Nationals and Stephen Strasburg agree to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration

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The Nationals and right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg have agreed to a one-year, $3.975 million deal with performance bonuses, avoiding arbitration. The report comes to us from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Strasburg, 25, was eligible for arbitration for the first time and is entering 2014 with the momentum of back-to-back solid seasons. He posted a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts in 2012 and an even 3.00 ERA in 30 starts this past season. Additionally, the only starters with a higher strikeout rate than Strasburg since the start of 2012 are Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer. If Strasburg continues to improve in 2014, he’ll make his remaining two years of arbitration eligibility interesting for the Nationals in terms of figuring out an enticing figure for a multi-year contract extension.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.