It’s quite a cheatin’ day around baseball, so why not throw this one on the bonfire:
A corked bat reportedly swung by Yankees legend Mickey Mantle is hitting the auction block – the Mick’s first known doctored bat.
Grey Flannel Auctions is auctioning the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. bat, which was studied by PSA/DNA authenticator John Taube. Taube noticed alterations at the top of the bat’s barrel, and X-rays showed that the barrel had been drilled and filled with cork.
“This is the first corked bat of Mantle that we have seen or heard of,” Taube wrote in his report.
Don’t literally throw it on the bonfire, though. It’s a very valuable piece of baseball memorabilia.
Anyway, between this and Buchholz, I hope we’re all reminded that players have scuffed or cut balls, corked their bats, rigged up elaborate, electric sign-stealing mechanisms allowing them to win pennants they didn’t deserve, distracted umpires, cut corners on bases, tripped or obstructed opposing runners, sharpened their spikes, fixed baseball games and took steroids over the years. And while instances of such rule-breaking should always be punished when caught, the game has always survived it somehow, so we should probably moderate our outrage at any one instance.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.