Gio Gonzalez
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Gio Gonzalez says he only got one offer all offseason

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Gio Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with the Yankees earlier this week. We learned today that he didn’t have a choice, as Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reports from Tampa today that it was the only offer Gonzalez received.

That’s rather surprising. No, Gonzalez is not Max Scherzer or anything, but he’s been a pretty solid pitcher over the years. Last year was, admittedly a down year, as Gonzalez went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA and a 148/80 K/BB ratio in 171 innings. He was solid in his five starts with the Brewers, however, going 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA down the stretch. That, combined with several previous years of above-average results, is the kind of thing that’ll almost always land someone a job, either as an innings eater for a rebuilding team or at the back of the rotation for a contender. Instead, Gonzalez only got the minor league offer a week and a half before spring training was over.

It’s possible that there is some gray area and semantics at play here. For example, if Gonzalez and/or his agent spent the winter signaling to teams that he wanted a fat multi-year deal, and most teams valued him on either a one-year deal or a lower dollar multi-year deal, it’s possible that no one would bother. The expectations, as it were, making the extension of an offer seem rather pointless. That happens. It’s the same reason why I’ve never asked Gillian Anderson out on a date.

Sill, there are very, very few teams who have a full five or six pitchers better than Gonzalez on their staff. At least one of them, you’d assume, would think they’d have nothing to lose and extend Gonzalez a major league offer at or just below what, internally, they valued him at as opposed to what Gonzalez was asking for (or what he was presumed to expect). You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right? Short of that, how were there not multiple other minor league offers, the sort of which the Yankees extended? It’d be the ultimate no-risk move for a guy who stands a pretty good shot at being a decent starter in 2019. What’s the harm? What’s the purpose of not doing that?

Such is the market. Such is why, absent some major changes, there is likely going to be labor unrest in the future.

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.