Rob Manfred was asked again about the leaks in the Josh Hamilton case. His answers weren’t much better.

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This is kind of fun.

Some of us dead-enders who still think the Joint Drug Agreement means something were a bit perturbed that someone — we don’t know who! — leaked information about Josh Hamilton’s drug relapse to the press. And leaked about the process going down during his disciplinary hearings. And about what the Angels thought about it all. You can read our dead-ender outrage about it here, and about how Major League Baseball said it would not investigate the leaks here.

Flash forward to today when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on NBC Sports Radio’s “Under Center” with McNabb and Malone. It’s a good show! I’m on it every week, but obviously the Commissioner is much more important. Our ex-quarterback friends asked the Commish about the stuff he’d expect on sports radio like attendance and pace-of-play and the recent fisticuffs in Royals games. Manfred answered those questions in a pretty polished matter. He’s had these things on his mind all week.

But then Mark Malone shifted gears and asked him why the league hasn’t disciplined anyone with the Angels for leaking Hamilton’s business. Malone: a man after my own heart! And while I don’t have the audio handy in embeddable form just yet, I listened to it. And know that Manfred, to my ears anyway, lost a bit of his polished tone, probably because he didn’t expect to be asked this. Mostly because no one else seems to be asking it. Here’s what he said, though:

“The assumption that the leak came from the Angels is one that may not be correct. We have tried mightily to determine exactly how that information became public. We’ve been unable to do so. That’s often the case with respect to press leaks. As you know, members of the media and sources — a little difficult sometimes, but you know, a number of people knew about the relevant facts here, not just the Angels, and we really haven’t been able to establish any misconduct on the part of the club.”

It’s quite a leap from saying, two weeks ago, that the league would not investigate the leaks to now saying that they’ve “tried mightily” to do so. How one concludes that they can’t establish misconduct without actually mounting an investigation is beyond me.

But what do I know? All I did for several years in my career was assist and in some cases run internal investigations of companies at the behest of management. It’s more art than science, but I know this much: when an investigator is tasked with figuring something out from people over whom they have actual authority — like, say, MLB has over the Angels’ front office — it’s not the hardest job ever. At the very least you can find out — before even getting to the substance — the universe of people who had the information that was leaked. And then it’s just a matter of talking to them in conference rooms. Contrary to what you see on TV and in movies, people aren’t very good liars and most of them don’t like to lie.

But again, that’s just if you’re super inclined to figure something out. Something like, say, a violation of a provision of the Joint Drug Agreement that, on its very face, is described as “essential to the Program’s success.” I mean, really, why would you even have a meeting about that?

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco, as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

This latest blockbuster move comes just before baseball’s winter meetings, which begin early next week in San Diego. The Rangers said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson University, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his professional career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons.

New York won 101 regular-season games last season, second-most in franchise history, but was caught by NL East champion Atlanta down the stretch and settled for a wild card.

After declining his 2023 option, ending his contract with the Mets at $107 million over four years, deGrom rejected a $19.65 million qualifying offer in November, so New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation. Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.