Selig to seize Rangers; creditors to force team into bankruptcy


What was merely suggested a week ago now appears all but certain. In response to Major League Baseball’s warning that it was going to seize the Texas Rangers from Tom Hicks and invalidate the debt that held by the creditors to Hicks Sports Group, the creditors have voted to reject the deal, reports Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal.

The result of this is that when baseball makes its move — which should happen following the owners’ meeting scheduled for later this week — the creditors will sue, forcing the Rangers into bankruptcy court and potentially opening the sale up for other bidders.  It would be up to a bankruptcy judge to determine whether that comes to pass or, alternatively, if Selig is within his powers to kick the creditors to the curb.

Which seems like a lose-lose for baseball.

If the creditors prevail it quite obviously delays the sale of the team and possibly takes Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan out of the owners’ suite in favor of a higher biddder, should one emerge.  This is clearly not what Selig wanted, inasmuch as everyone seems pretty pleased with the Greenberg/Ryan team.

But say baseball wins the battle, is able to shrug the liens off the Rangers, and pays them a pittance to go away, thereby paving the way for the sale. If that happens, isn’t every bank and investment fund who ever considered lending money to a sports team going to freak out? Why on Earth would any of them give money to a sports team if they have good reason to believe that the debtor could simply refuse to pay up and then have the league come in and invalidate the debt in the first place?

Sure, there’s a lot to be said for team owners being forced to operate within their budgets and not rely on so much debt.  I’ve said plenty on the subject in the past. But I don’t think most team owners agree with me on that score, and they can’t be all too happy about the prospect of having all sources of credit dry up.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.