The reports of Mariano Rivera’s signing last night were accompanied by brief asides that he turned down other offers from other teams. So who were they? Jon Heyman is the only one I’ve seen naming names. He says the Angels and — get this — the Red Sox were involved. Heyman says they each offered three-year deals.
The Angels I could sort of see. It would have been a crazy, splashy move Arte Moreno would have gotten off on and it’s not like Fernando Rodney is so firmly ensconced in the closer’s job.
But the Red Sox? I realize that Jonathan Papelbon’s stock is at an all-time low, but the Sox did end up tendering him a contract so they believe he has some value. More to the point, though, is that they have a closer-in-waiting in Daniel Bard. Why would they want to block him for three years? And why would they want to spend $45 million or more on a relief pitcher anyway? If they were wired like that they would have extended Papelbon a few years ago rather than be content to go year-to-year with him in arbitration. If any team is aware that you don’t go long on your bullpen, it’s the Red Sox.
I have to think that the Red Sox stuff is either not true or, at the most, is one of those instances we hear about from time to time about the Yankees and Red Sox just trying to make life difficult for one another.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.