UPDATE: According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Orioles and Jimenez agreed to a four-year, $50 million deal.
6:53 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles and Jimenez have reached agreement on a deal, pending a physical.
6:23 p.m. ET: After sitting on the sidelines for most of the offseason, the Orioles finally appear ready to make a big splash.
Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that the Orioles have made “substantial progress” in contract talks with free agent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and are working to finalize a deal. The contract, if finalized, is believed to be for four years and around $48 million.
Jimenez hoped to land a monster contract this offseason after his monster second half last year, but things haven’t turned out exactly as planned. Surely many teams weren’t convinced that a handful of excellent starts were enough to make a substantial investment — it looks like he’ll end up getting a similar contract to Ricky Nolasco (Twins) and Matt Garza (Brewers) — but it also didn’t help that he was attached to draft pick compensation. The Orioles have also been linked to Ervin Santana in recent weeks, but Jimenez has more upside if his second half is a sign of things to come. For a team with a brief window to win with their current roster, they might as well shoot for the moon here. Of course, the bust potential is pretty big, too.
The Orioles will surrender their first-round pick (No. 17 overall) and the corresponding draft pool money if they sign Jimenez. He would join a starting rotation which also projects to include Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.