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Baseball hopes for clarification on sliding rules


Baseball hopes for clarification on sliding rules

BOCA RATON, Fla. – If you spend much time with Buck Showalter, you know he always has strong opinions on rules.

At this week’s General Managers meetings, rule changes and clarifications were discussed. They’ll be discussed further at next week’s Owners Meetings and next month’s Winter Meetings.

The most contentious play from this postseason came when Los Angeles’ Chase Utley slid so hard into the Mets’ Ruben Tejada at second that Tejada suffered a broken leg.

Joe Torre, Chief Baseball Officer, suspended Utley for two games. Tejada hopes to be ready for spring training.

“I thought that was a little overly aggressive,” Torre said. “He slid too late and didn’t make an effort to touch the base. His target was the infielder.”

A clarification on the rule could be coming.

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Torre is proud of the game’s improvements on safety. He cites the 2014 collision rule at home plate in being a boon.

“We don’t want guys carried off the field,” Torre said.

During the postseason, there was a lot of complaining about the strike zone. Torre says little has changed.

“I know that it appears that the strike zone this year was different from last year, but it was the same. The same low strikes were called last year and this year,” Torre said.

He noted that managers are being ejected more often in the age of replay for arguing balls and strikes.

Managers have told Torre: “We have nothing else to argue about.”

Replay has brought to light the pop-up slide. In the past, a player who slid and quickly stood up was always safe. Now, players are called out on replay who have briefly left the bag.

“Before replay, we accepted the imperfections of our game,” Torre said. “Now since replay, we’re impatient with a play that might be missed.”

He notes on the pop-up slide: “A lot of times you’re negating good baserunning.”

Replay is working well. Fewer than two percent of the calls in replay are incorrect, Torre says. But, 52 percent of calls were overturned in replay, higher than it was in 2014.

Managers are now forced to use a challenge on the collision play at home, and that’s worked well, Torre said.

MLB is looking to add fan interference calls to replay so that baserunners can be properly placed.

The question of ejections for throwing at batters continues to vex the game.

“A lot of times it seems unfair. Usually the guy who’s trying to stick up for his club pays the price. I don’t really drop at on the umpire because they get one shot at it. You try to keep players in the game,” Torre said.

As for pace of play, over the season a reduction of more than six minutes was achieved. The average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes, down more than six minutes from 2014.

According to Dan Halem, MLB’s Chief Legal Officer, negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement should begin in February or March. The agreement expires Dec. 1, 2016.

Halem said that reducing the schedule to 154 games is unlikely, and so is further expansion.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that playing regular season games in Mexico and perhaps Europe in the next five years is a priority. He also said that baseball continues to work on an international draft.

NOTES: Cal Ripken will receive the Tony Gwynn award for his lifetime contributions to the game at a dinner at next month’s Winter Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla.

“I am thrilled to be receiving the Tony Gwynn Award,” Ripken said.

“Tony was a friend and a terrific ambassador for the game. I will always remember entering the Hall of Fame with Tony and the great time we had in 2007. My sincere thanks to Baseball America for thinking of me on this anniversary year of 2,131 and bestowing me this honor.”

Ripken and commissioner emeritus Bud Selig are being honored by Baseball America.

-Manny Machado lost out to Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at third base on Wednesday night.

-Chris Davis is a favorite to win the Silver Slugger award at first base on Thursday night.

MORE ORIOLES: Looking for deals, free agents

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.


Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."


Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.

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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Even if Manny Machado doesn't switch teams this season, he almost certainly will be changing his position in the infield.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that Machado will move from third base to shortstop this spring, and shortstop Tim Beckham will be shifted to third.

The shuffle will become permanent unless something goes wrong -- or Machado gets traded to another club.

"There could be some adjustments if we don't like the feel of it, but that's where we're going to head into it," Showalter said at FanFest, an annual offseason event designed to promote interest in the club.

Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend.


Machado becomes a free agent after this year and is sure to demand a huge contract. The Orioles have entertained trade offers for the 25-year-old, who's been an All-Star in three of his six seasons with Baltimore.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

"That's a big decision for the organization, obviously," Duquette said. "But we're planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub."

Machado played in 156 games last season, offsetting a career-low .259 batting average with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past three years.

Machado avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Drafted as a shortstop as the third overall pick in 2010, Machado played third base with Baltimore next to slick-fielding J.J. Hardy, whose contract expired after last season.

So when they return to the field next month in Florida, the Orioles will have Machado at shortstop with Beckham on his left. Beckham came to Baltimore from Tampa Bay in July and played shortstop for the injured Hardy over the final two months.

"I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would," Showalter said. "Tim's big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it."

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

"All indications are, he's really excited about this," Showalter said. "I can't imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he's been very professional about it. But it's not like he's changing positions. He's going back to the position he's equipped to play."


Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He's also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.

"Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub," Duquette said. "We're going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching."

If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.

"I'm hoping I get a shot to close. I'd be lying if I say I didn't," said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.

Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.

"I think I did all right," Brach said. "Hopefully, I get another chance to do it."