My immediate interest in the Rangers’ sale has waned in the past week because (1) the fact that they traded for Cliff Lee means that they’ve made their big on-the-field move and thus getting the sale done before the trade deadline isn’t as pressing for baseball purposes as it seemed before; and (2) with all of the motions, cross-motions, requests for injunctions and all of that jazz, it’s starting to remind me of the old law gig, frankly, and that’s a real drag for me.
But I do feel duty-bound to keep up, and I thus am obliged to pass along word — gleaned from Daniel Kaplan’s latest at SBJ and Barry Shlachter’s reports in the Dallas Morning News — that the bankruptcy judge yesterday set the auction for the team for August 4th. It had originally been scheduled for July 22nd, but the Greenberg/Ryan lawsuit — which the judge has decided to treat as a mere motion in the ongoing case as opposed to its own thing — and other events have made the earlier date impossible. The creditors wanted to push things out even farther, but the judge said no dice. The auction date should be seen as a win for Greenberg and Ryan.
Other news of note: After months of suggestions that he would not be approved, Major League Baseball is now apparently fine with Jim Crane as an owner in the event that he wins the bid. Jeff Beck too, though that was less in question than Crane, seeing as baseball was fine with him back in December when he was part of the Dennis Gilbert bid. I assume that means that the auction is the real deal — highest bidder wins — with an MLB veto not coming into play. There will need to be formal approval (i.e. an owner vote) later, but that should be a formality once all of this legal messiness is over. I mean, really, how badly would Bud Selig crush, say, Fred Wilpon if he decided to be a pain in the butt about this after all the trouble everyone has gone through?
The judge said that, assuming the auction goes off smoothly, the team could emerge from bankruptcy that day. Viva efficiency.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.