Over the weekend we learned that Martin Luther King III is interested in becoming one of Fred Wilpon’s “strategic partners.” Last night he released a statement confirming this interest:
“I believe in the merit and American value of creating an example, and if I personally, or as part of a collective, can advance the vision of a more diverse ownership group in professional sports, domestically or internationally, then, like my father, I am prepared to act in that spirit. There has been a lot of discussion and speculation about my participation in the acquisition of the New York Mets. The public release of those discussions was premature.”
King is planning on meeting with the Wilpons this week.
I may be wrong about this, but I don’t recall King ever being mentioned as a potential owner or head of an ownership group. I imagine, however, that the Mets sale is going to bring out a lot of unusual suspects. It’s been a while since either the Mets or Yankees sold, and since then the value of those franchises compared to all of the others has become apparent. That said, I continue to believe that the Wilpons will have a hard time simply selling off a quarter of the team, either because they owe too much to government for that to make sense for them or because potential buyers realize that they have an opportunity to take the team over rather than merely be satisfied with a non-controlling share. As Joel Sherman reports, Major League Baseball officials feel the same way. They’ve gone so far as to call the Wilpons “delusional” in this regard.
As for King himself: his career has been a tad spotty. He lost reelection as a Fulton County commissioner in the early 90s after revealing that he owed the federal government more than $200,000 in back taxes. He was suspended as the head of the Southern Christian Leadership conference after the board cited him for inactivity and insubordination to the board’s interests (though he came back and improved in the role). Some have charged that King has sought to commercialize his father’s legacy by doing things like licensing (for profit) the “I have a dream” speech and suing media outlets who use it without the family’s authorization.
Of course, given that he’s seeking to enter a fraternity that includes Frank McCourt, David Glass and Jeff Loria, none of this should be a concern.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.