Daily Dose: Hudson set for Monday return

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Out since last July following Tommy John elbow surgery, Tim Hudson is scheduled to make his season debut Monday against the Marlins while Kenshin Kawakami has his usual start skipped. Hudson has fared pretty well while rehabbing in the minors, posting a 3.86 ERA and 14/4 K/BB ratio in 23.1 innings between high Single-A and Triple-A, and the 34-year-old was regularly clocked in the low-90s for his last start.
Hudson is definitely worth a flier in NL-only leagues, but don’t expect him to produce mixed-league value again until next season. Atlanta’s decision to bump Kawakami from the rotation is an odd one, because he has a 3.52 ERA in 20 starts since a poor April. Bobby Cox expressed concern that Kawakami could wear down because he’d never made even 30 starts in Japan, but he has a 3.75 ERA since the All-Star break.
While the Braves welcome back a pitcher who went 54-38 with a 3.78 ERA through his first four years in Atlanta, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Nyjer Morgan has provided a huge spark for the Nationals since they acquired him from the Pirates in late June, batting .351 with 22 steals and outstanding defense in 48 games. Unfortunately he’s now done for the season after suffering a broken hand Thursday, finishing his breakout campaign at .307/.369/.388 with 40 steals and 73 runs in 119 games. His teams were 51-64 when he started, 46-90 when he didn’t.
Morgan has played somewhat over his head and is already 29 years old, but is also a lock to be the Nationals’ starting center fielder and leadoff man again next season. While hitting over .300 with a .370 on-base percentage will be tough to repeat, he hit .293 in the minors, batted .296 in various stints with the Pirates prior to this season, and has the speed to swipe 50-plus bags even if his OBP declines a bit in 2010.
* Bumped from the rotation earlier this week, Brad Penny asked for and received his release Thursday. He pitched his way out of Boston by going 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 131.2 innings, including 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA in his last five starts, but several teams are reportedly already in the mix to sign him for the stretch run. Unless he winds up in the National League, don’t count on Penny having any real fantasy upside.
AL Quick Hits: Billy Wagner threw a bullpen session Thursday and informed the Red Sox that he’s unavailable to pitch on consecutive days … A.J. Burnett lost Thursday despite racking up a season-high 12 strikeouts … Francisco Liriano got a cortisone shot in his injured elbow Wednesday and may be out for the season … After shutting out the Yankees for six innings in his last start, Junichi Tazawa was rocked for nine runs Thursday … Rather than joining the White Sox’s rotation Jake Peavy (ankle) will make his fourth rehab start Saturday at Triple-A … Chris Davis homered off a lefty Thursday in his third straight start since being recalled from Triple-A … Andy Marte went 2-for-4 with a game-winning homer Thursday and now has a 1.000 OPS in his last 10 games … Jacoby Ellsbury left Thursday’s game after injuring his ankle on a feet-first slide … Adam Jones (back) is now hoping to rejoin the lineup Friday … You might be surprised to learn who leads the AL in homers since June 1.
NL Quick Hits: Garrett Jones hit a game-winning homer Thursday, going deep for the 15th time in 189 at-bats … Mike MacDougal recorded five outs with a one-run lead Thursday for his eighth save of the month … J.A. Happ took a complete-game loss Thursday, allowing three runs … St. Louis is reportedly close to signing 36-year-old closer Ryan Franklin to a contract extension … Bengie Molina (quadriceps) missed his third straight game and underwent an MRI exam Thursday … Chris Coghlan hit a pair of homers Thursday and is now batting .355 in the second half … Batting higher than fifth in the lineup for just the 15th time this season, Matt Kemp went 3-for-5 with a homer Thursday … Javier Vazquez tossed seven scoreless innings Thursday, with his ERA dropping to 3.02 … Vicente Padilla won his Dodgers debut Thursday with five innings of two-run ball … Thursday was Carlos Gonzalez’s first game back after slicing his hand with a steak knife and he promptly exited with a bruised thumb.

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.