Rays and Joe Maddon on verge of three-year extension

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For weeks now the Rays and Joe Maddon have reportedly been close to finalizing a multi-year contract extension and now Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says the new deal will be for three seasons and figures to be announced within a few days.

As for why they haven’t agreed to the deal yet, Topkin notes that Maddon has been vacationing in Europe and doesn’t return until later this week, at which point the two sides will want to make things official before pitchers and catchers start showing up to spring training.

Maddon has a 495-477 (.509) record in six seasons as Rays manager, including four straight winning seasons and three playoff appearances in the past four years, two of which resulted in him winning Manager of the Year. There’s a strong case to be made for Maddon as the league’s best manager and, much like Andrew Friedman turning down other general manager offers to remain in Tampa Bay, his wanting to stick with the Rays’ long term is crucial to the team continuing to thrive with small payrolls.

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”