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Report: Mariners agree to trade Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia to Rays for Mallex Smith

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Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners are working to complete a trade that would send catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia to the Rays in exchange for outfielder Mallex Smith and “perhaps a minor league prospect.” Some work still needs to be done to bring the deal to the finish line, but Divish says the two sides have been discussing the deal since last week. [Update: The trade is agreed upon, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.]

Smith, 25, hit .296/.367/.406 with a league-high 10 triples along with 40 RBI, 65 runs scored, and 40 stolen bases in 544 plate appearances with the Rays this past season. Smith was briefly with the Mariners in January 2017. The Braves traded him along with Shae Simmons to the Mariners for Luiz Gohara and minor leaguer Thomas Burrows. The Mariners then immediately sent him to the Rays along with Ryan Yarbrough and minor leaguer Carlos Vargas in exchange for Drew Smyly.

Zunino, 27, was just named one of the Defensive Players of the Year. He had a really good offensive year in 2017 but regressed this past season, finishing with a .201/.259/.410 triple-slash line along with 20 homers and 44 RBI in 405 PA.

Heredia, 27, spent most of his time in center field for the Mariners this year once Dee Gordon moved back to second base following Robinson Canó’s suspension. He hit .236/.318/.342 in 337 PA.

Smith is not yet eligible for arbitration, so he will be cheap in 2019 and under team control through 2022. Zunino is entering his second of three years of arbitration eligibility after earning $2.975 this past season. Heredia has roughly a similar amount of service time as Smith — he’ll be eligible for arbitration after the 2019 season and will be under team control through the 2022 season.

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

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Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.