The Week Ahead: GM Meetings, awards on tap
Decision time for free agents; Myers, Fernandez among top Rookie of Year candidates
Yes, the World Series is over and it's about 100 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, but don't worry. There's plenty going on, and much of it begins this week.
The General Managers and Owners Meetings began Monday in Orlando, Fla., and it could signal the first place where serious discussions will be undertaken regarding the futures of free agents Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and many others, as well as players who may be on the trading block.
Also on Monday, the 5 p.m. ET deadline for the 13 free agents who were given qualifying offers of $14.1 million for the 2014 season will expire, so we will see if any of those players will choose to stick with their teams in 2014 or test the free-agent waters.
After that? Well, we've got the prestigious Baseball Writers' Association of America awards to be given out, and there won't be a day wasted.
All BBWAA award winners will be revealed during a live broadcast on MLB Network each day beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
Monday: Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year
The smart money for the AL might be on Tampa Bay slugger Wil Myers, but the other finalists -- Detroit infielder Jose Iglesias and Rays starter Chris Archer -- had excellent seasons, too. In the NL, the vote will seemingly come down to Marlins starter Jose Fernandez and Dodgers firebrand Yasiel Puig, with Cardinals starter Shelby Miller rounding out a fine trio of finalists.
Tuesday: Manager of the Year
In the AL, defending Manager of the Year Bob Melvin of the A's is a finalist once again, and he'll be up against a formidable duo in John Farrell of the Red Sox, who helped navigate his team's last-to-first-place course, and Terry Francona of the Indians, who steered Cleveland to a stirring end-of-the-season Wild Card run.
The NL honor will come down to Clint Hurdle of the Pirates, Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly and Fredi Gonzalez of the Braves, all of whom had their clubs at or near the top of the standings in 2013.
Wednesday: Cy Young Award
There are two clear front-runners in this category.
The AL favorite is Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer, who went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts, and the NL favorite is Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who went 16-9 and led the Majors with a 1.83 ERA and led the NL with 232 punchouts.
The other finalists in the AL are Japanese countrymen Yu Darvish of the Rangers and the Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma, while the other two NL finalists in the Cy Young mix are Fernandez and Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
Thursday: Most Valuable Player
Believe it or not, the 2013 AL MVP race looks a lot like the one in 2012. It's probably going to come down to a choice between last year's winner, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, and last year's runner-up, Mike Trout of the Angels. Oh, and by the way, the third finalist for this honor, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, led the AL with 53 homers and 138 RBIs.
In the NL, the finalists are outfielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs, and McCutchen rates a slight favorite based on his all-around game and the fact that he helped his team reach the postseason for the first time in 21 years.
On Friday and beyond, we might see more happenings, like big-ticket signings or trades or maybe the posting of Japanese superstar starter Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 in the 2013 regular season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles and will likely be the top pitching acquisition of the winter if he qualifies for the market.
In other words, there's a lot to look forward to on the big league slate.