MLB notebook: Abreu, deGrom voted top rookies
Jose Abreu and Jacob deGrom were far from the major leagues at the start of 2013.
Abreu was playing for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and deGrom was in A-ball for the second straight year after coming back from Tommy John surgery.
On Monday, the pair were runaway winners in balloting for rookies of the year.
The White Sox first baseman was voted the AL honor unanimously by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and the Mets pitcher won the NL award in a landslide.
One year after defecting from Cuba, the 27-year-old Abreu had a .581 slugging percentage to become the first qualifying rookie to lead the major leagues since Oakland’s Mark McGwire in 1987, according to STATS. Abreu was sixth in batting at .317, tied for fourth in home runs with 36 and fifth in RBIs with 107.
He said playing in the major leagues “never crossed my mind when I was a kid in Cuba.”
Abreu received all 30 first place votes for 150 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker was second with 40 points, followed by Yankees reliever Dellin Betances (27), Houston pitcher Collin McHugh (21) and Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (16), who was hurt for most of the season’s second half.
Abreu became the sixth White Sox player to earn the honor following Luis Aparicio (1956), Gary Peters (1963), Tommie Agee (1966), Ron Kittle (1983) and Ozzie Guillen (1985).
DeGrom received 26 of 30 first-place votes and 142 points. Speedy Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton was second with four firsts and 92 points. He hit .285 with 38 stolen bases in the first half, then slumped to .200 with 18 steals after the All-Star break.
“I was just thankful to be in the big leagues this year,” DeGrom said.
DeGrom went 0-4 with a 4.39 ERA in his first seven starts, then won at Miami with seven scoreless innings on June 21. He went on to win nine of his last 11 decisions, compiling a 1.99 ERA, and finished 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA. He became the fifth Mets winner of the award, joining Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984).
Mets sign OF Cuddyer
The Mets made baseball’s first splash of the offseason, agreeing to a two-year contract with two-time All-Star outfielder Michael Cuddyer worth about $21 million.
The 2013 NL batting champion became the first top free agent to switch teams since the World Series. Cuddyer, who turns 36 in March, had until later in the day to decide whether to accept a $15.3 million qualifying offer from Colorado.
Cuddyer hit .332 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs this year in a season interrupted by injuries.
Free agents opt out
For the third straight year, baseball’s free agents shunned qualifying offers from their former teams and chose to test the market.
All 12 free agents who were given the $15.3 million offers last week chose not to accept by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
World Series star Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco) let the deadline pass, as did pitcher Max Scherzer and first baseman-designated hitter Victor Martinez (Detroit).
Did Cubs tamper?
Major League Baseball will investigate whether the Cubs tampered with new manager Joe Maddon while he was still under contract with the Rays.
The Cubs and Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, have denied the claim by the Rays, who believe Maddon opted out of his contract with the knowledge the Cubs were prepared to sign him to a lucrative long-term deal.
Maddon wound up leaving the Rays for a five-year deal reportedly worth $25 million.
Cubs president Theo Epstein, who denied the claim last week, was unavailable for comment.
Cuban ballplayer smuggler sentenced
A judge imposed a prison sentence of more than 14 years on the convicted ringleader of a smuggling organization that brought more than 1,000 Cubans into the U.S., including several baseball players.
Eliezer Lazo pleaded guilty in August to extortion charges involving the migrants, including Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin. Other ballplayers are identified only by initials.
The Twins unveiled new home uniforms that omit the pinstripes the team has worn since 1987. … The Reds promoted Jim Riggleman to third base coach, replacing Steve Smith. It’s the only change on Cincinnati’s coaching staff following an 86-loss season that was their worst since 2008.