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Award season wraps up tonight with the coronation of the Most Valuable Players, which should be Shohei Ohtani in the American League if everybody maintained proper perspective of the sheer improbability of his existence, and an open question between Juan Soto and Bryce Harper in the National League.
The White Sox won’t factor into that discussion, but they appeared like buckshot across the Cy Young ballot tally. Robbie Ray beat out Gerrit Cole for the top spot, but Lance Lynn finished in the show position at No. 3, giving the White Sox their first pitcher on the podium since Chris Sale finished behind Corey Kluber and Felix Hernandez in 2014.
Better yet, Carlos Rodón came out of nowhere to finish fifth, raising some White Sox history in the most White Sox of ways.
And that’s not all. Liam Hendriks’ work as the American League’s top reliever earned an eighth-place finish with three third place votes and one fifth-place vote, while Lucas Giolito received just the latter to share 11th place with Raisel Iglesias.
(José Berríos finished in ninth,, for those tracking that head-to-head comparison with Giolito for contract-extension purposes.)
In the Manager of the Year voting, Tony La Russa received four second-place votes and three thirds, which was only good enough for sixth place in an American League with a number of compelling stories. A.J. Hinch finished seventh with three third-place votes, which sets the table for a more direct head-to-head comparison next year.
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Courtesy of the always-yet-sometimes reliable Bob Nightengale, the White Sox made their first appearance in the hot stove rumor mill this winter with a connection to Justin Verlander, voiced more strongly than other forms of initial interest.
The fit made some sense, but considering the rumor arrived around the same time as ones connecting Verlander to other teams (Dodgers, Braves), it seemed like a leverage ploy — especially since Verlander supposedly maintained a preference for a team that spent the spring in Florida.
The rumor died in a matter of hours, when Verlander’s brother announced that the Houston Astros were retaining him. Verlander rejected the $18.4 million qualifying offer before signing with the Astros. He’ll get $25 million for 2022, with a $25 million player option for the same amount.
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Speaking of the qualifying offer, Brandon Belt was the only player of 14 to accept the terms, as he’ll return to the San Francisco Giants for $18.4 million. Verlander joins Belt in staying with his current organization, while Eduardo Rodriguez already signed with the Detroit Tigers and Noah Syndergaard with the Angels.
That leaves 10 players who opted for free agency with draft-pick compensation attached.
- Nick Castellanos,
- Michael Conforto
- Carlos Correa
- Freddie Freeman
- Raisel Iglesias
- Robbie Ray
- Corey Seager
- Marcus Semien
- Trevor Story
- Chris Taylor
Seiya Suzuki will also be joining the free agent pool in short order, as the Hiroshoma Carp are planning on posting Nippon Professional Baseball’s most interesting man next week. That could only leave one week for a negotiation process before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and a potential lockout, when usually the process allows 30 days for it to play out. The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly says the leagues are working to agree to freeze Suzuki’s eligibility in the event of a transaction freeze.
(Photo by Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports)