All-Star balloting has officially begun

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The All-Star balloting officially kicked off today with a big New York press conference complete with the usual hoopla.  What you want — the ballot — can be found right here.  Once again the ballot also features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll.  Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. I couldn’t immediately find the Home Run Derby ballot. Maybe they’ve made a late decision to scrap it, knowing that Justin Upton would just totally own it anyway. Hard to say.

Vote early and often, my friends. And don’t forget to vote for Derek Jeter even though he won’t be able to play. Because it’ll be fun to see someone write the “you know he’d play if he could!” column.

The All-Star Teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 7th on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show. It’ll be televised nationally on TBS.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.