Luke Scott, Ryan Roberts

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 5, Blue Jays 4: A battle of reigning Cy Young winners decided by a bases loaded walk to an Obama birther. Good times. I watched most of this one. Price and Dickey were OK, but not great. It was, like, the third straight home Rays game I’ve watched where Dick Vitale was noted in the crowd and discussed by the announcers. Does that happen every time, Rays fans?

Indians 9, Athletics 2: Welcome back Scott Kazmir. This wasn’t his first outing, but he certainly announced his return with authority against Oakland, striking out out ten batters in six innings and showing a velocity we haven’t seen in years.

Yankees 3, Rockies 1: Over two hours worth of rain delays meant that CC Sabathia couldn’t get the win, but he was certainly pitching well enough for it when the game got delayed. Five relievers shut out the Rockies for the remaining five innings.

Nationals 5, Tigers 4: The Nats have won four in a row. Dan Haren dodged a lot of bullets with the Tigers hitting the ball hard early, but they just hit ’em at people. At least until Matt Tuiasosopo hit a pinch-hit three-run homer. After that the bullpen locked it down. Detroit swept Atlanta two weeks ago and now get beat in both games of a two-game series to Washington. I’m going to assume this means the Tigers have money the Nats to win the N.L. East.

Royals 6, Orioles 2: The Royals avoid the sweep behind Jeremy Guthrie. He’s 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA. The Orioles probably wondered if this was the same Guthrie they traded away before last season.

Mets 3, Pirates 2: All Mike Baxter does is win games with late pinch hits. Well, he probably does other stuff, but he’s won games with late pinch hits twice this week. On Tuesday in the 10th inning against the White Sox and again here with a walkoff RBI single. And check out this home run, or at the very least double-robbing catch from Juan Lagares in the ninth.

Twins 5, Red Sox 3: Minnesota takes three of four from the team that had the majors’ best record when the series began. John Lackey’s throwing error on what should have been an inning-ending double play led to four unearned runs by the Twins in the sixth. If I was Lackey after the game I would have said something like “well, my defense really let me down today. Those were unearned runs, man. Not MY fault.” Then sat back in my locker and waited for questions, arms-crossed.

Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 1: Patrick Corbin, best starter most people haven’t heard of yet. He’s 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA and outdueled Cole Hamles here. Four straight wins for Arizona.

Braves 6, Giants 3: A homer and two other hits and three driven in for Brian McCann. Craig Kimbrel with his 100th career save. He’s the second youngest to reach 100. K-Rod was the youngest. Here’s hoping that’s not some sort of omen for Kimbrel.

Angels 6, Astros 5: When a late game of lefty/righty matchups ensured, Bo Porter pulled one reliever for another without the first one ever facing a batter. Which is totally against the rules. Except the umpires didn’t realize it. Mike Scioscia tried his best to inform them of their and Porter’s error, but to no avail. He protested the game but the Angels won anyway. I sorta feel like the Astros should be allowed to do this given all the other problems they have but I suppose rules are rules.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Joe Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.