The L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin — who has been doing a whale of a job covering the McCourt divorce, by the way — reports today that the McCourts would like to settle if at all possible. While on one level that’s a no-brainer — no one wants to go through an ugly trial — it is significant in that Shaikin’s story is the first one I’ve seen in which Jamie McCourt’s people have actually said that she’d take something short of team control in order to make the madness stop.
Not that she’s laying down — she still wants 50% ownership or something close to it and an executive position, which both seem like non-starters based on what Frank has been saying for the past several months — but it’s a step down from the “I’ll get my rich friends to buy you out” rhetoric Jamie had launched previously.
In reality I’m guessing that Jamie’s position is a precursor to a demand for a cash settlement that is at least couched in terms of her interest in the Dodgers (whatever it is) being bought out. Such a settlement would allow her to declare some sort of a victory and claim that, yes, she really did own the Dodgers once while allowing everyone to avoid a fight over that property distribution agreement and who slept with who and all of that business.
As Shaikin notes, however, this doesn’t mean that life gets easier. All it really means is that a fight over who gets to control the Dodgers is transformed into a fight over how much the Dodgers are truly worth in order to value Jamie’s buyout. If the example of every single battle over franchise valuation in major sports history is any lesson, you can bet that Frank McCourt will attempt to show that the Dodgers are worthless, while Jamie will attempt to show that they’re worth seventy-gabiliion dollars.
And the sad thing is, given the state of major league baseball franchise accounting and the particular manner in which the McCourts have run the Dodgers, each side will likely have a mountain of paperwork supporting their position.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.
Update (7:58 PM EST): Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart met with Cueto earlier this month in the Dominican Republic and made a contract offer that the right-hander turned down. The Diamondbacks maintain interest in the free agent.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.
Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.
Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.
As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.
Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe …
Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.
Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.
Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.
Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.
Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.
His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …
It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?
Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.