HBT Special Edition: Bob Costas and I talk about playoff expansion, realignment and instant replay

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A little while back I had the privilege of going to New York and talking with Bob Costas about a great many issues in the game. It was a great conversation. Long, wide-ranging and totally no-holds-barred. We tackled a number of things that afternoon. Among them expansion of the playoffs and realignment. Those are the topics which forms the bulk of this edition HBT Daily.

Anyone who follows baseball has an idea — or thinks they have an idea — of what Bob thinks about these kinds of issues. The issues which touch on tradition and change in the game.  I found, however, both during our taped conversation, but also during our chats before and afterward, that he gets a bum rap on this stuff. Sure, there is a traditionalist strain to his thinking, but far less than advertised and far less than a great many people who think about and comment on the game. And if you don’t believe me, let me say this much:  within three minutes of the beginning of this video, one of us was pounding his fist on the desk and accusing the other of being “a damn traditionalist.”  It wasn’t me.

There were other topics we touched on that aren’t here, but which we may roll out some time in the future. Or we may meet up again — maybe this time in my basement instead of New York! — to talk about stuff we didn’t cover before. I guess part of that depends on how you like it, so please, let me know what you think.

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Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.