Braves suspected Marlins were stealing signs during three-game sweep in Miami

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Miami just swept a three-game home series against Atlanta and afterward several Braves players and manager Fredi Gonzalez all but accused the Marlins of stealing signs.

Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Gonzalez changed the team’s signs five times during Wednesday’s game alone and “the Braves went so far as to look at the sculpture in left center field, wondering if there was somebody hiding in there with a camera.”

Someone hiding in the Home Run Sculpture and relaying opposing team’s signs to the Marlins would be a spectacular story, but ultimately the Braves found nothing out of the ordinary in any of their searches. They did, however, continue to cite the Marlins’ extreme home/road splits when discussing the issue with the media.

One of the biggest supposed red flags from the Braves’ point of view is that the Marlins knocked around Aaron Harang after being shut down by him in a start last week, but realistically it’s the being shut down by Aaron Harang part that should raise more eyebrows. He’s a 36-year-old with a 4.91 ERA in 32 starts since the beginning of last season.

When asked about the sign-stealing accusations, Marlins manager Mike Redmond told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:

Just give us a little credit. I mean, we’re out there playing the game the right way. Guys are battling and competing. That’s how we’re winning ballgames. Actually, I don’t even think much about it because my focus is on our guys and my team and what we’re doing. We just played a great three-game series and I’m not going to let anything diminish that.

And here’s what Marlins infielder Casey McGehee said:

I’m not going to say it’s never happened in the history of the game before, but we’re not splitting any atoms, let’s put it that way.

Harang, of course, had a different take:

It was baffling, like, where were these guys last week? They were way too comfortable. It seemed like they were all hitting like Ted Williams.

Or, it was like they were all facing Aaron Harang.

Whatever the case, it should be fun when the Marlins and Braves next play beginning May 30 … in Miami.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.