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HumpLinks: Mysterious Times

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We have already reached the last-second bidding window where Mystery Team squeezes the last juice out of the deal.

California Angels
3rd-highest career fWAR as 3B for the Los Angeles Angels

THE HOT CORNER

Ah, Team Mystery. One of these days they will actually sign enough players to purchase uniforms, rent a stadium and even field a team. They can always be counted on showing up at the precise moment when Scott Boras has received what he believes to be the best and final offer or offers for one of his clients. And because he deals with the gross advantage of asymmetrical information, it’s all to his benefit.

It is against the CBA for any club to come out and say, or even hint, that they are dropping out of the bidding for any player. That would be informing the other bidding clubs that there might not be any reason to increase what might already be the highest offer for said player’s services.

But there is nothing in the CBA about an agent exploiting the media channels to suggest that bidding remains hot and heavy, and nothing to demand that participating teams be named.

So here we are. Until the CBA forces some kind of registration process and requires that all teams choosing to bid be publicly named by the process, Boras is free to play this joker. But for you and I, the clue is that when the joker gets played, we know where we are in the negotiating cycle.

We are close. We are so close that I now worry how quickly my composition will grow stale each night. For all I know, when I wake up in the morning (After recent DBN eff ups, I do this pretty early just to verify that the Links get published) I will see a major flurry of signings that occurred overnight and rendered half of my work obsolete. But that’s my problem.

UPDATE: And there we have it! It’s midnight and I come back to check on the last bit of news from yesterday and the Yankees have won the Gerrit Cole Sweepstakes for 9 years at $324 million, which works out to $36 milion every year as an AAV from here to 2028. And a full no-trade clause. So, Opening Day Competitive Balance Tax currently at $245,341,667? You really gotta take a look at the MLB Competitive Balance Tax rules to see how much this really hits the MFY. For the record, know that they paid the tax in 2019 so they are a 2 consecutive year offender. But if they are fine with a great Christmas in 2019 with eyes wide open as to what this means for them in 2021 and beyond, well, I hope they enjoy it while it lasts.

Enjoy what you got, Halo fans.


ANGELS

Man, did I ever have high hopes for Zack Cozart. The guy was averaging 2.4 bWAR for the Reds before landing in Anaheim. His line was .254 / .305 / .411 with an OPS of .716 and averaging 12 home runs per year. Not Mike Schmidt, certainly, but a decent stop-gap until 3B could get properly fixed in the coming years. What a mistake that was. Cozart saw action in only 96 games over 2 seasons, hitting a grand total of 5 home runs and slashing a miserable .190 / .261 / .296 and OPS of .557, burning a NEGATIVE 0.7 bWAR hole down the baseline there. In a timely move, considering that I am focusing on the LAA third-baseman legacy of LAA this week in my cover photos, Billy Eppler dumped Cozart off to the San Francisco Giants for “cash considerations”. And he sent Will Wilson to keep Cozart company..........Wilson was our #1 draft pick just this past month, and the guy we were going to have to surrender for signing a Dallas Keuchel or Patrick Corbin or Yasmani Grandal or Craig Kimbrel last winter. By not signing any of those guys, Eppler protected his #1 pick and used it on Wilson so that he could send Wilson up to the Giants a year later in order to entice the Giants into picking up the remaining $12.67 million that Cozart is owed. This frees up that $12.67 for the first year of Arte’s Big Splash signing this winter and still protects Roberto Baldoquin! Shrewd guy, that Eppler, shrewd guy..............

It’s about damn time. After 9 seasons in Major League baseball Mike Trout has finally been named to the All-MLB Team, making the First Team. Let us not quibble over how many times he has missed out on this in the past. You were about to object by saying that this is the first year that the All-MLB Team has even existed? That would be quibbling. I just told you not to do that...........

Joe Maddon wants to build a culture with the Angels - “Mr. Trout and...some nice players” - that connects fans to the way baseball was played before and is played now. In other words, using analytics to justify the sac bunt?.........

Joe is also open to the idea of not using a DH on Shohei Ohtani’s pitching days. I see this as a positive thing, since it means we don’t have to find ourselves another Justin Bour to DH when Ohtani is on the mound and Pujols is playing 1B..........

You go, Victor! (Wait...who here wrote this article for Forbes?)..........

