Down to business.

If you’re a trial lawyer or hire them a lot, you know that whether a certain type of case is scheduled for a half-day mediation or a full-day session, either way the real action will probably start with about two hours to go, and the result will probably end up the same.  The only thing in those situations that takes more time in a day-long setting is the posturing that goes on before the sleeves get rolled up and everyone gets down to business.

The new CBA, with its changed procedures and accelerated deadlines, feels like it’s turned years of full-day mediations into half-day sessions, first with draft negotiations and now with the off-season free agency dance.

I’m still immersed in the heavy lift to get the book finished in time for a pre-holiday release to dive into this too deeply, but I wanted to touch on one thing about the developments surrounding perhaps the two most notable free agents to not get qualifying offers yesterday from their 2012 clubs: Mike Napoli and Torii Hunter.

Sure sounds like a couple teams who want to make sure that if they don’t sign Zack Greinke to a long-term deal, it’s not because of a lack of flexibility.

The Rangers’ determination of whether to tender a $13.3 million offer to Napoli was far more layered than a simple evaluation of whether he’s worth that salary for one season.  The lack of a qualifying offer shouldn’t be viewed as an insult.  Like Napoli reportedly turning three years and $38 million down last winter, it’s just business.  Texas probably still wants him back, if the market for the 31-year-old settles at a certain level.

In all likelihood the same was true for the Angels and their decision on Hunter, who’s been such a huge asset for that club on the field and in the room (and who said yesterday, “Everybody knows where I want to be”), though the factors there are a bit more complicated, one of which may be Angels GM Jerry Dipoto situating things so that Mike Scioscia is put in a position to play Peter Bourjos more (a situation that may remind you of a thing or two down here).

The Rangers coveted Greinke as a Royal and as a Brewer and, you can bet, as a free agent, even if they suggest now (particularly with the confirmation that Alexi Ogando goes into 2013 as a starter) that the only absolute necessities to address externally this winter are behind the plate and in the bullpen.

There are several reasons that Greinke is a critical target for the Angels:

  • 2012
  • The Albert Window
  • The two teams they worry most about competing against are the Rangers and Dodgers, widely believed to be top two contenders for Greinke’s services should he elect to leave Anaheim

The Angels, having basically lost Napoli and Adrian Beltre to Texas (but not really) (but yeah, pretty much), and Vladimir Guerrero and Darren Oliver before that, watching those four Rangers go to the World Series while they sat at home, do not want to see Greinke in a Texas uniform 19 times next year.  And the year after that.  And some more years after that.

Or in a Dodgers uniform for four games each year, not to mention on any number of Greater Los Angeles billboards that Arte Moreno used to own and on TV spots airing all over the market.

In the last few days, the Angels have traded Ervin Santana, paid Dan Haren $3.5 million to become a free agent (after failing to trade him), and taken a small procedural step that marginally reduces the chances that Hunter comes back.  Texas did the same with Napoli.

“We’ve got a whole bunch of scenarios we are drawing up,” Jon Daniels told reporters yesterday, and that’s something that we’re accustomed to these days in Texas, and that Angels fans should now expect from their front office as well.

Both clubs want Greinke, and the sleeves just got rolled up.


Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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