Here’s a few Hot Stove items of note as we eagerly await 12:01 am on Friday:
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com thinks that if the Tigers aim to cut payroll, they should consider trading Miguel
Cabrera to the Red Sox. Likewise, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks Cabrera should be on Boston’s short-list of possible middle-of-the-order bats. Cabrera, 26, is owed $126 million over the next six seasons.
– Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes that the Phillies reportedly have interest in Fernando Rodney, but he might not be an option since he will want to close. In a related story, Brad Lidge “should be ready at or near the very beginning of spring training” following elbow surgery, says his agent Rex Gary.
– Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that the Pirates won’t be major players in free agency yet again,
but they could have interest in lower-tier free agents like Rick
Ankiel, Jamey Wright, Mark Hendrickson and Japanese pitcher Ryota
– Roch Kubato of the MASNSports.com wonders if the Orioles will consider signing Braden Looper, Jon Garland or Matt Treanor since the club was connected to them last winter.
– Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News takes a look some of the top set-up men available on the free agent market, and how arbitration and draft pick compensation may impact where they end up.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.