Howie Kendrick booted a grounder, Brett Lawrie was aggressive and now the Angels are mad.
With the bases loaded and none out in the sixth inning today in the game between the Angels and Blue Jays, Jose Bautista hit a grounder to second that looked like a potential double-play ball for Kendrick. Only the ball got through him. After running the ball down, Kendrick, failing to appraise the situation, flipped it to Erick Aybar at second base. Lawrie, who went from second to third initially, took advantage and dashed off for home.
That’s where things got dicey. Catcher John Hester got in front of the plate and had to reach up for the throw. Lawrie, instead of going for home plate, decided to deliver a forearm to Hester’s mask and try to dislodge the ball. He failed in that and he missed home plate afterwards, but he also never appeared to be tagged on the play. At that point, he jumped up to try to touch home plate, Hester dove to try to tag him and he ended up being ruled safe by umpire James Hoye.
It seemed to be the right call; replays weren’t conclusive, but it didn’t look like the tag was ever made. Nonetheless, Mike Scioscia was ejected for arguing. Also, Lawrie and Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher started jawing from their respective dugouts.
Lawrie figures to bat once more today, and unless it comes in a big situation, it’d be a surprise if the Angels don’t plunk him. They clearly weren’t happy with his hit on Hester, and his jawing afterwards couldn’t have helped matters.
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: 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 PM: Ken 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.