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Pat Williams wants to bring baseball to Orlando


Pat Williams, co-founder of the Orlando Magic, announced on Wednesday his plan to bring baseball to the city of Orlando. He will gauge fan interest which will help him determine how much effort, if any, he will put into the venture. Williams already has a team name picked out, the “Dreamers,” as The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino and Josh Robbins report.

Williams convinced the NBA to add four new expansion teams for the 1987 season as the Magic joined the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has experience with this kind of thing.

This new wrinkle has a very real impact on the Rays, perhaps giving them leverage to escape Tropicana Field and St. Petersburg. You may recall that earlier this year, the club was exploring becoming a two-city team, bringing baseball back to Montréal. Reading between the lines, it was part of an ongoing effort to get a new stadium. The Rays have eight years remaining on their Tropicana Field lease, but as Tolentino and Robbins note, owner Stuart Sternberg has to get the ball rolling in one direction or another much sooner than that.

Referring to the Marlins and Rays, Williams said, “If I can say this as sweetly as I can, it hasn’t worked in either city.” He said of Orlando, “I’m convinced this market is different.”

The Rays had the 29th-highest attendance in baseball this past season, drawing 1.179 million fans while the Marlins ranked last at just over 811,000. Along with perennially sagging attendance, both teams have ranked at or near the bottom in payroll since their inception — the Marlins in 1993 and the Rays in 1998.

The Rays’ response to Williams’ announcement can be described as cryptic at best:

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.