Mark Cuban isn't just playing: he's a serious bidder for the Rangers

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There was a big, acrimonious hearing in Fort Worth yesterday regarding the timing and procedures of the auction to sell the Rangers. Something fun happened during the hearing: some lawyer showed up and as if he were Scott Boras or someone said that he represented an “undisclosed bidder.”  That bidder has turned out to be Mark Cuban.

We’ve recently talked about his interest in the team, but given how Cuban is with the media, there was some reason to suspect that he was just thinking out loud and wasn’t all that serious.  That’s apparently not the case if he’s hiring lawyers to make appearances in bankruptcy court in an effort to impact when and how the auction of the Rangers will be held.

Lawyers for Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan did what what they could to discount Cuban’s interest, dismissively saying he’s been “discussed for weeks,” and they’re clearly trying to spread the word in the media that Major League Baseball may not approve of him, but they have to be nervous.

Nervous if Cuban makes overtures to them about joining their group because if he does — and if they realize that, crap, they need him — the camel’s nose is under the tent and he’s going to be an active part of the ownership group whether they like it or not.  Nervous because if he gets involved — and if he decides to go it on his own or with another bidder — his cash reserves will certainly out-strip anything they can muster.

The proceedings in bankruptcy court have gotten so convoluted that even I and my fancy-schmancy law degree aren’t able to really follow them anymore, but Mark Cuban represents a form of chaos, and chaos is the last thing Greenberg and Ryan need more of.

The Marlins made an empty threat. Giancarlo Stanton made an empty promise.

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I covered the main press conference about Giancarlo Stanton earlier, but afterward he and his agents fanned out to various TV shows, radio shows and reporter scrums from which some new, fun things have spun out. Part of what they’ve talked about is silly and meaningless, part of it just meaningless.

Here’s the silly and meaningless, from a Marlins official, apparently, trying to bully Stanton into accepting either the Giants or the Cardinals trades despite the fact that he told them beforehand that he was not willing to go to either of those teams:

This is silly because it comes off like a threat. Like the worst possible thing that can happen to a guy is to stay with the very team that is making the threat. It’s like telling your wife that if she does not leave you, she’s stuck with you forever.

It’s meaningless too, in that Stanton has an opt-out clause after 2020. If the Marlins could not make a trade Stanton would approve, he’d simply collect close to $90 million and then leave at age 30. Oooh, don’t throw me into that briar patch, Mr. Jeter!

Not that Stanton’s people are offering statements of serious gravitas. His agent was asked about Stanton’s opt-out rights, which he retains even though he’s now with the Yankees:

That may very well be true! He just got here and everything is going great so far. It’s totally empty, of course, because anything can happen between now and the fall of 2020. If the big time free agents of the next two years sign for the sort of money that makes Stanton look underpaid, he’ll certainly opt-out, even if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Ask Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia how that works. The opt-out clause is pure, unadulterated leverage for a player and unless he totally craters over the next three seasons he’ll most certainly use it, regardless of present desires.

Which, hey, that’s how things work when a big trade or free agent signing happens. Everyone who has lost looks bad and everyone who won sounds happy. Then, later, the baseball happens.