Baggs' NL Rookie of the Year ballot

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Baggs' NL Rookie of the Year ballot

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was named the NL Rookie of the Year today, and I was among the 32 members of the BBWAA who served on the voting committee.

My ballot reflected the final tally: 1. Harper, 2. Arizona left-hander Wade Miley, 3. Cincinnati Reds infielderoutfielder Todd Frazier.

The outcome shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Harper was the most celebrated rookie in the league -- one of the most hyped phenoms of all time -- and he had the best statistical season. This was the stat that stood out to me as I did my research: Despite being called up April 28, he still managed to score 98 runs -- fifth best in the NL and two better than Atlanta's Michael Bourn, one of the game's most respected leadoff men, who had over 100 more plate appearances.

If anything, I was surprised that Harper only received 16 first-place votes. Miley received 12 first-place votes and nearly won in an upset, finishing with 105 points to 112 for Harper. The only player to appear on all 32 ballots was Harper; Miley appeared on 31.

Frazier received three first-place votes, and in the "losing credibility" category, someone who probably never saw Wilin Rosario play defense gave a first-place vote to the Rockies catcher.

I thought about putting Rosario third on my ballot after he led all rookies with 28 home runs and an .843 OPS, but Frazier was a much more well rounded performer and he made a huge contribution to a Cincinnati club that took control of the NL Central even after losing former MVP Joey Votto for a chunk of the second half.

(Jack Etkin, who has covered the Rockies since their inception, omitted Rosario but had Rockies first baseman Jordan Pacheco on his ballot. That should tell you something.)

Miley was a solid second choice for me and he would've been a worthy ROY in many other seasons. I can't really fathom how 12 voters thought he had a better season that Harper did, though. (Maybe some voters don't like excessive eye black or to be called on the carpet when they ask a clown question.)

Anyway ... in the end, the right guy won. And Harper is going to be a force in this game for a long, long time.

Dodgers trade top pitching prospect to Rays for 2B Forsythe

Dodgers trade top pitching prospect to Rays for 2B Forsythe

The Dodgers' months-long search for a second baseman is over.

Los Angeles has acquired infielder Logan Forsythe from the Rays, the team announced Monday afternoon.

The Dodgers are sending top pitching prospect Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay.

In 127 games for the Rays in 2016, the 30-year-old Forsythe hit .264/.333/.444 with 24 doubles, 20 home runs and 52 RBI.

Forsythe is set to make $7 million in 2017 and has a team option worth $8.5 million or a $1 million buyout for 2018.

De Leon, 24, made his major league debut for the Dodgers during the 2016 season. In four starts, he posted a 6.35 ERA while striking out 15 batters in 17 innings. In 16 startts for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2016, De Leon registered a 2.61 ERA and struck out 111 batters in just 86.1 innings.

A native of Puerto Rico, De Leon was recently ranked as the Dodgers' No. 3 prospect Baseball America.

For most of the offseason, the Dodgers had been linked to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, but the two sides couldn't come together on a deal.

Spring training to be slightly shortened starting in 2018

Spring training to be slightly shortened starting in 2018

NEW YORK -- For everyone who thinks spring training is too long, help is on the way - a little, anyway.

Spring training will be shortened by two days starting in 2018, when new restrictions in Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement take effect on game times for regular-season getaway days.

The voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players will be 43 days before the major league opener instead of 45, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press. For other players, the date will be 38 days ahead instead of 40.

The change was tied to spreading each team's 162 regular-season games over 187 days, up from 183.

Players' association Assistant General Counsel Matt Nussbaum said the union's goal was to create more days off during the season "in a way that doesn't just chew up offseason days."

"We have heard for years and I'm sure we will continue to hear that spring training is too long, that guys are really ready to go well before opening day, but I think what the commissioner's office would tell you is that there are big challenges for the clubs in substantially shortening spring training because they have various commitments to put on a certain number of games," he said Monday.

Late arrival times ahead of regular-season series openers also were addressed.

Starting in 2018, the latest possible start time on getaway days when either team is traveling to a game in another city the next day or a home off day will be calculated by subtracting the time of the flight over 2½ hours from 7 p.m.

There are cutouts for Sunday night games broadcast by ESPN and games after June 1 at Texas' current home ballpark - where the Rangers avoid afternoons for much of the season because of the heat.

Another new rule for 2018 says no game in the original schedule may be set for before 5 p.m. when a team played the previous night in another city starting 7 p.m. or later. There are exceptions involving flights of 90 minutes or less for home openers and holiday weekends. Current cutouts are carried over for up to six exceptions each season at Chicago's Wrigley Field and rescheduled games involving flights of 90 minutes or less.

"We fully recognize that our players play a very demanding schedule, and we're always looking for ways to ease the burden on players while at the same time scheduling games at a convenient time for our fans to watch them," MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said.

Sunday night games on holiday weekends followed by afternoon games still seem likely to occur.

"We have contracts with various national broadcast partners that limit our ability to schedule day games in certain instances," Halem said.

Nussbaum said if the players had their way, there would be "a flat rule that says all getaway games are day games" but understand why that would cause difficulty for teams.

"There's still going to be some challenges in the schedule," he said, "but we think what we've done with these two prongs is pare back the most egregious of the travel."

As part of the agreement, one game in the major leagues may be scheduled each year on the Thursday after the All-Star Game starting in 2018.