UPDATE: There’s nothing to the Rangers-Andy Pettitte story

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UPDATE: Call off the Pettitte-to-Texas party. Jeff Wilson at the Star-Telegram spoke with Nolan Ryan late last night and said that there is no truth to the report that the Rangers are interested in Andy Pettitte. To the extent Pettitte and Nolan Ryan talked, it was to exchange pleasantries, and to the extent Pettitte talked about pitching next year it was to say that he was pitching for the Yankees or nowhere.

So that’s no fun. But hey, no one said the truth had to be fun.

Monday, 9:31 P.M.: This is fun.

According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Rangers president Nolan Ryan recently contacted free agent left-hander Andy Pettitte in order to gauge the veteran left-hander’s interest in returning to his home state.

Pettitte, 38, recently said that if he decides to pitch again next season, it will be as a member of the Yankees, but a few extra dollars and the lure of pitching closer to his home in Deer Park, Texas could be enough to change his mind. Hey, he’s done it before, so perhaps they have history on their side. Plus, because the Yankees did not offer Pettitte arbitration, it would not cost the Rangers a draft pick to sign him.

At the very least, the Rangers’ interest could give the 38-year-old left-hander some much needed leverage. Pettitte earned $11.5 million this past season while posting a 3.28 ERA over 21 starts. He figures to be handsomely rewarded in what will likely be his last season.

Who knows if this will go anywhere, but it would be pretty interesting to see the Yankees and Rangers battle it out for both Pettitte and Cliff Lee.

Carter Stewart will get $7 million over six years to play for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

Associated Press
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Yesterday we wrote about Carter Stewart, the American pitcher who, after failing to sign with the Braves last year, went to junior college. Rather than re-enter the draft this year, Stewart has signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League.

Jeff Passan of ESPN has the details on that deal: $7 million for six years. That’s five million more than the lowball offer the Braves gave him after drafting him last year and over $2 million more than he would’ve gotten if the Braves had paid him slot last year. This year he was projected to be a second round pick, Passan says, so his slot bonus would’ve been under $2 million.

As Passan notes, though, he has the chance to make out far better than that, though. That’s because his six-year deal would allow the now-19-year-old Stewart to come back to the U.S. as a 25-year-old free agent via the posting system. Passan does some back-of-the-envelope figuring, comparing what he’d make in the U.S. had he stayed vs. the $7 million he’s now guaranteed in Japan:

In a near-optimal scenario, Stewart would receive around $4 million for the next six years — and would not reach free agency until after the 2027 season, when he will be 28. His deal with the Hawks would guarantee Stewart $3 million more and potentially allow him to hit free agency three years earlier.

He could flame out, of course. The Braves’ lowball offer was based on concerns about his wrist. Even without that, there are no guarantees when young arms are involved.

But there is a $7 million guarantee for Stewart now, and the chance to do better than if he had stayed in the U.S. And the opportunity was created, in large part, by Major League Baseball’s clamping down on pay for draft picks and doing whatever it can to extend team control over players via service time manipulation. Stewart, and his agent Scott Boras, are merely exploiting an inefficiency in the market.