White Sox, Mariners shopping for offense

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the White Sox and Mariners have been active in early trade talks, with both teams looking for offense.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise in either case. The White Sox have gotten lucky with Andruw Jones, but Juan Pierre has struggled in the leadoff spot and Mark Kotsay, who appeared likely to play more than Jones initially, has been a complete void through the first month.
The Mariners went for sentimentality over sense when they re-signed Ken Griffey Jr. over the winter. There was little reason to think he’d be this bad — he’s hit .212/.268/.242 with no homers and five RBI through 66 at-bats — but there were plenty of better choices to fill the DH spot in Seattle. The Milton Bradley-for-Carlos Silva swap, which was universally acclaimed, also couldn’t have worked out any worse.
There aren’t many obvious trade candidates available for either team right now, though. The Royals should be glad to part with Jose Guillen if anyone is willing to take on the remainder of his $12 million salary for this year, but since they are the Royals, there’s no way of telling if that’s really the case. Also, Guillen has played just one game in the field this year, and both the White Sox and Mariners would prefer someone who could play an outfield corner with some regularity.
The Marlins, with Mike Stanton on the way, could make Cody Ross available in a month or so, but only if both Chris Coghlan and Cameron Maybin step up their games. The Orioles should be willing to talk about Luke Scott, since they’re going nowhere and he doesn’t figure into their long-term plans. Jody Gerut is expendable in Milwaukee and is a useful part-time player.
There’s also free agency as an option. Of course, if either team wanted to try Jermaine Dye, the move would be done already. Dye was always open to returning to Chicago, and he listed Seattle as a favored destination last month. Gary Sheffield is another veteran waiting for a call. Plus, there’s the talented-yet-troubled Elijah Dukes still looking for work.

Rob Manfred walks back comment about 60-game season

Rob Manfred
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
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Yesterday, on The Dan Patrick Show, commissioner Rob Manfred stuck his foot in his mouth concerning negotiations with the MLB Players Association, saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games.” The comment was taken poorly because MLB owners, represented by Manfred, and the MLBPA were engaged in protracted negotiations in May and June over the 2020 season. Ultimately they couldn’t come to terms, so Manfred had to set the season as prescribed by the March agreement. In saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games,” Manfred appeared to be in violation of the March agreement, which said the league must use the “best efforts to play as many games as possible.” It also seemed to indicate the owners were negotiating in bad faith with the players.

Per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, Manfred walked back his comment on Thursday. Manfred said, “My point was that no matter what happened with the union, the way things unfolded with the second [coronavirus] spike, we would have ended up with only time for 60 games, anyway. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play.” Manfred added, “As it turned out, the reality was there was only time to play 60 games. If we had started an 82-game season [beginning July 1], we would have had people in Arizona and Florida the time the second spike hit.”

As mentioned yesterday, it is important to view Manfred’s comments through the lens that he represents the owners. The owners wanted a shorter season with the playoffs beginning on time (they also wanted expanded playoffs) because, without fans, they will be making most of their money this year through playoff television revenue. Some thought the owners’ offers to the union represented stall tactics, designed to drag out negotiations as long as possible. Thus, the season begins later, reducing the possible number of regular season games that could be played. In other words, the owners used the virus to their advantage.

Manfred wants the benefit of the doubt with the way fans and the media interpreted his comment, but I’m not so sure he has earned it. This isn’t the first time Manfred has miscommunicated with regard to negotiations. He told the media last month that he had a deal with the union when, in fact, no such deal existed. The MLBPA had to put out a public statement refuting the claim. Before that, Manfred did a complete 180 on the 2020 season, saying on June 10 that there would “100%” be a season. Five days later, he said he was “not confident” there would be a 2020 season. Some have interpreted Manfred’s past comments as a way to galvanize or entice certain owners, who might not have been on the same page about resuming play. There’s a layer beneath the surface to which fans and, to a large extent, the media are not privy.

The likely scenario is that Manfred veered a bit off-script yesterday, realized he gave the union fodder for a grievance, and rushed out to play damage control.