The New York Times reports that Major League Baseball is looking to get proactive in an effort to combat OhMyGodHesReally25 disease:
Major League Baseball is studying a series of initiatives, including
the fingerprinting of youths under the age of 16, as it attempts to
gain control of the age and identity problems it has encountered in
signing players in the Dominican Republic according to several people with knowledge of the situation.
Those same people said Major League Baseball also planned to establish
its own youth baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic to serve as an
alternative to the current unregulated system for young players that is
dominated by talent-finders known as buscones.
The fingerprinting seems . . . odd. I mean, what good are fingerprints if you don’t have something to check them against? The article says that baseball is “reviewing whether the fingerprinting of players, perhaps as young as 11 or 12, would be legal,” but it’s not like people down there haven’t been passing off teenagers as 12 year-olds for years. The only way you could really have confidence in a fingerprinting program is if you had prints of every boy under the age of, hell, ten years old. And once you start doing that, the whole international scouting business starts looking more like factory farming than it does talent development.
Color me similarly dubious about the MLB-run little leagues. Yes, I’ll grant that the problem of buscones may very well be legitimate, but I can’t help but think that there’s an ulterior motive at work here: bolstering baseball’s plan to impose an international draft. If such a thing comes to pass, there’s little incentive for individual teams to set up and operate training academies like they do now, and there will be a need for some other reliable talent-identification system like, say, an organized league.
This doesn’t make it a bad idea, but it does make the claim that the leagues’ purpose would be to protect the kids from buscone-exploitation something less than the full story.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.