1932 poster

Comment of the Day: We live for baseball gossip!

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My half-baked “Metafans” idea from this morning is being better received than I thought it would.  I knew I should have (a) put it in a book proposal; (b) cashed an advance check; and (c) never written the book and than changed my identity.  Way easier than working for a living, ya know? Because, as everyone knows, books about esoteric baseball-related subjects bring forth tremendous advances.  I’d ask Rob Neyer about it, but he’s too busy swimming in piles of book cash to listen.

Anyway, I’ve received a couple of comments like this one from reader nyetjones:

[W]hat you call meta-fandom seems also integral to fandom itself. Maybe not the world series posters, baseball cards and strat-o-matic playing, but certainly things outside the game itself – e.g. DUI stories, contract disputes, hall-of-fame arguments – imbue the sport with meaning. I think the game in abstract, absent these external stories, would be way less enjoyable for a lot of people.

If you pay attention, it’s amazing how much of the coverage of sports could be construed as so much sewing circle gossip. It gets dressed in terms of “distractions” or “affecting team chemistry,” but ultimately it seems to point to a required interest in the players-as-people and not just baseball machines. How much of the commentary about Milton Bradley is strictly worried with how much his off-field troubles affect the games in which he plays, and how much is just a buzzing, tantalizing tale that gives him sone humanity, however flawed?

I think it’s a lot of the latter, and we’re not always that aware of it and/or willing to admit it.

I can tell you, based on the traffic numbers for this site and others for which I’ve written, the stuff surrounding the game is just as much if not more popular than the actual baseball content.  It’s not a representative sample, no, because people who read HBT are here willingly and presumably like the stuff we write about anyway.  But there are enough of you to convince me that — yeah — people are interested in the sewing circle stuff too.

Inded, it’s why I’ve always laughed when a commenter tries to insult me by calling me a gossip columnist. I don’t deny it for a second.  We just happen to disagree on the value of gossip, that’s all.

Report: Mark Trumbo signs three-year, $37.5 million contract with Orioles

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.

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Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.

Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.

Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.