GM: Toronto open to re-signing Scutaro, Barajas

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Last month manager Cito Gaston indicated that catcher Rod Barajas wouldn’t be back in Toronto next season, but new general manager Alex Anthopoulos said yesterday that he’s interested in re-signing both Barajas and fellow free agent Marco Scutaro.
Blue Jays fans are free to interpret that as a sign Gaston himself might not be back in 2010, but it’s worth noting that along with saying “we like both players” and “we’d like to bring them both back” Anthopoulos added “but we can’t make a bad deal.” In other words, there’s a big difference between being open to re-signing a player and being open to re-signing a player at market value.
Re-signing Barajas figures to be the easy part thanks to his .661 OPS, although certainly as a veteran catcher with good power it’s possible that some team will overpay via a multi-year deal. On the other hand there’s little doubt that Scutaro is about to cash in on the open market following a career-year that saw him hit .282/.379/.409 with 12 homers, 35 doubles, 14 steals, and 90 walks while starting 143 games at shortstop.
My guess is that Barajas will only be back in Toronto if he’s willing to accept a modest one-year deal and Scutaro will find his big payday elsewhere, because handing out multi-year contracts to a pair of 34-year-olds likely isn’t how Anthopoulos wants to kick off his tenure as J.P. Ricciardi’s replacement.

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.