UPDATE: Ervin Santana is prepared to wait “days” before signing

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UPDATE: While recent reports have indicated that Ervin Santana is looking to find a team as soon as possible, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the free agent right-hander has not set a deadline and is prepared to wait “days” before signing with a club. The wait continues.

1:15 p.m. ET: More intrigue. Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com reports (story in Spanish) that Santana is deciding between a one-year, $14 million deal with the Blue Jays and a one-year, $13 million deal (plus incentives) with the Orioles.

12:30 p.m. ET: It’s apparently not a deal done yet. Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes hears that Santana will sign with the Blue Jays if he doesn’t receive a better offer by 5 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and Santana are working toward a deal, but an agreement is not in place.

12:22 p.m. ET: The mystery team has been identified. According to Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes, the Blue Jays and free agent right-hander Ervin Santana have agreed to terms on a one-year, $14 million contract.

Soldevila reported this morning that Santana was set to sign a one-year, $14 million deal with an American League team. The Blue Jays and Orioles were considered the most logical fits, but Toronto was apparently able to get the deal done.

Santana was reportedly hoping to land a $100 million contract this winter after posting a 3.24 ERA and 161/51 K/BB ratio over 211 innings last season with the Royals, but draft pick compensation and worries over his elbow greatly diminished his market. However, it looks like he’ll still get a deal close to the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer he turned down from the Royals.

Assuming the deal gets done, Santana would join a rotation which projects to include R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and J.A. Happ. The Blue Jays have two protected first-round picks this year (one is for finishing with one of the 10 worst records last season and the other is for failing to sign their first-round pick last year), so they would only have to surrender their second-round pick in order to sign him.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.