As the league puts a bow on the 2036 season with the announcements of the individual award winners, the Hurricanes uncharacteristically fared well. Pitcher Egbert Behner finished 2nd in Nebraska voting thanks to a strong ERA and a surprising 19 wins.
Bertram Hahn finished up one of the bigger bounce-back performances in recent history of the league, going from a 59 OPS+ and -1.0 WAR in 2035 to 130 OPS+ and 3.6 WAR this season. I'd argue that fellow Hurricane Vicente Acevedo would have been another good candidate, making his first BBA appearance in four years and putting up career highs across the board at age 41.
The GMs surprised no one by handing a 2nd straight Silk award to the great David Noboru. Noboru had an even better season in 2036 than he did in 2035 (despite the playoff flop). While the contract is massive, his age and current performance make him as good a bet as any to live up to the deal.
On the down side, there were some negative announcements this week. GM Tyler Simmons announced that the team is unable to come to terms with Rocky Gonzaga and the right fielder will likely be leaving town. The announcement of the loss of Gonzaga wasn't a big surprise as he was in a contract year and for much of the season, word out of Rocky's camp was that he wanted to test free agency. However, the Hurricane faithful were dealt an emotional blow today, as star first baseman Norris Rutledge executed his opt-out clause, making him a free agent. Many thought Rutledge was on the decline after his 2035 season, but he bounced back with a typical Rutledge season. "We will do everything we can to try and bring Norris back to Jacksonville," said Simmons. "He is likely looking at his final chance at a big payday, so it is his right to see if he can get more money on the open market. He is a fixture of the franchise and we want to bring him back, but if we are unable to come to an agreement, I have supreme confidence in Manuel Martinez and Brett White to replace Norris and Rocky," added Simmons.
It once looked like most of the 2036 team would be back for 2037, but these announcements add some doubt to the 2037 roster and it will be interesting to see what the Canes do this offseason.
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