Pitcher fielding practice is pretty damn basic. Know what else is basic? Not making the third out at third base. It’s something Brett Gardner forgot on Monday night when he was caught stealing third base to end a would-be Yankees scoring threat. It’s also something Carl Crawford forgot when he got nailed at third trying to advance on a sac fly in the 10th inning, ending the ballgame.
Though maybe we should go easy on Crawford, because the throw that got him was an absolute humdinger. Watch Greg Golson in right field with the laser shot right here. It’s totally possible that will be the play of his life.
The kicker to that play is that even if Crawford makes it, he’s at third with two outs. Sure, a wild pitch or an infield hit could score him then, but the odds strongly favor the Rays needing and getting a solid base hit to score over those options. Crawford is damn fast. He can score from second. I realize that this is hindsight, but it strikes me that trying to move to third in that situation is too great a risk.
But those of us without a rooting interest have to enjoy it. There aren’t many plays in baseball more exciting than an outfielder killing the runner. Especially when the runner has jets like Carl Crawford does.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.