MLBits: A Trio of Free Agent Signings, Rockies Owner Still Saying Weird Things, RSN Bankruptcy Talk, More
Some of the latest news from around Major League Baseball …
Free Agent Signings
We’re just a couple weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training, so the trickle of free agent signings is going to continue this week.
A trio in the last 24 hours:
- Zack Greinke is re-upping with the Royals on a one-year deal in the $8 to $10 million range (Feinsand). Greinke, 39, came back to the Royals last year and posted a 3.68 ERA over 137.0 innings. He won’t be the difference between the Royals being competitive and not, but he’s a familiar face and he can still get it done.
- Utility man Josh Harrison gets a one-year, $2 million deal from the Phillies (Heyman). Harrison, a 2008 Cubs draft pick (did you remember that?!), is still a pretty useful guy. He was just about a league-average bat for the White Sox last year while playing solid defense at second and third (with a sprinkle of time at shortstop and in the outfield).
- Catcher Roberto Perez is signing with the San Francisco Giants, where he figures to be the veteran complement to Joey Bart (Cotillo). If he’s healthy, Perez can still be an excellent defensive catcher – you might remember him as one of the ancillary options for the Cubs earlier this offseason before they opted for Tucker Barnhart.
One notable free agent who has yet to sign is starter Michael Wacha, coming off a 3.32 ERA season for the Red Sox in 2022. The problem for the 31-year-old Wacha is that he managed just 23 starts last year, and his 2019-2021 period was terrrrrrible. So the fact that he is reportedly seeking a two-year, $30 million deal is all the explanation you need for why he hasn’t signed yet.
Rockies Owner Still Saying Odd Things
This weekend, I chided Rockies owner Dick Monfort for generating optimism by saying that maybe his team might be able to play .500 ball this year.
Turns out, that’s not all he said on the subject of competitiveness and spending. Via the Denver Post:
On the pressure to spend more money to compete in the National League West with teams like the free-spending Padres and the perennial powerhouse Dodgers. The Padres are projected by FanGraphs to have a 2023 payroll of $251 million, the third-highest in the major leagues. The Rockies’ projected payroll is $163 million (16th).
“That puts a lot of pressure (on us),” Monfort said. “But it’s not just the Padres, it’s the Mets, it’s the Phillies. This has been an interesting year.
“What the Padres are doing, I don’t 100% agree with, though I know that our fans probably agree with it. We’ll see how it works out.
“I look at the Padres and they have a really talented team, but they have some holes, too. They’ve got three, maybe four starting pitchers, and then they’re sort of like us. They have (Joe) Musgrove, (Blake) Snell and (Yu) Darvish, so I don’t know. They have spent a lot of money and they will have to spend a lot more if they want to keep (outfielder) Juan Soto. But it does put a lot of pressure on you. Yes, it does.”
An owner complaining about what the Mets, Phillies, and Padres are doing – i.e., spending a lot of money on impact players to improve their roster – and saying that he “doesn’t agree” with what the Padres are doing … that is just wild. We certainly know that some owners think it, but I didn’t expect an owner to say it out loud.
… but he says all that while also kinda saying he thinks the Padres are no better than the Rockies? They have a few starting pitchers “and then they’re sort of like us”? Because they have holes? Dude, they have Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatis Jr., Ha Seong Kim, Jake Cronenworth, and Austin Nola on the positional side, which, yeah, sure I guess they have some holes. But is that really the comparison you want to offer up?
Just bizarre. I would be really bummed to be a Rockies fan.
The Bally RSNs and the Possibility of Bankruptcy
We’ve been talking about the streaming landscape more and more (including the Bullets this morning), but it’s because things really are in the midst of significant change. One of the primary catalysts is going to be the (likely) Diamond Holdings bankruptcy, which will upend the Bally RSNs, which cover the broadcast rights for 14 MLB teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, and Texas Rangers.
It’s still unknown precisely what will happen if and when that bankruptcy kicks in (my best guess is that MLB will, eventually, wind up buying back/partnering on their local streaming rights and they will centralize the product in some way), but it could cause disruptions in the rights payments to those previously-mentioned 14 teams. So, come next offseason, if you see them tightening the belt, it could be because they have concerns about their 2024 payments (or, obviously, if their 2023 payments were impacted).
Ben Clemens wrote at length about the possibility of a Diamond Holdings bankruptcy over at FanGraphs, and it’s a fantastic look at the landscape if you feel like you need more background. Clemens ultimately lands in the same place I do: the whole situation is going to create an opportunity for MLB to take a more central role in the distribution of its games in the years ahead.
Odds and Ends
- Darren O’Day is hanging ’em up, and that’s as good a reason as any to show the time he got (former Cub) Tony Wolters to swing a pitch that hit him in the balls:
- Fernando Tatis, Jr., who has missed so much time with injuries, and a PED suspension, talks about his offseason and his chance to come back this season:
- It was kind of a weird situation for a while, but Jason Benetti and Steve Stone are returning to the White Sox booth in 2023: