Around the League: Chris Sale Gets Paid, Keith Olbermann Comes Back, and the Yankees Rot

mlb logoThis is a new feature for BN, highlighting some of the more interesting/funny/whatever non-Cubs stories from around baseball. The Cubs are a baseball team, after all, so, in theory, you’re all baseball fans. Sometimes I think we can get a little tunnel vision when following the Cubs, so it’s nice to break it up with some stuff from around the rest of baseball. (You may vaguely recognize this feature as the MLBullets from BCB that I did last year. I parted amicably with BCB in December, and figured I’d let them keep the “MLBullets” name since it became a thing there.)

  • The White Sox and lefty ace Chris Sale agreed to terms on a five-year, $35.5 million extension, which includes a $12.5 million team option for 2018 and a $13.5 million option for 2019. The guaranteed years break down thusly: $850,000 in 2013, $3.5 million in 2014, $6 million in 2015, $9.15 million in 2016 and $12 million in 2017, plus a $1 million buyout on each of his option years, if they’re declined. Sale was set to be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2014, so the White Sox are giving Sale relatively healthy sums for his arbitration years, and then get one free agent year guaranteed at $12 million. It’s not a super cheap deal (though definitely team-friendly, as these pre-arb extensions always are), so the primary benefits to the White Sox here are (1) cost certainty, and (2) those option years. If Sale stays on track as a true ace (and stays healthy … ), then the later years of the deal, which would otherwise have come at an extreme price in free agency, will look resplendent on the payroll. For what it’s worth, although Sale has been the more successful pitcher (and is younger), a Jeff Samardzija extension would probably be a bit pricier, given his extra year of service time.
  • Sources tell The Big Lead that Keith Olbermann is flirting with a return to ESPN. The two sides have had a considerably frosty relationship over the years since Olbermann left abruptly in 1997, so him coming back would be something of a surprise. Then again, if you follow his Internetting at all, you know that he’s been injecting himself into baseball discussions quite a bit more over the past few months – he’s long maintained an MLBlog (“Baseball Nerd”), but the activity there has ticked up considerably in recent weeks. I’m thinking we’re going to see Olbermann coming back to ESPN, and he’s going to have a heavy baseball lean. Just a guess.
  • Speaking of national baseball coverage, a great deal of it is shifting onto cable, thanks to Fox’s creation of Fox Sports 1, a network clearly designed to compete with ESPN. Most of Fox’s baseball coverage, including all of the playoffs short of the World Series, will be shifted to Fox Sports 1 beginning in 2014.
  • Remember the classic episode of ‘The Simpsons’ in which Mr. Burns, in order to win a bet with a rival company executive, brings in a group of ringers for his company softball team? (If you listen to the BN Podcast, you’d recognize the outro music from the episode – one of the best songs ever.) Well, Jonah Keri decided to assemble today’s version of the ringer softball team, together with the hilarious ways they are ultimately unable to play (as in the episode). It is hilariously awesome, and requires your reading immediately. A sample player’s story – Bryce Harper: “Reacting to Harper’s famous retort to an overzealous reporter, Krusty sues the Nationals star for copyright infringement, arguing that the phrase ‘Klown Kwestion’ is his own intellectual property. Seeking damages totaling $100 million, Krusty hires the most ruthless lawyer in town. With Lionel Hutz no longer around to work on contingency (RIP), Harper decides to defend himself. The case gets tied up for more than a year, forcing Harper to miss the game.”
  • It isn’t a new conversation – we’ve had it around here in recent months – but it’s once again picking up steam: SI’s Jay Jaffe is talking about the designated hitter making its way to the National League, and he describes it as an inevitability. The players are going to want it, AL teams are tired of their pitchers risking injury in interleague games, and I’m tired of seeing the NL at a roster-construction disadvantage.
  • Jaffe’s piece was largely a response to Joel Sherman – an AL guy – arguing that it’s time for the NL to adopt the DH.
  • Not terribly surprisingly, Mariano Rivera is soon expected to announce that he’ll retire after 2013, which will allow him to do the farewell tour thing that served Chipper Jones well last year. Rivera has been insanely, ridiculous good, so it should be a charitable farewell.
  • Speaking of which, even before the rash of injuries befell them, I was thinking the aging Yankees were going to be in for a surprisingly tough 2013/2014 stretch. Many folks seem to agree, including Ken Rosenthal, who focuses a bit more on what happens after 2013. Rany Jazayerli has a more comprehensive take, and really takes a fine tooth comb to the issues facing the Yankees, both in 2013, and beyond.
  • Speaking of injury woes, Rafael Furcal is out for 2013, as he’s going to have Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals look likely to replace him in the lineup with a combination of glove-heavy Pete Kozma, and … RONNY CEDENO! Look for Cedeno to finally fulfill the promise of his 2006 Venezuelan Winter League performance.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

27 responses to “Around the League: Chris Sale Gets Paid, Keith Olbermann Comes Back, and the Yankees Rot”

  1. Tim Morgan

    I’ve always wanted Olbermann to end up at MLBNetwork.

