Padres and Indians both in hot pursuit of Joaquin Benoit

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Both the Padres and the Indians have offered two-year deals and at least $14 million in total to free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Passan’s source close to the Padres suggests the team’s deal could also include a third-year option.

Should Benoit reach such an agreement with either club, he would become the ninth reliever to earn a multi-year deal this off-season. The $14 million total is in the same neighborhood of the deals signed by Joe Nathan, Boone Logan, Joe Smith, and Javier Lopez. While the Padres and Indians have been the most aggressive in pursuit of Benoit, the Cubs, Mariners, and Yankees also showed interest.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?