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Storylines: Mike Trout and Kris Bryant win MVP awards

The awards season came to a close with Mike Trout and Kris Bryant taking home the MVP awards. That plus a very busy day for the Astros in today's Storylines...

Top Storyline:

- The final BWAA awards for the 2016 season have been handed out.  Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout and Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant have been named the respective American League and National League MVPs for the 2016 season.  Bryant’s victory is a surprise to no one as the Cubs third baseman simply dominated the regular season as he hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs.  He was without question the best hitter in the Cubs lineup, which is saying something considering how deep the Cubs lineup was all year as they were stacked with extremely good hitters.  Trout’s win may not have been a surprise but was certainly an issue throughout the industry.  While Trout himself put up excellent numbers with a .315/.441/.550 slash line to go with 29 home runs and 30 steals on the year, the fact the Angels were not a contending team in 2016 led some to question just how valuable a player Trout was.  Nonetheless, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America decided that he was indeed the most valuable player, although his win was far from guaranteed thanks to the emergence of Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, whom put up a terrific season of his own and finished second in the voting.

Other Storylines:

- The Houston Astros acquired veteran catcher Brian McCann from the New York Yankees in exchange for pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guszman per a team announcement.  The Astros had been rumored to have interest in the veteran backstop since the start of the offseason.  Despite signing a long-term deal with the Yankees, McCann had become the odd man out due the emergence of catching prospect Gary Sanchez.  He now moves on to Houston where he will reportedly share the catching duties with fellow backstop Evan Gattis.  The veteran catcher brings veteran leadership to a relatively young Astros ball club as well as the ability to play solid defense behind the plate and a left-handed power stick to put in the middle of their lineup.  McCann had a no-trade clause and the right to veto any trade to a team but elected to waive it and allow the deal go through.  The Yankees will be on the hook for about $11MM of McCann’s remaining $34MM salary he will earn through the next two seasons to help lessen the financial burden for the Astros.  The arrival of McCann now puts an end to a potential reunion between the Astros and free agent catcher Jason Castro.  With McCann no longer on the roster, the Yankees are now reportedly turning their efforts towards a search for a DH-type hitter and have their eyes set on former Yankee Carlos Beltran, whom they traded at the deadline in 2016 to the Texas Rangers.  They are not the only team with interest as the Astros also are eyeing the switch-hitting slugger as well as the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

- The Astros did not let their day end with a McCann trade.  The Astros also struck a deal to sign veteran outfielder Josh Reddick on a four-year, $52 per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.  The Astros made it clear from the onset of the offseason that they were going to be active and they are doing just that.  Bringing in a veteran outfielder like Reddick gives them another veteran presence in the clubhouse as well as another left-handed bat to stick in what was right-handed heavy lineup in 2016.  Reddick himself is returning to the AL West Division where he enjoyed several of his best years with the Oakland Athletics before getting dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline in 2016.

- Now that most of McCann’s salary is off the books, the Yankees are looking at big-name free agents as they have interest in slugger Edwin Encarnacion and are interested in bringing Aroldis Chapman back to the Bronx per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.  Yankee Stadium would be a good fit for Encarnacion as it is a very friendly fly-ball stadium and Chapman already has familiarity with the Yankees as he spent the first half of the season with them before being flipped to the Cubs.

- The Miami Marlins are prioritizing Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen as their top free agent target per Heyman.  The Marlins have a huge hole in their pitching rotation due to the stunning death of Jose Fernandez and reportedly believe their best option is to build a “super pen” in order to mask their glaring rotation weaknesses thus bringing in a reliable reliever like Jansen would certainly be a step in the right direction for them.

- The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced that former Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will be their new bench coach for the 2017 season.  The longtime Twins manager was let go of his post in 2014 but served as a special adviser to former Twins General Manager Terry Ryan in 2016.  With a new regime in place in Minnesota, Gardenhire’s time there looked to be drawing to a close and will now bring his talents to Arizona under the head of yet another new Diamondbacks front office.


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