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#pounditTuesday, July 27, 2021

Baseball

Report: Mets’ deal with Kumar Rocker in jeopardy over elbow concerns

Kumar Rocker

After starring at Vanderbilt, Kumar Rocker looked like a steal for the New York Mets when he fell to them at No. 10 overall in the MLB Draft. Now, there are questions as to whether Rocker will even sign with the organization.

According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Mets are not finalizing their contract agreement with Rocker due to concerns about the pitcher’s right elbow. The Mets had agreed to pay Rocker a $6 million signing bonus pending a physical, but had concerns with Rocker’s pitching elbow after he underwent the examination.

Rocker’s camp disagrees with the Mets’ concerns. Rocker’s agent, Scott Boras, is known for using his own medical experts to evaluate his players, and typically notifies clubs of potential issues prior to the draft. The Mets were not notified about any potential physical issues with Rocker prior to selecting him.

Rocker and the Mets essentially have three options. The Mets can finalize the deal that was previously agreed on despite the elbow concerns. The two sides could also negotiate a new agreement with a smaller bonus, or the sides could break off talks. Rocker would be able to return to Vanderbilt for his senior year, while the Mets would receive a makeup selection behind the tenth-worst team in next year’s draft as compensation.

The deadline for teams to agree to terms with draft picks is Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.

The Mets were already set to pay above slot value to get Rocker signed, which they were willing to do. That willingness is clearly being tested if they see something in his elbow that they do not like, even though he had no public red flags before the draft.

Report: Nationals speeding up Max Scherzer trade efforts

Max Scherzer

It continues to look more and more likely that the Washington Nationals will trade Max Scherzer, and the deal could come by the end of Thursday.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, teams interested in Scherzer believe the Nationals want to make a trade within the next 48 hours so any issues involving Scherzer’s veto rights can be dealt with. The chances of Scherzer making his next start for Washington appear “remote.”

Scherzer can be picky about where he goes because of his veto rights. The Nationals want this done early so that Scherzer and his new team have time to sort out any issues of compensation that may need to be negotiated.

The Nationals have been discussing possible Scherzer trades since before the weekend. The 37-year-old ace has a 2.83 ERA this season and can lead a playoff rotation. He’s unlikely to come cheap even though he’s a free agent at the end of the season.

Video: Javy Baez taunted the ever-loving crap out of Amir Garrett

Javy Baez taunting

Javy Baez delivered a walk-off hit for the Chicago Cubs on Monday night, and he sure took pleasure in taunting Amir Garrett afterwards.

Garrett and Baez have history dating back to a 2019 game when the Cincinnati Reds pitcher taunted Baez after striking out the Chicago Cubs infielder. The next season, Baez stood up to Garrett after the pitcher chirped at Anthony Rizzo.

So when Baez came in to pinch hit against Garrett in the bottom of the ninth with one out and the bases loaded on Monday, the two players were already talking. But Baez got the best of things, delivering a shot to deep center field to win the game 6-5.

Baez was so busy taunting Garrett after the hit that he barely made it to first base.

You can be assured that Garrett and the Reds won’t be happy about that. You also have to wonder if the league will have anything to say to Baez after that display. Nick Castellanos was suspended for less.

Report: Dodgers players do not want Trevor Bauer back

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer is away from the Los Angeles Dodgers on administrative leave. He may not end up returning to the team.

Bauer was placed on paid leave by MLB on July 2 as the league investigates assault allegations the pitcher faces. Bauer is also being investigated by Pasadena, Calif. police for possible felony assault. MLB has continued to extend his administrative leave period.

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times’ Mike DiGiovanna wrote an article on the Bauer situation. In his story, DiGiovanna reported that a “majority of (Dodgers) players do not want Bauer back under any circumstances.”

DiGiovanna did not specify his sources but said they were people with “knowledge of Dodgers clubhouse dynamics.”

Larry Brown Sports cannot confirm the sentiment among Dodgers players regarding Bauer. However, this tidbit of information leaking to DiGiovanna seems indicative of something else. The Dodgers likely want to prepare the public for the reality that Bauer will not be returning to the team.

The Dodgers began to distance themselves from Bauer in the days following the allegations being reported. They are likely to part ways with Bauer regardless of the outcome of the criminal case.

There was a small but vocal part of the Dodgers’ fan base that opposed the Bauer signing in the first place due to his political and social media history. Regardless of whether or not they are truthful, the allegations are enough to further cement to those fans that Bauer should not be on the team.

At minimum, the Dodgers would receive bad publicity by keeping Bauer on the team, which is something they do not seem interested in doing.

Bauer’s civil hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court was moved to Aug. 2 after his legal team requested more time to prepare a defense.

Kyle Seager sends message to Mariners about buying at trade deadline

Kyle Seager

The Seattle Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, the longest active drought in the league. Third baseman Kyle Seager is calling on the team’s management to go all-out to try to break that spell.

Seattle’s 4-3 victory over Oakland on Sunday marked the team’s third straight win, boosting their record to 54-46. That leaves the Mariners just 1.5 games back of the second AL Wild Card spot, fueling suggestions that the team should be buying at the trade deadline.

Seager, the longest-tenured Mariners player, sounded off on that possibility after Sunday’s win. He said it had been “way too long” since Seattle has seen playoff baseball, and added that as a veteran, he only has so many more chances to experience it. Seager added that the organization has “preached about this rebuild so much” and suggested that it was time to pull the trigger and go for it.

