People who know a bit about EPL soccer sometimes make comparisons between the big English soccer teams and the big major league baseball teams in order to explain the dynamic of that league to we soccer ignoramuses.
Like, I once heard someone say Man U. was like the Yankees. Or maybe Arsenal. And Chelsea was the Red Sox. Or maybe Liverpool was. I can’t remember and I kinda don’t care, actually. Like every other time I’ve sat and watched more than five minutes of an EPL game I was in a pub and the guy explaining this all to me was over-emphasizing the words “football,” “kit,” “pitch,” and “match” to make it abundantly clear he wasn’t saying “soccer,” “jersey,” “field,” an “game.” I’ve sorta liked EPL when I’ve watched it, but man, those guys who make it a point to have you know how into it they are drive me nuts.
Anyway, this is some meat for those conversations:
The New York Yankees are going into the soccer business.
The Yankees are partnering with Manchester City to own Major League Soccer’s 20th team, which will be called New York City Football Club and plans to start play in the 2015 season.
Manchester City, owned by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, will be the majority owner of the team.
During that conversation, held at the faux Irish pub in a suburban Ohio mall, the guy to my right will loudly and conspicuously order “a pint of bitter,” and then frown a bit when the suburban Ohio bartender rolls his eyes and gives him whatever they have.
Oh, here he is now.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.