Justin Verlander thinks the Tigers influenced the Athletics’ recent pitching acquisitions

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The Athletics made headlines yesterday when they acquired starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. The A’s, who have won the AL West two seasons in a row, are leading the division again by 3.5 games and are 20 games over .500. There’s no doubt that GM Billy Beane is trying to put his team in a position to win a championship.

Tigers starter Justin Verlander thinks his team influenced the A’s to bolster their starting staff. The Tigers, of course, booted the A’s out of the ALDS in a nail-biting fifth game in each of the last two seasons. Verlander threw a complete game shutout against the A’s in Game Five of the 2012 ALDS and threw eight shutout innings in Game Five of last season’s ALDS.

Via MLB.com’s Jason Beck and Matt Slovin:

“I found it very interesting,” Verlander said Saturday. “Really, when I saw that trade, I thought that they made that trade for us. No doubt about it in my mind. If they want to win a World Series, they’re envisioning that they have to go through us, and even though it’s been two fantastic series, it’s been heartbreaking for them the last two years.”

[…]

“When you have a team like ours, somebody’s going to go out there and dominate,” Verlander said. “And it just happens the last couple years [against Oakland in Game 5], it’s been me. And I think they felt like they needed that person. Star power in the playoffs goes a long way. Power pitching in the playoffs goes a long way.”

Though the Athletics had done well in the starting pitching department prior to the trade — their 3.30 rotation ERA is fifth-best in baseball — rotation depth was one of their more obvious weaknesses. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir have been among the best one-two punches in baseball, but the A’s couldn’t feel comfortable relying on Jesse Chavez and Tommy Milone in the post-season. Due to injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, Chavez is a full-time starter for the first time in his major league career. And despite good results, Milone has had trouble missing bats, something the A’s likely realize is not a good thing in post-season baseball.

Marlins announce signing of Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa, Jr.

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The Miami Marlins have been stockpiling international bonus money of late and now that has paid off, as they just formally announced the signing of top international prospect Victor Victor Mesa.

They have also signed his brother, the less-regarded prospect Victor Mesa, Jr. It was, presumably, a package deal. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that Victor Victor, 22, will receive about $5.25 million while his 17-year-old brother gets a $1 million bonus.

Victor Victor was ranked as the No. 1 player in this year’s international signing class. He’s a plus outfield defender with a strong arm and he has serious wheels as well. He played for Matanzas in Cuba’s Serie Nacional when he was only 16 and was 3-for-7 with two doubles for Cuba during last year’s World Baseball Classic.

Victor Mesa Jr. is a switch-hitting outfielder with potential, but unlike his brother, he’s like to spend considerable time in the minors. Most scouts believe Victor Victor will debut with the Marlins as early as next season.

The Mesa brothers are the son of Victor Mesa, who played in Serie Nacional from the 1970’s into the 1990s and starred on the Cuban national team. He has also managed in Cuba, in Mexico and for Cuba’s 2017 World Baseball Classic team.