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.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.