WFTV in Orlando reports that an exploratory committee has been formed with the purpose of enticing a team to relocate to central Florida. That’s not necessarily significant — I’ve formed a dozen exploratory committees in my life, most dealing with either bringing back “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and/or getting Todd Rundgren inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — but we’ll take it as news seeing as though we’re stuck in the horse latitudes of the baseball offseason.
Though any relocation is highly unlikely, you have to figure that there are really only two candidates who are even remotely likely to move: The Rays and the Athletics. The Rays would make the most sense inasmuch as they, you know, play right down the street from Orlando, have played a handful of regular season games in Orlando already and don’t yet have their stadium crap in order. The A’s are far less likely, but assuming they don’t make San Jose work they’ll have to go somewhere. It won’t happen, but the chances are technically not zero.
Which makes the sole candidate identified by reporter in the piece kind of nuts: The Brewers. You know, the team with a big new stadium in Wisconsin? The team that has drawn over 3 million fans the past couple of seasons? The team with a clause in its stadium deal that assesses a gigantic financial penalty if they move? The team that was once owned by the Commissioner of Baseball — a man who rose from used car dealer to multi-millionaire sports mogul on the power of bringing baseball back to Milwaukee after the Braves left in the 1960s — and is located in his home town? The team who laughed off the report as “beyond hilarious”?
That’s some sharp reporting there, Skip.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.