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MLBits: President Jeter Got the Marlins, Verlander’s No-Trade, Harper’s $500 Million, More

MLB News and Rumors

Yesterday, I teased an admittedly ridiculous, but 100% true story involving baseball, the police, runaway horses, and an old neighborhood tradition, which I planned on sharing in this very intro


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However, as I started typing it up, the story needed more space than just a couple paragraphs here atop the Bits, so I decided to post it at Baseball is Fun. So be sure to head over to BIF and check out why my Sunday afternoon baseball game led to the cops being called, horses on the loose, and one of the most memorable games of “court baseball,” I’ve ever played.

For now, MLBits ….

  • At long last, it appears that the Miami Marlins have finally sold their team to the group which includes Derek Jeter, according to the New York Times. The final deal is reportedly worth $1.17 billion, however neither of these first two facts appear to be the headline. Instead, and to my surprise, Kevin Draper of the New York Times has reported that Jeter isn’t just a part of the group that bought the team, he’s actually going to be “the head of baseball operations.”
  • I obviously couldn’t be positive about what that position means to this new ownership group, but you almost have to imagine that it does not hold the same sort of daily duties and overall responsibilities as, say, Theo Epstein’s role with the Cubs. Instead, I’m guessing Jeter will be playing more of a “Queen of England” type role (i.e. slightly more of a symbolic leader than a nitty-gritty parliamentarian), and they’ll either promote or hire a new General Manger to really run things day-to-day. I don’t mean any disrespect towards Jeter, one of the game’s best, smartest, and most likable players, of course, but it takes a whole lot more than any of that to actually run a baseball team. We’ll see.

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  • Ken Rosenthal makes it sound like it’s going to be a complicated financial situation for whoever is running baseball ops, with the team in the red (kinda dubious, though), and $95 million already committed for next year to just eight players.
  • On top of all that, don’t forget how much money they still owe to just one guy:

  • You can read more about the Jeter-group’s purchase of the Marlins here at CBS Sports and here at ESPN, as plenty of analysts try to piece together what might change (apparently the home run sculpture thing in center field may get the axe [Brett: DON’T YOU EFFING DARE!]) with the new ownership and leadership.

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  • Let’s move onto a story that definitely won’t go away until September 1 (before it picks back up again in the offseason): Justin Verlander. The Tigers can still trade Verlander to any team in baseball and Buster Olney specifically mentions the Cubs and Astros, but has added a wrinkle: an extension.
  • Given Verlander’s increasingly more impressive performance of late and his full no-trade rights, he can block a deal to any team unless – for example – they give him an extension (an age-old strategy). In my opinion, it’s much more likely that Verlander, 34, simply forces a new (competitive) team to pick up his existing $22 million 2020 option than get them to sign an extension, but, frankly, either of those hurdles are still quite tall. We’ll have to keep an eye on this, but remember Verlander has been pretty lights out lately: 1.91 ERA (3.48 FIP), 26.3 K%, .185 average against since his final start before the All-Star break.
  • At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan asks whether the oft-injured Bryce Harper is really worth $500 million, but I have some serious qualms with his overall take. For one, despite recognizing that some injuries are “freak” injuries and are believed by some (like me) not to be indicative of future injury proneness, Passan doesn’t agree. Frankly, I don’t know how you can possibly compare injuries that happen while slipping on a wet base (or, say, getting hit with a baseball to the wrist) to the chronic hamstring issues of someone like Jorge Soler, but that seems to be at least part of the argument. Sure, both will affect the amount of time spent on the field and the production therein, but one is not necessarily predictive while the other is.

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  • My other problem with the question is that I don’t think injuries are going to be the reason for or against giving Harper $500 million. Teams will have plenty of other reasons not to do it (like, they simply don’t think he or anyone is actually worth that much) – so I’m not sure the debate about whether flukey injuries are actually flukey will be the primary decider between a $500 million contract, and, say, $400 million. To be fair, Passan makes plenty of interesting and understandable points and you should really hear his position straight from him.
  • Harper remains squarely on our radar since he and Kris Bryant keep teasing our senses about a future pairing.
  • At FiveThirtyEight, Rob Arthur and Greg Matthews believe they found a way to detect whether a pitcher is “actually throwing with a hot hand – and just how big of a difference it can make,” using and measuring velocity when pitchers are “on” or not. It’s a deep dive, but there’s plenty of great stuff in there (as usual) from the stat nerds of FiveThirtyEight. In the end, they land on the idea that being on a hot streak is a real thing and could have some really strong short-term predictive value. In other words, it might not all be randomness, my sabermetrically-inclined friends.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.