Simers

T.J. Simers sues the Los Angeles Times

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We followed the drama between T.J. Simers and the Los Angeles Times as it was going on over the summer. Now it’s reached a new level: Simers has sued the Times.

But Simers is not content to let this be about technical procedures followed (or not) in his termination. He says the Times told him to lay off then-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt:

Simers says his troubles began in 2011 after McCourt met with Times publisher Eddie Hartenstein. Simers claims he was told he might lose his job if he wrote about a charity close to his heart, the Mattel Children’s Charity. He says he learned he was warned to stay off the subject because of concerns that he was encouraging Dodgers players to donate to Mattel instead of to McCourt’s Dodgers charity. Simers says he and three other writers were told not to write pieces critical of McCourt.

I feel like there were a thousand good reasons to fire Simers, but if this is true the Times picked one pretty bad one. How can you have a reputation as a legitimate newspaper if you tell your staff not to cover the sports teams in your very own city?

That said: the accusation seems pretty hollow. I followed coverage of Frank McCourt closer than anyone out side of L.A. I bet and there were multiple writers at the Times who were absolutely brutal in covering McCourt. In a fair way, given the kind of ammo McCourt gave them. Bill Shaikin, for example, was all over McCourt for months and years on end, for example.

Of course there are other allegations as well, some relating to Simers’ health, so you have to figure that this is a “throw as much as one can at the suit and hope to settle well” kind of thing, as most wrongful termination cases, especially high-profile ones, don’t see a courtroom.

Report: Mark Trumbo signs three-year, $37.5 million contract with Orioles

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.

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Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.

Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.

Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.