Commissioner Rob Manfred continues on his mission to improve the pace of play in baseball. Having already added a new intentional walk rule, Manfred now has his sights set on pitching changes.
Per Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, Manfred feels like relievers “slow the game down” and “rob action out of the end of the game.” He suggested a potential rule change that would limit the amount of pitchers a manager can use in one inning.
There’s no doubt that the plethora of pitching changes late in games causes the pace of the game to slow to a crawl, not unlike the end of a basketball game where the trailing team fouls the leading team repeatedly, causing 30 regulation seconds to stretch into 15 minutes in real time. The problem, though, is limiting strategy to make the game to a little quicker. Is that a trade-off most people — players, managers, fans — would be willing to make?
Much was said about the Blue Jays’ decision to part with long-time 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who ended up signing with the Indians. Encarnacion averaged nearly 40 home runs per season from 2012-16 with the Jays, so how would they replace that power?
The Jays rather quickly signed Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million contract in mid-November, before the free agent market had really taken shape. Morales isn’t exactly Encarnacion’s peer at the plate, as he hit a relatively pedestrian .263/.327/.468 with 30 home runs and 93 RBI last year. Comparatively, Encarnacion hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 homers and 127 RBI.
Morales made his presence felt in a big way on Thursday evening against the Rays, homering for the first time as a Blue Jay. It came with the bases loaded in a scoreless game in the third inning, and it was a no-doubter off of Blake Snell.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Indians are interested in signing 1B/DH Carlos Santana to a contract extension. Santana is currently in the last year of his contract after the Indians picked up his $12 million club option for the 2017 season last November.
Heyman suggests Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo are reasonable comparisons. Morales signed a three-year, $33 million contract with the Blue Jays and Trumbo inked a three-year, $37.5 million pact with the Orioles during the offseason.
Last season, Santana hit .259/.366/.498 with 34 home runs and 87 RBI in 688 plate appearances. He started off this season with a pair of doubles, a home run, and four RBI in his team’s first three games.
Santana also has flexibility, which isn’t often said of 1B/DH types. He was brought up as a catcher and has played some third base. Of course, the Indians hope to never have to use him behind the plate unless in an emergency situation.