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Carlos Correa rips Kurt Suzuki for claiming the Astros cheated during the 2019 World Series

Carlos Correa rips Kurt Suzuki for claiming the Astros cheated during the 2019 World Series

While investigating the Astros sign-stealing practices, Major League Baseball found no evidence that Houston cheated during the 2019 season. Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki did not believe such, telling the Washington Post on Friday he thought Houston cheated during the 2019 World Series.

The catcher specifically pointed out whistling coming from the Astros' dugout as the way Houston was breaking the rules.

One day later, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa addressed Suzuki's comments, telling reporters that "last year was nothing," adamant the team did not cheat during this past World Series.

"I heard Kurt Suzuki's comments saying 'Yeah, they were cheating,'" Correa said. "So, all the players now are above the lawyers that MLB is using, above the commissioner's report. Like seriously, bro? The commissioner's report clearly says in 2019, nothing happened. It's straight-up baseball players with talent playing the game of baseball."

A visibly upset Correa did not stop there.

"And [Suzuki] had the audacity to tell reporters that [the Astros] were cheating because they heard the whistles?" he said. "The fans whistle during the game. The fans whistle all the time during the game. What does a whistle mean? So don't go out there and tell reporters that we were cheating. Don't go above MLB, the investigation, the lawyers, the report when obviously there was nothing going on."

Suzuki was not the only Nationals player to speak out. On Thursday, Max Scherzer said the Astros crossed the line and vowed for the league to find a way to ensure it never happens again. Reliever Sean Doolittle wondered about the pitchers that lost their jobs because of getting hit around by Houston.

Correa concluded his statement by telling Suzuki to celebrate what the Nationals accomplished, rather than worry about the Astros situation.

"They won the championship, and he's still talking about that?" Correa said. "Enjoy your ring, enjoy your teammates. Enjoy what you guys accomplished. Congratulations to you guys. You guys played better than us. That was it."

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MLB Mock Draft Roundup: Signs point to Nationals drafting Georgia pitcher Cole Wilcox

MLB Mock Draft Roundup: Signs point to Nationals drafting Georgia pitcher Cole Wilcox

In just under two weeks, the Nationals will be tasked with turning the 22nd overall pick into a key piece of their future. With only five rounds in this year’s draft as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, every pick matters—especially those in the first round.

At the expense of contending for playoff spots each of the past eight seasons, the Nationals’ farm system has run thin on blue-chip prospects. The Athletic’s Keith Law most recently ranked their prospect depth 29th out of 30 teams, the lowest they’ve ever been on the longtime prospect analyst’s rankings.

The pressure is on GM Mike Rizzo and the Nationals’ front office to hit on as many picks as possible, and all signs are pointing toward them targeting right-hander Cole Wilcox out of the University of Georgia—if he’s still around by the time their name is called at No. 22.

Now the MLB first-year player draft order is determined by regular-season standings and does not factor in postseason results. That works in the favor of Washington, which went 93-69 and made the playoffs as a Wild Card team before going on an improbable World Series run. However, the player it appears to have in mind still very well could be snatched up before it has the chance to pick him.

Wilcox is a 20-year-old rising junior who boasts a fastball that touches triples digits to go with a plus slider and changeup. Considered a possible first-rounder in the 2018 draft out of high school, the right-hander decided to honor his commitment to Georgia after he was still on the board by the start of the second round.

However, one team did end up taking Wilcox anyway. The Nationals drafted him in the 37th round after reports indicated that they preferred him to their actual pick of Florida high schooler Mason Denaburg. Draft analysts took notice, making Wilcox a popular pick for Washington in mocks for the 2020 draft over the past few weeks.

Law, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel and Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline all pegged Wilcox going to the Nationals in their first mock drafts of the spring. Although Mayo has since moved Wilcox up two slots to the Milwaukee Brewers, this is not the first time that the Nationals’ pick has been a near-consensus among analysts.

Rizzo has always maintained that he picks the best player available, regardless of position or age. And as his track record has shown, that sometimes also means dismissing any health or off-the-field issues that may give other teams pause.

