The rise in home runs in 2019 wasn’t because of a juiced ball, but rather due, in part, to inconsistent seam height on the baseball combined with “player behavior,” according to preliminary results of a study commissioned by Major League Baseball.
The early findings of the 27-page report were released Wednesday. The authors were a committee of professors charged with looking into the record number of home runs — 6,776 — in the past season.
The committee concluded that ball manufacturer Rawlings hadn’t made any purposeful changes to the ball to increase offense. The report found the baseball’s performance was because of variability in the production process and not because of anything intentionally done by MLB or manufacturer Rawlings.
Instead, the report determined that the carry of the ball led to 60 percent of the increase in home runs while launch conditions were the rest of the reason. The carry is affected by seam heights, in part, and the committee found “large ball-to-ball variation in those quantities,” according to the report.
—Findings from MLB’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ alleged cheating are now scheduled to be released after the new year, but before the 2020 season begins in late March, The Athletic reported.
The Astros are embroiled in the scandal that stemmed from evidence the team stole signs electronically during the 2017 season. While sign stealing is commonplace, the use of electronics to do so, like cameras from center field toward the opposing catcher, is forbidden by rule.
The completed report is now expected to including MLB’s findings on possible violations in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons and will require the review of over 70,000 emails.
—Free agent right-hander Tanner Roark agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, ESPN reported.
Roark went 10-10 with a 4.35 ERA in 31 starts while splitting last season with the Cincinnati Reds and the Athletics. Oakland acquired Roark on July 31 to help with its postseason push, and he went 4-3 with a 4.58 ERA in 10 starts.
The 33-year-old veteran went 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA in 34 appearances (33 starts) for the Washington Nationals in 2016.
—The Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with right-hander Blake Treinen, multiple media outlets reported.
The Dodgers hope Treinen reverts to his 2018 form after a disappointing 2019 season in Oakland when he went 6-5 with a 4.91 ERA over 57 games. He had 16 saves while blowing five other opportunities and losing his closer role.
Treinen was 9-2 with 38 saves in 42 chances with a 0.78 ERA in 2018 with the A’s during his lone All-Star season.
—The New York Mets and right-hander Michael Wacha agreed to a one-year deal, multiple media outlets reported.
According to ESPN, Wacha will receive $3 million guaranteed with the potential to make another $7 million in performance bonuses and incentives.
Wacha, 28, spent his first seven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and was a disappointment in 2019 when he went 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA in 29 appearances (24 starts).
—The Colorado Rockies are willing to listen to trade proposals involving All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, MLB Network reported.
While a deal still would seem unlikely — and Arenado has a full no-trade clause in his eight-year, $260 million contract — the Rockies are at least opening the door for any team that wants to pay for a superstar in his prime.
The Rockies did get a deal done from the winter meetings, as they agreed to terms with right-hander Scott Oberg on a three-year, $13 million extension with an option for 2023. Oberg is a combined 14-2 with a 2.35 ERA in 105 games over the past two seasons.
—Gerrit Cole’s move to the New York Yankees has made the right-hander a favorite with one oddsmaker to win the American League Cy Young Award.
PointsBet listed Cole at +400 for the honor hours after he signed a reported record nine-year, $324 million deal.
—MLB made it official when it announced that the 2020 first-year player draft will take place in Omaha, Neb., site of the NCAA Men’s College World Series.
The first round of the three-day draft will be moved from June 8 to June 10 and will not conflict with any NCAA games for the first time. The College World Series will start June 13.
—Retired manager Bruce Bochy has signed on to manage France’s national team as it attempts to qualify for the World Baseball Classic in 2021, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Bochy was born in France when his father was based there with the military.
—Former Chicago White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken Harrelson was named the winner of the 2020 Ford C. Frick Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Harrelson, 78, will receive the award on July 25 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
—Field Level Media