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Jurickson Profar sent to Athletics in three-team trade

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Athletics have acquired Jurickson Profar from the Rangers in a trade. It’s actually part of a three-team deal, Passan reports, involving the Tampa Bay Rays and a bunch of minor leaguers.

The core of the trade, Passan says, is Profar to Oakland, prospects Brock Burke, Eli White, Kyle Bird, Yoel Espinal and international bonus pool money to Texas, and the Rays will get reliever Emilio Pagan, prospect Rollie Lacy and a competitive balance pick.

Profar, baseball’s top prospect once upon a time, will turn 26 during spring training. While his career has been marred by serious injury, he is coming off his first full — and his best — season in 2018. This past year he hit .254/.335/.458 with 20 homers, 77 RBI and stole ten bases in 146 games while playing shortstop, first, second, third and left field. It’s possible that the A’s view him as that kind of a super utilityman, the sort of which has become increasingly valuable in a game with big bullpens and short benches. It’s also possible that he’ll be given second base full time now that Jed Lowrie is departing via free agency.

Pagan has two big league seasons under his belt, and pitched 55 games in relief for the A’s in 2018. The Rays use relievers like nobody’s business, so it’s not surprising they wanted an arm in the deal. Lacy is a 23 year-old lefty who has not pitched above High-A yet. That draft pick has a slot value of $1.88 million and may be the most valuable thing heading to Tampa Bay in this deal.

Brock Burke, the Rays’ third round pick in the 2014 draft, is a lefty starter who split time between High-A and Double-A last year. He has some serious gas. White is a utility type who has spent a good deal of time in both the infield and outfield. He’s 24 and hit pretty well in the Texas League in 2018.

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

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Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.