UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun now writes that the Orioles will receive Chris Davis and right-hander Tommy Hunter in exchange for Uehara. They’ll also send some cash the Rangers’ way. That’s a pretty good get considering Uehara was of little use on a losing team.
5:20 PM: Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are close to trading Koji Uehara to the Rangers. And according to his colleague Dan Connolly, the Orioles will receive Chris Davis in return.
Uehara, 36, has thrived as a reliever over the past two seasons, posting a 2.27 ERA and 117/13 K/BB ratio over 91 innings. He has a 1.72 ERA and 0.70 (!) WHIP over 47 innings this season. The Japanese right-hander is making $3 million this season and has a $4 million vesting option that kicks in once he reaches 55 appearances. He has already made 43 appearances this season, so he’s a near-lock to get there if he stays healthy.
Davis has a .248 batting average and 301 strikeouts over 878 major league at-bats, but still possesses some potential as a power bat. The 25-year-old has a 1.006 OPS over 975 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He could very well be a Quad-A bat in the long run, but he has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. Baltimore would seem to be a good place for him to get an extended look against major league pitching, though Davis and Mark Reynolds in the same lineup could make for some easy outs.
Hunter, 25, has pitched exclusively in relief this season after getting a late start due to a groin injury. He was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA over 22 starts and one relief appearance last season, so he offers the Orioles some flexibility.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.