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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Baseball

MLBPA launches investigation following Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos’ comments

Alex Anthopoulos Braves

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLB Players’ Association, issued a statement on Wednesday in which he said the union would be investigating the comments of Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Anthopoulos said the Braves had a chance to get a sense of what other clubs are going to look to do in free agency and who might be available in trades.

Clark found that quote concerning because it indicates potential coordination between teams regarding free agents, which is against MLB rules.

“The statements made by Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos call into the question the integrity of the entire free-agent system. The clear description of Club coordination is egregious, and we have launched an immediate investigation looking into the matter,” Clark said in a statement, via Ken Rosenthal.

Anthopoulos’ statement may have been innocuous; teams need to conduct due diligence every offseason and try to figure out what their opponents are doing. Talking with other clubs about potential trades is also part of the game. But after the way free agency has been going — with players increasingly not seeing markets materialize the last two offseasons — you can understand why Clark would be concerned.

If teams are sharing with each other whether they will be bidding on certain free agents or not, that would be against rules. If teams are sharing desired trade targets and areas of desired improvement, that would not be against the rules.

Report: Braves have made Madison Bumgarner a priority

Madison Bumgarner

On the heels of back-to-back NLDS exits, the Atlanta Braves are serious about making a deeper playoff run in 2020. It’s pretty clear that they intend to start that run in free agency this year.

According to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, the Braves have made free agent left-hander Madison Bumgarner “a priority” and are considered the “clear favorites” if he opts to leave the San Francisco Giants, the only MLB team he’s ever played for.

The Braves can offer Bumgarner his best opportunity to play close to his North Carolina home. They also explored trading for him in July prior to the trade deadline, though nothing came of it.

The question becomes whether Bumgarner wants to leave. He reportedly won’t give the Giants a hometown discount, and it’s not clear how close they’ll be to contention in the years to come. The Braves are already back-to-back NL East champs.

Bumgarner posted a career-worst 3.90 ERA in 2018, but still threw 207 innings and struck out 203. If the Braves want him, they may face competition from a key division rival.

Mets GM accidentally leaked Jerry Narron as bench coach candidate on Twitter

Brodie Van Wagenen

New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen may have accidentally leaked one of the team’s candidates for bench coach for any eagle-eyed Twitter users.

Van Wagenen tweeted out a seemingly innocuous image of new manager Carlos Beltran signing his contract. In the image, however, was some paperwork that had the name Jerry Narron printed on it, suggesting he was a candidate for the team’s bench coach position.

Adding fuel to the fire, Van Wagenen deleted the tweet — but reposted it with that portion of the image cropped out.

Be careful what you tweet, folks. And don’t expect Mike Francesa to be happy about it, either. It’s a minor thing, but it’s just another headache Van Wagenen didn’t want.

Stephen Strasburg did not snub Donald Trump on handshake

Stephen Strasburg Donald Trump

Stephen Strasburg logged on to Twitter to send his first tweet in a year and a half, and it was to set matters straight about his visit to the White House on Monday.

Strasburg’s Washington Nationals went to the White House to be honored for winning the World Series. Eight players did not make the trip, including reliever Sean Doolittle, who shared his reasons why. Strasburg was among those who did attend, and one video clip involving him and Donald Trump circulated online.

The video clip shows the World Series MVP appearing to snub Trump on a handshake after finishing a speech at the podium:

Strasburg went on Twitter to call the notion that he snubbed Trump “fake news.”

A full video shows that the pitcher went from right to left and eventually shook Trump’s hand.

Also during the team’s visit, catcher Kurt Suzuki wore a “MAGA” hat, which drew plenty of attention from viewers.

Kurt Suzuki wears ‘MAGA’ hat during Nationals’ White House visit

President Donald Trump hosted the Washington Nationals on Monday to honor them for their World Series title, and the visit was not without some controversy.

How many members of the team would even attend the ceremony was a question. Eight Nationals did not make the White House visit, including Anthony Rendon. With the exception of closer Sean Doolittle, who explained why he was skipping the visit, no reason was given for their absences.

The most notable moment of the ceremony itself came when catcher Kurt Suzuki donned one of the Trump campaign’s well-known Make America Great Again hats, to Trump’s surprise and delight.

Suzuki’s decision to wear one of Trump’s campaign hats — a divisive symbol to say the least — earned both praise and scorn online, and was a major talking point of the visit.

Considering the reception Trump got when attending Game 5 in Washington, it will likely prove an unpopular decision with a significant part of the team’s own fanbase.

Also see: Stephen Strasburg says he did not snub Trump on handshake.

JD Martinez will not opt out of contract with Red Sox for 2020

JD Martinez

JD Martinez had the option of becoming a free agent and signing a new contract this winter, but the Boston Red Sox slugger has decided to stay put for at least another year.

Martinez will not opt out of his contract, according to multiple reports. He holds player options for each of the next three seasons, so he is only committing to 2020 by not opting out now.

The first of Martinez’s three option years is worth the most, so that may have factored into his decision. He will earn $23.75 million in 2020, whereas opting in for 2021 and/or 2022 would be worth $19.3 million each season.

Martinez has been one of the best hitters in baseball since he signed with the Red Sox prior to the 2018 season. He hit .330 with 43 home runs and 130 RBI last season and was a huge part of the reason Boston won the World Series. The 32-year-old followed that up with another productive year in 2019, hitting .304 with 36 home runs and 105 RBI.

While Martinez sticking around is certainly good news for the Red Sox, it could make it less likely that they will keep Mookie Betts, who is expected to command a record contract in his final year of arbitration eligibility. The team basically already admitted that keeping both Martinez and Betts in 2020 will be difficult, though it’s also possible they could shop Martinez in trade talks.

Report: Nationals interested in signing Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler

Madison Bumgarner

Less than a week after winning the World Series, the Washington Nationals are already plotting their next moves.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported on Monday that the Nats are already working on trying to bring back World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and obviously want to re-sign All-Star infielder Anthony Rendon as well. Heyman also said that the team likes veteran pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler in terms of outside options.

While it is unclear if the 30-year-old Bumgarner and the 29-year-old Wheeler would be contingency plans in the event Strasburg walks, at least the former would be a solid addition regardless as a lefty arm to complement a righty-heavy rotation. The latter is also coming off a strong stretch of play, going 23-15 with a 3.65 ERA over the last two seasons combined.

That said, it’s worth noting that one of those two prospective free agent targets had a bit of a feud with Nationals star Max Scherzer a few years ago.

Nats fans, they play it, you wear it: Get your Calma Champions 2019 T-shirt below: