The Rangers sale hits a snag. Again.

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I reported way back in December that Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan’s purchase of the Rangers was no done deal, that there were serious concerns that their offer was cash-light and debt-heavy, and too many people were owed too much by Tom Hicks to simply let the deal go through on the power of wishes, hopes and Nolan Ryan’s drawl.  At the time everyone — including Chuck Greenberg himself, who called me at home — told me I was wrong, and that things were smooth sailing.

Then a little problem with the creditors popped up, and once again I wrote about it.  Once again, people told me I was full of it, that the deal was all cream cheese, and why was I being such a negative nellie about it anyway?

As recently as a few days ago we were still getting those “this is a done deal” reports, the sort of which sound more like a press release than news.  But you’ll forgive me if I, once again, refuse to drink the Kool-Aid:

The sale of the Texas
Rangers stalled last week, sources said, after MLB informed the team’s
creditors that there would be delays in responding to the lenders’ concerns
about the deal.

The developments serve as
a challenge to would-be buyer Chuck Greenberg’s stated goal of having the
transaction closed by Opening Day, if it can close at all, the sources said . . .

. . . MLB, acting as
intermediary between the creditors and HSG, was scheduled to respond by Feb. 26
to their demand for more cash. On March 1, MLB informed the lenders that there
were delays but did not offer details for why the delays were happening, the
sources said.

Of the delays, one
financial source said, “I don’t even think a deal gets done at $300 million
from the banks’ perspective. It feels like they are spinning their wheels.”
Another financial source was not as pessimistic but conceded that the clock was
approaching midnight for getting a deal done by Opening Day.

The original basis of concerns I reported in December was that Greenberg’s group — which consists of a lot of investors banded together — didn’t have the cash.  In this, it’s like any other number of team purchases in recent years. Only in the post-2008 world, people aren’t as happy taking IOUs as they used to be.  While there was always some merit to those who gave blithe “everything is going to be fine” assurances before, right now people want their money, not promises. In light of this it doesn’t surprise me at all that the deal is hanging up like it is.

Will Greenberg and Ryan get the Rangers? I still think, yeah, it will probably happen.  Too many people want it to happen in order to stop it, and at some point, if the creditors become enough of a problem, baseball or someone may actually step in and help the buyers out in some way to get it done.  But please, everyone involved in this deal needs to stop pretending that we’re stupid for not buying their talking points.  This deal has been in some choppy water for a long time, and no amount of assuming its inevitability changes that.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.