Geography, taxes, octopus and other things that don’t matter in free agency

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A commenter this morning said that the Cleveland Indians make sense for Nick Swisher because he’s from Ohio. I love that stuff.

Swisher was born in Columbus and lived here as a kid and then moved to his father’s hometown of Parkersburg, West Virginia where he went to high school. But he did come back and go to Ohio State, so let’s give him Ohio as his home for argument’s sake. Columbus is about 135 miles away from Cleveland. Or roughly as far as Springfield, Massachuesetts is from New York City. Yet, for some reason, I don’t see anyone talking about guys from there being good fits with the Yankees.*

The point isn’t to pick on that commenter, though, as a lot of people say things like that. The point is to note just how useless it is to cite such things as where someone grew up as having significant influence on multi-million dollar free agent decisions.

CC Sabathia is from California. Mark Teixeira is from Maryland. Cliff Lee is from Arkansas. Roy Oswalt has a farm in rural Illinois. All of these were supposed to be factors in where they signed or where they steered trades, but none of it mattered. Indeed, I can’t think of a a major free agent or a player with no-trade protection for whom such geographical concerns were dispositive in recent years.

Griffey to Cincinnati  maybe? Of course that was 12 years ago and probably had more to do with spring training homes than anything else. Javier Vazquez famously wanted to be east so he could fly to Puerto Rico easier. I recall Matt Williams needing to be in Arizona for family reasons at the end of his career.  But apart from that stuff, I’m drawing a blank.

Add geography to state income taxes, where the player’s wife likes to shop, Johnny Damon’s love of octopus and any other number of soft factors like that to the pile of things that are fun to talk about as we fill the time during the hot stove season, but which really don’t matter.

It’s the money and the winning, usually in that order, which make the difference. Everything else constitutes about a half of a percent of the determining factors.

 

*Spare me your “Massachusetts is culturally different than New York” stuff. I know it is. But Cleveland and Columbus are culturally different as well. Remarkably so, as are just about any two other places that are separated by that kind of distance east of the Mississippi river.

Giants release Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants have released outfielder Cameron Maybin, per a report Friday. Maybin inked a minor league contract with the club in mid-February, but will no longer be competing for a roster spot this spring following a rough start in the Cactus League and a DUI arrest. According to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Dalton Johnson, the latter incident was not said to affect the Giants’ consideration of Maybin for a starting or backup role in 2019.

Last season, the 31-year-old rounded out a full dozen years in MLB after taking two back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners. He batted a combined .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), and 0.5 fWAR over 384 plate appearances, and was granted free agency shortly after the end of the 2018 regular season.

The Giants, meanwhile, will continue to push forward with a combination of outfielders Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson, Gerardo Parra, Matt Joyce, and Austin Slater, among a smattering of smaller names. It’s not immediately clear who they’ll tag for a backup position in center field, though there’s still time to pull in more talent — as they demonstrated after signing free agent Joyce to a minor league deal on Wednesday.