Quote of the Day: Buster Olney on the MLB’s approval of owners

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The other day Bud Selig was on Mike Lupica’s radio show* and, when asked about how Frank McCourt got the Dodgers in the first place, said that he was really the only viable bidder. That may be technically true given Selig’s definition of viable bidder, but Buster Olney makes a damn fine point about that in his column today:

I’d bet there would be more bidders if baseball worried less about picking potential owners that fit into a certain personality box, and worried more about deep pockets. If you can find aggressive bidders for the Texas Rangers, you should be able to draw interest in the Dodgers.

The defining feature of baseball’s ownership group — at least those who bought in after 1993 or so — is fealty to Bud Selig. There may be some very good features to such a clubby system. That consensus we spoke of this morning is often a good way for complex organizations to operate, and you don’t get that unless you have owners around who are willing to let the Commissioner lead. But you also wind up with the Frank McCourts of the world. A guy who, while he’s in pitched battle with Selig now, probably never would have gotten hold of the team if he had not been a favored candidate then.

I have made no secret of the fact that I am rooting for Major League Baseball to squash Frank McCourt like a grape. But don’t confuse this rooting interest with an approval of MLB’s handling of baseball ownership writ large.  We are damn lucky that, so far anyway, we only have two or three teams in financial distress.  Because when your primary criteria for ownership approval is how friendly they’ll be to the league office as opposed to how deep their pockets and how sharp their financial savvy is, you’re bound to run into trouble.

*I know, right? Wow.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.