MLBits: Nationals Sale Problems, MLB Jumping Into Local Streaming(?), Arenado’s Non-Opt-Out, More

Some of the latest from around Major League Baseball …

Maybe the Washington Nationals Won’t Be Sold?

Wow. I thought we were about to finally hear about a winning bidder for the Washington Nationals, who’ve been on the sale block for almost a year.

Instead, this is the news:

The Nationals being sold was just an assumption at this point (like the Anaheim Angels), but it sounds like their troubled RSN situation with MASN has really become a problem. The short version is that the Orioles and Nationals share the network, but the Orioles own way more than the Nationals, and thus the Nationals’ rights situation is terrible (it stems back to them relocating into the Orioles’ territory way back when, and the Orioles being granted certain privileges). So a new owner would want that all unwound before taking over, and that might not be as feasible as hoped.

That all means the Nationals might not actually be sold before the 2023 season, or even by the end of the 2023 calendar year. Not at all what anyone was expecting, especially when paired with the sell-off and the rebuild.

MLB Signaling Moves in the Streaming World

There is big behind-the-scenes news in the streaming world today, with MLB making a significant hiring:

MLB has planted its flag in support of a nationwide streaming service that will be available to all fans without blackouts in any market. What has always made sense in service of that goal is MLB buying up as many troubled RSNs as they can (or at least reclaiming the local broadcast rights for those teams), but right now, that’s just the Sinclair/Diamond Holdings/Bally ones. That means only half of MLB’s teams are on RSNs that could be made available to MLB soon, but the others that are doing all right – think the big boys like the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and Red Sox – are not going to be keen to relinquish their local rights back to MLB.

How do you solve that issue? Well, long-term, it seems like there has to be some kind of revenue-sharing fix. It’d be a brutal negotiation among the various owners, but a UNIVERSAL streaming service for ALL MLB games without blackouts is the right solution for fans, and thus for the lifeblood of the sport in the decades ahead. I’m not sure we’ll actually get there, even if it’s what MLB wants.

Anyway, the first step is going to be getting this Sinclair/Diamond Holdings/Bally business resolved. Clearly, MLB is readying itself to jump in at some point with this latest hiring.

The most interesting version, by the way, is if Diamond goes bankrupt, and then nobody quite knows what happens to the local broadcast rights for those teams while the bankruptcy proceeds (technically, it means Diamond no longer has to pay the teams their broadcast fees, which, uh, would be a serious problem for those teams, even if only for a year). MLB might have to act VERY quickly to protect the interests of the 15-ish teams that would be impacted by the bankruptcy, and perhaps that’s all the more reason for this Billy Chambers hire.

Arenado Hearts the Cardinals

Nolan Arenado chose not to opt out of his deal with the Cardinals, staying at five years and $144 million instead of the $250 to $300 million he might’ve gotten when things got really whacky back in December.

He’s not going to fixate on any lost cash, though, because it sounds like he simply didn’t want to risk not being able to stay with the Cardinals (vomit):

Arenado says he wants to earn an extension with the Cardinals, which, I mean, that’s what opting out could’ve been, dude.

Odds and Ends

  • With Carlos Correa off to the Twins, the Mets are looking at other modest offensive upgrades, and that reportedly includes Trey Mancini, Adam Duvall, and Andrew McCutchen, among others. If you’re those guys, you’re crossing your fingers that Steve Cohen says eff it, I was gonna spend $300+ million on Correa, what’s $10+ million on Trey Mancini?
  • Early Spring Training reporting for players who’re doing the WBC thing:
  • February 13. Folks, that’s like a month away. Giggity.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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