MLB adopts the “Maddon Rule” to combat relief pitcher shenanigans

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Remember last June when Joe Maddon had Sam Fuld warm up as a relief pitcher for the sole purpose of giving his real reliever, Cesar Ramos, more time to get loose?  And how he admitted that he lied to the umps about Fuld having an injury so as not to run afoul of the rules which require relief pitchers to face a batter before being pulled?  Yeah, MLB has changed the rules to combat that kind of nonsense:

A season after the Tampa Bay manager put outfielder Sam Fuld to the mound to warm up for the sole purpose of giving a reliever extra time in the bullpen, Major League Baseball closed the loophole.

MLB has amended Official Baseball Rule 3.05 regarding such shenanigans. The change will “prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch because a relief pitcher is not ready to enter the game.”

It’s more of a refinement than an actual rule change, I suppose. Going more specifically at the intent than the previous version of the rule which dealt simply with whether a reliever had faced anyone.  Which is a good thing, because even if what Maddon did wasn’t a capital crime, that kind of gamesmanship is just kinda lame.

Other rule changes: hitters can now use bats with scoops on the end of them as deep as 1 1/4 inches, up from 1 inch. I’d be curious to know what inspired that. Probably intense lobbying from the woodworking industry. Also: the word “baseline” has been replaced with the word “base path” in several places. That was probably the result of intense lobbying from the paper industry. That extra space will amount to more paper usage over time, you know, and that means money to Big Paper.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.