Instant replay is on: it has been approved by the owners, MLBPA and umpires

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Gentlemen, start your DVRs. Or whatever it is you’re going to use. MLB owners, umpires and the MLBPA have approved instant replay. This thing is happening.

As reported back in November, the system will be triggered by manager challenges. Mangers will get two per game. Here’s is the MLB press release’s description of the system:

Managers will have at least one challenge to use.  If any portion of a challenged play is overturned, then the manager who challenged the play will retain the ability to challenge one more play during the game.  No manager may challenge more than two plays in a game.  Once the manager has exhausted his ability to challenge plays during the game and after the beginning of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may choose to invoke instant replay on any reviewable call.  Home run and other boundary calls will remain reviewable under the procedures in place last season.

A designated communication location near home plate will be established at all 30 MLB ballparks.  There, the Crew Chief and at least one other Major League Umpire will have access to a hard-wired headset connected to the Replay Command Center, which will remain at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York.  Major League Umpires will be staffed as Replay Officials at the Replay Command Center.  After viewing video feeds, the Replay Official will make the ultimate determination of whether to overturn the call, based on the continuing standard of whether there is clear and convincing evidence.

While we have argued long and hard about how we’d prefer a different system — one which employs a fifth umpire or doesn’t otherwise shift the responsibility of getting correct calls from umpires to managers — it’s a moot point now. This is the system we have.

There will likely be kinks and inefficiencies at the outset, but as with any new system, many will be worked through over time. My discussions with MLB sources have also convinced me that MLB is going to keep an open mind about all of this and, rather than insist everything is fine even if it isn’t, will tweak and review the system in response to problems that are encountered. That may seem like an obvious approach to things, but it’s probably worth remembering that MLB hasn’t always been the quickest to acknowledge mistakes and implement changes.  Here’s hoping those assurances of quality control are carried through.

One bonus here: replays will now be shown on video boards inside the ballpark. That has rarely if ever been the case — people apparently thought it was rude to bring scrutiny on the umpires or something — but now the people in the park can see what everyone else in the world can see. I suppose that’s progress.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.