Report: Selig to retire after 2012

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He has presided over realignment,
revenue sharing, continued expansion, changes to the All-Star game,
instant replay, Interleague play, the Wild Card, the World Baseball
Classic, unprecedented labor peace, and of course, steroids and the
Mitchell Report, among other things. Not bad for someone who wore the
title of acting commissioner from 1992 to 1996.

But according to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, Bud Selig will step aside as commissioner after his current contract expires following the 2012 season. Appropriately enough, the next labor agreement expires in December of 2011.

The decision doesn’t come as much of
a surprise if you remember that Selig announced his plans to retire
once before, only to have his contract extended for three more years.
However the 75-year-old Selig still has other plans outside baseball
that he’d like to pursue, namely writing a book and, yes, teaching history.

Rogers speculates on some potential
replacements for the top spot, ranging from top lieutenants Bob DuPuy
and Rob Manfred to popular executives like Andy MacPhail of the
Orioles. MacPhail is the son of former American League President Lee
MacPhail and the grandson of Larry MacPhail, who served as chief
executive to the Reds, Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers. Both are in the
Hall of Fame. MacPhail is held in high regard among major league owners.

For someone in their late-20s, it’s
almost hard to remember baseball without Selig as its commissioner. For
all the grief he’s taken, and many times rightfully so, Selig has
introduced radical and sweeping changes to our game. Some went along
kicking and screaming at the time, but it’s difficult to argue that we
aren’t better off with realignment and the expanded playoffs that along came
with it.

This isn’t to say that the game is perfect. Some (including
Mike Scioscia) would like the playoffs to move at a more natural pace
and I’m sure it will happen. Revenue sharing has flaws of its own that must be addressed in the coming seasons. To his credit, I’ve found Selig to be a reasoned and
prudent steward of the game, and I expect nothing less until his
contract expires. That said, I look forward to seeing how the next commissioner can build upon Selig’s accomplishments.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.