It’s reasonable to wonder whether Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon is going to face a fine or suspension (or both) for getting in the face of home plate umpire Tony Randazzo during Saturday’s 9-8 extra-innings victory over the Athletics.
Papelbon charged at Randazzo and appeared to make slight contact with his chest protector after getting the heave-ho for questioning the strike zone with a stare down. It was the ninth inning, and Papelbon had just allowed Oakland to tie the game at 7-7. MLB.com has the video here.
Papelbon spent a couple of minutes on the topic with reporters after Saturday’s game. It doesn’t sound like he’s expecting a suspension.
“From my perspective,” Papelbon said, “I had my back turned and did not turn around. He’s got his hands up, and I’m not even talking to him. I was talking to Salty (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia). I said, ‘Salty, ‘Hey come out here. I need to know where that’s at. I felt like some pitches I was not getting were strikes and I threw one that I felt like was a ball and then he called it a strike, and I more or less was trying to get Salty out here and say, ‘Hey come talk to me, let’s figure out this zone so I know how to go about this.’ Because I had no idea what his zone was. … It’s not like I pushed him or anything. … The league’s going to come down on me the way they want to, whether they believe me or not, but I wasn’t trying to maliciously bump him or anything. I haven’t looked at the replay or anything.”
The MLB commissioner’s office was all quiet on Sunday, but a ruling could be made early this week. Nationals infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. made a similar kind of contact with a home plate umpire during the last week of May and received a one-game suspension. Papelbon is likely facing something similar.
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.