Schilling Piles on Pedro

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It’s been five years since Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez were less-than-perfectly-friendly teammates, yet old bloody sock can’t seem to let things go. After talking about how he didn’t care all that much for Pedro’s sense of humor and laid back personality back in Boston, Schilling brought some seriously oblivious irony to the table:

“You guys remember, when Pedro was here, Pedro played by different rules. And Pedro, to a degree, earned the right to play by different rules. But players that play by different rules and take advantage of those, that’s probably the only reason I ever had issues with Pedro. And it was not a big deal, I know people are going to make it a bigger deal than I’m making it. But the amount of respect and admiration and the loyalty and friendship I have with [Terry Francona] . . . I saw some things, from Opening Day leaving the ballpark in Tito’s first game here. There’s just little, crappy dumb stuff.”

And how didn’t Schilling play by different rules? How many stars write blogs with lots of critical content during the season? How many guys get a free pass for openly and obviously letting themselves get out of shape like Schilling did towards the end of his career?  How many ballplayers have been as openly opinionated as Schilling was during his playing days? Given everything we know about the culture of baseball clubhouses, I’m sure there are no small number of former teammates who didn’t much care for the different rules that applied to Schilling, just as Schilling didn’t care for Pedro’s special treatment.

Schilling says ” I know people are going to make it a bigger deal than I’m making it.”  Of course he does. Indeed, getting his opinion out there, stirring up stuff and having people talk about it is his entire reason for living anymore, is . Which is fine if that’s what he wants to do. But he should at least have a little self-awareness about it.

Pedro is an unorthodox, attention-creating personality. So was Schilling.  In light of that, I’m tempted to believe that Schilling’s biggest problem with Pedro was that his time in Boston represented the first time in his career he had some competition as the center of attention.

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.