Free agency not to their liking, Indians looking to trade for bat

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7:13 p.m. EST update: Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Astros tried to interest the Indians in Carlos Lee, but that even covering half of his $18 million salary wasn’t enough to tempt Cleveland. Lee does offer a solid right-handed bat, but he’d have to come in at significantly less than $9 million to be attractive. Willingham isn’t likely to get any more than that annually, and Derrek Lee could probably be had for $7 million-$8 million.

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With the price tags for Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham proving high, the Indians are looking to trade for a right-handed hitter to help at first base and/or in the outfield, FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports.

Morosi states that the Indians would be willing to tap into their relief depth to facilitate a deal. Closer Chris Perez seems likely to stay, but righties Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith and lefties Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez could potentially be had, though Pestano wouldn’t come cheap.

Florida’s Gaby Sanchez would be an obvious target for Cleveland if the Marlins can sign Albert Pujols. Sanchez hit .266/.352/.427 with 19 homers and 78 RBI in 572 at-bats last season, and since he’s not even arbitration eligible yet, his addition would still leave the Indians with money to play with. The problem there is that the Marlins are content with their pen and will likely seek a young starter in return for Sanchez.

San Diego’s Kyle Blanks is another who would make sense, and the Padres are looking for relief help. Blanks, 25, hit .229/.300/.406 9n 170 at-bats for the Padres after returning from Tommy John surgery last season. He’s miscast as an outfielder, but he’d offer plenty of power potential at first base. Despite playing half his games in Petco, he’s hit 20 homers in 420 at-bats as a major leaguer.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.