Earlier today I wrote that it was quite a sight to see the Yankees and Derek Jeter waging such a public war over contract negotiations. This is especially true given that — a mere two months ago — the league and the union came to an agreement under which both sides vowed to “Restrict the abilities of the Clubs, players and agents to conduct their free agent negotiations through use of the media.” Obviously this rule — to the extent it is a rule, and not merely some aspirational thing — isn’t scaring anyone. The question, then, is what can be done about this sort of thing?
The answer: nothing. There is absolutely nothing that can be done to stop this kind of stuff.
The reason for this — at least in the case of Jeter and the Yankees — is simple: Major League Baseball can’t punish the Yankees without the Yankees protesting that they are merely countering what Jeter’s agent is doing. They also cannot punish Jeter or his agent without having to go though the union, and I’m sure both Jeter and his agent can tell a plausible story about how their comments to the press were necessitated by something the Yankees did first. Ultimately both sides would claim that the other was acting unfairly, and thus policing a p.r. problem would dredge up an actual contract negotiation dispute that the new rules were designed to head off in the first place. Why would baseball kick that hornet’s nest? Why would the union? Why would anyone?
But really, I suspect that the media rules weren’t designed to address these public, on-the-record spats. I think they were designed to address Scott Boras’ “mystery teams” and those whispers about how teams “have questions about Player X’s health” that pop up all winter, unfairly killing — or unfairly making — the market for a free agent. What can be done about those?
Even less, I’m afraid. Quick: when was the last time a source was revealed? When was the last time someone got fired for leaking a team’s dirty laundry? We live in an age when people leak sensitive stuff related to the government and the military with impunity because technology makes it fantastically easy to do so. If the Department of Homeland Security, with all of its employees and computer experts can’t track down their own internal leakers, how can the Pirates’ front office do it with their half-dozen clerical workers? They can’t. And they won’t, because they have a baseball team to run. As do the Yankees. And Casey Close and Bud Selig and Mike Weiner all have other things to do too.
The stuff about no longer negotiating through the media was nice back when no one was negotiating anything. But now that they are, those ideals are rendered quaint.
Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was permanently suspended on Friday after testing positive for a third time for a performance-enhancing drug. The right-hander is maintaining his innocence, as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes in quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. Mejia said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”
Mejia has the opportunity to petition commissioner Rob Manfred in one year for reinstatement to Major League Baseball. However, he must sit out at least two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean Mejia would be 28 years old.
Over parts of five seasons, Mejia has a career 3.68 ERA with 162 strikeouts and 76 walks over 183 1/3 innings. He was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and a top-100 overall prospect heading into the 2010 and ’11 seasons.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.
When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.
During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.
Per Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA, the Dodgers announced that pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery to remove his right first rib.
The Dodgers acquired Montas from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December 2015 that also involved the Reds. The 22-year-old made his big league debut with the Pale Hose last season, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings across two starts. Montas had spent the majority of his season at Double-A Birmingham, where he posted a 2.97 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings.
MLB.com rated Montas as the 95th-best prospect in baseball, slipping a few spots from last year’s pre-season ranking of 91.
The Brewers’ rebuild continues, as the club announced on Twitter the trade of outfielder Khris Davis to the Athletics in exchange for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s have designated pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Davis.
Davis, 28, was the Brewers’ most valuable remaining trade chip. He blasted 27 home runs while hitting .247/.323/.505 in 440 plate appearances this past season in Milwaukee. Adding to his value, Davis won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season. In Oakland, Davis will give the Athletics more reliability as Coco Crisp was injured for most of last season and is now 36 years old. Though he doesn’t have much of a career platoon split, Davis split time in left field with the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra last season. It’s unclear if the A’s will utilize him in a platoon as well.
With Davis out of the picture, Domingo Santana is a leading candidate to start in left field for the Brewers, GM David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Nottingham, 20, started the 2015 season in the Astros’ system but went to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal. He hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 at Single-A, showing plenty of promise early in his professional career. With catcher Jonathan Lucroy on his way out of Milwaukee, the Brewers are hoping Nottingham can be their next permanent backstop.
Derby, 21, made his professional debut last season after the Athletics drafted him in the sixth round. Across 37 1/3 innings, he yielded seven runs (five earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks with 47 strikeouts. He’s obviously a few years away from the majors, but the Brewers are looking for high upside.