Major League Baseball allowed Virginia Tech tribute hats in 2007

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I’m still shocked at Major League Baseball’s refusal to allow the Mets to wear NYPD and FDNY caps in last night’s game against the Cubs.  I’m still curious to hear some rationale from Joe Torre apart from some regurgitation of baseball’s rule against allowing teams to wear unofficial caps.  And there needs to be another reason because sometimes baseball does allow unofficial caps.

As Marc Carig reminded us this morning, four years ago the Nationals were given formal approval to wear Virginia Tech caps following the shooting rampage that occurred on Virginia Tech’s campus, leaving 32 people dead and 25 injured. As Carig himself reported at the time, those caps were obtained, just hours before the game, from sporting goods stores in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. But their use was officially approved by Major League Baseball.

If that was OK, why not the Mets’ request? My cynical side looks at Joe Torre’s reference to the fact that all teams wore caps with little flags on them and wonders if there are less-innocuous reason than “it’s a unanimity thing” for baseball’s refusal. Like, for example, the fact that one of baseball’s merchandising partners is selling caps with the little flags on them. Did some vendor object to there being something that takes away from the 9/11 cap?

I hope that’s not the case. I hope that this is all really Major League Baseball being myopic and tone deaf. Because if this was really all about making sure that the Mets didn’t take away a marketing opportunity for one of its business partners during last night’s telecast, it would be pretty sad indeed.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.