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?

Marcus Stroman: José Bautista could ‘easily’ pitch in MLB bullpen

José Bautista and Marcus Stroman
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José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.

Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”

In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”

Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”

Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:

Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”

I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.