Oh look! A “mystery team” has joined the Cliff Lee Derby

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Here’s Jon Heyman, three steps beyond self-parody and almost approaching the divine:

Free agent Cliff Lee is planning to make his decision early this week, according to people familiar with negotiations. The Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team are all still thought to be alive as Lee deliberates the biggest player call of the winter … The mystery team remains a mystery and also seen as a long shot.

Such wagers are outlawed in this country, but were they not, I would bet my children that, as is usually the case, this “mystery team” is the invention of an agent who has Heyman on speed-dial. The purpose: to either goose the Yankees or Rangers — each of whom have reportedly made their final and best offers — into bidding higher. Or, at the very least, to give Cliff Lee a bit of p.r. cover as he takes extra time to weigh the offers. Why Heyman enjoys being used like that is between him and his Blackberry. And it isn’t just people like me who suffer from Heyman derangement syndrome who think this. Check out the usually-cool Buster Olney not-so-subtly jabbing Heyman over it.

Whatever the case, I repeat a plea that I tweeted during the Winter Meetings: all I want for Christmas is an MLB-quality jersey with the word “Mystery” stitched, in script, on the font as the home team’s name. Player name on the back is optional.

Word is that Cliff Lee is expected to make his choice today or tomorrow. Wouldn’t it blow your mind if he chose the Planet X Mystery All-Stars?

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.