Rob Manfred
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Sounds like MLB is blaming lobbyists for Hyde-Smith donation

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As I mentioned in the earlier post today, what vexes me most about this whole Cindy Hyde-Smith donation fiasco is MLB’s poor response to it. The explanations for the donation have been piecemeal and less-than-explanatory thus far. My sense is that it’s because, as of this morning, MLB didn’t really have a satisfactory person to blame and no easy way to say, with its usual sort of comment, that it was sorry, etc. etc. I mean, when a donation is made from the “Commissioners Office PAC,” the world of people who could’ve bungled it is . . . small and important.

Commissioner Rob Manfred just took a step in the direction of placing blame, however. He’s blaming MLB’s lobbyists. Lindsey Adler of The Athletic was at an appearance Manfred made in New York a few minutes ago and passes on his comments:

MLB has had its own lobbying outfit in D.C. for over two years. It also retains the law firm BakerHostetler in Washington to serve as its PAC treasurer and, it would appear, to handle some lobbying duties as well (the in-house lobbyist for MLB is a former BakerHostetler attorney too).

It’s quite plausible, I will note, that the lobbyists were acting on their own and that Manfred did not know about the donation or appreciate the significance of it until after the firestorm hit. Which may absolve him of the specific donation in this case, but which says less-than-flattering things about how Major League Baseball approaches its political operations and the amount of oversight it exercises. I mean, if you’re going to “always *always* embrace” a certain set of political values, you had best make sure you’re embracing them in ways that matter.

For what it’s worth, I have reached out to both Major League Baseball and to BakerHostetler with some specific questions about all of this. We’ll see what answers we get. At the very least, I expect MLB to issues a more thorough statement today.

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.