Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras has received a reduced suspension for his altercation with home plate umpire Jordan Baker, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reported Sunday. Contreras was initially slated to sit out for two games, but he appealed the ruling yesterday and will only serve a one-game suspension. He’ll take a seat on Sunday when the Cubs go for the sweep in their series finale against the Cardinals.
The 25-year-old backstop was fined and suspended for arguing balls and strikes and inadvertently hitting home plate umpire Jordan Baker with his mask during Friday’s 8-2 win. Both Contreras and right-hander John Lackey were also ejected and fined for their actions. While Baker’s misread of a called strike three sparked a heated dispute at the time, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon told reporters that the catcher was nothing but remorseful as the team suited up for Saturday’s game.
“[Contreras] was dying to talk to him,” Maddon said. “He could not wait. He motioned to [Baker] from the dugout. When he got to third base, going first to third, I saw the exchange and they were both smiling.”
Without Contreras, the Cubs will turn to Alex Avila behind the dish. Avila is in his first season with the club after a midseason trade from the Tigers and is batting a cumulative .269/.388/.461 with 14 home runs and an .849 OPS through 357 PA this year.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.