Major League Baseball put out a press release a little while ago announcing that they’ve hired a lawyer to fight the San Jose antitrust lawsuit:
Major League Baseball has hired John W. Keker, a partner in the San Francisco firm Keker & Van Nest LLP, to serve as its lead counsel in the lawsuit filed in federal court by the City of San Jose, California on June 18th, it was announced today.
Keker specializes in complex antitrust, commercial and intellectual property cases and securities cases. Regarded as one of the country’s top trial lawyers, Keker was the lead counsel for the U.S. legal adviser to the group of Ecuadorian citizens who successfully won an $18 billion judgment against a corporation over environmental damage in their country, the largest single pollution judgment ever imposed. Keker recently won a defense verdict for an employee who was targeted in a Securities & Exchange Commission enforcement action in New York. In 1989, Keker was the chief prosecutor in the Iran-Contra trial involving Oliver North. He has represented Google, Standard & Poor’s and many corporate executives throughout his four-decade career.
Big guns, as you would expect.
Still, kinda weird as I can’t recall baseball issuing press releases about legal matters before. Certainly not the hiring of counsel. It makes me feel like they’re just matching San Jose’s obvious p.r.-first approach in the drafting and filing of the lawsuit and that this case will be every much a battle in the media as it will be in the courts. So:
The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.
Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.
Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.
This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.