Dispatches from the 2013 Winter Baseball Talks


Lake Buena Vista, Florida

One of the last transactions of import during baseball’s boozy four-day bacchanal (Dec. 9-12), before its scouts/execs and PR lackeys plunk down with family-types for the holidays, was the Texas Rangers’ invoking the Rule 5 draft to pick up Seattle Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson from Colorado.

Think of it as the Rangers’ biggest coup since they were able to offload GM George W. Bush (he traded Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez to the Chisox for Harold Baines, remember?) into the Texas governor’s office and beyond. Wilson, 25, an erstwhile second basemen with a Rockies’ Class A affiliate, is the quarterback the playoff-starved greater Dallas area has been Jonesing (get it?) for for more than a decade.

The Seahawks’ snap taker was not given a spot on the Rockies’ 40-man roster whereby he was plucked by Texas which used MLB’s “hot stove” league rule that allows teams on the last day of winter talks to take fliers on the long-shot prospects left unprotected.

The premium of an All-Pro in the MLB is apparently way off since the Bo Jackson/Deion Sanders days as the Rockies let Wilson go to Arlington for 12 grand or about the cost of a 2011 Hyundai Accent.

Also coming on the heels of the Floridian getaway for GMs, a threat to Major League Baseball’s control of its own teams’ boundaries.

Control that is so hermetic it took a federal judge Friday to allow the city of San Jose to pursue in a federal appeals court its lawsuit against the MLB for the cash-strapped A’s move to the South Bay. Such a move would actually mark the first time ever someone goes from renting out by the airport in Oakland to moving into a brand-new home near Los Gatos.

The Athletics front office said they’re a perfect match for the venture capital-rich Silicon Valley as a product that performs well when nobody is looking but consistantly fails when users actually flock to it.

In October, San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte upheld Major League Baseball’s right to determine when and where franchises may relocate but the countersuit filed by the city of San Jose against MLB alleges that antitrust laws had been violated over a proposed move of the Oakland Athletics to the largest city in the affluent Silicon Valley; the federal judge concurred and was seen tweeting about it using his new iPad Air Friday.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig said the issue is one of the “loose ends” he hopes to resolve before he retires in January 2015. Other loose ends include: Marrying (impregnating and divorcing) a Kardashian, attempting to watch all three Matrix movies back-to-back-to-back without having to pee once …or to simply “get through them”, relaunching healthcare.gov as a porn site “so people actually use it” and admitting he didn’t think anyone would still be watching when he let the All Star game end in a tie.

In a rare coup for the West Coast during the talks, the Seattle Mariners stole beloved Yankee Robinson Cano from pinstripes …for just under a quarter-billion dollars, or, in Dodgers terms, “the cost of a one-year lease of our fan base.”

The second baseman accepted a 10-year, $240-million offer from the Mariners earlier in the week which is approximately one non-fat Venti Frappuccino no whip for every man woman and child in the greater Seattle area every Saturday for the next year and and change (74 weeks to be exact.)

Cano, not a coffee drinker, said his move to Seattle wasn’t just to see how much it would cost to have an Amazon drone deliver the actual Jennifer Lawrence to his door (though that was a factor) but because the Yankees only offered him $175 million. An amount he qualified at his first press conference in the Emerald City Thursday as disrespectful.

Yankees brass was predictably seething at losing at its own game: Offering too much money and too many years to infielders who will become injury prone or the subject of investigation toward the end of their careers.

“Every one of us in our life, no matter who you are, has a decision often to make: Do I stay where I am versus go to another opportunity for a lot of money?” Yankees president Randy Levine said Friday in a press conference introducing his new outfielder, reigning world champion Jocoby Ellsbury. “People understand that. That’s very reasonable. Nobody begrudges him. I respect him for making that decision.”

…In other words: That’s the last time a player not take money from the Yankees front office without their permission and not hear about it in a press conference about another player they took from a division rival for too much money.

Speaking of Levine, Major League Baseball said it plans to investigate the Yankee prez for comments he made about Angels’ All Star outfielder Mike Trout while discussing Cano’s leaving to see if they constitute tampering.

“If Mike Trout was here, I would recommend a 10-year contract,” he said Friday. “But for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense. We were very clear about that.”

Levine also confirmed that his Match profile only seeks women under 28 who haven’t been divorced or appeared on VH1 and then randomly, to break the awkward silence, asked whether “anyone else is as scared as I am of those new Ray Liotta 1800 Tequila ads?”

And finally, the Cleveland Indians may have made the biggest splash during the winter talks in signing first baseman David Cooper to a major league deal.

Cooper, 26, split last season between Triple-A Las Vegas and the Toronto Blue Jays where he went 42-for-140 (.300) and became the pride of the town best known for Pamela Anderson, Labatt’s and crack-smoking mayors before he went down in late August with a season ending back strain.

He will start in Triple-A Columbus and be the first option for the Tribe should Nick Swisher or Jason Giambi struggle. Cooper also said he’s amenable to playing in the outfield or changing his name to Eric Byrnes if that makes Swisher and Giambi more comfortable.