Alex Rodriguez has been invited to play for the Long Island Ducks

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Alex Rodriguez may not be able to play with the Yankees during the regular season, but he may be able to play baseball nonetheless. The Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, an independent league that is not associated with Major League Baseball, have invited Rodriguez to play for them this season.

Via Mark Herrman of Newsday:

“While some MLB suspensions have been honored by the Atlantic League in the past, if Alex Rodriguez were unable to participate in the Major Leagues this season, we would be open to exploring giving him a chance to play, stay sharp and compete against a high level of competition while helping the Ducks chase a third consecutive championship,” Michael Pfaff, the Ducks president and general manager, said Saturday in an email.

Players of Rodriguez’s caliber tend not to populate the rosters in the independent leagues. They are typically made up of players who couldn’t cut it in the Minor Leagues, older players who served no use to Major League teams even in the lower levels, and players attempting to make a comeback. Among those on the Ducks roster last season were Dontrelle Willis, Ian Snell, Bill Hall, and Josh Barfield. In the past, the Ducks have given uniforms to Jose Canseco, Jose Offerman (who ended up assaulting pitcher Matt Beech and catcher John Nathans with a bat in 2007), and John Rocker.

Rodriguez will turn 39 years old on July 27. Despite $64 million remaining on his contract between 2015-17, many believe that the 162-game suspension handed down to Rodriguez today by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz could end Rodriguez’s career as a Major Leaguer.

Update: As Keith Law points out on Twitter, the Uniform Player Contract would prevent Rodriguez from playing for the Ducks. Craig Calcaterra posted a link to the UPC about three years ago, which you can still see here. To quote from the contract:

Service
5.(a) The Player agrees that, while under contract, and prior to expiration of the Club’s right to renew this contract, he will not play baseball otherwise than for the Club, except that the Player may participate in post-season games under the conditions prescribed in the Major League Rules. Major League Rule 18(b) is set forth herein.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.