The rich get richer: AL-leading Rangers sign Roy Oswalt

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Reports all day have said Roy Oswalt was close to choosing a new team and the Rangers were heavy favorites, and now Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas has indeed signed the 34-year-old free agent.

Fraley quotes “an individual familiar with the process” as saying it’s a done deal.

Oswalt has been linked to the Rangers, Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Orioles, and Red Sox, but Texas gives him the best possible combination of a sure-fire contender, a locale close to his Mississippi home, and (presumably) the most money.

Oswalt gained leverage in recent days with Roy Halladay and Ted Lilly landing on the disabled list with shoulder injuries, and if he’s indeed signing with the Rangers he’ll step into the rotation spot created by Neftali Feliz’s sprained elbow. It’s unclear how much time Oswalt will need to be game-ready, but Feliz is expected to miss the remainder of the first half and could shift back to the bullpen once healthy.

For now Scott Feldman is filling in for Feliz, but Oswalt threw 139 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 93/33 K/BB ratio for the Phillies last season and if he can avoid a recurrence of back problems would be a major upgrade over Feldman.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com confirms Fraley’s initial report and says Oswalt’s deal is worth between $5 million and $6 million.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.