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.”
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.