Who the heck is Barry Stanton?

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Since that ESPN ballot started making the rounds, complete with a guy named Barry Stanton voting for B.J. Surhoff and Tino Martinez of all people, the most frequent question populating my email box and Twitter feed is “who the heck is Barry Stanton?”

Some folks over on this BTF thread did some Googling, and it was discovered that Barry Stanton spent 25 years or so writing for the Journal-News of Westchester, New York, just outside of New York City.

The fact that he’s from Westchester is a possible explanation for his vote for Surhoff, who was a Westchester prep star.  The fact that he likely got his BBWAA ticket covering the Yankees or the Mets might explain the Tino Martinez vote. I’m sentimental sometimes myself, so I guess I understand it even if I don’t approve.

Oh, and then there’s this.  Seems Stanton left his job eight years ago after he was caught plagiarizing a Posnanski column. Ouch.

To be clear: I don’t link it to slam the guy or to discredit his ballot on that basis. The guy lost his job and I assume learned his lesson. There are few mistakes in life that people should be expected to pay for forever, and lifting some prose is not one of them. And hey: given the nature of his Hall of Fame ballot, one thing we know for sure about Stanton is that, in this instance, he’s not copying anyone.

That said, a lot of people marvel at the breadth of the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame electorate.  There are guys voting there who haven’t covered baseball for years.  One is a political cartoonist in Montreal. Another is a college football writer.  This one was found to have committed journalism’s greatest sin. In light of all of that, is it crazy to ask whether it’s worth the BBWAA’s time to reconsider who gets a vote and who doesn’t?

The BBWAA is hyper-selective at who gets to vote for awards: only 28 or 30 guys each, all actively baseball writers.  They get it right for the most part too.  The Hall of Fame has hundreds of voters from all over the place, and they’re increasingly screwing the pooch.  Isn’t there a happy medium to be found? Is it time to look for one?

Report: Qualifying offer to be in the $18 million range

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, teams have been told that the qualifying offer to free agents this offseason will be in the $18 million range, likely $18.1 million. The value is derived by taking the average of the top 125 player salaries.

At $18.1 million, that would be $900,000 more than the previous QO, which was $17.2 million. This will impact soon-to-be free agents like Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Yu Darvish, among others. That also assumes that the aforementioned players aren’t traded, which would make them ineligible to receive qualifying offers. We’ve seen, increasingly, that teams aren’t willing to make a QO to an impending free agent and that trend is likely to continue this offseason.

The QO system was modified by the newest collective bargaining agreement. The compensatory pick for a team losing a player who declined a QO used to be a first-round pick. That was a penalty to both teams and players, which is why it was changed. Via MLB’s website pertaining to the QO:

A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool. If such a team signs multiple qualifying offer free agents, it will forfeit its third- and sixth-highest remaining picks as well.

A team that receives revenue sharing will lose its third-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick.

A team that neither exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season nor receives revenue sharing will lose its second-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick.

Additionally, if a player who rejected a QO signs a guaranteed contract worth at least $50 million and came from a team that receives revenue sharing, that previous team will receive a compensatory pick immediately following the first round in the ensuing draft. If the contract is less than $50 million, that team will get a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B. If the player’s team is over the luxury tax threshold, that team will receive a compensation pick following the fourth round. If that team neither exceeded the luxury tax nor receives revenue sharing, the compensation pick will come after Competitive Balance Round B.

Yeah, it’s a bit convoluted, but you do the best you can with a flawed system.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.