A's Sheets roughed up by minor leaguers

Leave a comment

spt-story-ben-sheets-100325.standard[1].jpgThe Associated Press reported that Ben Sheets got his world rocked again on Thursday, this time by some minor leaguers in a game in Phoenix.

Oakland’s prized free-agent signee, who has struggled mightily this spring, allowed three runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. His changeup was poor, and he allowed several hard-hit balls, including a two-run home run.

It was also, however, Sheets’ best outing of the spring, and Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle had a slightly more positive spin:

Nevertheless, Sheets accomplished what he wanted to, getting in a lot of innings and 85 pitches. His fastball hit 92 mph, according to A’s minor-league pitcher Matt Wright, manning the radar gun and charting pitches today.

Sheets will make his final start before the regular season on Tuesday, and he’s not concerned about his mediocre to occasionally disastrous (10 batters faced, none retired) spring results. Since he hasn’t pitched in more than a year, the main thing is that he’s healthy and that he gets in his work. He always has awful springs, he said, and Sheets seems like a fellow who knows himself pretty well. He’s known for his bulldog mentality, and those guys tend to be able to turn it on when the games mean something.

That take certainly holds a fair amount of logic and sounds very good. And I realize you can’t always put much stock in spring training results, when you’ll often see pitchers just working on improving a particular pitch or on hitting a particular location. But with the season nearly here the time for tinkering is over, and Sheets has been really bad this spring. The A’s can’t feel too confident on handing $10 million to a struggling pitcher who hasn’t pitched when “the games mean something” since 2008.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

Braves
5 Comments

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.