Did the A’s really make that five-year, $64M offer to Beltre?

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It’s still pretty early in the offseason and most top tier free agents won’t sign for another couple of weeks.  Or months. The hot stove, however, is always burning.

Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported two weeks ago that the A’s made a five-year, $64 million offer to free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.  We’ve heard nothing about the proposal since, which has Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wondering whether that report might have been incorrect.

According to Cafardo, A’s GM Billy Beane “supposedly was a little baffled” when news of the offer came out.

The A’s are trying to improve their offense this winter, but they don’t typically shell out long-term deals to high-priced free agents and the timing of the offer seemed odd.  Beane and Co. may be interested in acquiring Beltre, who registered a .321/.365/.553 batting line, 28 homers and 102 RBI in 2010, but it sounds like they’re not being aggressive as previously thought.

If Oakland doesn’t add Beltre, Kevin Kouzmanoff is likely to open the 2011 season at third base.  He hit just .247/.283/.396 over 551 at-bats this past year, though he did find a way to tally 17 home runs and 71 RBI while playing seriously good defense at the hot corner.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.