Rob Manfred

In the wake of Biogenesis, Major League Baseball shakes up its investigative arm

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Throughout the Biogenesis investigation there were reports of MLB investigators skirting and often crossing the lines of propriety as they tried to get the goods on Alex Rodriguez. Paid-off witnesses, stolen documents purchased and, in one case, an investigator entering into a sexual relationship with a witness. It was all a little sketchy, even if MLB defended its conduct and, ultimately, the investigators’ work paid off in the form of a long suspension for A-Rod.

Now that the suspension is in and the dust settled, however, here comes a suggestion that, no, MLB was not happy with the way its investigative team performed. From the New York Times, which reports that the head of MLB’s Investigations unit, his top deputy and a top agent have all been dismissed. Here’s the statement from Rob Manfred:

“After the Biogenesis investigation, we made a decision that certain structural changes were necessary in order to have a more efficient and effective investigative unit,” Robert Manfred, the M.L.B. executive who oversaw the case, said Tuesday. “Once we made structural changes, it resulted in the elimination of some positions.”

As the article notes, MLB had to call in a whole second team of investigators after its own team started messing up and/or not getting the desired results. Ultimately it was a legal strategy — suing Tony Bosch in order to get him to flip on A-Rod — that proved the most effective in their case, not the stuff their boots on the ground in Florida provided.

It’s probably worth reminding ourselves that, but for a court’s decision allowing MLB’s case against Bosch to proceed — a decision that most legal commentators do not think represents what the majority of courts would’ve done in that situation — Major League Baseball wouldn’t have had a heck of a lot of evidence against Alex Rodriguez. There are a lot of potential takeaways of the restructuring of the investigative unit, but one most certainly is that, in the future, Major League Baseball would like to find a way to better obtain evidence itself rather than rely on legal Hail Marys to get it done.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.