UPDATE: I’m just going to stop updating this Cliff Lee stuff, because it’s changing too fast: now it’s being reported that the Nationals and Lee are “maintaining a dialogue.” Still, Lee’s agent is saying that a deal is unlikely this week, so take it all for what it’s worth.
11:57 A.M.: Well, there goes our fun for the morning. Jon Heyman says that the Nats aren’t really in on Lee and that they’re looking at other pitchers instead. So if Heyman is right, earlier reports are no longer operative. That’s how the Winter Meetings roll, I guess.
To get us through the afternoon I think I’ll start a new rumor or two. In the comments, please put the best ideas for rumors that are (a) obviously not true; but (b) still sorta kinda plausible if you squint. I’ll consider tweeting the best ones as stone-cold-fact tonight during happy hour.
Last Thursday, we learned that the MLBPA was challenging the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system, delaying Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball. The latest collective bargaining agreement removed a lot of the incentive for players to come to the U.S. by capping pay. Ohtani, for example, can only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million while his team — the Nippon Ham Fighters — would receive $20 million for posting him.
Jon Morosi reports that the deadline for this issue to be resolved is 8 PM ET on Monday evening. He notes that key NPB officials have worked through the night in Japan to try to reach a resolution. It is possible that even if no agreement is reached, the deadline could be pushed further back.
Ohtani, 23, has become a heralded hitter and pitcher in Japan. At the plate over his five-year career, he has compiled a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,170 plate appearances. On the mound, he has a 2.52 ERA with a 624/200 K/BB ratio across 543 innings.