Daily Dose: Reyes Ready to Return?

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Jose Reyes went 1-for-3 with two steals in an extended spring training game Monday and followed that up by going 2-for-5 with two walks in another extended spring game Tuesday night. Perhaps just as importantly, Reyes played all nine innings at shortstop, possibly signaling that he could be cleared to return from his thyroid disorder when eligible to come off the disabled list this weekend.
He hasn’t played a regular season game since May 20 and coming back from hamstring surgery made him a question mark even before the thyroid situation surfaced. No one seems quite sure what type of impact the thyroid condition could have once he returns and the hamstring problems could mean fewer steal attempts, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if Reyes ends up as a top-three fantasy shortstop. He’s still just 27 years old.
While the Mets hope to put Alex Cora back on the bench soon, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* After a visit with Dr. James Andrews and an MRI exam the news on Huston Street’s right shoulder is relatively positive. No structural damage was found, but he’s been diagnosed with inflammation and will need to do additional strengthening exercises before throwing again. There’s no timetable for Street’s return and he’s already had setbacks, so Franklin Morales should have closer value for at least the rest of April.
* If there was no such thing as a “save” the Twins probably would’ve left Matt Guerrier in to pitch the ninth inning Tuesday after he breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth inning on 11 pitches, but instead they brought in new closer Jon Rauch. And just like most quality relievers will do about 90 percent of the time, he was able to protect a two-run lead for one inning versus the bottom of the Angels’ lineup. So far so good replacing Joe Nathan.
* Rotoworld’s award-winning Season Pass product has subscriber-only columns, daily waiver wire and starting pitcher advice, extensive prospect coverage, detailed bullpen and rotation databases, frequently updated projections and rankings, and much, much more. If you’re not satisfied simply putting your teams on cruise control after draft day, Season Pass can help you make the most of this season.
* Out since breaking his thumb early in spring training, Alex Gordon is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Single-A. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but will need a little more time than that. Willie Bloomquist started in Gordon’s place on Opening Day, but thankfully for Royals fans’ remaining sanity Alberto Callaspo will be the primary fill-in once his own oblique injury clears up.
* If you do just one thing to enable someone’s addiction today, make it following me on Twitter.
AL Quick Hits: A.J. Burnett struggled Tuesday night against the Red Sox, so expect more rumblings about his compatibility with Jorge Posada … Gil Meche (shoulder) tossed five shutout innings in a minor-league game Tuesday and could be cleared to face the Red Sox this weekend … Mike Gonzalez blew a win for Kevin Millwood when Carl Crawford delivered a walk-off single Tuesday … With left-hander Jon Lester on the mound, the Yankees benched Brett Gardner for Marcus Thames and moved Curtis Granderson to the ninth spot Tuesday … Ken Griffey Jr. also sat against a left-hander Tuesday, with Eric Byrnes replacing him in the lineup and Milton Bradley moving to designated hitter … James Shields served up three solo homers in a no-decision Tuesday and faces the Yankees next … Jeff Mathis started Tuesday over Mike Napoli for the second straight game … Dioner Navarro started over Kelly Shoppach in the Rays’ opener Tuesday.
NL Quick Hits: Lance Berkman received a cortisone shot and had his surgically repaired knee drained, but there’s no timetable yet for his return … Corey Hart rejoined the Brewers’ lineup Tuesday after sitting in favor of Jim Edmonds on Opening Day … Ian Stewart missed the cycle by a single Tuesday and is sporting a nifty 2.357 OPS through two games … Barry Zito shut out the Astros for six innings Tuesday, winning his season debut for the first time since 2003 … Jeff Supppan (neck) is hoping to rejoin the Brewers’ rotation after making one minor-league rehab start later this week … Aroldis Chapman will make his pro debut Sunday at Triple-A … Jeff Francis (armpit) played catch Tuesday and is aiming for a rehab assignment next week … Chris Young looked like his old self Tuesday with six one-hit innings against his namesake in Arizona … Fred Lewis (ribs) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A and soon the Giants will have a decision to make on the out-of-options outfielder.

Bryce Harper reportedly wants a $400 million extension

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals reacts after hitting a single in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Nationals are “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension” and are thus prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent following the 2018 season.

What would make the Nationals balk? According to Nightengale’s source it’s a deal that “will exceed 10 years in length and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”

That might seem crazy given historical norms and given that Harper is coming off a disappointing season, but if Harper returns to anything close to his 2015 form in which he won National League MVP honors while hitting .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs, $400 million is going to seem quite reasonable. That sort of production was not some crazy fluke for a guy with Harper’s talent, after all. And he’ll be 26-years-old when he hits free agency, which is far, far younger than your typical free agent. Indeed, he’ll be entering what have, historically, been the prime years of most superstars’ careers.