I failed to link to this before, but yes, the Angels DID sign Hoby Milner to a minor league contract. That would be THIS Hoby Milner, whose pitching mechanics look as though he is striving for concurrent TJ surgeries in both arms..........

The Ringer’s 41 Favorite Sports Moments of 2019 includes (not in any particular order) “The Angels Throw a No-Hitter for Tyler Skaggs.” It also includes “The Machine Returns to St. Louis.”..........

Yeegads. On Monday morning I cracked some snark about Chris Iannetta and Ben Zobrist being bellwethers for Free Agency freeze. Then on Monday I learn that Iannetta still does want another contract so that might happen. Along comes Tuesday, and here is Fansided lobbying for Ben Zobrist to “solidify an elite infield”. Sheesh............


HOT STOVE ACTION AND OTHER RUMORS

So here are our rumors: we are chasing some nasty offer that the Yankees have placed in front of Gerrit Cole..........We are being aggressive enough in our bidding to make Scott Boras happy..........We are in love with Anthony Rendon..............If not Rendon, we kinda like that Josh Donaldson guy, too..........And what the heck, why not talk to the Red Sox about taking David Price and his $96 million of their hands?..........We still got a couple of 2019 draftees left in our organization..........And Eppler is now targeting 6-7 catchers via free agency or trade, from what’s left of the catcher market now that the better options have already been signed or traded for..........

If you wish to sign Rendon, you can forget about deferred money..........

Didi Gregorious to the Phillies for 1 year, $14 million, rejoining manager Joe Girardi. Gregorious has the most curious career arc considering his hype upon entering MLB via the MFY.............

The Giants took another second-tier pitcher off the market. Kevin Gausman for 1-year, $9 million. Gausman might seem to be one mercurial starting pitcher, until you look a little closer at his stats. He is pretty solid in even-numbered years, and pretty not-so-solid in odd-numbered years..........

Scott Boras, who is about to win all of Major League baseball, gets to say the funniest things. “...he says that some owners are sparrows, while others are owls or hawks. You don’t want to be an ostrich and lay the biggest egg...”.....On Gerrit Cole’s market: “If this were a thermometer, it would be room temperature heading towards a hot climate.”.....And, finally, we have “mystery teams”!..........

The Yankees are bracing themselves for a Plan B, should they not get Gerrit Cole. I see this as a positive sign, showing a small opening in their body armor of entitlement..........

But over there in Plan B land, the Twins have already staked out some serious territory..........And don’t even think about venturing into Plan C..........


ASSTROS NUTZ

It turns out that the Yankees knew that the Asstros were cheating back in 2017. There was just nothing they could do about it. Perhaps the more damning quote, though is that Girardi knew because “word gets around”. That tells us that other teams knew it, too, and they were sharing that news among each other. And MLB did, exactly, what? Consider that Girardi lost his position after losing that playoff to those effing cheating Asstros..........


BASEBALL THINGS IN GENERAL

Dear Minor League Baseball Players, you are now free to purchase and consume all that marijuana we don’t pay you enough to afford.............

MiLB President Pat O’Connor has officially come out and rejected MLB’s contraction plan..........

Kudos to the Washington Nationals, for paying out World Series shares to scouts and MiLB personnel. It takes a village, and all that sort of thing.........

Mexico City gets 2 regular season games this upcoming season. The Diamondbacks and Padres will play a short series there in April..........

MLB is moving the 2020 draft to Omaha. Right before the College World Series..........

I link to Craig Calcaterra a lot, and I disagree with him even more. But apparently he and I are in complete agreement concerning Jon Heyman. (And, no, I am not “Noy_Telinu”. You should recognize a similar handle here on HH and it is not “Stirrups”.).........

You absolutely knew this was coming. UniWatch hates the use of a corporate logo on the front of an MLB jersey..........

MLB is expanding “MLB The Show beyond just the Playstation platform. I realize that as an old fart I am quite out of touch, but why are gaming platforms still important as we approach 2020 for cosmic sake?...........

MLB conducting an auction to benefit ALS Research...........


STUFF

An eagle’s eyes have nothing on those of Joe Mauer.............(h/t reddit) Juan Soto Santa is there for the kids..........UniWatch also points us to the Washington Nationals World Champion logo..........And to the MiLB Savannah Bananas having social media fun over the recent man-eats-art-installation episode...........