A’s take exception to Manny Machado’s antics

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The A’s had strong words for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado after he threw his bat during an eighth-inning incident Sunday that cleared the benches at Camden Yards.

Machado sent his bat flying down the third-base line — seemingly intentionally –- after the second of two very inside pitches from A’s reliever Fernando Abad. The pitches surely were in response to the Orioles throwing inside and hitting Josh Donaldson on Friday, after Machado took exception to a tag from Donaldson.

John Jaso was the first A’s player to reach Machado after the benches cleared and got right in Machado’s face before Orioles first base coach Wayne Kirby separated the two. It added some late spice to a blowout the A’s won 11-1.

[RELATED: A’s explode past Orioles, win 11-1]

“There’s times in baseball where a guy with that kind of talent (acts) like he’s got 10-plus years in the big leagues,” Jaso told CSN California’s Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse after the game. “That doesn’t really fly well with me and I don’t think it flies well with a lot of players. Sometimes those guys need to be brought down a little bit so they play the game right.

“Obviously there’s a few examples from this series where he isn’t playing the game right, and it’s kind of a disrespect to the game. I know there’s veteran presences over there with the Orioles, and I think it’s up to them to kind of take control of the situation.”

The A’s also were ticked about a sixth-inning incident Sunday, when Machado’s bat twice hit A’s catcher Derek Norris unintentionally during his backswing. Norris was struck in the head with one of them and was so shaken up he had to leave the game. In the whole time Norris was being attended to at home plate, Machado never glanced in Norris’ direction or made any effort to apologize or ask if Norris was OK.

Norris told reporters he thinks he actually caught Machado smiling after one of the backswings, and labeled Machado’s behavior “a disgrace to baseball. Things like that stain your career.”

Norris said he passed his concussion tests, and manager Bob Melvin expects Norris to be available for Monday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.

Machado and Abad both were ejected from the game over the eighth-inning incident. Afterward, Machado claimed that the bat slipped out of his hands.

The A’s weren’t buying it.

“That was the worst temper tantrum I’ve probably ever seen on a baseball field,” A’s starting pitcher Scott Kazmir said. “He tried to say that he lost the bat. That clearly wasn’t the case.”

Six of seven players decline $17.9 million qualifying offers

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Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only one of seven eligible players to accept his $17.9 million qualifying offer. Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, and Dallas Keuchel each rejected his, officially making them free agents. Teams that had their QO’s rejected will recoup a draft pick once the player signs elsewhere.

That Harper rejected his QO comes as no surprise, as he is expected to strike perhaps the largest free agent contract in baseball history. Though the free agent market has been less lucrative lately than in previous years, the combination of Harper’s elite talent and his age — he’s only 26 years old — makes him a primary target for more than a handful of teams. Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension offer from the Nationals, so that would seem to be a baseline.

It is also not surprising that Kimbrel, 30, turned down his QO from the Red Sox. Despite a so-so showing during a championship run, Kimbrel is still young and talented enough to land another lucrative contract on the free agent market.

Keuchel bet on himself in turning down the Astros’ QO. He’s been solid since winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, owning a 3.77 ERA across 83 starts over the last three seasons. However, he turns 31 years old at the beginning of 2019, and his already mediocre strikeout rate declined even further this past season, so there may be some skepticism about his ability to perform over the course of a multi-year deal. Keuchel will still get one eventually, but his market may be slower to develop.

Pollock, soon 31 as well, will be the outfielder most coveted once Harper is off the market. When he’s healthy, he’s a dynamic five-tool player. However, Pollock hasn’t played in more than 113 games in a season since 2015, so that may be a red flag. Pollock ended 2018 batting .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs, 65 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 460 plate appearances while playing above-average defense according to various defensive metrics.

Grandal, 30, could’ve gone either way with his QO, but ultimately chose to decline. He had a disappointing postseason, both offensively and defensively. Given how humans are prone to recency bias, it stood to reason that his October performance could have hurt his market. The catching position, however, is rather weak and Grandal stands out in a market that is otherwise focused on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Grandal did swat 24 home runs with an .815 OPS in 140 games for the Dodgers this past season.

Corbin, 29, was the most obvious QO decline after Harper. The lefty is coming off of a career year, finishing with a 3.15 ERA and a 246/48 K/BB ratio in exactly 200 innings. Corbin is the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. The Yankees have been seriously linked with Corbin even before the season ended.

Ryu likely chose to accept his QO because of his age and injury history. It would have been a gamble to pursue a multi-year deal. He did, however, make 15 starts during the regular season to the tune of a 1.97 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 15 walks in 82 1/3 innings. Those are great numbers. And most clubs would have been smart enough to look beyond his 5.21 ERA in the postseason, which has more to do with a leaky bullpen than his own personal failings. Still, it’s hard to fault Ryu for playing it safe and taking the guaranteed $17.9 million for one year.