There have been off-and-on rumors about the Indians wanting to trade ace Corey Kluber all offseason. There haven’t been any compelling explanations about why they want to trade Kluber, but they still, apparently, are interested in trading him. Welcome to baseball in 2019.
Earlier talks this offseason between the Indians and Reds — and, alternatively, the Indians and the Padres — apparently went nowhere. So here’s a new wrinkle: Dennis Lin and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic are reporting that the Indians, Padres and Reds are talking about Kluber in the context of a potential three-way deal.
Reading all of the tweets and stuff that surround that, it seems that the Reds want Kluber and the Padres want Reds top prospect Nick Senzel. That’s fine as far as it goes, except (a) the Reds really don’t want to part with Senzel; and (b) no one, still, can fully explain what the Indians want out of all of this. They could use Senzel themselves, but those talks are presumably part of what went nowhere with the Reds earlier this offseason and, even if there was still some momentum to all of that, there would be no point in involving the Padres. Again: none of this adds up perfectly. Probably because it’s seemingly driven by a contending team wanting to trade a perennial Cy Young candidate who is under team control at a reasonable rate and that just breaks the model.
Nothing is imminent, say Lin and Rosenthal. Which is probably good for Indians fans who, quite reasonably, probably want to know why the team they root for seem so hell-bent on trading one of the best pitchers in baseball at a time when they should be gearing up to match the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros and attempting to win a World Series which is, you know, the point of baseball.
We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.
As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.
Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.
As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.
While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.
Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.