I’ve been asked before why I often suggest that Bud Selig is disingenuous about things like, say, the fans’ appetite for instant replay, the status of the committee working feverishly on solving the Athletics/San Jose problem and the state of baseball’s finances and stuff.
At bottom, it’s a general credibility problem. Caused by stuff like this:
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig insists he will retire after the 2014 season when his contract ends … He said “nobody believes it” but he’ll be done in 2 years, despite sentiment he’ll stay until 2016 to pass Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the game’s longest-serving boss.
It’s his right to keep the job as long as his employers will have him. And, despite our dissatisfaction with the way he handles some things, I would argue that he has been an excellent commissioner overall. At least when measured by his performance at the job he was hired to do as opposed to do the job that fans like to fantasize the commissioner has.*
But really, this marks the 3,405,265th time Selig has claimed he will retire. I wish him no ill will whatsoever when I say this — indeed, I intend it as a tribute to his effectiveness in the job, popularity within the game and his still-sharp skills and tenacity — but if I had to bet my 401K on any future development, “Bud Selig dying in office” would be high on the list of candidates.
*Really. It’s not the commissioner’s job to be some sage and noble George Washington figure. It’s his job to be a steward and promoter of the game who makes money for the owners (and indirectly the players) and keeps them from fighting with one another. But even with the job being that basic, so many have failed one way or another. Fay Vincent was well-intentioned but feckless. Peter Ueberroth hatched a criminal conspiracy. Bart Giamatti, sadly, didn’t get a chance to really do anything. Bowie Kuhn was a retrograde defender of the reserve clause and helped sow nearly 30 years of labor strife. It’s a low bar to hurdle when it comes to running baseball, but Selig has really cleared it by any measure.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.
On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.