Michael Weiner: draft slotting is a salary cap and the players are against it

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The Executive Board of the Major League Baseball Players Association
just had a conference call with the media to formally announce Michael
Weiner as the new Executive Director and to field questions from the
media. I guess I’m the media now, so I called in. I even asked a
question and may have actually committed an act of journalism in doing
so.  I feel so dirty. But I’ll get to that in a minute.  The rundown:

  • Players Tony Clark, Curtis Granderson and Jeremy Guthrie were on the
    call and talked first. Only Guthrie identified which team he plays for,
    which I thought was kind of cute. Newsday’s Ken Davidoff is the only
    one who asked a player a question, to Granderson, about the trade
    rumors. Granderson’s response: “I’m still wearin’ the English D!”  If
    I’m Granderson I give no comment and write about it all on my own blog
    over at Yahoo!

  • Weiner had a lot of nice things to say about Marvin Miller and Donald
    Fehr. He used the word “humbled” about 15 times.  Based on everything I
    hear from people who know him, that’s genuine. Weiner is just a nice
    guy who everyone seems to like. The anti-Fehr in that regard.

The bit of news came when I asked him whether the union has discussed
the statements Bud Selig has made in recent months about
internationalizing the draft and about a hard slot on draft picks in
order to scale back signing bonuses.  Until now, many individual
players have said they would be fine with it, exhibiting no small
amount of annoyance that these 18 year olds are making a lot of money.

Weiner indicated that there has been an about-face,* suggested that the union has decided to fight it hard, however, correcting
my use of the term “slotting” in my question to “salary cap” and than
unleashing all of the time-worn union rhetoric about salary caps being
antithetical to individual players being able to negotiate their own
deals on the open market.  In other words, it sounds like the union
will either (a) go to the mat to fight hard slotting; or (b) come off
of their longstanding opposition to caps of any kind.

So that was interesting. Like I said, I’m a newbie at this reporting
stuff, but those of you out there who aren’t may do well to get a
microphone in front of some of those players who complained about
amateur signing bonuses in recent years and let them know that they
need to change their tune.

Beyond that, a lot of talk about some other stuff: HGH testing: the players will be on board when there’s a reliable urine test. Collusion: the union is still thinks something fishy happened in 2007-08, but nothing new to report.  John Henry’s interesting revenue sharing plan from yesterday: the players discussed it today, but no real comments. The current free agent market: Weiner is “a little bit concerned” about the slow place of signings so far, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the state of the market.  So beyond the bit about the slotting stuff, nothing terribly new or earth shattering.

That’s enough journalism for me today. Starting now, I go back to blogging. At least you can blast your stereo while you’re doing that.

*in hindsight I think I overstated it a bit. The union as a body has been basically non-committal in its official statements on the matter, so the term “about face” is probably not accurate. The fact that the union is now clearly saying that they are against it, however, is a new development, and one which runs counter to the statements of many individual players who have said that they’d be fine with a slotting system. 

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.