UPDATE: MLB sources still won’t go on the record about it, but they are walking it back:
11:03 AM: Uni Watch relays word from a source that Major League Baseball’s official on-field caps will be switched to the “Diamond Era” batting practice cap material for the 2014 season and next season and that the current Authentic Collection caps will be discontinued. He further reports that, because MLB is miffed at New Era for doing a deal with the NFL, that it is considering abandoning New Era altogether when their contract is up after 2014. MLB is neither confirming nor denying anything.
- The New Era official caps are awesome. They’ve tweaked them a bit over the years — there’s a synthetic CoolBase element to them now as opposed to the all-wools of the past — but they are basically the same product in most respects, particularly in appearance. I’ve noticed they shrink less than the old ones, and for big-melon guys like me (I wear a 7 3/4) hat shrinkage is a problem. Solid, solid product.
- I don’t own any of those BP caps, but unlike the changed 59Fifty caps, they just look different. Do not like.
- I can see why MLB may not like that New Era is making football caps. Until recently most football caps were stupid and flashy and were not the sort of things young people would want to wear as a fashion choice. As such, I feel like you see way more people buying MLB caps than there are actual MLB fans, simply to have cool-looking caps that promote civic pride or what have you. If a comparable NFL product is available (solid color, simple, smaller logo like MLB caps) baseball will surely lose a lot of that market.
- That said: if MLB is truly in a hissy about all of this and it causes them to switch cap manufacturers, I will be a very sad camper. Both for what it will probably man for aesthetics and for what it would mean for personal fit. Nike and every other manufacturer makes really crappy hats, people. Let’s be clear about this.
I’m not usually one for corporate rah-rah or extreme brand loyalty, but man, I love New Era caps an awful lot. I mean, I’m bald. Caps are important. As such, if MLB moves away from them I will lose it.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.