Diamondbacks did well trading Edwin Jackson to White Sox

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Speculation that the White Sox may have acquired Edwin Jackson to “flip” him to the Nationals for Adam Dunn makes it hard to properly evaluate the deal from Chicago’s point of view yet, but there’s no need to hold off in saying Arizona did extremely well to get pitching prospects Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg for Jackson.
I was underwhelmed by the Diamondbacks’ haul for Dan Haren, but Jackson is a much different story. Some teams remain convinced that Jackson has ace potential because at times he unleashes overpowering raw stuff, which was on full display when he no-hit the Rays last month. Of course, the no-hitter also included eight walks and Jackson has been awful overall this season, going 6-10 with a 5.16 ERA and 104/60 K/BB ratio in 134.1 innings.
Jackson hasn’t pitched quite as poorly as that ugly ERA suggests, but he’s a soon-to-be 27-year-old with a 4.74 career ERA and has posted an ERA under 4.40 exactly once. He’s also owed for $8.25 million next season, which makes him an overpaid mid-rotation starter and makes unloading his contract plenty valuable for the Diamondbacks by itself. That they were able to clear Jackson’s salary off the books and get a pair of useful prospects is a great move, particularly since Hudson is a decent bet to out-perform Jackson in 2011 while making $400,000.
Hudson was so-so in 34 innings with the White Sox, but the former fifth-round pick has an excellent minor-league track record that includes a 2.79 ERA and 195/50 K/BB ratio in 174 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s ready to step right into Jackson’s rotation spot and is under team control through 2015. At just 19 years old Holmberg is nowhere near the majors, but he was a second-round pick last June and Baseball America ranked him as the White Sox’s eighth-best prospect coming into the season.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Dodgers owner Mark Walter is involved in a scandal

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The Dodgers last owner, Frank McCourt, was a mainstay of the gossip pages. The new administration has been pretty drama free since taking over five years ago. That is, until now.

Multiple outlets, ranging from the New York Post to the Wall Street Journal, have been reporting on a scandal brewing at Guggenheim Partners, the multi-billion investment firm led by Mark Walter, its CEO. Walter is also the head of Guggenheim Baseball Management, the offshoot of the firm which owns the Dodgers. Walter is the Dodgers’ named owner — the “control person” — as far as Major League Baseball is concerned.

The scandal does not directly relate to the baseball team. Rather, it involves allegations that Walter bought a $13 million Pacific Palisades home for a younger female executive named Alexandra Court:

In the past 24 hours, the company has pushed back on multiple reports that CEO Mark Walter will step down; its chief investment officer has claimed on CNBC that there’s “no tumult” at the company; and Guggenheim has denied reports on a real-estate blog and in the New York Post that Walter bought a California mansion for a younger female executive at the company.

The denial regarding who bought the mansion is a bit too cute, though, as the company only denies that Walter bought it or owns it. In fact, the mansion is owned by a holding company that also bought Walter’s personal residence in Malibu. Billionaires don’t go to closings at title company offices, of course. They buy houses through companies and LLCs and trusts and stuff. As such, the claim that Walter didn’t buy the house may be technically and legally true but entirely misleading all the same. For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Walter and Court have a “personal relationship.” Walter, who is married, and the company deny this. Court is on an extended leave of absence.

Walter and Guggenheim are denying that Walter is going to step down as CEO. That remains to be seen. The question for our purposes is whether, if he steps down from Guggenheim Partners, he would necessarily have to step down from Guggenheim Baseball Management and thus relinquish control of the Dodgers. I suspect not — they’re distinct legal entities, and his departure from Partners would be unrelated to stuff having to do with the baseball team — but you never know. It’s not like he put up $2 billion of his personal dollars for the team. There are likely a lot of strings attached and contingencies involved to the arrangement.

Something to watch.