Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Did Astros spying result from suspicions about Red Sox stealing Cole's signs?

WATCH JON HEYMAN LIVE ON-AIR ON THE FANCRED APP, 7 P.M. EST TONIGHT

Taking off on our weekly trip around the majors ...
 
Arizona Diamondbacks
— The Diamondbacks will “gauge” interest in all their players, GM Mike Hazen told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Franchise first baseman Paul Goldschmidt will be the most interesting case, followed by Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke … 
— The belief is that the D-Backs don’t have the money to extend Goldschmidt after getting him on a team-friendly first deal that takes him through next year, though it might be hard to deal such a popular player … 
— They’d likely love to trade the high-priced Greinke, who made four times what any other Diamondback made last year, and his nice season may give them an outside chance to do it — though probably not a great one. Grienke’s career is a lot closer to Justin Verlander’s then one might think. Recall that there was a very limited market for Verlander in 2017, and the Astros made one of the best trades anyone’s made in recent years
— Assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye is a candidate for Giants GM, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported … 
— The Diamondbacks are looking for a hitting coach after letting go Dave Magadan.
 
Atlanta Braves
— Chuck Hernandez was said to be surprised by the call to let him go, and why wouldn’t he be? The Braves actually pitched well this year, with Mike Foltyniewicz, Kevin Gausman and many of the kids also looking good and showing improvement … 
— Brian Snitker’s two-year extension (plus third-year option) is well deserved. There was really no choice. The players all like him, and the team surprised everyone by winning the NL East.
 
Baltimore Orioles
— The Orioles and Marlins appear to be the leading contenders for Cubans Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston … 
— Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun wrote that Manny’s just being Manny, and the nation is finally just noticing.


 
Boston Red Sox
— Everyone wanted J.A. Happ as a deadline pickup, but the Red Sox were OK to settle with Nathan Eovaldi, who’s worked out very nicely indeed. Logan White who originally picked him in the draft for the Dodgers had one word for Eovaldi: “gamer” … 
— Eovaldi’s use of the cutter has improved his game, too. According to MLB Network, he is up to 32 percent cutter usage from only 7 percent in 2016 … 
— Good move by Alex Cora going to Rick Porcello as a set-man. For all the worry about the bridge to Craig Kimbrel, Boston seems to be covering that issue pretty nicely …  
— Everyone around the Astros said Alex Cora would be nails on strategy, and they were right … 
— The Indians first reported suspecting some illegal spying by someone connected to the Astros, and MLB followed up on their suspicion after more reports surfaced in the ALCS vs. Boston, eventually determining against any immediate punishment.
    The Astros’ defense (at least as far as the Red Sox series goes) is their own interest in making sure the Red Sox aren’t repeating the shenanigans from last year involving an Apple Watch. True or not, there was a belief on the part of someone with the Astros that Gerrit Cole’s signs might have been stolen by the Red Sox in Boston (the belief apparently is that the very veteran former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander has a code that can’t be cracked)
  In any case, MLB is handling this matter at the highest level, with commissioner Rob Manfred and honcho Dan Halem investigating the new matter now.
    The stories about possible cheating by the Astros were first reported by Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Here’s Jeff Passan’s story for Yahoo!, who offered more details. The Red Sox are in a bit of a funny position after the Apple phone caper last year however, and they received only a small penalty for that episode. Alex Cora, who wasn’t the Red Sox manager last year, handled the situation very professionally in the press conference.
 
Chicago Cubs
— Brandon Hyde is a popular managerial candidate. He also has been mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Joe Maddon should the Cubs move on, and it’s more than fair to discuss that possibility at this point since the Cubs are not extending Maddon, who will go into next season as a lame duck. (It is pointed out that Maddon did not ask for an extension, but the fact remains that they didn’t offer him one, either.) … 
— Mark DeRosa, who didn’t jump at any job this winter (it is said that he will stay at MLBCentral, where he is a star with less stress), is another potential candidate after Maddon, whenever that may be. The former Cub was offered the bench coach job last winter … 
— The expectation is that the Cubs pick up Cole Hamels' $20-million option rather than buy him out for $6 million. It would make no sense to do otherwise …
— The hiring of Anthony Iapoce as hitting coach was portrayed as an admission they shouldn’t have let go of hitting coach John Mallee a year ago. They were in the organization together and are seen as similar … 
— Chili Davis, who was let go, admitted he needed to work on connecting with “millennials” in an interview with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. He’s still a great hitting coach, but it’s true that the Cubs had the highest groundball rate in the second half last year, as Theo Epstein mentioned (they also led the NL in batting). Davis said, “I guess I need to make some adjustments in the way I deliver my message to the millennial players. I need to make these adjustments for the next job, if there is a next job.”

