Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia responded to the Braves’ recent accusations of stealing signs after being swept in a three-game series in Miami. The Marlins outscored the Braves 23-7, a far cry from the four runs they scored when they lost two of three to the Braves in Atlanta earlier in the week.
Braves starter Aaron Harang, who entered the game with a 0.85 ERA but was hammered for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings, said, “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.”
All Salty can do is laugh. Via MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro:
“I think the Marlins have kind of been a punching bag almost for the past few years, because of things that have happened,” said Saltalamacchia, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday. “It doesn’t bother us, as far as we go. We’ve got to go out there and control what we can control.
“At the same time, as a player, you kind of sit back and laugh a little bit. From my perspective, I like it. I think they’re focusing on the wrong things. For them to focus on what we’re doing, and ‘Are we stealing signs? Are we doing this?’ That means they’re not focusing on what they should be focusing on. That kind of gives us an advantage.”
The Braves are certainly not the only team to accuse an opponent of stealing signs. The Rockies accused the Phillies in 2010. The Yankees accused the Blue Jays in 2011. The Orioles accused the Blue Jays again in 2012. The Athletics accused the Yankees last season. But there’s only so much you can do with stolen signs and the Braves’ series sweep at the hands of the Marlins had much more to do with their own poor performance than any edge allegedly gained by impropriety.
But it’s been a common thread with the Braves lately — of blaming others without introspection. They have become the baseball police, arbiters of fun, deciders of “the right way” to play the game. They can only complain so often before everyone starts to tune them out. Perhaps it’s already begun.
The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.
While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.
“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’
It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.
DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.
The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.
The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.
Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.
Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.
It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.