The Tigers were able to shed the monster contract of Prince Fielder earlier this week in the deal that netted them Ian Kinsler from the Rangers. Is it possible that the next step will be to pursue free agent second baseman Robinson Cano?
That scenario seems extremely unlikely for a variety of reasons, but there have been some rumblings that Cano was in Detroit yesterday. Tony Paul of the Detroit News did some pretty thorough checking on the matter and found nothing conclusive. But he also couldn’t rule it out.
There was, indeed, a charter plane that took off from Teterboro, N.J., about a half-hour outside New York City, at 6:59 a.m. Friday and landed at Willow Run 90 minutes later. The plane then sat at Willow Run until 2:04 p.m., when it headed back to Teterboro. The plane in question is a Kelso Air-owned business jet, a Bombardier Challenger 600, which seats between 14 and 18 passengers. This plane could cost as much as $4,100 per hour to charter, or more than $32,000 for this particular trip — impressive, to be sure, but not much of a dent for someone who made, say, $15 million in salary in 2013.
This jet also has made no other recent trips to Michigan. Its recent getaways include such locales as Augusta, Ga. (home of swanky Augusta National Golf Club); Bermuda; Sacramento, Calif.; San Diego; and Chicago.
There was no word from either airport on whether Cano had been on board. An employee in the administration office at Teterboro said even if he had that information, he couldn’t disclose it. There was no answer at Willow Run on Friday evening.
Now, how do we know Cano is even in the States right now, and not home in the Dominican Republic? Truth be told, we don’t. However, there’s a good chance he has remained in New York. He is, after all, searching for a new contract. And just the other day, he did attend an A-list party in New York City.
Cano’s hip-hop agent, meanwhile, is Jay Z, who was in Oklahoma City on Thursday night, sitting courtside for an NBA game. (He also represents Thunder star Kevin Durant.) There was no direct flight listed from Oklahoma City to Willow Run. But Jay Z also has his own private plane, and apparently has the ability to file a request with the FAA to be excluded from the publicly accessible flight-tracker websites.
I don’t think we have seen much plane tracking in the baseball world since Cliff Lee three years ago. The Hot Stove will make you do some crazy things sometimes.
As for the Tigers, they are staying pretty quiet on the matter. A team spokesman gave a “no comment” to Paul while Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Chris Iott of MLive.com via email that “we plan on having Ian Kinsler as our second baseman this year.”
Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.
You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.
The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.
So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.
Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”
Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.
Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.
The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.
Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.