The “Mystery Team” thing was invented by Jon Heyman at the 2010 Winter Meetings in Florida. That’s when he published a rumor in Sports Illustrated that then-free agent Cliff Lee was being courted by “the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team.” He added — and I am not making this up — that “the mystery team remains a mystery and is also seen as a long shot.”
The very next day Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies who were, in fact, the “Mystery Team.” And with that a meme was born.
The Mystery Team things is almost 100% ironic now as no one since then, I don’t believe anyway, has ever reported a Mystery Team rumor at face value. There’s always a wink to it and a tacit acknowledgement of that crazy Cliff Lee Mystery Team rumor. I think anyone who actually uses it is obligated to pay Heyman royalties or something. With this, Jayson Stark just cut Heyman a check, methinks:
An unidentified fourth team is making a “very strong” bid to trade for Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, sources told ESPN. Other clubs say they believe that mystery team is the Houston Astros, but neither team would confirm that Tuesday morning.
As Stark notes, the Dodgers, Dbacks, and Yankees have all talked to the Marlins about Fernandez. And the Marlins keep saying Fernandez is not available. As we’ve noted in the past, however, there is some bad blood between Fernandez and the Fish, so the notion that they wouldn’t consider trading him for a hefty offer seems a tad far-fetched. The Marlins, eventually, trade everyone.
Why they’d take a different approach now would be, well, a mystery.