Report: MLB “in discussions” about opening 2014 season in Australia

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Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times report that MLB “is in discussions about the possibility of starting its 2014 season in Australia” and Australian promoters are pushing for the Dodgers to be one of the teams.

MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney denied the report, saying: “We are not currently exploring the possibility with the Dodgers or any other team to play in Australia.” And even the report acknowledges that “it appears the negotiations haven’t advanced to the point where specific teams are being included in the talks.”

However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald the Dodgers are being targeted because of Magic Johnson’s involvement and there’s already a report claiming that the Diamondbacks would be their “likely opponents” for a three-game series at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Without commenting specifically on the possibility of playing in Australia Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall issued a statement saying that “if the possibility existed for the D-Backs to play overseas, we would most certainly be interested.”

Time zones and travel would obviously be obstacles, but MLB has regularly played season-opening series in Japan and sending two teams to Australia would seemingly be similar.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).