This is . . . odd. Matthew Cerrone passes along word that, in a chat yesterday, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin responded to reader questions about Wally Backman by saying that “the Mets know things [about Backman] that are not circulated and don’t feel comfortable.” Then he went on and said that sometimes reporters “hear things you cannot report but which point you to a certain conclusion. That’s about the best I can say now.”
Actually, given that this little tease of Rubin’s apparently involves a man’s reputation, the best he could do would be to either (a) report what he knows; or (b) not say anything about it. If Backman got into some kind of hot water or is otherwise a far worse candidate than people realize that may be newsworthy. But by handling it how he handled it, Rubin basically said “there are more skeletons in Wally Backman’s closet, but I’m not going to tell you what they are.” That strikes me as profoundly unfair to Backman. Rubin is right that reporters often learn about this kind of thing, but when it involves personal stuff as this seems to, I think you need to do better than to throw this kind of oblique insinuation out there.
I don’t think Wally Backman is the best choice for the Mets’ job, but the man deserves better than this.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.