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Yankees close to signing DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million deal

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The New York Yankees are close to signing free agent infielder DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million deal, Jack Curry of YES and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic report. The deal is pending a physical.

This is somewhat unexpected as LeMahieu, a second baseman, wouldn’t seem to have a place to play in New York given that Gleyber Torres is currently at second base. Curry says, however, that the Yankees envision LeMahieu playing multiple infield positions, including first and third base, in addition to second. It’s also worth noting that Torres can handle shortstop, where the injury-prone and quite rusty Troy Tulowitzki is currently penciled in.

Of course, the Yankees likewise have Miguel Andujar at third base and, at some point this year, Didi Gregorius will come back from elbow surgery. There will certainly be a lot of parts for Aaron Boone to move around, that’s for sure. It would also seem that this move definitively takes the Yankees out of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, at least unless they make a trade to free up someplace for him to play.

LeMahieu, 30, was the N.L. batting champ for the Rockies in 2016, but has hit a combined .294/.350/.418 (91 OPS+) over the past two seasons.  That came in Coors Field, but Yankee Stadium is not a bad place to hit in its own right. The question is, how often will he get a chance to hit given how crowded the Yankees infield is.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?