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Report: Rays want “massive returns” for Chris Archer

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The Rays are reportedly seeking a big return for every player that has received inquires this offseason, according to Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. That includes right-handed ace Chris Archer, who could command a return package to rival the one the White Sox received for Chris Sale last week.

As Topkin points out, Archer is older and less dominant than Sale, though he comes with a more team-friendly contract. Coming off of a career-best performance in 2015, the 28-year-old delivered a 4.02 ERA and 3.1 fWAR in 2016, seeing a significant decrease in his strikeout total and giving up a career-worst 30 home runs through 201 1/3 innings. He still profiles among the elite starters of the American League, however, and is controllable for five years at $38.5 million (via Topkin). Sale, by comparison, remains under club control for three years at $39.5 million.

Any deal involving Archer would likely require a top prospect or two, and Topkin suggests that the asking price may be too high for interested parties to meet. The same could be said for fellow right-hander Jake Odorizzi, whom the Rays appear equally reluctant to trade without a significant return. If the club deals anyone this winter, it will probably be right-handers Alex Cobb and Erasmo Ramirez or left-hander Drew Smyly, all of whom could be acquired for a much more reasonable price.

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.