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Major League Baseball denies the Rays protest from Saturday’s game

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In case you missed it, the Rays protested Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays. The reason: umpire Bob Davidson allowed the Blue Jays to challenge a pickoff play at first base despite the fact that the pitcher, Mark Buehrle, was already on the mound and the Rays hitter was in the box. Once that happens, Section II.D of the replay rules says the previous play can no longer be challenged. The Jays won the challenge and the Rays’ baserunner was ruled out.

Moments ago Major League Baseball announced that the protest would be denied. No reason was given.

No reason was given, in all likelihood, because there is no reason for the ruling other than a lack of desire on Major League Baseball’s part to not overturn an umpire’s decision. But it’s clear that Davidson messed up and allowed a challenge when the rules did not call for one. This is where the players were when Gibbons came out to challenge the call, after all:

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And for what it’s worth, the baserunner was eliminated in a one-run game that was eventually decided by one run, so there can be no reasonable argument that the improper challenge was harmless. It could very well have made a difference in the game.

Of course this is one of the many dumb parts of having a replay rule tied to manager’s challenges.

UPDATE:  Worth noting — which I did not earlier, that Section K(4) of the Replay Regulations addresses game protests. It reads as follows:

“Official Baseball Rule 4.19 shall have no applicability to these Replay Regulations. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the Replay Official. Moreover, a violation of any rule or procedure set forth herein shall not constitute a basis for protesting a game.”

Likewise, the judgment of an Umpire is not grounds for a protest.

Which doesn’t mean that Davidson got things right here. And which basically makes no sense, at least insofar as the mechanics of replay are concerned. A replay official makes a call you don’t like? Fine, live with it, and don’t protest. The actual rules of replay itself are misapplied? I don’t understand why that should be exempted.

 

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.

Marc Rzepczynski signs two-year, $11 million contract with Mariners

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 9: Marc Rzepczynski #23 of the Washington Nationals looks on before pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning during game two of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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After rumors of the deal surfaced on Thursday, the Mariners officially signed veteran reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a two-year, $11 million deal on Friday night. Per a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the lefty is due $5.5 million in 2017 and 2018.

The signing marks the left-hander’s fourth trade since July 2015. He bounced from the Indians to the Padres at the 2015 trade deadline, then to the Athletics in the offseason, then to the Nationals in late August of 2016. Last season, he pitched to a career-best 2.64 ERA during 47 2/3 innings with the Athletics and Nationals, but hit an all-time low with 5.5 BB/9 that fed into a 1.59 K/BB rate. While the 31-year-old’s split against right-handed batters are underwhelming (a career .277/.377/.431 line with 123 walks and 24 home runs), he’s held lefties to a respectable .222/.291/.298 line with just 52 walks and eight homers.

Adding Rzepczynski to the bullpen should check off another to-do item for Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto, though FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes that the club is still likely to pursue an additional reliever and a No. 4 starter before the offseason comes to a close.