I mentioned this earlier this morning but it kind of got buried so I’ll mention it again: last night, amidst the euphoria of winning the auction for the Texas Rangers, soon-to-be new Rangers owner Chuck Greeberg said some big stuff about the guy most considered to be a half-season rental:
ESPNDallas.com: Now that you’re about to become the owner officially, how hard will you work to re-sign Cliff Lee?
Greenberg: We’re going to work really, really hard.
Cliff is not only a great pitcher; he’s an exemplary professional,
teammate and role model. We are going to do everything we can to keep
him. We’ve got a period of time where we’ve got a chance to demonstrate
to him how special it’s going to be to be a part of the Rangers family,
and that’s what we’re going to be, a family. We’ve got a great group of
guys on the team, a committed ownership and a great front office. We’re
going to do the best we can to show him he’s found a home and that this
is a place where he wants to be.
I guess that will be the first true test of whether the $85 million in extra cash and $68 million in overall sale price occasioned by the bankruptcy gambit and auction will impact the Rangers on the field.
I’d say that he has no chance if the Yankees get involved but, hell, this is the guy who just out-bid Mark Cuban so doubt him at your peril.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
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.