In what seems like a compromise between their current lack of protection and wearing a full-on helmet on the mound MLB will have pitchers test a padded hat in an effort to reduce head injuries.
Willie Weinbaum of ESPN.com reports that “at least a dozen” pitchers have been given the padded hats made by Unequal Technologies Company to try and offers some more specifics about the product:
Unequal’s padding for each cap weighs 4.3 ounces, is one eighth-of-an-inch thick and is made of a three-layer synthetic composite that includes military grade DuPont Kevlar and a polymer with the properties of rubber. He also said Unequal could mass produce the cap padding and sell it as an insert for about $60 apiece retail.
Unequal isn’t alone in providing pitchers headgear for MLB’s consideration. MLB senior vice president Dan Halem said Monday that discussions are being held between Unequal and five other companies whose products are in different stages of development and use different materials.
Apparently the padded hats have been in development for a while now, but MLB and the various companies pushed up the timetable following head injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Doug Fister this year. However, in McCarthy’s case it’s unclear if the padded hat would have protected him based on where the ball struck.
According to Weinbaum the products could be used in the minor leagues as soon as this upcoming season.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.