As reported for the past couple of days, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been shopping outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Somewhat aggressively, in fact, to the point where they’re calling other teams to see if a deal can be done. Now, it seems, a deal is getting closer.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Pirates and Washington Nationals have “ramped up” discussions about a McCutchen trade, with the Nationals pushing to make a deal today, given tomorrow’s non-tender deadline. Time is of the essence because, if they acquired McCutchen, he’d play center field, Trea Turner would be moved to shortstop and current shortstop Danny Espinosa would be non-tendered. If a deal is not done before tomorrow, Washington would be more inclined to tender Espinosa a contract.
It seems nuts that the Pirates would trade the guy who won an MVP Award in 2013 and who has been the face of their franchise for many years. Yes, he had a down year in 2016, but he is under contract through next season at a quite reasonable $14 million and the team has a club option on him for 2018 worth $14.5 million. To deal him now suggests that Pittsburgh believes 2016 was more than just a fluke. That would be fine in a baseball sense if they can get a huge package in return, but even if they do, it has to be demoralizing for Pirates fans to see what can only look like a premature teardown of a club that made the playoffs for three straight years before 2016.
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.