Don Mattingly doesn’t have a contract to manage the Dodgers beyond next season, but he may have earned a bargaining chip in his negotiations on Tuesday.
Mattingly was one of three Dodgers to be named a finalist for baseball’s top awards, joining Clayton Kershaw, the favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award, and Yasiel Puig, who finished among the top three for NL rookie of the year.
For the second year in a row, Angels outfielder Mike Trout was named a top-three finalist for Most Valuable Player in the American League. Trout finished second last year to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, who again is a finalist, in a vote that pitted old school (Cabrera) against new-thinking sabermetrics (Trout).
Award winners will be announced next week. NL and AL rookies of the year will be named Monday, managers on Tuesday, Cy Young winners on Wednesday and MVPs on Thursday. Awards are voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who must turn in their ballots before the start of the playoffs.
The Dodgers have not indicated whether talks are progressing on a new contract for Mattingly, despite the fact team president Stan Kasten said last month, “I’m anticipating a happy ending.” A top three finish in the manager of the year race certainly can’t hurt Mattingly’s negotiating stance.
Kershaw is the favorite to win his second Cy Young after finishing the season with a 1.83 ERA, the lowest since Pedro Martinez had a 1.74 mark in 2000, and 232 strikeouts in a career-best 236 innings.
Also among the top three Cy Young vote-getters, which were announced by MLB Network, were Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Puig, who hit .319 with 19 homers in 104 games after being called up from the minors in June, was named a finalist along with expected winner Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, who had a 2.19 ERA and 12 wins, and Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller. Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who won 14 games, was not a finalist.
Trout is likely to finish second again to Cabrera despite another remarkable season in which he became the first AL player with 100 walks, 70 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases in one season.
Trout finished the season with a .323 average, 27 homers and 33 stolen bases and led the AL with 109 runs scored.
Cabrera, by comparison, hit .348 with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs in 148 games, although he slumped in September as a result of injuries.
Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, who led the majors with 53 homers and 138 RBIs, was the other MVP finalist in the AL.
NL MVP finalists were Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Yadier Molina of the Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Mattingly isn’t a favorite to win the NL’s top manager award, which is expected to go to Clint Hurdle, who directed the Pirates to 94 wins and their first postseason appearance in 21 years.
Also named a finalist was Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.