The Reds may have already run out of patience with Aaron Harang

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The Reds are still in very good shape in the NL Central, but they aren’t about to rest on their laurels.

Including today’s loss to the Rockies, Aaron Harang has allowed seven runs — five earned — with a lousy 3/6 K/BB ratio over his first two starts since coming off the disabled list. After failing to make it through five innings in either outing, Reds manager Dusty Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he will soon make a decision about whether Harang will remain in the starting rotation.

“Yeah, pretty soon,” Baker said. “We’ll discuss things and see. We
can’t have these short outings. That puts pressure on my bullpen for the
ensuing days after that.”

It just so happened that Edinson Volquez pitched on the same turn Monday with Single-A Dayton, allowing two runs on six hits over six innings while walking three and striking out 10.

Volquez was sent to the minors last week in order to work on his mechanics. One year removed from Tommy John surgery, he has a 6.17 ERA and 36/27 K/BB ratio over seven starts with the Reds this season. Volquez isn’t exactly a stable option at the moment, but he’s looking like the logical choice to get the call against the Pirates this weekend.

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.