It was on this day in 1973 that George Steinbrenner and a group of investors purchased the Yankees from CBS. While the amount of money in the game has unquestionably risen by leaps and bounds in the last 43 years, it’s still stunning to realize that Steinbrenner and company paid only $10MM to buy a team that Forbes now values a whopping $1.85 billion in their most recent ranking of the world’s most valuable sports franchises. (The Yankees tied with the Dallas Cowboys for third on that list, by the way, behind only soccer giants Manchester United and Real Madrid.) Here’s some news from around the American League…
- With the Angels uneasy about surpassing the luxury tax threshold, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez looks at how the club can upgrade itself. Gonzalez thinks the Halos will move a starter (at least one of Hector Santiago, C.J. Wilson, Tyler Skaggs, Nick Tropeano or Matt Shoemaker) in order to acquire a left fielder or second baseman. Then again, the Angels may also be comfortable in having Johnny Giavotella return as the regular second baseman so that position may not be as major an area of need.
- A Craig Gentry/Daniel Nava platoon is currently in the cards for left field, though Gonzalez won’t rule out the idea of Anaheim signing a big name like Justin Upton, Alex Gordon or Yoenis Cespedes. With the Halos only around $4MM under the tax limit, however, signing any of those players (or even second-tier outfielders like Gerardo Parra or Denard Span) would put the club in danger of exceeding the tax threshold in 2017 as well, and thus paying a bigger penalty. With a much thinner free agent class in 2016-17, however, Gonzalez believes “this is the time to strike” for the Angels to land a big left field bat, and they’ll have some hope of getting under the tax limit with roughly $48MM coming off the books next winter.
- An Astros trade for Freddie Freeman is “simply not going to happen,” a source tells ESPN’s Jim Bowden (subscription-only column). The Astros and Braves had discussions about the first baseman earlier this winter, though those talks “went nowhere” and Atlanta GM John Coppolella has since flatly denied the possibility of Freeman playing elsewhere in 2016. While Freeman would check a lot of boxes for Houston, it would clearly take a major trade package to pry him away from the Braves, and the Astros may have already expended a lot of their available prospect capital in their trade for Ken Giles.
- Bowden’s piece examines all 30 teams and the missing piece (or pieces) Bowden feels they still need to address on their roster. For instance, Bowden isn’t sold on Rusney Castillo and thinks the Red Sox should make a play for Justin Upton, though he’s heard that the Sox are “not looking to make any more moves.”
- There were some rumors swirling about the Twins dealing Kennys Vargas to Japan or Korea earlier this winter, though MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger feels it would be a mistake for Minnesota to move Vargas while he still has a minor league option remaining. Still, Vargas is running out of time to show he belongs on the 25-man roster, especially now that the Twins have signed Byung-ho Park.