UPDATE: I spoke to a source with knowledge of the Pirates’ TV deal, and the source tells me that the deal is not in the top half of MLB TV deals in terms of average annual value. Far from it. If, as Coonelly says, the Pirates are in the top half of all deals it’s a function of some front-loading of the deal and that gave them a lot of TV money in 2013 and that, as time goes on, the deal will look worse and worse.
This definitely would reflect market size. And makes one wonder why Coonelly would be trying to talk up the TV deal as better than it really is.
10:20 AM: That is, if team President Frank Coonelly is being accurate here. Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette reports Coonelly’s comments at a recent fan fest thing:
”Our TV contract places us in the top half of all Major League Baseball clubs even though our market ranks 27th out of 30. We are well positioned moving forward.”
This runs contrary to Wendy Thurm’s report at Fangraphs on team-by-team TV revenue and, frankly, runs counter to what most people would expect based on the size of the market. Is Root Sports overpaying the Pirates? Are all of the other other networks underpaying the teams they broadcast?
And, as Smizik wonders, is the Pirates payroll too low for a team making as much money as the Pirates are, accordng to Coonelly anyway, making? Smizik estimates that a top-half TV deal puts them in the $35 million to $40 million range on local TV money, not the $18 million to $20 million range Thurm and others estimate.
Interesting stuff about a topic that, increasingly, is dominating the discourse when it comes to the business of major league baseball.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.