The fourth greatest general manager of all time built The Big Red Machine

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Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.

Bob Howsam built the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati As I said back in December before the Veterans Committee ridiculously failed to vote him into the Hall of Fame, if you built that team today they’re erecting statues of you all over the place. I was shocked to learn back then that he wasn’t in the Hall of Fame already.

Interesting fact about Howsam beyond the Reds stuff: in the late 50s he was one of the men behind the effort to build a third major league — the Continental League — which was aimed at exploiting untapped demand for baseball west of the Mississippi and which, eventually, led to the first round of expansion of the early 1960s.

Go check out Mark and Dan’s assessment of Howsam here. And, if you’re able, tune into MLB Network’s “High Heat” show this afternoon at 1PM Eastern time to see Mark talk to Chris Russo about this project and his and Dan’s upcoming book.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened by injuries.

After making his first start last season in early August, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).