Carl Pavano was the target of an extortion plot

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When you think of celebrity extortion plots you tend to think of super famous people with sterling reputations they’d do anything to protect. Someone tried to extort Bill Cosby once, for example. That’s pretty major because he’s an icon.  You tend not to think of extortion plots aimed at guys like Carl Pavano. But they happen:

The family of major league pitcher Carl Pavano told police that a former Southington High School classmate was trying to extort money and a luxury SUV from Pavano by threatening to reveal personal information about him.

Not just any luxury SUV. According to the story, the suspect left a message to Pavano’s family saying “the only way your brother is getting out of this… is with a heart-felt apology and a navy Range Rover with tan leather.”  So apparently he’s a highly specific extortionist. If it was a Mercedes ML63 with black leather we’d all now know about Pavano aided that Prussian spy during wartime or whatever it was.

OK, I’m being cute with that. There is a suggestion in the article of what the basis of the extortion threat was, with the suspect saying it was about “an emotional and physical relationship” he and Pavano had in high school.  Pavano’s family denies that, however.

I would add that extortion plots are more about threats and greed than they are about revealing actual truths and that as such you can’t necessarily assume that the threat in question is based in truth. All it has to be — to be successful anyway, which this one was apparently not — is potentially damaging, and lies can do that too.

Report: Gerrit Cole has seven-year, $245 million offer from Yankees

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Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.

While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.

Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.

Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.

For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.