Randy Levine

Yankees President Randy Levine blasts Rangers Owner Chuck Greenberg

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Remember earlier this week when Chuck Greenberg said that he thinks the Rangers’ visit to Cliff Lee’s home in Arkansas contributed to Lee signing with Philly instead of the Yankees?  Yeah, Yankees President Randy Levine didn’t much care for that:

“If he really wants to impress us then he can get the Rangers off of welfare and show how they can be revenue-sharing payors, rather than recipients for three years in row, without financing from Major League Baseball. That would really be something … I think Chuck is delusional.  He’s been in the game a few minutes but it seems to be that he thinks he knows what everybody else is thinking. He should really let Cliff Lee speak for himself.”

I’m struggling to think why Greenberg’s comments — however silly they might have been — would have upset Levine so much.  They weren’t directed at the Yankees. They were just musings. All I can guess is that Levine in no way wants anyone to suggest that the Yankees had a real shot at Lee. That the Phillies’ signing of him was occasioned by fate as opposed to the intervention of the Rangers or the failures of the Yankees. Maybe he struck a nerve.

And what’s with the stuff about revenue sharing?  I can’t help but think that Levine is going to get a call from Selig over that.  Levine may not like it, but revenue sharing is part of baseball’s architecture. It is designed to aid teams that were not, like Levine’s Yankees, blessed with a monopoly over the largest media market in the country. An effort, however insufficient it is in practice, to help teams not as fortunate as the Yankees to compete on something approximating an equal footing.

And really: given how tied up Randy Levine was in securing over a billion dollars in tax exempt bonds for the construction of Yankee Stadium — and how defensive he was about it when people called the Yankees out on that — he’s the last dude who should be complaining about welfare.

I don’t think Major League Baseball will appreciate revenue sharing being referred to as “welfare.”  And even if they don’t mind that term, I don’t think Selig will take kindly to Levine blasting revenue sharing recipients any more than we would take to some rich guy who inherited family money blasting a poor person for accepting welfare when they need it.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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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 AustinGreg 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.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.