Wagner shows Red Sox are smarter than Mets

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Now that Billy Wagner has signed with the Braves we can fully assess just how masterfully general manager Theo Epstein and company handled his brief time in Boston from the Red Sox’s point of view.
Back in late August the Red Sox sent a pair of players to be named later to the Mets for Wagner, agreeing to assume $3.2 million in salary. Chris Carter and Eddie Lora turned out to be the PTBNLs, and while certainly not without value both are fairly marginal prospects.
However, because the Red Sox were able to take Wagner’s salary off the Mets’ hands and then made the correct decision to offer him arbitration, they now stand to receive the No. 19 overall pick and another selection between the first and second rounds in next June’s draft. So for $3.2 million and a pair of fungible minor leaguers the Red Sox are going to end up with 15 appearances of 1.98 ERA pitching from Wagner, the 19th overall pick, and a second-round pick.
The whole process is an example of why teams with big budgets have advantages that go beyond being able to hand out huge multi-year contracts. Most teams wouldn’t have had the payroll leeway to add $3.2 million in late August and many teams would have shied away from offering Wagner arbitration for fear that he’d accept and stick them with a big commitment for 2010. Boston had payroll room to add Wagner and no real worries about being stuck with a bill for 2010.
Along with some clever maneuvering by Epstein that basically allowed them to buy a pair of high draft picks, which a study by Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus determined to be worth around $12 million. Of course, having a big budget alone doesn’t mean everything, because the Mets have nearly as much cash to fling around as the Red Sox and simply failed to recognize (or care about) Wagner’s value as a source of draft picks. Instead they saved $3 million in cash and lost $12 million in draft picks.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.