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Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker says sign-stealing allegations by Chicago White Sox are ‘heavy accusations’

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CHICAGO — Astros manager Dusty Baker pushed back on Chicago White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera‘s comments regarding potential sign stealing by Houston, calling them “heavy accusations.”

“They’re about the same runs, OPS and everything as we are — well, actually, better on the road than we are at home,” Baker said Monday afternoon. “And I think they’re actually better at home than they are on the road.

“So I don’t have much response to that other than I was listening to Eric Clapton this morning, and he had a song, ‘Before You Accuse Me (Take a Look at Yourself).’ … You know what I mean? That’s all I got to say.”

Tepera implied after Sunday’s 12-6 win by the White Sox in Game 3 of the American League Division Series that the Astros might be stealing signs when they play at home, though he didn’t indicate whether they were doing it legally.

“They’ve obviously had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there, and we can say that it’s a little bit of a difference,” Tepera said after Game 3 on Sunday night. “I think you saw the swings and misses tonight compared to the first two games at Minute Maid [Park].”

The Astros struck out 16 times in Game 3 in Chicago, their total from the first two games combined. Houston ranked fourth in OPS at home in the American League during the regular season and first on the road; the White Sox were third at home and seventh on the road.

The Astros were disciplined by Major League Baseball after it found the team used electronics to steal signs during their run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season.

MLB’s investigation found Houston used a video feed from a center-field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs during home games. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

The Astros haven’t been found guilty of anything since.

“Are we aware that there are certain teams out there that are better at relaying signs at second base? Yeah, absolutely,” White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer said Monday. “But does that change anything to say it’s sketchy too much? Maybe. I have no idea.”

Houston catcher Martin Maldonado on Monday posted on Twitter that it’s “always good to get a extra motivation.”

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who played for the Astros in 2017, had little to say Monday when asked about Tepera’s comments.

“Whatever works,” Bregman said. “It’s all good. We’re just focused on winning games. That’s it.”

White Sox manager Tony La Russa didn’t provide an opinion on Tepera’s comments, but he approved of his reliever’s right to say whatever he wanted.

“I don’t get into that stuff,” La Russa said. “I just don’t get into it. And I try to realize this is America, and players can say what they want to, and I can say that I don’t want to get into it if I want to. I think that they’re a very good team, and they’re tough to beat. That’s what I think.”

White Sox fans chanted, “Cheater! Cheater!” when Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Bregman batted on Monday.

“They’ll probably have to deal with it forever, really, because people don’t forget,” Baker said. “They pass along information seemingly from one generation to the next. This is just something, I feel badly, but this is something we have to deal with.”

The Astros lead the series 2-1. Game 4 was postponed Monday because of weather and will be played on Tuesday. Game 5, if necessary, will be played on Wednesday night in Houston. And if that happens, all eyes will be on the Astros once again.

“People can say whatever they want,” Bregman said. “It’s all good.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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MLB qualifying offer value drops by $500,000 to $18.4 million

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NEW YORK — The price of a qualifying offer to Major League Baseball free agents dropped by $500,000 to $18.4 million, a sign of the slide in salaries.

The figure is determined by the average of the top 125 major league contracts this year and marks only the second fall. The price fell by $100,000 to $17.8 million in 2019, then rose to $18.9 million in 2020.

Among the top players eligible for free agency following the World Series are Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Corey Seager, Houston shortstop Carlos Correa, Colorado shortstop Trevor Story, Toronto shortstop Marcus Semien, Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo, San Francisco third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant, and Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, outfielder Michael Conforto and shortstop Javier Báez.

A qualifying offer can be made through the fifth day after the World Series, and a player has a week after that to accept. If a team makes a qualifying offer to a player who signs a major league contract with another club before the amateur draft, his former club would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round or at the end of competitive balance round B. The placement depends on whether the new contract is worth $50 million or more and the revenue-sharing and luxury tax status of the team losing the player.

While the collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1, the rules remain in effect until a successor agreement or until implementation of new work rules following an impasse in bargaining.

A free agent can be made a qualifying offer only if he has been with the same team continuously since opening day and has never received a qualifying offer before.

Qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, and only seven of 96 offers have been accepted: New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker and Philadelphia pitcher Jeremy Hellickson after the 2016 season; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu after the 2018 season, Chicago White Sox first baseman José Abreu after 2019 and Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman and San Francisco pitcher Kevin Gausman last season. Abreu later agreed to a $50 million, three-year contract.

Stroman and Gausman are eligible for free agency again.

The qualifying offer price started at $13.3 million in 2012 and rose to $14.1 million in 2013, $15.3 million in 2014, $15.8 million in 2015, $17.2 million in 2016 and $17.4 million in 2017.

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Follow live: Braves look to stay hot, take commanding lead in NLCS

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New York Yankees shift attention to filling void at shortstop

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With the managerial situation taken care of, the New York Yankees will next turn their attention to improving the roster, specifically at shortstop, general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday.

Cashman said he’s in the market for a shortstop to replace Gleyber Torres, who was moved to second base on Sept. 13.

“Bottom line, shortstop is an area of need,” Cashman said. “I think Gleyber is best served at second base.”

After Torres was moved to second, the Yankees shifted Gio Urshela from third base to shortstop. DJ LeMahieu and Rougned Odor then shared time at third.

Houston Astros star Carlos Correa and Los Angeles Dodgers standout Corey Seager are expected to headline a strong free agent class at the shortstop position that also includes Trevor Story, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez.

Cashman has been general since 1998 and is signed to a five-year contract through 2022.

“Ultimately, it falls on me,” Cashman said of the Yankees’ failure to reach a World Series since 2009. “Obviously if [controlling owner] Hal Steinbrenner or anybody wants to decide to make some changes down the line, that’s above me.”

The Yankees on Tuesday signed manager Aaron Boone to a new three-year contract with a team option for 2022.

New York was MLB’s streakiest team this season, with winning runs of 13, 7, 6 and two of 5 games, but also skids of 7, 5 and four of 4.

In other roster moves, Cashman said right-hander Jameson Taillon will have right ankle tendon surgery on Oct. 28 with Dr. Justin K. Greisberg and will not be 100% when spring training is scheduled to start. Taillon will need about five months of recovery before throwing in games.

LeMahieu had sports hernia surgery performed on Oct. 12 by Dr. William C. Meyers in Philadelphia, and Cashman projected an eight-week recovery for the infielder.

First baseman Luke Voit does not need surgery on his left knee, Cashman said, and center fielder Aaron Hicks, rehabbing from May 26 surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, may play winter ball.

Right-handed reliever Darren O’Day (left hamstring) should be ready by Opening Day, as should outfielder Tim Locastro, who is recovering from a torn right ACL.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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