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Eugenio Suarez loses arbitration hearing against Reds

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Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez lost his arbitration hearing against his team, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Suarez had filed for a salary of $4.2 million for the 2018 season while the Reds countered at $3.75 million. As a result of the panel’s decision, Suarez will earn $3.75 million for the upcoming season.

Suarez, 26, was eligible for arbitration for the first of three years. He had a productive 2017 campaign for the Reds, batting .260/.367/.461 with 26 home runs, 82 RBI, and 87 runs scored in 632 plate appearances.

Suarez will reprise his role at third base, but he has a new partner on the left side with Zack Cozart having left in free agency. Jose Peraza will handle shortstop.

The players are 5-3 thus far against their teams in arbitration hearings this offseason. Historically, teams have tended to emerge victorious, so a 62.5 percent success rate for the players isn’t too shabby. Suarez, Roberto Osuna, and J.T. Realmuto have lost their cases. Mookie Betts, Adeiny Hechavarria, Shelby Miller, Ken Giles, and Justin Bour have won.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.