Russ Branyan initially wanted at least $20 million

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ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick notes the reason Russell Branyan is now scrambling for work and likely to end up with a modest one-year deal is that he began the offseason looking for a three-year contract worth “somewhere between $20 million and $30 million.”
Adam LaRoche had a similarly inflated initial asking price, but was still able to land a one-year, $5 million deal from the Diamondbacks once his demands came back down to earth. Branyan isn’t going to be as lucky because teams remain scared of his huge strikeout totals and skeptical that he’s an everyday player, so he’s plummeted past the $5 million mark and seems likely to end up with at most $2 million for a part-time role.
Branyan was never going to get a three-year deal or anywhere close to $20 million, but prior to trading for Casey Kotchman the Mariners offered him a one-year deal with the promise of a starting job that will probably dwarf whatever he ends up accepting. The lesson in all of this? Don’t be greedy when you’re a strikeout prone 34-year-old with back problems coming off a career-year and the one team that gave you a chance to thrive offers you a solid one-year deal to return.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”