Being a Braves fan was its most fun when a potentially-crazy billionaire owned them. We won’t get a second go-around of that, however, because Mark Cuban told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday that he has no interest in buying the team.
Now, the Braves aren’t for sale, but that doesn’t mean this is a wholly academic exercise. The team’s current owner — Liberty Media — may very well look to move the team soon because of the terms of the deal it made with Time-Warner when it bought the team four years ago, requiring that they keep the team until the current collective bargaining agreement expires, and that’s in a couple of weeks. There are some tax consequences to it all too. And given that the very purchase of the team seemed to be driven by some sort of corporate financial calculation rather than any animate feelings for baseball, it’s not like Liberty has any kind of real attachment to the Bravos.
But back to Cuban: he told Dave O’Brien of the AJC that he prefers “franchises that need a lot of help,” and that “the Braves have a great franchise.” And that means that he wouldn’t be interested if the team was put on the market.
Crap. Anyone know any other potentially-crazy billionaires? Miss you.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.