Rob Manfred

Read the letter Major League Baseball shouldn’t have sent to A-Rod’s attorney

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This morning on the Today Show, Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, reiterated his stance that he would “love nothing more” than to discuss the case against Alex Rodriguez, but can’t do so due to the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. He was then presented with a letter from Major League Baseball which offered to waive the confidentiality provisions. It made for some awkward moments for Tacopina and some fun TV at least.

The Wall Street Journal has a copy of the letter and reproduces it here. It’s from MLB’s Rob Manfred and it’s just as confrontational in prose as it was in its use on the Today Show. And having read it, I am even more of the view that Major League Baseball is being roped into a P.R. battle that it doesn’t need and probably shouldn’t want.

The only purpose of Manfred’s letter is to try to score some points on Tacopina and, by extension, Rodriguez, in the wake of Tacopina’s media offensive. That it came from Manfred and not legal counsel — which MLB should be using in its case against Rodriguez — is evidence of that.  It strikes me as a letter Manfred himself dashed off or dictated with a cackle. And he certainly got his intended response on TV today.

But what does this get the league? For as loud as it has been, A-Rod and Tacopina’s offensive hasn’t changed many minds. And it doesn’t change the evidence. And by delving into the fray like this, putting the Confidentiality provision in play, one wonders if it doesn’t potentially weaken claims MLB may have against A-Rod in the arbitration about his own efforts to publicize or leak information that should otherwise be confidential. Might Tacopina use this letter to argue that MLB doesn’t care about those rights? That it has waived them or is, at the very least, selective as to when it believes they are relevant?

It’s not much, but it’s more than a fighter like Tacopina needs to grab onto and start punching. And it’s just going to add to the circus and the mess which MLB seemed to so want to avoid when it set out to discipline the Biogenesis players.

Most lawyers would counsel their clients to avoid this sort of bomb-throwing. Is anyone counseling Major League Baseball to do that?

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.