Reds discussing contract extension with Homer Bailey

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Reds general manager Walt Jocketty admitted earlier this month that it will be “difficult” to keep Homer Bailey, but he still hasn’t given up hope of the possibility.

Bailey, who is entering his final year of arbitration, asked for $11.6 million and was offered $8.7 million when arbitration figures were exchanged yesterday. While a panel of arbitrators could decide on his 2014 salary if the two sides can’t make progress before next month, Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he’s focused on getting a multi-year deal done.

“In Bailey’s case, we were working on a multi-year [deal],” Jocketty said. “The agent [Casey Close] has [Clayton] Kershaw and he has [Masahiro] Tanaka also, so he’s been tied up with that. We just didn’t anticipate getting it done, but we exchanged numbers in the event and we will continue to negotiate and hopefully get something done before the hearing date.

“I am optimistic,” Jocketty said. “I just think it depends on where they feel the market settles in on free-agent pitchers. Hopefully, we’re not too far with our estimate and with their estimate about the market going forward. What it will be based on is what market for a guy like Bailey will be in the future.”

Bailey turns 28 in May and owns a 3.58 ERA in 65 starts over the past two seasons, so he could be looking at a $100 million deal in free agency if he remains healthy and effective in 2014. The Reds will have to make a very generous offer for him to pass up on a chance to test the open market.

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.