All the parties to the Great Texas Rangers Clusterbang will be at a mediation starting at noon today, and there’s no telling what will come out of it. Maybe they all leave happy and ready for a judge’s rubber stamp. Maybe someone loses an ear. Could go either way, really. If fisticuffs break out I got money on Nolan Ryan coming out on top.
If there’s anything other than a hearty chorus of Kumbaya coming out of that conference room today, the Rangers are going to be auctioned to the highest bidder on July 16th. That according to Barry Shlachter of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who reports that the Rangers have agreed to the auction scenario recommended by the court appointed restructuring dude last week. The judge could still put the kibosh on it, but now that everyone seems to be on board, it will probably happen barring some kind of breakthrough at the mediation today.
And it’s really only kind of an auction in that the court has agreed to still allow Major League Baseball to have veto power over the winner. So, if Houston businessman Jim Crane wins — and he was reported to be the high bidder the last go-around — he’s probably S.O.L. because Shachter (and others) report that he remains persona non grata in MLB circles. Harder to say what happens if the Jeff Beck/Dennis Gilbert team participates again and bids high. Gilbert is a Selig favorite, but he may not even be part of the proceedings anymore. In other news, allowing baseball to hand pick their owners despite the fact that they probably don’t really have the legal right to do so is totally weak.
Final fun fact: last night Chuck Greenberg’s publicist sent out a press release telling everyone that Team Greenberg has its financing in place and its purchase money in escrow. This is likely a result of increasing chatter — which began with my report back in December — that Greenberg’s financing was shaky (I haven’t heard anything new on that recently, but Buster Olney made mention of this just the other day).
So that’s fixed, and Greenberg wants to make sure everyone knows it. Granted, I’ve never been accused of suffering from a cynicism deficit disorder, but I tend to take a press release that says “everything is great!” as a sign that everything wasn’t great before the date of the press release. Otherwise the stuff in the press release is not news, see. So congratulations Mr. Greenberg on fixing the financial problems you claimed you never had.
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.
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.
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.
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.