Not a lot of teams do this, but the Cardinals did: they bought their Triple-A team, the Memphis Redbirds. Also, the City of Memphis is buying AutoZone Park, where the Redbirds play. They’ll in turn lease it back to the Redbirds.
The current owner is the Memphis Redbirds Foundation, a non-profit. There’s a lot of debt, however, and the ballpark needs upkeep and renovation. Part of the deal involves the city making a capital investment in the park.
The Cardinals have long been interested in buying the Redbirds, but previous efforts went nowhere, be it because of the financial or the leadership of it all. But now it’s sealed. This makes the third of the Cardinals’ four full-season minor league affiliates to be owned by the team. Also Cardinals-owned: the Class AA Springfield club and Class A Palm Beach club. The club also owns its short season Gulf Coast League affiliate.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.