It's not too late to get Tyson Chandler back, is it?
● According to Gerry Fraley, the Rangers "lurk on the edge of the market for free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder and could jump in during January," thanks in part to their television deal that guarantees $80 million annually beginning in 2015; of particular note is that the Angels' new television deal is cited as being worth "about $115 million annually ... for the next 20 years" (Dallas Morning News)
[If you're a fan of media discrepancies, you're going to love this post. Here's a scorecard illustrating the variation in the reported values of the Rangers' TV deal (all of which do, to my knowledge, agree on the point that it is a 20-year deal):
Ben Rogers, ESPN Dallas: $3 billion
Bob Nightengale, USA Today: $3 billion
Maury Brown, Baseball Prospectus: Around (or possibly more than) $3 billion *
Jonah Keri, Grantland: $1.6 billion
Evan Grant & Gerry Fraley, Dallas Morning News: $1.6 billion
(* Per Brown's sources, the deal could end up being worth more than $3 billion depending on whether certain escalators built into the deal kick in; it is not clear whether these escalators are tied to FOX Sports Southwest's network ratings, team performance/attendance, advertising revenue, or some systematic combination of these factors.)
And now for the reported values/lengths of the Angels' TV deal:
Bill Shaikin and Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times: 20 years, at least $3 billion
Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times: 17 years, between $2 billion and $2.5 billion
FOXSports.com: 20 years, at least $2 billion
Gerry Fraley, Dallas Morning News: 20 years, around $2.3 billion
I'm probably missing a few values here, but this gives you a pretty transparent look at how nobody can seem to agree on how much these deals are really worth. On the one end of the spectrum, you'd have the Angels banking $70 million more per season than the Rangers from 2015 onward. On the other end, you'd have the Rangers banking at least $35 million more per season than the Angels from 2015 onward. That's a spread in excess of $100 million per year -- enough money to give one organization a decided long-term advantage over the other, particularly when you recall that the new CBA further tilts the scales away from long-term investments in amateur talent and towards near-term spending on major league talent. It's not the end-all be-all, but it's significant.
Now, there are probably some good reasons for these vast discrepancies. It may be that neither team nor network officials are inclined to offer up information on media rights deals that haven't completely actualized yet, lest their own hindquarters end up in hot water or the deals themselves end up threatened. It may be that some of the sources themselves misunderstand how the deals are structured. In the case of the Rangers' deal, the discrepancies may have a lot more to do with working knowledge (or a lack thereof) of the escalator-based nature of the deal than anything else. Or, hell, there could just be a lot of people lying through their teeth. Your guess is about as good as mine.
If I were a betting man, though, I'd bet on the middle ground between the two extremes on each of these deals, and I'd bet on these two substantial revenue streams really not being too far removed from each other on the lucrativeness scale, and I'd bet that the real competitive advantages in these deals will be found in how they compare to those deals in small- to mid-sized media markets, as opposed to how they compare to each other. Well, for now at least.]
● Per Jon Paul Morosi, the Rangers "might be willing to move" left-hander Matt Harrison in order to acquire a "more established pitcher"; the list of starters believed to be available via the trade market include Matt Garza, Jair Jurrjens, Gavin Floyd, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Kyle Lohse, and Jake Westbrook are available (FOXSports.com)
[One thing that isn't made explicitly clear is whether the Rangers would entertain the idea of moving Harrison in a deal for one of these names, or -- as had been suggested previously -- moving Harrison in a deal for help at 1B/CF and then striking a deal independent of the Harrison trade for said "established" starter. The problem with this idea, of course, is that Harrison's 2011 season was far more legitimate than it was fluke, and that he's going to remain relatively inexpensive for at least the next couple of years. After taking salary, remaining club control, and projected performance into account (I'd feel okay with pegging Harrison as a 2.5-3.0 WAR pitcher in 2012), there's a strong case to be made that Harrison is as valuable a property as Garza or Floyd ... if not more so. Most of those other names don't even belong in the discussion
If the Rangers really wanted to get cute with this, they could deal Harrison for positional help and then turn around and sign reputed Nolan favorite Roy Oswalt to a one-year deal, which would (theoretically) knock out two birds with one stone. And if there's any truth to the notion of the Rangers seeking out a more established starter, this pair of moves actually would make some sense. But going that route would likely also set the Rangers back by another $8-10 million just on the Oswalt expenditure alone, and ... well, with all things being considered, the Rangers would probably do better by just going out and signing Prince Fielder and calling it a day at that, rather than paying a premium to acquire a more experienced starter offering less in the way of upside and possibly not all that much less risk than Harrison.]
● The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League will hold a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday to decide on the appropriate punishment for Yorvit Torrealba after he jabbed home plate umpire Dario Rivero Jr. in the facemask during an argument last Friday; winter ball penalties do not carry over to the major leagues, however, and if the Rangers were to enforce their own brand of punishment against Torrealba for his actions, he has the right to appeal such a decision (Dallas Morning News)
[Likely outcome: Torrealba is banned from the VWL for an extended period of time, and nothing happens with the Rangers beyond a stern look or two being cast his way. Less likely outcome: The Rangers suspend Torrealba for X regular-season games, which the MLBPA loudly protests and ultimately gets overturned. Even less likely outcome: Torrealba is released in favor of an increasingly geriatric Pudge, which sounds all well and good and heartwarmingly nostalgic until Pudge throws up an OPS 100 points lower than Torrealba's and doesn't mesh well with the pitching staff and inadvertently pisses off Nolan Ryan by breaking his hot dog grill. Least likely outcome: Torrealba teams with Mike Bacsik to replace a retiring Norm from 10-noon weekdays on The Ticket.]