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February 10, 2017

Rumor Roundup

Billion-Dollar Handshakes

by Demetrius Bell


Loria may have billion-dollar deal to sell Marlins

Earlier in the offseason, Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported that Jeffrey Loria was trying to sell the Marlins for somewhere around $1.7 billion. He noted that Loria was just floating the number out there and expressed a bit of skepticism that this could actually happen given that Forbes had valued the Marlins as being worth $675 million, the second-least valuable team in baseball. So it really seemed like this was just another case of Loria doing something weird with the Marlins again.

Well, the joke’s on us because apparently Loria has found someone willing to meet that price tag. Ozanian is now reporting that Loria has come to a handshake agreement with a New York-based real estate developer to sell the Marlins for $1.6 billion. ESPN’s Darren Rovell is reporting that it could be Charles Kushner—father of Jared Kushner, the senior advisor to President Donald Trump—so make of that what you will.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a major catch in that Kushner may not have the cash on hand to buy the team. Rovell noted that Kushner’s money is tied up in real estate, which means that he might have to take on a significant amount of debt to buy the team—more debt than what baseball would be comfortable with in order to give the go-ahead for the sale to go through. Either way, there’s still a decent amount of mystery as to who the buyer(s) could be. MLB released a statement that seemed to debunk Kushner’s involvement, and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald says that it’s not Kushner.

No matter who the prospective new owner is, you may be able to hear the cheers from hordes of hidden Marlins fans deliriously heralding the rise of a new regime. Should this sale go through (and if Kushner is involved, it will be a huge longshot) the actual day of the sale could potentially be one of the happiest in Miami baseball history. On the other hand, I doubt the fans will be as happy as the man who managed to turn a $12 million investment in the Montreal Expos into a $1.6 billion windfall from selling the Marlins.

Baseball will experiment with potential extra-innings changes

One of the hot topics this week has been baseball publicly bandying about rule changes. Earlier we heard that MLB was considering switching up the strike zone and doing away with the four-pitch intentional walk. Now, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that baseball is going to start experimenting with a rule that would see teams start extra innings with a runner on second base. The rule will be implemented in rookie-ball this season, and depending on how it goes there we could potentially see it brought up to the big leagues in the future.

While this probably would help in shortening extra-inning games, it’s hard to see this making things more exciting. After all, arguably the most exciting World Series game in recent memory ended in extra innings, and I highly doubt that anybody with a neutral rooting interest would’ve minded seeing that game go on a bit longer. Plus, when you consider that extra inning games are actually on the decline—as Rob Mains notes in this article—then it just seems like a strange thing to try to “fix." Then again, this could just end up being one of the many ideas that get floated around but never come to fruition.

Cleveland has “intriguing” option in Utley

After the Dodgers picked up Logan Forsythe in a trade with the Rays, that left Chase Utley out in the free agent cold since that particular move basically closed the door on any chance of a return to Los Angeles. Now the former Phillies legend could land on his feet in a decent spot if this particular rumor from Jon Heyman turns out to be legit.

According to Heyman, the current American League champions are “intrigued” by the idea of potentially bringing in Utley. It’s probably an intriguing idea for a lot of people around baseball as well, since this is not exactly like putting a square peg in a square hole. Cleveland already has a very good second baseman in Jason Kipnis, but there’s nothing keeping the Indians from potentially utilizing the 38-year-old Utley as a utilityman or a solid bat off of the bench.

Plus, teams could always use a positive veteran influence in the clubhouse, and a player like Utley would fit the bill. All of those factors make it easy to understand why Cleveland would be “intrigued” by signing Utley. As we get closer and closer to the start of camp and the market continues to dry up, intrigue could very well turn into opportunity.

Demetrius Bell is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Demetrius's other articles. You can contact Demetrius by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Player Profile: Jean S... (02/10)
<< Previous Column
Rumor Roundup: Down Is... (02/08)
Next Column >>
Rumor Roundup: Staring... (02/13)
Next Article >>
Rubbing Mud: Miguel Sa... (02/10)

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