In 2018, Denaburg fell to the Nationals at 27th after biceps tendonitis knocked his draft stock down from early first-rounder—exactly where ESPN, MLB Pipeline and Bleacher Report all mocked him.

A similar situation played out in 2017, when ESPN, MLB Pipeline and Baseball America each correctly predicted Washington would draft ex-University of Houston pitcher Seth Romero. The projected top-10 talent was dismissed from the Cougars for multiple instances of “conduct detrimental to the team.”

“It’s always the best player available,” Nationals’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Kris Kline told MASN’s Dan Kolko in 2019. “In a perfect world you want to take — you know, I mean, for me college pitching is always a priority, because that’s what wins championships in the big leagues, front-line pitching, if that’s available. Those are the guys that you covet."

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In the cases of 2019 (Jackson Rutledge), 2012 (Lucas Giolito) and 2011 (Anthony Rendon), higher-ranked prospects fell to them unexpectedly. Erick Fedde (2014) was also correctly mocked to the Nationals by ESPN and Bleacher Report after it was announced he would undergo Tommy John surgery in the days following the draft.

Wilcox doesn’t have any lingering injuries or character concerns, but Baseball America notes that “some clubs are concerned with his arm slot and the shape of his slider.

Slated to be Georgia’s Saturday starter this season, his first chance at regular starts was cut short when the pandemic forced NCAA officials to cancel the spring season. Given he’s only made 23 appearances (10 starts) in college, scouts haven’t had ample opportunities to watch him pitch since high school.

Yet Wilcox will be far from the only player with limited film. The coronavirus outbreak has prevented scouts from getting any sort of in-person look at most high school seniors entering the draft. As a result, teams may be more inclined to make safer choices with college players who have more data available rather than select high schoolers who they haven’t seen.

There’s no guarantee he falls all the way to the Nationals at No. 22. But if Rizzo’s history is any indication, Wilcox will certainly be the favorite to go to Washington if he’s still on the board.

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Max Scherzer: ‘No reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer: ‘No reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer joined Twitter in February of 2012. He sent 433 tweets since then -- 54 a year on average -- and just four original tweets since Oct. 29, 2018. Until he dropped a shot Wednesday night.

Scherzer dispatched a screenshot at 11:09 p.m. which contained a clear message: the players’ union is angry.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players, there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of the prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

This has weight. Scherzer is on the union’s eight-player executive subcommittee and it’s not hard to envision him as the executive director of the MLBPA one day. He never uses social media. He does not haphazardly dispatch comments. Anyone who deals with him on a regular basis has heard the phrase, “How do I want to put this?” before a pause. So, this is a distinct and emphatic message.

At its core, the tweet is a jab against Major League Baseball owners. They do not reveal their books to anyone but each other. The players’ union has often griped about being at an information deficit when dealing with the league. That’s because they are. And Scherzer took a big swing at that concept Wednesday night.

Spurring his acrimony was the owners’ recent proposal of a second pay cut for players. The league and union negotiated a deal back in late March which prorated player salaries. The owners circled back with a new proposal which would take a giant whack out of high-end salaries if there is a season in 2020 on top of prorating them.

The new proposal from the league would vault players into tiered pay cuts.

Here’s the scale, as reported by ESPN:

$563,501 to $1 million paid at 72.5%
$1,000,001 to $5 million paid at 50%
$5,000,001 to $10 million paid at 40%
$10,000,001 to $20 million paid at 30%
$20,000,001 and up paid at 20%

These cuts follow the already prorated salaries players would work under during an 82-game season.

Which produces rough numbers like this:

Scherzer would make around $4.333 million in base salary. He was set to make $28,777,759 in base salary this season.

Stephen Strasburg would make $5.313 million. His new contract called for a $35 million base salary, one of the richest in the game.

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Those massive cuts immediately became non-starters for the players’ union.

As in any negotiation, the gap is greatest at the beginning. However, this is not the offseason with months to figure things out. This is late May with the calendar compressing the realistic chances for Major League Baseball to salvage some form of season this year.

And, if Scherzer’s rare tweet is to be taken at face value, the distance to cover in a short period is vast.

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