George King of the New York Post reports that the Rangers are going to make a five-year offer to Cliff Lee. The Yankees may have already made one, with some putting the dollars at around $23 million a year, so they’ll have to top that. Or at least come close to it if you believe the stuff about relative tax rates and advanced metrics like WAR (Wife Agitation Rate) and APF (Arkansas Proximity Factor).
I don’t have any special insight into the Rangers’ front office on this point, but some people I talk to who say they know a little about them are skeptical that Greenberg and Ryan will lay out that kind of cash. And given that they’re apparently interested in Zack Greinke and in doing things like moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation, they are certainly prepared to go on without Lee.
But at least now, with a second official bidder, things are about to get interesting.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?