Al Alburquerque

Cespedes on the Alburquerque kiss: “I am going to hit the ball hard against him and I am going to kiss my bat”

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As we mentioned yesterday, A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes hit a comebacker to end the top of the ninth in Game 2 of the ALDS. Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque fielded it and then kissed it before throwing him out at first.  After the game, Cespedes said how he planned to respond:

“We’re not finished yet,. When I get back to Oakland, I am going to hit the ball hard against him. And I am going to kiss my bat.”

That’s probably the best revenge for what, while not an international incident or anything, was pretty bush league, bro.*  But before that happens, Albuquerque himself may try to forge the peace. Bob Nightengale reports that the Tigers are going to try to set the young man straight:

“You cannot do that, that’s just not right,” Tigers MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera told USA TODAY Sports. “This game is about respect. We know he’s excited, but you have to respect the game.

“I will talk to him, and tell him that you cannot do that.”

Expect an apology of some sort before Game 3 gets underway tomorrow.

*Man, I really wish they’d make new avocado commercials. Is this season three of those “bush league, bro,” commercials or just two? Seems like a million. And don’t give me that “well, you remember them and that’s the point!” jazz.  I remember having my wisdom teeth pulled too. Doesn’t mean I want to do it again.

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.