“You want people to believe in you. You want them to feel like we’re doing a good job and that this is a team to go for it,” Seager added. “I think it’s been preached about this rebuild so much, but I mean we’re right there on the edge of this thing. So certainly you would like to have them make moves and get the team as good as we possibly can. And I know me personally, I mean, good lord, I’d like to make a run out of it.”

Every team on the fringes of contention will have players wanting to go for it. The Mariners’ situation is more extreme given the playoff drought, plus the fact that Seager is saying this in his 11th and possibly final season with the team. Plenty of fans likely agree with him.

The Mariners have gotten solid pitching this year from starters Yusei Kikuchi and Chris Flexen, as well as highly-touted rookie Logan Gilbert. However, their .218 team average is the worst in the American League. It’s easy to see where the organization can improve if it wants to.

Adam Frazier traded from Pirates to Padres

Adam Frazier

The San Diego Padres are making a significant move to bolster their offense ahead of the trade deadline.

As first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Padres are acquiring second baseman Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates. There was no immediate word on who the Pirates would receive in return.

Though not a household name, the 29-year-old Frazier has been having a breakout year for the Pirates. He’s hitting .327, leads the league with 125 hits, and was named to his first career All-Star team earlier this month. Though primarily a second baseman, he also has the versatility to play a capable left field if needed.

The Padres have been hunting for another bat for a while now as they try to bolster their offense. It’s not clear where they’ll fit Frazier into their lineup, but one possibility includes moving second baseman Jake Cronenworth over to first, likely costing the struggling Eric Hosmer playing time.

Though the Padres possess the fourth-best record in the National League, they still sit third in the NL West, five games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.

Video: Genesis Cabrera laughs at umpire Chad Fairchild following ejection

Genesis Cabrera trolling umpire

St. Louis Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera was none too happy with home plate umpire Chad Fairchild’s strike zone on Sunday, and he wasn’t too impressed when Fairchild ejected him, either.

Cabrera issued a walk to Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker on a borderline 3-2 pitch to start the 8th inning of Sunday’s game. Cabrera clearly felt the pitch was a strike, and as he was walking back to the dugout following a pitching change, gestured repeatedly toward Fairchild as if diagramming the strike zone. Fairchild’s response was to eject Cabrera, even though the pitcher had already been pulled from the game.

How unimpressed was Cabrera? His first reaction was to openly laugh at Fairchild. He followed that up by sticking his tongue out at the umpire, a la Joe Kelly against the Houston Astros.

Cabrera was already out of the game. He knew that he couldn’t face any more consequences for his actions, at least not on Sunday. So he decided to live it up a little.

The only question is whether Cabrera was actually trying to make the famous Joe Kelly face or whether it just worked out that way. Either way, fans probably won’t feel too bad for an umpire getting trolled like that, deserved or not.

Twins open to Byron Buxton trade after extension talks stall

Byron Buxton

Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton may be on the trade market after efforts to reach a contract extension failed.

Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes of The Athletic were first to report that Buxton and the Twins failed to agree on a new contract. The Twins maxed their offer at seven years and $80 million, but Buxton’s camp was not satisfied.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network suggested the Twins would at least listen to trade offers for Buxton, with the Philadelphia Phillies named as one potential destination.

A trade before the July 30 deadline is still unrealistic. Part of that is because Buxton is on the IL, and he’s also under team control for 2022. The Twins could probably do better trading Buxton in the offseason, which looks to be a more likely scenario.

Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, has been one of the most exciting and dynamic players in baseball, at least when he’s on the field. The 27-year-old has struggled to stay healthy during his career, and has only played more than 100 games in a season once in his MLB career. Part of that is due to his willingness to sacrifice his body on awesome plays like this. It’s why he’ll always be an injury risk, but it also figures to make him a lot of money in free agency.

Alex Cora had funny reason for being relieved after huge comeback

Alex Cora

The Boston Red Sox came from behind to pull off a stunning comeback against the New York Yankees on Sunday, and Alex Cora was quick to remind everyone that it could not have come at a better time.

Yankees starter Domingo German took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Alex Verdugo. German had been virtually untouchable to that point, but Aaron Boone felt 93 pitches was enough for the right-hander with New York holding a comfortable 4-0 lead. The Yankees then went into full meltdown mode.

After German was pulled, Boston had four consecutive hits, a groundout that drove in a run, and a sacrifice fly. Before you knew it, the Red Sox were leading 5-4. Matt Barnes came on for the save in the ninth on what happened to be “Family Day” at Fenway Park. That was not lost on Cora.

“I was just thinking about our Family Day today. It was going to be suck, to be honest with you, if we got shut out and they threw a no-hitter,” Cora told reporters after the game. “That’s all I was thinking about. I was like, ‘Man, this is gonna be a weird one.’ But now it’s gonna be a fun one.”

The Red Sox have won more games this season when they were trailing than when they have led wire-to-wire. That’s hardly a fluke. In what many expected to be a rebuilding year, Cora has pulled all the right strings and has the team looking like a legitimate World Series contender.

Boston improved to 61-39 with Sunday’s win and has the best record in the American League.

Video: Minor league manager Tripp Keister takes off jersey during ejection

Tripp Keister ejection

Minor league manager Tripp Keister is going viral for his ejection during his team’s game on Saturday.

Keister is the manager for the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. His team was leading the Portland Sea Dogs 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth. Keister was upset with an interference call. He took off his hat and placed it where the call was made. Then he took off his jersey while complaining to the umpires.

Keister was promoted to Double-A before the season and showed the fire that caught the Nats’ eyes. His team ended up losing 6-4 to Portland.