Man-Handing-out-Money

Deadspin is trying to buy a Hall of Fame vote. It’s a fantastic idea.

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Viva chaos: Deadspin is trying to buy a Hall of Fame vote from someone.

After correctly observing how screwed up and ridiculous the spectacle of watching people moralize and over-think come Hall of Fame vote time is, Tim Marchman lays out his plan:

The sensible thing to do would be to just stop paying attention to this raging trash fire, but we don’t think that’s enough. We’re going to seize some small, symbolic bit of power and turn it over to the public. We’re going to buy a Hall of Fame vote.

If you’re a 1o-year member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, we want to give you cash in exchange for allowing Deadspin’s readers to fill out your ballot. We’re not entirely sure what the market value of a vote is, so we’d like you to contact us—at marchman@deadspin.com, or in the comments below—and name a price, so that we can start negotiations.

I think it’s a hoot. Sure, it’s corrupt, but it’s no more corrupting to the process than it is to have people who have never covered baseball — or who haven’t covered baseball since the 70s or whatever — voting on Hall of Fame candidates. It’s no more unseemly than the appalling game of character assassination that Hall of Fame voters have engaged in in recent years when it comes to guys who they suspect of PED use, but either can’t or won’t tell us why. Or can’t make a coherent case for why it matters.

But most of all it’s fun. And fun is one thing the actual, un-bought-and-paid-for Hall of Fame voters have taken out of the process in recent years. They’ve done so by talking down to baseball fans and claiming that what we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated on the baseball field was, in reality, horrible. By acting as if their task in filling out a ballot is some awful dark night of the soul. About how how utterly serious it is and how they wish they didn’t have to make such hard choices. Well, don’t. Take $150 form Deadspin and let people who actually like sports vote on the thing.

Or write a column about how Deadspin’s offer is obscene and a disgrace to journalism. That will be just as fun, actually. Indeed, now that I think about it, I’d rather see that.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.