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Justin Verlander, Brad Ausmus suspect Indians of stealing signs

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Tigers starter Justin Verlander continued to struggle against the Indians on Saturday, giving up nine runs over four-plus innings in what turned out to be a 13-6 loss. Over his 13-year career, Verlander has a 4.68 ERA against the Indians, including an aggregate 5.49 ERA since the start of the 2014 season.

Verlander is quite aware of his struggles against the Tribe, as is manager Brad Ausmus. Both seem to think the Indians have been stealing the Tigers’ signs, so the club has been using safeguards. Via Chris McCosky of The Detroit News:

“We went to multiple signs (from catcher James McCann to Verlander) all the time,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We usually do it when there’s a runner on second base. But we’ve been doing it quite a bit – and not just here but against other teams too early in the season.

“Sign stealing has become kind of a new fad in some clubhouses. They look at video. So we are in a constant state of trying to stay a step ahead of those trying to steal signs.”

McCosky also reports that Verlander and McCann studied film for an hour after Saturday’s game, trying to pinpoint exactly what edge the Indians may have picked up.

Sign-stealing isn’t forbidden in baseball’s rules, and it’s a practice that is almost as old as the game itself. The only aspect of sign-stealing that is prohibited is the use of a “mechanical device,” which was clarified nearly two decades ago by Sandy Alderson to include “electronic equipment.” So, the Indians aren’t breaking any rules and the Tigers are just going to have to do what they’ve been doing to find out exactly what edge the Indians have obtained.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.