RELATED: Girardi interviews for Reds job
 
Cincinnati Reds
— The Reds interviewed 13 for their managerial job. It was reported here that the favorites were David Bell, John Farrell and Jim Riggleman going in, unless someone overwhelmed them (always possible). Bell, who’s drawn interest elsewhere, is thought to be the favorite, though John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer suggested it may be Farrell … 
— Top prospect Nick Senzel will miss the Arizona Fall League after needing elbow surgery. He was also dogged by a finger injury and vertigo within the last year. The Reds’ plan is to play him in the outfield next year, so the more reps the better for the longtime infielder and former No. 2 overall pick.
 
Colorado Rockies
— The Rockies will have some interesting infield and outfield decisions with D.J. LeMahieu, Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez all free agents. They do have some good prospects, including infielder Brendan Rodgers. 


 
Houston Astros
— Manager A.J. Hinch says this is the best bullpen he’s been around (and imagine if they had held on to Josh Hader rather than trade him to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez-Mike Fiers deal) …
— Alex Bregman is showing some big personality along with his big production, though the Instagram video of the Astros’ back-to-back-to-back homers off Nathan Eovaldi in the regular season may not have been necessary. Anyway, they weren’t as good in Game 3 against Eovaldi … 
— Some would say there was justice in Roberto Osuna being shellacked in Game 3, the 8-2 defeat to the Red Sox that was his first postseason appearance with the Astros. MLB probably needs to amend the rule that allows someone who accepted a 75-game penalty for spousal abuse to be allowed to participate in the postseason. There’s no reason players banned in-season for drugs are eliminated from October while players who commit spousal abuse are not.


Kansas City Royals
— Ryan O’Hearn stunned some folks by playing much better in the majors (.597 slugging percentage) than he had in the minors.

RELATED: Eric Chavez likely pick as next Angels manager
 
Los Angeles Angels
— The Angels just cut their initial interview list from 10 to unspecified (obviously lower) number to call back for second interviews. Eric Chavez, who’d received a tryout with the Triple-A Salt Lake team, has been viewed as the favorite but Angels front office person Brad Ausmus probably has a strong chance, as well. Popular coach Dino Ebell received an interview. He is said to be a favorite of Mike Trout, which can’t hurt … 
— The Angels are expected to make a run at signing Trout long-term, this winter, but they are making it a policy to stay away from that topic even moreso than the managerial opening.


 
Los Angeles Dodgers
— Yasmani Grandal has hurt his free agency with some very rough play in the postseason. “Recency is a bigger factor than ever,” one rival GM notes. He’s the best catcher on the market, but he’s struggled offensively and defensively in October … 
— One interesting aspect of the Dodgers-Brewers series is that it was billed as the Dodgers starters vs. the Brewers bullpen, and in some sense, it’s been the opposite, as one rival GM observed …  
— Frank Thomas suggested on FOX after Turner’s four-strikeout performance in Game 1 that he should be benched. We understand the need to say attention-getting things on these pregame shows but it shouldn’t be at the expense of credibility lost. Dodgers writer Eric Stephen wondered on Twitter whether Nugenix (which Thomas advertises for) has any negative side effects …
—  Cody Bellinger is hoping to keep the family streak alive. His father Clay's three teams (two with the Yankees, one with the Angels) all played in the World Series, and Cody played in the World Series as a rookie last year.

DOWNLOAD THE FANCRED APP TO INTERACT WITH JON HEYMAN
 

Miami Marlins
— The Marlins are battling with the Orioles for Cuban players Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston … 
— Their pickup of $1 million in international money in exchange for reliever Kyle Barraclough (via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald) and $500,000 more for a couple prospects from the Astros helps them in that endeavor. It is also a reminder that these international players are now vastly underpaid, as it is obvious Barraclough is worth more than $1 million in real money … 
— The Marlins home run sculpture (artist: Red Grooms) will be missed by some of us. It fit Miami. But Jeter isn’t an art expert (or a Miami expert yet, either.) I wrote about his interest in being rid of the sculpture on Twitter over the winter, and when Jeter was asked about it his introductory press conference he launched into an harangue about how a lot of the reports were wrong. Maybe other reports were wrong (maybe even some of mine). But that one was dead on.


