Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier are close to an agreement on a six-year, $50-plus million contract extension.
Kiermaier, 26, avoided arbitration back in January in his first year of eligibility, agreeing to a $2.975 million salary for the 2017 season. He has three more years of arbitration eligibility remaining, so this extension would cover all four of those years plus two years of free agency eligibility.
Kiermaier has won a Gold Glove award in each of the past two seasons as well as the 2015 American League Rawlings Platinum Glove Award, given to the overall best defender in each league. This past season, Kiermaier hit .246/.331/.410 with 34 extra-base hits, 37 RBI, 55 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases in 414 plate appearances. He missed time last season with a fractured left hand and has been dealing with a stiff neck thus far in spring training, but is expected to be fully healthy for the start of the regular season.
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.