When Vladimir Guerrero agreed to terms with the Rangers on Saturday
night, it dealt a heavy blow to the market for free agent outfielder
Jermaine Dye. The Rangers maintained dialogue with Dye even as
they negotiated with Guerrero, offering both similar base salaries in
the area of the $3-5 million. According to Evan Grant of the Dallas
Morning News, manager Ron Washington met with Dye in California as recently as Friday.
Dye, who turns 36 later this month, now finds himself in a free agent
market with few remaining opportunities. Let’s take a quick look at a couple
Yankees: The World Champions
have denied interest in the past and Dye wouldn’t really fit in their
outfield — he’s only played 27 games in left field in his career and
rates as one of the worst defensive outfielders in the major leagues — but he
would come at half the price of Johnny Damon and projects as a powerful
right-handed bat off the bench or insurance for the oft-injured Nick
Johnson. That said, the versatile Jerry Hairston
Jr. would probably be a better fit for the team’s needs.
Giants: Probably the most
logical destination for the California-native, the Giants may be
willing to live with his shoddy defense if it means he can add some
punch to their lineup. There are a lot of moving parts in San
Francisco, as Mark DeRosa could possibly play third base with Pablo
Sandoval sliding over to first base and the recently re-signed Juan
Uribe returning to a super utility role. As it stands right now, the
Giants are still trying to sign a first baseman (they’ve been linked to
Adam LaRoche), a plan that would likely send DeRosa to the
Braves: It’s a sentimental
choice since Dye was originally drafted by the Braves in 1993, but
don’t count on it happening. His addition would not only cripple their
defense, but it would make their lineup too right-handed. It would also
block top prospect Jason Heyward, who has primarily played right field
in the minor leagues.
As you can see, not much out there. Dye’s value couldn’t be much lower
after his second-half collapse, but remember that he has hit at least
24 home runs in six out of the last seven seasons. Someone will take a
chance on a rebound.
The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $5 million contract with a club option for 2019.
The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.
The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.
Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:
The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.
It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.
But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.
One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.