UPDATE: Rangers, Elvis Andrus reach an agreement on a $120 million extension

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UPDATEJon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the deal is done.

2:42 AM: Despite the presence of Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, the Rangers have decided to lock up Elvis Andrus to an eight-year, $120 million deal, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.

Rosenthal reports that the contract would supersede Andrus’ current deal, which will pay him $11.25 million total for 2013-14, essentially making this a six-year, $109 million extension. Heyman, on the other hand, says the eight-year, $120 million extension will kick in after his current deal, locking up Andrus for the next 10 years.

It’s actually a pretty big difference, in that Rosenthal has Andrus making $18.2 million per year for six years, while Heyman’s extension would be for $15 million per year for eight years. I’m going to guess that Heyman has it right; the latter deal would seem to me to be more palatable to the Rangers.

Obviously, the Rangers’ hope here is that the 24-year-old Andrus will continue to improve at the plate, as well he should. The four-year veteran established new highs in average (.286), OBP (.349) and slugging (.378) last year. He was also perfectly solid in 2011, hitting .279/.347/.361. One of the AL’s best defensive shortstops, he’s worth $15 million per year at the moment. Of course, his range figures to decline with age, but his bat should make up for it in his late-20s and he should still last as a shortstop well into his 30s.

As for Profar, this now makes him the Rangers’ second baseman of the future, which puts Ian Kinsler’s role in question. The Rangers could trade Kinsler this summer if they fall out of contention, but it’s more likely that they’ll shift him to first base or an outfield corner and keep him around for 2014 and beyond. He’s in the first year of a five-year, $75 million contract.

Andrus would have been eligible for free agency for the first time after 2014. Because of Profar’s presence, he had been mentioned in trade rumors, most notably in the Justin Upton talks with Arizona. The Rangers, though, never appeared interested in moving him.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.