Victor Willis, who was the lead singer (and cop) in the Village People before leaving the group in 1984, announced yesterday that he plans to sue the Tampa Bay Rays “within the next 30 days.”
Willis is upset because in promoting a Village People concert at Tropicana Field last August the Rays used some video footage from 1978, when he was still in the band, and he feels that misled fans.
Willis is now 58 years old and apparently a recluse, so his publicist explained:
His voice is very distinctive. People know that song. They get excited, thinking he is going to be there. What we would like ideally from the Rays is to ask them to apologize and give us assurances that they won’t do that again.
That certainly seems reasonable enough, although you’d think the Rays would probably have agreed to that without Willis going public with his plans to sue. Stephen Nohlgren of the St. Petersburg Times notes that lawsuit or not Willis doesn’t really need any of the Rays’ money, as “‘YMCA’ alone earns him more than $1 million a year in songwriting royalties.” Incidentally, that’s more than all but nine of the Rays’ players are earning this season.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
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 Austin–Greg 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.