Homer Bailey
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Athletics acquire Homer Bailey

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Right-hander Homer Bailey has been dealt to the Athletics, the team announced Sunday. Since Bailey is currently receiving the league minimum from the Royals, ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes, the Athletics will owe him no more than $250,000 for the remainder of the 2019 season. Kansas City is expected to receive top infield prospect Kevin Merrell in return.

The 33-year-old Bailey inked a minors deal with the Royals in advance of spring training. Since then, he’s put up a 7-6 record in 18 starts with a 4.80 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 8.1 SO/9 through 90 innings. While he isn’t the 3.00-ERA, 3.0+ fWAR, no-hitter hurler he was for the Reds in years past, he may yet improve his performance with the A’s as they vie for a wild card spot this summer. He was originally slated to start Sunday’s game against the Tigers, but was replaced by southpaw Brian Flynn prior to news of the trade.

Merrell, 23, was selected by the A’s in the first round of the 2017 amateur draft. The shortstop/second baseman made the jump to Double-A Midland in 2019 and slashed .246/.292/.339 with 19 extra bases, 13 stolen bases (in 17 chances), and a .631 OPS through 318 plate appearances. Per MLB Pipeline, he ranked 17th-best among the club’s prospects in 2019.

Skaggs Case: Federal Agents have interviewed at least six current or former Angels players

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The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.

There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.

Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.

In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.