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Report: Blue Jays sign J.P. Howell

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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Blue Jays have inked reliever J.P. Howell to a one-year deal, pending a physical. Financial details have yet to be revealed.

Howell, 33, had a mediocre 2016 campaign with the Dodgers, finishing with a 4.09 ERA and a 44/15 K/BB ratio over 50 2/3 innings. However, the lefty put up a 1.43 ERA in 2015, a 2.39 ERA in ’14, and 2.03 in ’13, so it’s reasonable to think he could return to that level of pitching. Howell showed a reverse platoon split in 2016 — meaning lefties hit him better than righties — but has historically dominated left-handed hitters. Howell is also quite good at inducing ground balls. Since 2013, Howell’s 58.5 percent ground ball rate is 13th best among relievers (min. 150 innings).

Howell gives the Jays a second lefty in the bullpen along with Aaron Loup.

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.