Oh look! A “mystery team” has joined the Cliff Lee Derby

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Here’s Jon Heyman, three steps beyond self-parody and almost approaching the divine:

Free agent Cliff Lee is planning to make his decision early this week, according to people familiar with negotiations. The Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team are all still thought to be alive as Lee deliberates the biggest player call of the winter … The mystery team remains a mystery and also seen as a long shot.

Such wagers are outlawed in this country, but were they not, I would bet my children that, as is usually the case, this “mystery team” is the invention of an agent who has Heyman on speed-dial. The purpose: to either goose the Yankees or Rangers — each of whom have reportedly made their final and best offers — into bidding higher. Or, at the very least, to give Cliff Lee a bit of p.r. cover as he takes extra time to weigh the offers. Why Heyman enjoys being used like that is between him and his Blackberry. And it isn’t just people like me who suffer from Heyman derangement syndrome who think this. Check out the usually-cool Buster Olney not-so-subtly jabbing Heyman over it.

Whatever the case, I repeat a plea that I tweeted during the Winter Meetings: all I want for Christmas is an MLB-quality jersey with the word “Mystery” stitched, in script, on the font as the home team’s name. Player name on the back is optional.

Word is that Cliff Lee is expected to make his choice today or tomorrow. Wouldn’t it blow your mind if he chose the Planet X Mystery All-Stars?

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.