the closer role to his newest reliever.
“We felt that Francisco, with his experience, gave us the best option to close games for us this coming year, and it gives us the flexibility to continue to add bullpen pieces,” Avila said. “We felt like it was something we liked, as far as the overall trade. And it was good for both clubs.”
Martin, Wilhelmsen Change Teams
Another potential closer got a new team Monday, while a once-promising outfielder got a fresh start in return.
Tom Wilhelmsen, James Jones and a player to be named later were dealt from the Mariners to the Rangers, with Leonys Martin and Anthony Bass going the other way. The player to be named won't just be a throwaway component of the deal, either, per Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.
But Wilhelmsen and Martin are the two main pieces. Wilhelmsen was famously working as a bartender before getting a shot with the M's. The right-hander has been around since 2011 and had a good 2015 season, owning a 3.19 ERA with 13 saves in 53 appearances. Unlike K-Rod in Detroit, Wilhelmsen wasn't anointed following the trade, rather being viewed as an important part of an all-around stronger bullpen in 2016.
"We view the bullpen as a whole as a real strength," Daniels said. "In the middle of November, we're not going to lay out roles."
The success of the trade for both clubs likely lies in Martin's development, though. The 27-year-old was once a bright part of the Rangers' future, appearing on top prospect lists as recently as 2013 and batting .274/.325/.364 with 31 steals and 68 runs scored in 2014. But Martin fell out of favor this past season, hitting just .219/.264/.313 in 95 games before being demoted in early August.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said he expects Martin to be the team's everyday center fielder going forward. He said he expects some better luck for the outfielder as well.
“He’s coming off a down year, and frankly that’s when you acquire guys,” Dipoto said. “There was a soft spot in the ability to acquire Leonys, and we took advantage of that. His down year some of that can be attributed to plain bad luck. He didn’t not have a very high batting average on balls in play (.270), which is typically an indicator that it will turn around. He’s healthy, and he’s ready to go. This is guy that has put up about a nine and half WAR the past three years, which is not an insignificant number.”
Bass is a long reliever-slash-spot starter, while Jones has been a serviceable part-time outfielder in recent seasons.
Quick Hits: the Athletics made a low-risk gamble on Rich Hill's 2015 resurgence, signing the lefty to a one-year, $6 million contract. Hill owned a 1.55 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and 36/5 K/BB ratio over his final four starts as a member of the Red Sox ... Devon Travis had his 2015 season cut short by a shoulder injury, and he'll likely miss part of 2016 as well after undergoing surgery on Tuesday. Travis will be sidelined 16-to-20 weeks after having screws inserted to correct a rare bone condition in his left shoulder. At the very least, the infielder won't be ready for the start of spring training ... Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said he hopes to deal Aroldis Chapman before next month's Winter Meetings but said nothing is currently close. With Craig Kimbrel having already changed teams this offseason, Chapman is the undisputed headliner of dominant closers available on the trade market, despite the fact he has just one year of team control left ... The Mets, among others, are rumored to be "very interested" in Ben Zobrist, per Tim Rohan of the New York Times. A versatile infielder/outfielder who just helped the Royals win a World Series, Zobrist is expected to be one of the most sought after free agents this winter ... Darren O'Day, the premier right-handed reliever on the free agent market, is looking for a four-year deal in the $28-36 million range, according to Ken Rosenthal. O'Day has a shiny 1.92 ERA over his past four seasons ... Buster Olney of ESPN says the Tigers are interested in a reunion with Doug Fister. The 31-year-old disappointed in 2015, but he won 30 games over the previous two seasons between the Tigers and Nationals ... The Orioles have had discussions with the Pirates about Neil Walker, according to the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. It would presumably take a lot to pry Walker from the Pirates after he batted .269/.328/.427 with 16 homers and 71 RBI this past season ... In what would be a bit of a surprising move, the Mets could non-tender Ruben Tejada, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin said. Tejada has a chance to earn over $3 million through the arbitration process this offseason, but he had settled in as the team's starting shortstop before Chase Utley ended his postseason with a vicious takeout slide in Game 2 of the NLDS that broke Tejada's leg ... The Giants ensured their shortstop won't be going anywhere for a long time, signing Brandon Crawford to a six-year extension worth $75 million. The deal came on the heels of a season that earned Crawford Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards ... Bud Black, who started the 2015 season as the Padres' manager, will join the Angels in a front office capacity, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports ... Bronson Arroyo told John Fay of WCPO Cincinnati that he's interested in returning to the Reds. For some reason, the feeling seems to be mutual.