    1. santos toupe

      please god NO!

  2. Spencer

    Bringing the MLBullets to BN, eh?

    1. Spencer

      aaand i posted that before reading the preamble to the story haha

  3. CubsFanBob

    Is this karma for Furcal breaking Lee’s wrist ?

  4. cubsin

    The DH coming to the NL (sooner or later) is why I want the Cubs to keep Dan Vogelbach around. It would be a crying shame to trade him to an AL team where he could DH now and make it to the Hall of Fame.

  5. hansman1982

    Good job burying the DH article late on a Friday. Learning something from the politicians…

  6. WGNstatic

    This:

    “Most of Fox’s baseball coverage, including all of the playoffs short of the World Series, will be shifted to Fox Sports 1 beginning in 2014.”

    Is just awful, awful news. Ugh.

    Baseball is going to shoot themselves in the foot on this. I do not subscribe to cable, never have, and with the growing amount of material online I almost certainly never will. I happily pay for MLB TV, and groan when the Cubs play the Brewers (I live in WI).

    I have to say, since the playoffs have shifted to cable, I have become increasingly less interested to the playoffs as a whole, including the World Series.

    If baseball disappears from folks radar for the month of October, then magically reappears for the World Series, people will be tuned out.

    Ugh. Dumb dumb dumb

  7. TSB

    Keith Olbermann, the Andy Dick (in more ways than one) of commentators; a total jerk.

    1. hansman1982

      I’d say don’t let his time at CNN be your barometer for his sports coverage. Apparently, when he was at ESPN previously, he was rather good.

      Although, he left ESPN at the same time I was finally getting satellite tv.

      1. blublud

        I do believe he was with MSNBC

    2. davidalanu

      I can hear it now from Olbermann “BY NOT PULLING AN OBVIOUSLY TIRED PITCHER, YOU HAVE MADE A MOCKERY OF THE GAME, SIR. HAD YOU ANY SHRED OF DECENCY, YOU WOULD RESIGN IMMEDIATELY!”

      1. DarthHater

        That this is the worst comment in our nation’s 220-year existence — indeed, the worst comment in the whole of human history — is beyond dispute. Prior to this outburst, I might have credited you with a modicum of human integrity–but any such expectation is utterly belied by your repellent, uncalled-for attack on Mr. Olbermann. ;-)

        1. Die hard

          You forgot the picture— or is that reserved for comments that tickle?

          1. DarthHater

            g1362787213325284827.jpg

        2. davidalanu

          davidalanu- Worst Person in the Wooooooooooorld…

          And I’m surprisingly comfortable with that.

      2. frank

        Was he talking about Dusty Baker?

    3. Die hard

      Yea him and Foxs OReilly flip sides of same coin— in fact has anyone seen them together? Rumor is that they are the same person

  8. Sully

    No way. It’s time for the AL to get rid of the dh.

  9. Chad

    Good call on Cedeno. Dare I predict an all-star selection? At least NL player of the month at some point.

    1. Die hard

      Fontenot for backup

    2. cas-castro

      It will be more of that St Louis voodoo magic ..

    3. cubfanincardinalland

      Actually, he has been stinking it up, and is a long shot to make the team at this point. Cardinals black hole at shortstop, ah that’s a shame.

  10. Ivy Walls

    The NL DH , a place for Vogelbach! Now that would be interesting.

  11. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Could have also been applicable to Grady Little and the ’03 Red Sox, w/Pedro Martinez in the ALCS.

  12. ClydeR

    Pleeeeeezzzzzeeeeee NO! Olbermann’s ego & obnoxiouness are as big as his butt! :poop:

  13. RichP

    I can’t stand Olbermann. I highly doubt he goes back to ESPN. Chris Berman does not get along with him. I personally think he is the biggest POC in the media.