Jon Heyman keeps banging the Cliff Lee “mystery team” drum

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This morning several baseball media heavyweights took public jabs as SI.com’s Jon Heyman over his repeatedly reporting on a supposed “mystery team” joining the Rangers and Yankees in the mix for Cliff Lee.

First there was Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweeting: “Remember: if you ever read about a ‘mystery team,’ it can only come spoon-fed from an agent who is trying to create leverage.”

Shortly after that Peter Gammons of MLB.com got in on the fun: “Mystery, Alaska in on Lee?”

And then Keith Law of ESPN.com tweeted: “Saw the Mystery Team GM at the winter meetings. He was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.”

Heyman tried to brush off the criticisms by making a joke about the situation, tweeting that he was “grabbing lunch at MLB Network now” while using a #mysterysandwich hashtag, but shortly after that his latest column was posted at SI.com and it included more references to the supposed “mystery team” bidding on Lee.

In fact, Heyman used the phrase “mystery team” five times in the column (and even threw in a “mystery offer” for good measure):

1) “The Royals are eyeing the Lee talks with interest, as the Yankees could possibly consider Greinke if they should be upset for Lee by the incumbent Rangers or even a mystery team.”

2) “It isn’t known whether the Angels are the remaining mystery team in on Lee, but they at least checked in on him and could become a suitor for Greinke, too.”

3) “Lee is believed to be deciding between the Yankees, Rangers and one remaining mystery team, whose offer is also a mystery.”

4) “The Angels have shown interest in Lee. But one person familiar with their thinking claimed they are “offensively focused” at present, so they don’t appear to be the mystery team.”

5) “The Red Sox were found to be one of two mystery teams at the winter meetings but their signing of Crawford would seem to make them very unlikely now.”

It’s one thing when some lowly bloggers like Craig and I are picking on Heyman for the “mystery team” stuff, but when guys like Olney, Gammons, and Law join in you’d think he might ease up on that type of “reporting.” Instead he made a joke about it to lessen some of the criticism coming his way … and then immediately published a new column packed with “mystery team” references.

Heyman may indeed be right, but if he knows information he should report it rather than shrouding it in hysteria-inducing “mystery.” Given his frequent attempts to assuage people of the notion that he’s a shill for agents you’d think Heyman might have a little more awareness about how this stuff is perceived by readers and colleagues. Or maybe he just can’t help himself.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.