Instant replay probably won't happen instantly

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Joyce blown call small.jpgA day after the Jim Joyce call, one thing almost everyone agrees on — myself included — is that baseball needs to expand instant replay beyond the current boundary calls rule. The problem is that it’s not at all clear how to do it.

An issue is whether or not implementing replay is a matter that has to be negotiated with the players’ union in the context of collective bargaining. It’s actually kind of vague. Article XVIII of the CBA says that players must sign off on changes that significantly change the “terms of employment.”  Is replay one of those changes?  I’m not sure that it is. Maybe for umpires it is, but my sense is that it’s not for players.

The problem, though, is that the last time replay was brought up — when it was implemented for home run calls in the 2008 season — the union was consulted and did sign off.  Not as a part of collective bargaining, but in at least something approaching a formal process.  Add that to the fact that Selig has acted as though he’s not totally in charge of replay — he’s one of the most notorious buck-passers in baseball and has often spoken about getting everyone on board — and you can see why someone, maybe even Bud himself, would say that this is something that has to go slowly and involve the union.

I think it’s highly unlikely that the union would oppose replay — they don’t want to see their members lose perfect games either, you know — but I have a hard time seeing them pass up the opportunity to be involved, if for no other reason than to not appear to cede power to Selig.  I think they’ll be consulted and will operate as though they are a part of the process. As they probably should.

But if that happens, a key thing to watch is whether Bud and the MLBPA treat it informally and just let replay happen, or if they treat it like other big issues such as drug testing (i.e. a
“significant
change”) and actually do some quick supplemental bargaining on it.  If they do, Michael Weiner will have to, by the MLBPA’s own rules, take it to the Executive Committee for approval, and usually that takes
some
time.
Moreover, per the CBA, any rules changes like this wouldn’t come into play until next season.

But like I said, it may not come to that.  Bud — assuming he doesn’t completely blow this one and does nothing — will probably consult
with the MLBPA and negotiate at least in some way, shape of form. Whether that is formally, in a manner that would lead to a delayed implementation, or informally, in a way that would allow replay to happen quickly, depends on how much Bud wants to share credit and/or the blame for how the whole process works out.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.