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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.