The Jays’ big position battle this spring was Eric Thames versus Travis Snider for left field. Thames was handed the job, but eventually both ended up back in the minors. Now both are out of the organization entirely, having been traded within a half hour of each other tonight.
Thames was sent to Seattle for reliever Steve Delabar, the teams announced after playing tonight. Delabar, at least, won’t have far to travel; he merely needs to switch clubhouses at Safeco. Thames, presumably, will be called by the Mariners in short order. The 25-year-old was hitting .335/.412/.536 with six homers in 194 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas.
It’s unlikely that the left-handed-hitting Thames will prove to be a building block for the Mariners. He has decent enough power, but his on-base skills are lacking and he’s a bit of a liability defensively in the outfield. If the Mariners had their pick of Thames and Snider, it’s a good bet they would have chosen Snider instead. Thames could stick as a platoon player, though. He’ll almost certainly be an upgrade from Carlos Peguero there.
Delabar, 29, had a 4.17 ERA in 36 2/3 innings out of the pen for Seattle this season. He lacks an outpitch to go along with his 92-95 mph fastball and probably won’t survive as more than a middle reliever as a result. With more athletic outfielders available in Anthony Gose and Rajai Davis, it seems the Jays simply felt it was time to move on from both Snider and Thames. Of the two, Snider is the more likely to make them regret it.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.
The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.
Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The Dodgers last owner, Frank McCourt, was a mainstay of the gossip pages. The new administration has been pretty drama free since taking over five years ago. That is, until now.
Multiple outlets, ranging from the New York Post to the Wall Street Journal, have been reporting on a scandal brewing at Guggenheim Partners, the multi-billion investment firm led by Mark Walter, its CEO. Walter is also the head of Guggenheim Baseball Management, the offshoot of the firm which owns the Dodgers. Walter is the Dodgers’ named owner — the “control person” — as far as Major League Baseball is concerned.
The scandal does not directly relate to the baseball team. Rather, it involves allegations that Walter bought a $13 million Pacific Palisades home for a younger female executive named Alexandra Court:
In the past 24 hours, the company has pushed back on multiple reports that CEO Mark Walter will step down; its chief investment officer has claimed on CNBC that there’s “no tumult” at the company; and Guggenheim has denied reports on a real-estate blog and in the New York Post that Walter bought a California mansion for a younger female executive at the company.
The denial regarding who bought the mansion is a bit too cute, though, as the company only denies that Walter bought it or owns it. In fact, the mansion is owned by a holding company that also bought Walter’s personal residence in Malibu. Billionaires don’t go to closings at title company offices, of course. They buy houses through companies and LLCs and trusts and stuff. As such, the claim that Walter didn’t buy the house may be technically and legally true but entirely misleading all the same. For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Walter and Court have a “personal relationship.” Walter, who is married, and the company deny this. Court is on an extended leave of absence.
Walter and Guggenheim are denying that Walter is going to step down as CEO. That remains to be seen. The question for our purposes is whether, if he steps down from Guggenheim Partners, he would necessarily have to step down from Guggenheim Baseball Management and thus relinquish control of the Dodgers. I suspect not — they’re distinct legal entities, and his departure from Partners would be unrelated to stuff having to do with the baseball team — but you never know. It’s not like he put up $2 billion of his personal dollars for the team. There are likely a lot of strings attached and contingencies involved to the arrangement.
Something to watch.