Jason Vargas and Zach Britton both threw nine shutout innings in a remarkable pitcher's duel tonight in Baltimore. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the 12th, the Orioles came back to win the game in the bottom half of the inning on a bases-loaded single from J.J. Hardy.
Some news from around the majors...
- "The C.C. Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy," predicts Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog, but Axisa thinks Brian Cashman's upcoming contract negotiations with the Yankees "will be messier." Cashman is in the last year of his deal with New York and, as per club policy, the team won't discuss an extension in mid-season. There has been some speculation about Cashman's future in the Bronx given his disagreements with upper management about the Rafael Soriano and Derek Jeter signings last winter, but Axisa thinks those signings give Cashman the leverage in negotiations, "plus the fact that there’s no ready-made, in-house replacement available."
- As for Sabathia, Axisa thinks he will almost surely opt out of his contract, and the southpaw will look at Cliff Lee's five-year, $120MM deal with Philadelphia "as a starting point."
- The Blue Jays lost Scott Downs to free agency last winter, but as MLB.com's Arden Zwelling writes, Marc Rzepczynski has been a superb fit as Downs' replacement in Toronto's bullpen.
- Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail wonders why teams are still paying top-dollar for relief pitching.
- When the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane is finalized, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle reports that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos will be the Astros' new CEO. Justice also speculates that Crane may try to get Andrew Friedman to return to his hometown to become the Astros' new GM, but it's extremely doubtful Friedman would leave Tampa Bay just to start another rebuilding process elsewhere.
- In his latest chat with fans, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star would be "astounded" if the Royals didn't quickly pursue signing Eric Hosmer to a long-term extension, though it could be "a tough sell" given that Scott Boras is Hosmer's agent. Earlier today, Dutton's Star colleague Sam Mellinger, proposed a six-year, $25MM extension for Hosmer (with three option years and possibly $40MM more added on), though MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out that Hosmer and Boras would surely turn down such an offer.