MLB and MLBPA agree: Clubs can't force players to donate to team charities

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You’ll recall there was a bit of a hubub last spring when it was revealed that Manny Ramirez’s contract with the Dodgers required him to donate $1 million to Dodgers’ charitable foundation.  At the time Frank McCourt said that, going forward, all Dodgers contracts would contain similar provisions. It was later revealed that over 100 contracts involving multiple clubs had such provisions already.  The union filed a grievance, but the matter was settled yesterday:

Under the settlement agreement, which resolves the grievance, clubs can
demand such donations from players signing as free agents or signing
long-term contracts that buy out one or more years of free agency,
according to a management official who spoke on condition of anonymity
because the agreement has not been officially announced.

Those
players have the option to sign elsewhere. Players not yet eligible for
free agency cannot be compelled to donate, the management official said.

I’m not a fan of forced giving simply because I’ve encountered a number of charitable foundations in my time that are less about charity and more about polishing the social and philanthropic credentials of foundation’s sponsors. “Nice gala, Mr. Chairman! Helen just loves the champagne fountain! Anyway, when will those poor, poor charitable recipients be ushered on the stage for the photo op and then hustled out the back door, because I really need to talk to you about the Johnson deal . . .” The whole scene has left a bad taste in my mouth. 

That said, this seems like a sensible compromise here inasmuch as any free agent can decide if being required to give to the Team X Foundation is worth signing there or not, and as long as there’s an element of choice, mazel tov.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.

Report: Phillies making Maikel Franco available in trade discussions

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.

Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.

It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.

Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.