And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Twins 3: The Yankees got a solid six innings from Ivan Nova and then went Joba-Soriano-Mo for the seventh, eighth and ninth. Since this is obviously a strength of the team and will become a recurring pattern, I’m going to preempt all of the cheeseball broadcasters and columnists who like to apply nicknames to would-be teams of destiny or, at the very least, their component parts: the back end of the Yankees bullpen is JoSoMo. You can put the inflection wherever you want. It doesn’t matter, because the point is to create something catchy enough to stick but lame enough to where everyone will feel a little bit dumb repeating it.  Say it with me: JOsomo. Or joSOmo.  Whatever. I really don’t care!

Braves 2, