Weirdness in the Rays-Brewers game, as Sam Fuld — who had pinch hit for reliever J.P. Howell in the top of the eighth — came out to the mound to warm up as the relief pitcher in the bottom of the inning. He did not face any batters, however, as manager Joe Maddon pulled him for reliever Cesar Ramos after Ramos had time to warm up.
Except here’s the problem: the rules state that if a reliever — in this case Fuld — warms up, he has to actually pitch to a batter. How did he get out of it? The umpires were told that Fuld had “soreness” and this had to be lifted because of an injury. This despite the fact that Maddon was pretty expansive after the game in saying that he never intended to let Fuld pitch at all and his presence out there was merely to give Ramos more time.
To sum up: Fuld warming up was a stalling tactic to give Ramos more time, and Maddon — or someone — apparently lied to the umps about Fuld being hurt so that the switch could be made before Fuld had to face anyone. The umps, as they explained after the game, have to take the manager at his word when an injury is mentioned because, really, they can’t be in the business of judging which injuries are legit and which ones aren’t.
Is this worthy of a federal case? Not really, and it likely had no impact whatsoever on the game. But if I’m Joe Torre or someone I have a talk with Joe Maddon about this, because it looks like he was playing fast and loose, and appearances sort of matter.
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.