Back in August during a radio interview Tigers manager Jim Leyland accused the A’s of stealing signs:
I still think that they were getting something somewhere. I’m just not believing. I know we made a lot of bad pitches, but I just don’t believe you wear the ball out like that. I’ve seen a lot of games and a lot of series and I’ve seen teams get hot, but I’m a little suspicious that somewhere along the line they were getting something somewhere.
He later backed off those comments, at least publicly, but obviously the A’s still remember. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle followed up on the topic before the two teams match up in the ALDS and here’s what Josh Donaldson told her:
We haven’t stolen a single sign all year. We don’t have a guy in here who even wants a sign–some teams will steal pitch location and we don’t even do that. We laugh when catchers are changing signs because we don’t want them, anyway.
Of course, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player who says “yeah, we’re constantly stealing signs and everyone on the team would love to have that help all the time.” And if the A’s knock around one of the Tigers’ stud starting pitchers during this series you can be sure Leyland will be asked to revisit the sign-stealing quotes.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.