Cuban infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez is reportedly nearing a minor league deal with the Dodgers, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 28-year-old was granted free agency in April 2016 after defecting from Cuba in December 2015.
Fernandez played for the Matanzas of La Serie Nacional from 2007 – 2014, slashing .319/.403/.423 with 37 home runs and an .826 OPS while filling in at second base. He was suspended in October 2014 after his first unsuccessful attempt to defect from Cuba, and did not appear in Cuban or international competition in 2015 as a result. Despite his hiatus from professional ball, his high contact rate and exemplary plate discipline drew considerable interest upon his arrival in the United States. Bill Plunkett of the OC Register points out that the infielder made a switch from second to third base in winter ball, though it seems more likely that the Dodgers would utilize him as a second base option going forward.
The club has yet to confirm the deal, but Fernandez’s age and tenure with the Matanzas should exclude him from standard international signing bonus limits (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen). Sanchez reports that the signing bonus for the second baseman is around $200,000.
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.