The Dodgers deny that McCourt wants to sell; call me irresponsible

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UPDATE: So this morning, I wrote the bit way down below, passing on a rumor I heard that Frank McCourt would like to sell the Dodgers once all of the McCourt v. McCourt litigation blows over. I trust my source on this, but the Dodgers took issue.  A few minutes ago they sent me the following statement in response:

“The NBC report is completely erroneous, inaccurate
and irresponsible journalism. The Dodgers are not for sale. Mr. McCourt has
made it abundantly clear that he is the long-term owner of the Dodgers and he
looks forward to the day when his four boys will own and operate the team.”

I’ll grant them the irresponsible stuff, but they should know that saying such a thing about me is only gonna make the women want me even more. Regardless, I told the team that I’d run their denial of my report, and dadgummit I did. But a couple of thoughts:

  • It’s worth noting that no one ever said the team was for sale. My source — and then I — said that McCourt was thinking about selling once the litigation was done. I’ll grant, however, that the above denial covers it all, so take that as the official line of the Dodgers. McCourt isn’t interested in selling. He will control the Dodgers for as long as he lives, and one day a statue of him will stand in Chavez Ravine, with a visage of cold command, declaring that he is Frank McCourt, King of Kings, and that we should all look on his works, ye Mighty, and despair. To the extent I was wrong about that in my report, apologies;

  • It’s also probably worth noting that, if McCourt were thinking about selling, he’d be all but required, due to his current litigation posture, to say
    that he wants to own the team forever, lest he be cross examined about
    his intentions by his wife’s divorce lawyers, cajoled into an unfavorable
    “hey, you said you were going to sell anyway” settlement by the judge or some other legal unpleasantness. So while I have no choice but to take the denial at face value, understand that McCourt’s lawyers would probably suggest that he say something like that even if it wasn’t true.
  • Finally, it’s totally possible that McCourt’s four sons could own the Dodgers one day even if McCourt isn’t the owner two years from now. He could lose the case, Jamie could get the team and she could pass it on to the boys!  How fun would that be!

So I’m sorry for being irresponsible. On the bright side, however, I made a new friend in the Dodgers’ communications department, and you can never have too many friends in this world.

12:21 P.M. This isn’t first person reportage or anything, but there is buzz coming from some insiders and writers close to the Los Angeles Dodgers that, while Frank McCourt is going to go to the mat to beat his wife Jamie for ownership of the team, he wants out sooner rather than later and will look to turn around and sell within a year or two of the conclusion of the litigation.

The divorce papers that were made public last fall showed just how leveraged the McCourts truly are. It’s no wonder McCourt wants out. After battling his wife to the death
and making the crushing debt service on his team, he’s going to be
broke. Or at least broke in that weird,
kind of way rich people who call themselves broke can get from time to

And even if Dennis Mannion denies it, the divorce has greatly impacted the way the Dodgers typically do business on the field.  They refused to take a chance on their best pitcher in
arbitration and they have not been
a player on any free agent or trade target of note. The big offseason moves: Jamey Carroll, Vicente Padilla and Brad Ausmus. 

Between this and everything that has happened in Texas under Tom Hicks’ watch — the latest news: MLB’s virtual receivership of the Rangers essentially prevented them from signing their top draft pick last summer — one would hope that Bud Selig and his gang would start to favor owners who are more financially sound and less dependent on debt as opposed to owners who, because of that debt are pliable to the whims of the Commissioner’s Office.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.