 
Milwaukee Brewers
— GM David Stearns would appear to be due an extension and perhaps upgraded job title after owner Mark Attanasio declined to allow him to interview for the Giants’ GM job, and perhaps others. Also, Stearns has made a lot of good moves. Assistant GM Matt Arnold is being mentioned in connection with some jobs, as well … 
— And former GM Doug Melvin is, too. Don’t knock it. He’s the one who got Josh Hader for the Brewers (from Stearns’ then Astros team no less) … 
— For all the criticism of Craig Counsell, the belief here is that he is a managing savant and doing a fantastic job with the small-market team. One small piece of advice to him would be to sometimes try harder in the press conferences. He’s an extremely bright guy, and you can see his sharp sense of humor if you listen closely. Asked if Machado was going beyond the bounds of playing hard (with his rough play), Counsell answered that he didn’t think Machado was playing all that hard. Bravo! … 
— Ryan Braun was nearly traded to the Dodgers “two or three” times, Braun recalled. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com wrote about one of those times. Braun has a full no-trade and has told the team the Dodgers are the only team he’d accept. One reason it’s never happened is that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is a big fan of Braun … 
— Curtis Granderson is a great guy for any team, and the Chicago product (South Side) is happy to be as close to Chicago as he’s ever been. He said he’s never gotten an offer, or even a nibble, from either Chicago team. But if he gets one, don’t be surprised if he goes home. He looks far from done, by the way …
—  Brandon Woodruff has pitched brilliantly this postseason. Only an 11th round pick, he has first-round talent. He also showed he can hit. Tim Brown of Yahoo! wrote a nice story about a family tragedy and how he overcame it ...
— It was weird Gio Gonzalez had to be replaced due to injury, as he is about the least injured player in baseball. High ankle sprain while fielding got him.

RELATED: Meulens among leading candidates for Twins job
 
Minnesota Twins
— Hensley Meulens is thought to have a decent chance to win the Twins managing job. David Ross has been connected to the Twins job. Candidates previously mentioned here include Rocco Baldelli, Joe Espada and Derek Shelton.

RELATED: Is job title complicating Mets GM search?
 
New York Mets
— It was mentioned in this space last week that there’s a split over manager Mickey Callaway in the Mets’ hierarchy, though they have said he will be back next year. One name to keep in mind could be Joey Cora. The success of his younger brother Alex can only be seen as a positive … 
— Tim Healey of Newsday had an interesting story from years ago about how then GM Omar Minaya wanted to give Manhattan native and Mets fan David Stearns a full-time job, but didn’t get the go-ahead from ownership. At 33 now, Stearns is one of the hottest names in the business and the author of many of these great deals
— Mike Chernoff is expected to get a contract extension from the Indians. He was in talks for a while before the Mets reached out to him. It hasn't been revealed when his current contract that began in 2016 expires, but whatever it was, it will be longer now ... 
— Dave Littlefield is the latest to interview for the Mets' GM job, Marc Carig of The Athletic reported ... 
— Mike Puma of the New York Post connected Yasmani Grandal to the Mets, but his rough postseason may impact that idea.

RELATED: Yankees expected to target Patrick Corbin | Yankees expected to make run at Machado after Gregorious injury


New York Yankees
— Patrick Corbin is said to be high on their list (link) but Dallas Keuchel, J.A. Happ and even Wade Miley, who’s having a big run with the Brewers, will have to be considerations, as the Yankees look to bolster their rotation with a lefty or two … 
— David Robertson will represent himself in free agency, reported Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. He couldn’t have been unhappy with his last deal, which was for $46 million over four years despite having a qualifying offer attached to him back in the days when qualifying offers really mattered.

RELATED: Could Phillies land Machado or Harper?
 
Philadelphia Phillies
— The Phillies, said one rival exec, are “the one team that might pay the $300 million” for Manny Machado. We will see. But the Phillies are all in this winter.
 
St. Louis Cardinals
— The Cardinals are expected to sign Adam Wainwright, as first reported by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The signing is expected to wait until after the World Series however, but it will be quite a cut from the $19.5 million he made last year in the final year of a five-year deal …  
— Goold also reported that longtime minors manager Stubby Clapp will have an offer to be a major-league coach if he doesn’t get an MLB managing job elsewhere.
 
