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Bernie Sanders takes aim at MLB’s ‘corporate greed’


Last month, we learned that Major League Baseball was working to reorganize the minor leagues which would involve cutting 42 teams. In response, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders issued a statement saying that contracting minor league teams “would be a disaster for baseball fans, workers, and communities across the country. We must protect these teams from corporate greed.” He also sent a letter to Rob Manfred in which he threatened baseball’s antitrust exemption if he proceeded with the plan.

Four days ago Manfred and Sanders had a meeting. After that meeting, Manfred issued a statement which said, well, basically nothing apart from previously-issued MLB talking points. That kind of thing often ends criticism of Major League Baseball. People tend to move on because, hey, it’s just a sport. Bernie Sanders is not simply moving on. Sanders called Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times yesterday, and he’s still hopping mad at about Manfred’s contraction plan.

After noting the positive effect he observed when minor league baseball came to his home state of Vermont — kids going to games that families can afford, baseball in a casual, up-close-and-personal setting, and the improvement of community spirit — he took aim at Manfred and the owners:

We have a situation today where Major League Baseball is mostly owned by a group of billionaires, people who have tremendous wealth. Last year, Major League Baseball made nearly $1.2 billion in profits, up 38% from the previous year. It is a business that uniquely receives an antitrust exemption from the United States Congress and over the years has received many hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare from communities all over this country where taxpayers build stadiums for their owners. So this is a business that must respond to the needs of the American people, and you cannot do that — they should not do that — by shutting down baseball in 42 communities around this country.

Sanders went on to call it a simple matter of “corporate greed” on the part of Major League Baseball and the “group of billionaires” who own its teams.

Oftentimes Sanders is either alone or in small company when he goes in on the billionaire class. This is a different situation. That letter that Sanders sent to Manfred was signed by over 100 of his fellow members of Congress, including conservative Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. When you talk about taking baseball out of small towns, you tend to see partisan lines fade a good deal.

Representatives from Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are meeting in San Diego this weekend and, likely, into next week at the Winter Meetings. It would not be at all surprising if we hear much more about Manfred’s contraction plan — assuming it still exists — in the coming days.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.