Former second-round pick Brent Brewer quits baseball to play college football

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Back in 2006 the Brewers drafted Georgia high school shortstop Brent Brewer in the second round, but after hitting just .240 with a .650 OPS in 427 minor-league games he’s decided to quit baseball … and play football at the University of Tennessee.
Brewer was a highly recruited football player coming out of high school and originally committed to play for Florida State before opting for a $600,000 bonus from the Brewers. Now he’s headed to Tennessee as a 22-year-old freshman and 6-foot-2, 205-pound safety. Here’s what he told Volquest.com:

It had always been in the back of my mind, I’d always kind of wonder how things might have worked out for me in football. I know it’s going to be hard and I’m sure I’ll have some rust, but I’m ready to come in and work hard and get into it. I’m really excited to have this chance and I’m going to make the most of it.

Brewer certainly isn’t the first player to give baseball an unsuccessful try before heading back to football, but his timetable for doing so was a lot quicker than most. He essentially played three full seasons, plus a half-year in rookie-ball after signing and one-third of a season this year before calling it quits. Ultimately it doesn’t matter because Brewer looked nothing like a future major leaguer, but for a $600,000 investment it seems like Milwaukee deserved more than 427 games before he switched sports.
Of course, maybe I’m just upset because now there’s zero chance of a game named Brewer playing for the Brewers.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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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.