The closest comp to star hitting free agency at that age was Alex Rodriguez, who was 25 when he signed his first $250 million deal following the 2000 season. Top big league deals going from $250 million to $400 million in the space of two decades is not really all that crazy when you think about it. Especially when you realize that, between 2001 and 2018, baseball revenues will have increased by a factor of three, assuming current growth holds.

UPDATE: My first thought after reading all of this was “I wonder if the Nats leaked the $400 million thing, whether it was an actual demand or not, in order to turn the PR in their favor if they deal Harper?” Question answered:

At least one quarter of the Today’s Committee owed Bud Selig a solid

Bud Selig
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OXON HILL, MD — The 16-member committee that voted Bud Selig and John Schuerholz into the Hall of Fame — the “Today’s Game” Committee — consisted of the following members: Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Bobby Cox, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Pat Gillick, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton, and Frank Thomas, major league owners/executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Phillies) and Kevin Towers (Reds); and media members/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt and Tim Kurkjian.

That’s certainly a venerable list of names. A quarter of that electorate, however, could be characterized as having a pretty notable conflict of interest when it comes to Bud Selig. At least if anyone cared about things like conflict of interest when it comes to baseball.

Whatever the case, two of those 16 guys became owners — and even more wealthier as a result — due to his affirmatively choosing or approving them to join sports’ most exclusive club. Two others were personally chosen by Selig to assist him over the years, raising their profile and importance in the game and giving them resume pieces that will one day be part of their own Hall of Fame cases.

  • Royals owner David Glass: Became the Royals CEO and Chairman in 1993, right after Selig became the acting commissioner. Glass was a key ally for Selig’s efforts to impose a salary cap and take a financial hard line in negotiations with the union, which eventually led to the 1994-95 strike. In 1999-2000 he became the full owner of the Royals after Selig personally stepped in to stop a bid for the club by a competing ownership group and is thus widely refereed to as Selig’s handpicked man. Glass is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served for decades.
  • Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr.: Bought his club in 1995, after Selig had taken over and thus would not be a baseball owner without Selig’s approval. DeWitt was a point man for Selig on a host of his pet projects, including the Wild Card and interleague play. He likewise led the charge for revenue sharing and other potentially divisive financial matters which tended to be in the interest of smaller market clubs, the sort of which Selig himself championed when he was a mere owner. DeWitt chaired the committee to find Selig’s successor, which eventually served to validate Selig’s desire to have his hand-picked choice, Rob Manfred, succeed him.
  • Phillies President Andy MacPhail: Selig’s handpicked choice for the labor negotiating committee in 2002 which, at the time, continued speculation that MacPhail would one day be on the short list to succeed Selig. A few years before that MacPhail was public in saying that Selig would be the right choice to become permanent commissioner at a time when many were concerned that a team owner assuming that role was a conflict of interest.
  • Former President of the Blue Jays, Paul Beeston: In the late 90s, Beeston resigned as president of the Toronto Blue Jays following a successful reign to accepted baseball’s newly created position of president and chief operating officer. The move was widely seen as a means of giving Selig a top lieutenant — a defacto deputy commissioner — which would help him smooth his transition from acting commissioner to permanent commissioner. Many thought at the time that if Beeston was not hired for that gig, Selig may have declined the full-time commissioner’s role. Selig was described in the press at the time as a strong admirer of Beeston’s. In 2014, Beeston reflected glowingly on Selig’s legacy, saying, “I absolutely admire him on this steroid thing.” Beeston is on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, on which Selig served.

Is there anything necessarily wrong with that? No. Baseball is a small world and Bud Selig existed in it for a long, long time, so having a relationship with Selig was pretty unavoidable for almost anyone with any sort of profile in the game. No technical rule or historical baseball norm was violated by virtue of this vote or the composition of the committee itself. Indeed, the old Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame was widely seen as a group of good old boys voting their old friends. Worth noting, perhaps, that that iteration of the Veterans Committee was abolished precisely for that reason, but I suppose we’ll leave that go for now.

I wonder, however, what the vote totals would have been for some of the other candidates if 25% of their electorate consisted of people who owed personal and professional debts to them the way Selig’s electorate owed him. Maybe Barry Bonds’ agent could get a Hall of Fame vote? Roger Clemens’ mechanic? Mark McGwire’s interior designer?

I suppose we’ll never know.