Report: MLB to seize Rangers, complete sale, get sued

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That’s the logical conclusion if what Sports Business Journal’s Daniel Kaplan is reporting is true:

MLB as soon as this week plans to dramatically alter the
course of the standoff between creditors and the owner of the Texas
Rangers,
multiple sources said last week, a development that could include the
league
seizing the franchise.

Were the league to seize the team under its “best interests of
baseball”rule, MLB could sell the club to the group led by Chuck
Greenberg and
Nolan Ryan without, the league believes, the creditors blocking the
deal, these
sources said. But were MLB to choose that course — and late last week,
the
situation was still fluid — financial sources predicted a furious
legal
response from the creditors that could involve an involuntary
bankruptcy petition
on behalf of the baseball team.

I get the reasoning: the creditors are owed money by Hicks Sports Group, the debt is not secured with a lien on the baseball team itself (MLB does not allow this) and Major League Baseball can kick Hicks Sports Group out of the ownership club if it wants to, leaving the creditors to fight with Hicks after the sale is done.

But such a move is almost certain to throw the whole matter into court, with the creditors almost certainly filing to get an injunction stopping the sale, because without the sale of the team at issue, the creditors lose all their leverage. Maybe they don’t get an injunction — if your beef is ultimately over money, you’re not supposed to be able to enjoin a business deal; rather, you’re supposed to let it all play out and get your money later — but depending on the court and the way the complaint is written and a bunch of other factors, it could happen. If so, and the Rangers are placed in legal limbo during the pendency of the lawsuit, the nightmare scenario that was described last week — indefinite MLB stewardship, no money for the draft, etc. — comes to pass.

But even if the sale is not enjoined, Major League Baseball is still stuck in a multimillion dollar lawsuit (and even if the sale is not held up over it all, you can bet that MLB will be named a party in the suit).  The calculation, one presumes, is that baseball is better off having the Rangers in Greenberg’s hands while fighting a lawsuit than it is to remain in the current stalemate.

If so, it tells you how ugly the stalemate is, because lawsuits like this are never fun, especially if they have the potential to have outsiders probe specific-team finances, which Major League Baseball is historically loathe to allow.

Popcorn anyone?

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.