1:51 AM: Just a quick update here. As Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported just moments ago, the group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg won the auction. They out-lasted several massive over-bids by Mark Cuban and stepped up with a $385 million cash offer early Thursday morning. Great stuff by Andro and Co.
4:05 PM: Daniel Kaplan of SBJ reports that the review of the initial bids in the Texas Rangers auction is finally over (they’ve been in court all day) and get this: Mark Cuban and Jim Crane have “the highest and best bid” by $25 million.
Per some complicated legal business this morning, the Greenberg-Ryan group will now get some time — maybe some hours, maybe until tomorrow — to come back and top that bid. And they have to do it by $2 million to stay in the game.
That is, if they don’t make up their own rules. Minutes after the bidding was announced, Greenberg and Ryan’s lawyers (a) asked for more time; and (b) said that they’d attempt to block Cuban and Crane’s bid from being accepted via appeal and maybe some other legal action. So that’s nice. There’s also the distinct possibility — again, per Greenberg’s lawyer — that Major League Baseball may take up to nine months to approve Cuban and Crane as owners, which they argue would practically lower the real value of Cuban and Crane’s bid.
There will obviously be tons of twists and turns in the next few hours, let alone the next few weeks, so this doesn’t mean that Cuban and Crane will wind up owning the team. But it does mean that for them not to it will mean that either Greenberg and Ryan will (a) have to come up with a ton more money; or (b) convince Major League Baseball and/or a court of law that the most valuable offer for the Texas Rangers should not actually get the team.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.