Cliff Lee traded to the Rangers for Justin Smoak, three others

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The Mariners have traded Cliff Lee and relief pitcher Mark Lowe to the Rangers for Justin Smoak and three prospects.

According to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, the prospects are pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke, and second baseman Matt Lawson. Buster Olney is reporting that Seattle is kicking in
$2.5 million in order to help offset the $4 million in salary owed to Lee. In
return, Texas gave a better package of prospects than they otherwise would have.

This is a fairly astonishing turn of events given how the day has been ruled by rumors of Lee going to the Yankees. The return the Mariners are getting for Lee is fairly astonishing as well.  The inclusion of Smoak in the deal is a coup enough for the Mariners, but three prospects as well is a very tall price for Texas to pay for what is no better than a rental of Cliff Lee.  It may be a great rental — this trade has to make them the favorites in the AL West going forward if they weren’t already, and having Lee in tow will make them a strong team come playoff time — but it’s a rental all the same.

Whether this deal guts the Rangers’ vaunted farm system is unclear. I’m not familiar with Beavan, Lueke, and Lawson, but we’ll do some digging here and find out exactly what Texas has given up.

Either way, this deal may work out for the Rangers, but it’s hard to see how any outcomes short of winning the pennant will make the trade a true success.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.