Early November, in the extravagantly decorated front office suites at Petco Park. Ron Fowler strokes a white cat and spins around in his chair to face A.J. Preller. Mike Dee stands in the corner, staring out a window sipping a glass of scotch.
Fowler: A.J., we need to drum up some press this offseason. Got to get the buzz going on this team. Anything goes. We've fired people. Named random things after notorious persons. Held pointless contests. But we really need to try something different. I want to go after a top free agent. Really flash the cash.
Preller: That's great, boss! We could use some more players on this club. How much can we spend on this signing?
Dee: Spend? Good lord no. We just want to go after someone. LOOK like we are gonna spend. We can't actually spend anything.
Fowler: So, who do you think? Someone fans know. A name.
Preller: Well, Hanley Ramirez was a Dodger, so they might know him. From the Giants there's Pablo Sandoval...
Dee: Yes. Yes! Sandoval is perfect. Panda. San Diego Zoo. Anchorman jokes. He makes for the perfect signing... I mean target. You think the Giants will try to keep him?
Preller: I think so. And I've heard the Red Sox will go strong after him too.
Fowler: Perfect. We can pretend to be in a bidding war, but really those two teams will be the ones doing most of the bidding.
Preller: Don't you think making false bids and contract offers will ruin our reputation?
Dee: What reputation?
Later that month. A.J. Preller is on a phone call with Pablo Sandoval's agent. Mike Dee and Ron Fowler listen in.
Agent: Alright, the negotiations are coming down to the wire.
Preller: Great. We're excited about it.
Agent: You guys have been in it all the way saying that you could do the numbers we've been talking about. I can't tell you the exact offers that will be coming in, but you know the ballpark.
Preller: I understand. And we're ready to make a final offer.
Agent: So, let me have it. How much can you do?
Fowler: $100 million.
Agent: That's great. I can tell you that's the biggest offer yet. How many years we talking? 5? 6?
Fowler: Hahaha. Yup.
Preller: Oh geez.
Agent: That's fine, I'll just call you the mystery team offering $100M and not mention the years.
Fowler: No. We gotta have our name out there. Let people know we offered the most.
Sandoval's agent hangs up on the Padres, but we find out he really had a national media reporter secretly on the line.
Agent: You catch all that?
Reporter: Yeah. No one would believe me if I reported that.
Agent: Well, you can't report it like that anyway. You know the pictures they have of you.
Reporter: Sigh. I guess I can just report that they made a formal offer that was in the ballpark money-wise. It'll at least get some page views and people will retweet me.
Sandoval signs with the Red Sox. Ron Fowler and Mike Dee toast to their success in Fowler's office at his bejeweled wet bar.
Fowler: That was great. Nothing like fooling all those customers just in case they weren't sick enough of giving us their hard earned money.
Dee: You said it.
Fowler: But you know, we were offering more money.
Dee: Right, and the Red Sox only hold an option on the 6th year. We were gonna guarantee it.
Fowler: Get Preller in here.
Dee makes a call. Preller arrives. Fowler and Dee are noticeably drunker.
Fowler: Prellsy, we need more buzz...
Dee: MORE BUZZ!
Fowler: Tell a local reporter we offered more than the Red Sox. More bucks. More years.
Preller: We can't tell them about the 50 years.
Dee: Right. Right. Just leave the last 44 out. We want to show them up for not giving him a 6th year.
Preller: This is ridiculous.
Preller calls up a young whipper snapper reporter from the local paper
Preller: Hey local kid, you want a scoop?