Potential Marlins sale up in the air
Last week, Jeffrey Loria sent shockwaves across the baseball world when there were reports that he had a handshake agreement in place to sell the Marlins for $1.6 billion. There were rumors that the buyer was Charles Kushner, but it turns out that it was one of his sons: Joshua Kushner. If this story wasn’t already strange enough, there’s yet another twist to this saga because nothing is ever straightforward and to-the-point with the Marlins under Jeffrey Loria.
According to Daniel Halper of the New York Post, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is leaning toward naming Loria as the U.S. Ambassador to France. That bit of news is its own can of worms that can be opened elsewhere, but as far as the Marlins are concerned this could actually throw a wrench into the sale of the team. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that if Loria ends up taking on the role of ambassador, then the Kushner-led group would back out of purchasing the team.
Meanwhile, Jackson also reported that if the Kushner/Loria exchange falls through there is another former MLB owner who would be interested in buying the Marlins. There’s no word on exactly who that person might be, but the obvious hope for the Marlins would be that this former owner actually has the money on hand to buy the team and would also come without the obvious appearance of a quid pro quo going on. For now, it appears that Marlins fans may be in for a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
Wieters may have been offered contract by Rays
Pitchers and catchers reported to camp earlier this week, but free agent catcher Matt Wieters is still looking for a home. Things may be changing soon for Wieters. Per a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays have apparently made an offer to the four-time All-Star. Topkin noted that the years and money are a lot less than what Wieters and agent Scott Boras have been looking for this offseason. With that being said, his options are dwindling as we get closer to the season starting and that means that the Rays could have a bargain on their hands.
If he does indeed go to Tampa Bay, the Rays could potentially have an enviable (if risky) situation at the catcher spot for this year. While Wieters probably won’t set the world on fire with his bat (he had a .245 TAv last season) and his defense is still on the decline, he could serve as a decent bridge for Wilson Ramos’ potential comeback from an ACL tear. If Ramos (who, comparatively, had a .305 TAv in 2016) can defeat the odds and actually hit his target return date of May, then a Ramos/Wieters catcher combo would be something that the Rays could hang their hat on this season.
There are a lot of “ifs” involved here—both with Ramos’ potential return date and Wieters even choosing to sign with Tampa Bay. However, this could end up being worth the risk for the Rays if they can pull off what would definitely be a bargain-bin signing at this point in the baseball calendar.
Manfred: Don’t expect extra-inning rule change
As the offseason came to a close, there were plenty of rumors that MLB was toying with rule changes that were meant to improve the pace and timing of the game. One of those rumors involved an idea that the rookie leagues would test out—that teams would start extra innings with a runner already on second base. Naturally, this had plenty of people worried that this could eventually be coming to the big leagues, but that may not be the case.
Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters at a press conference Thursday that he “doesn’t expect” to see this particular rule change applied at the major-league level. Manfred stated that one of the reasons why they’re doing it at the rookie-ball level is because there’s “no developmental reason” for long games to end with position players pitching. So it appears while rookie-ball will be seeing some of their extra-inning games get curtailed, the games at the major-league level appear to be safe—at least until the next pace-of-play discussion starts up, and then we’ll get to have this conversation and debate all over again.