Leyland defends "benching" of Ordonez

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Following Magglio Ordonez’s “indefinite” benching on Thursday, it didn’t take long for his agent Scott Boras to chime in, insinuating that the move had more to do with his $18 million option for 2010 than his poor start:

“Great major league players have
periods where they don’t perform well. It’s befuddling to me, why
they’ve done this. The Tigers are treating Magglio Ordonez differently
than they have in the past. Coming off three consecutive years when he
played really well for them … this is unheard of.”

It would be one thing if Ordonez was performing somewhat close to the
same level of the past three seasons, but he’s batting an anemic
.272/.347/.343 with two homers and 22 RBI through his first 216
at-bats. He’s currently slugging at a lower rate than Coco Crisp and
teammate Placido Polanco. Once a hero of the 2006 ALCS, the 35-year-old hasn’t gone deep in 38 games.

Jim Leyland publicly defended the move on Saturday, responding to Boras by saying:

“This is about no other issue. This
is about Magglio Ordonez and trying to get him right so he can
contribute the way he feels good about himself, because, by his own
admission, he’s embarrassed.”

“I’m very respectful of Scott Boras,
but I’m not going to listen to his (nonsense). Scott Boras might be
better off if he lets Magglio and myself handle this instead of him.”

Ordonez’s struggles are a convenient excuse to bench him, no doubt, but
the best solution for all involved may just be going the “the Gary
Sheffield route” by cutting him loose.

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.