Offering arbitration is a gamble. Offer it to a guy you don’t want to keep in order to gain picks and you might just end up paying that guy anyway:
Free-agent reliever Jose Valverde could accept the Astros’ offer of
salary arbitration by Monday’s midnight ET deadline, according to
The return of Valverde would eliminate the Astros’ need for a closer.
But it also could be a $10 million hit for a team with limited payroll flexibility.
A team in Houston’s position (i.e. still denying that they’re rebuilding but rebuilding all the same) doesn’t need a big money closer. Being forced to pay Valverde eight or even high seven figures would really hamper Houston.
But Valverde is no idiot. He knows how many closers and setup men are out there on the market right now. What is he, the fifth best option for some teams? Sixth? The open market could be a pretty scary place for a guy like him this winter.
We’ll know whether this comes to pass — or whether any other unexpected arb acceptances happen — by midnight tonight. If you we see Ed Wade in the hotel bar with his head hanging low over a tall glass of Old Granddad, we’ll know what happened.
Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.
Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.
Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.
Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.
The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.