The McCourts go to court

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For those of you who think that tooth-and-nail competition ended with Victorino’s groundout last night, you couldn’t be more wrong. The McCourts will have the first of what are sure to be many offseason hearings in there divorce battle cum power struggle later today, and unlike some of the stuff that will come later, this one involves the Dodgers pretty prominently.

The absolute go-to website for all of this stuff is Josh Fisher’s Dodger Divorce blog, where he has all of the details as to what will be argued and what will be at stake in today’s hearing and beyond.

While I appreciate that some of you may not care to pay attention to this due to the tawdry and salacious nature of some of the proceedings thus far, there is a larger baseball point to all of it: two highly-leveraged people are fighting over ownership of one of baseball’s marquee teams. The outcome of that battle will almost certainly have a profound impact on the Dodgers’ competitive situation going forward, as well as financial implications for baseball as a whole.

Why? Because if Jamie McCourt wins, and convinces the court that she’s a co-owner, the Dodgers will almost certainly have to be sold in the divorce. At the very least, they will have to be leveraged even more than they already are, thereby choking off cash from the team.  What’s more, such a sale would probably occur under distress conditions — there would be a time frame placed on it — thereby lowering the franchise’s market value. Appreciation in franchise market value, by the way, is the single biggest reason anyone buys a baseball team. If that is negatively impacted, owners will start to behave very differently. Probably by cutting payroll and trying to make their teams a better investment from a cashflow perspective as opposed to merely an arbitrage opportunity.  In short, this is a big deal.

So come for the wild accusations, but stay for the gravitas. Either way, we plan to keep you apprised of all of the happenings in L’affaire McCourt.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.