Mickey Mantle AP

Mickey Mantle’s corked bat is up for auction

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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.

 

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.