Several current and former baseball players, as well as Joe Torre and other baseball officials, head to Cuba today, for a three-day goodwill tour put together by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.
The visiting party will include several Cuban major leaguers including Jose Abreu, Brayan Pena and Alexi Ramirez and Cuban-American Jon Jay. In his story about the tour, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that Yasiel Puig may also attend, though it is not certain that he would. Also in attendance will be Clayton Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Dave Winfield and many others. The party leaves from Miami today. Over the next three days they will conduct children’s baseball clinics and participate in charity events.
Baseball’s last interaction with Cuba came in 1999, when the Orioles and the Cuban National Team played a home-and-home series in Havana and Baltimore. Since then, the primary mode of interaction between Cuba and U.S. baseball has consisted of Cuban players, such as Pena, Abreu and Puig, defecting in order to play in the United States. With the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations in the past year, however, the door is now opening for a more normalized relationship. It begins with this tour.
Jose Fernandez and the Marlins have not exactly been on the same page of late. There were trade rumors surrounding the Miami ace during the Winter Meetings. There were reports of a disagreement regarding whether or not Scott Boras would be involved in helping determine Fernandez’s workload. And then there was a report that the Marlins and Fernandez simply hate each other.
But Fernandez is still the Marlins’ ace and when you’re the team’s ace you still have to show up at team events and, occasionally, meet the press. He did so yesterday. From Walter Villa’s report in the Miami Herald:
Given the Marlins’ inactivity so far this offseason, Fernandez was asked if he thought his team could compete.
Here was his rather startling reply: “I can’t comment on that.”
Fernandez, whose agent is Scott Boras, was then asked if he wanted to stay in Miami.
“I’ve got no comment on that,” said Fernandez, who is set to become a free agent in 2019 and has reportedly rejected offers from the Marlins to sign a long-term extension. “I’m not allowed to comment on it.”
Miami’s brass said last week that Fernandez was not available. I wonder if Fernandez thinks that, if he continues to communicate how unhappy he is, they may change their mind.
Ken Rosenthal has a good story about how the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke.
And no, it’s not “by offering him the most money.” That part we knew already. Rosenthal’s article is the tick-tock of how the Diamondabcks brass came to the decision to make Greinke an offer and how, less than six hours after the idea was first given voice, Greinke had agreed to a deal.
It’s a good article in its own right but it’s made better by the fact that we simply don’t get a ton of “how deals come together” stories most offseason. And often when we do, they’re more about the various offers between teams not about what was actually going on on the ground, who was where, etc. This one takes us right inside the Dbacks front office. And, with only cameos from their number one and number two baseball operations folks — Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart — it’s clear how, when the deals get really big, it’s maybe even more of a business decision than a baseball decision.
Also: there is a Bernard Gilkey shoutout. Which is always welcome.