This has been floating around for a couple of days, but the British tabloid the Daily Star reported on Sunday that the Yankees were considering buying Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League. A couple of things about this report:
- It comes in a newspaper which features topless models;
- Despite having the topless models thing going for it — which I view as a positive, by the way — British tabloids are notorious for selling scare stories about foreigners ruining proper British institutions like soccer leagues and city streets and stuff. The only thing the Yankees-Spurs story needs in order to make it a perfect British tabloid cliche is scary south-Asian immigrants and/or young, sideways ballcap-wearing, bat-toting chavs intent on ruining tea time or village greens or whatever it is scared and reactionary British people fear modern society is ruining for them;
- The primary quotes here come from Hank Steinbrenner, who is essentially the Fredo of the Steinbrenner family. Really, he may as well be going on about how you shouldn’t talk to Moe Greene and about how he’s “smaht” and was told that there was something in it for him, because if the Yankees are going to make a $600 million+ investment in anything, you can bet that Hank ain’t in on the discussion;
- The story says that Hank played college soccer. Everyone was young once, but I can’t square the image of Hank Steinbrenner as photographed above with a college soccer player; and
- The Yankees are smart. The history of American sports executives investing in English soccer is littered with dumb people making dumb decisions. I can’t really picture Hal Steinbrenner plunking half the value of the Yankees into that kind of an investment.
But hey, at least we got an excuse to use the Hank smoking picture again, and that’s always fun.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.