San Diego Padres
— The Padres seek a hitting coach after letting go Matt Stairs. They interviewed Chili Davis last year, and he is now available after being let go by the Cubs.

FOLLOW JON HEYMAN ON FANCRED
 
San Francisco Giants
— Bobby Evans’ ending in San Francisco after 25 years including three as GM (really two) certainly was abrupt. Evans was a key man in three World Series championships and can’t really be blamed for the last year, as his predecessor Brian Sabean was given back the final say a year ago. Perhaps that change back to Sabean provided a warning, but Evans’ removal seemed strong considering all he’s done there … 
— Managing partner Larry Baer said he’s looking for a “Next Gen” GM, which sounds like a young guy with more emphasis on analytics. Amiel Sawdaye of the D-Backs (reported by Bob Nightengale pf USA Today) and Chaim Bloom would appear to be among the candidates, though as mentioned in this space last week, the Giants are somewhat frustrated by turn-downs, either by the team or person … 
— They tried David Stearns as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported, but Brewers owner Mark Attanasio declined. Stearns would appear to be in line for an extension, and perhaps an upgraded job title … 
— The Giants have sent out a “massive net” and there’s a sense they could hire both a president and a GM, a la the rival Dodgers, though no one seems to know for sure … 
— Joe Panik is expected to be available. Of course things can be somewhat dependent on the new GM, but they seem to be ready to move on. Panik takes ownership of his rough year, though acknowledges the absences due to thumb and groin injuries played a role.
 
Tampa Bay Rays
— The Rays are hot on the job market, and it’s no surprise considering how they outperformed this year. Coach Rocco Baldelli is a candidate with the Twins, Rangers and Reds and may draw interest from the Angels and Jays as well … 
— Chaim Bloom is a candidate with the Mets and Giants. The belief is that he’d probably be ready to move on since Rays ownership went with Erik Neander as GM when they had two good candidates (but that’s just a guess, nothing he’s said).
 
Texas Rangers
— Shiraz Rehman was hired as an assistant GM from the Cubs. These two teams have a lot of business going on. The Cubs have several players are on their roster who came from the Rangers organization, including Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Jesse Chavez … 
— Mark DeRosa decided not to pursue the Rangers managing job, and word is, he is sitting out this whole hiring season. Some close to him think it would take a special job to lure him away from his starring role on MLB Central on Mb Network, such as the Braves (where he lives) or perhaps the Cubs. (disclaimer: I work at MLB Network, but have not heard this from DeRosa.) … 
— Interim manager Don Wakamatsu interviewed Wednesday.

RELATED: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could file grievance | 57 candidates primed for an MLB managerial post
 
Toronto Blue Jays 
— The Jays have cut their unnamed managerial list to five, but people around the team say they could make alterations on their list, too … 
— The current list of five could include Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Giants executive David Bell, Rays coach Rocco Baldelli and Cubs coach Brandon Hyde, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet Canada has suggested, but that foursome are all under consideration in multiple places. So it’s possible any or all of them could wind up elsewhere, which might not necessitate Toronto expanding its list … 
— It is interesting to wonder whether 
ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez, who’s had some contact with the Jays, could get a look. Perez, better known as a broadcaster, has experience in a front office (and with the Indians, under current Jays decision makers Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins), as a manager and on a big-league coaching staff so he has the sort of well-rounded background teams seek these days. Perez served as a first base coach and bench coach for the Astros and was reported to have left that job due to family reasons, though he is thought to be interested in managing …
— Phillies bench coach Rob Thomson and Cardinals minor-league manager Stubby Clapp are among others who have been linked to the job, but it isn’t known whether either one is in the Jays’ final five. Phillies exec San Fuld interviewed, but according to Jerry Crasnick, previously of ESPN, he withdrew.

RELATED: Which superstar will win the offseason?
 
Washington Nationals
— If Bryce Harper is signed, very good chance Adam Eaton hits the trade block. Juan Soto has one outfield spot, and Victor Robles is expected to be ready … 
— Carter Kieboom, 21, is playing 2B in the Arizona Fall League. The shortstop is a candidate to play 2B next year for the Nats. And as one person put it, “(GM) Mike Rizzo certainly isn’t afraid to call up kids.”

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

Trending