Expanded replay unlikely to be ready for Opening Day

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Amidst all the exciting free agent and trade talk from the Winter Meetings is this dispiriting report by ESPN’s Jayson Stark. While commissioner Bud Selig said in October that he wanted to have expanded replay in place for the 2013 season, it seems increasingly likely that it won’t happen.

Two sources familiar with the replay discussions told ESPN Monday that it’s now highly unlikely that baseball will be ready to increase its use of replay by Opening Day, because it still hasn’t settled on which technology it wants to use or how to employ it.

“I wouldn’t say there’s no chance,” one source said. “But given where we are, I’d say there’s almost no chance.”

Well, that’s a bummer. The plan calls for expanded replay to cover fair/foul balls and trap/catch calls, changes which were actually agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement last year, but there’s a divide whether to use traditional replay or two experimental technologies which were tested in Yankee Stadium and Citi Field late in the season. And if additional “replay umpires” are needed to help expedite the process of replay decisions, those changes would need to be negotiated with the umpires’ union. There’s momentum to eventually get this right, as Stark details, but it seems there’s too much red tape to get it in place by April. It’s a shame.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.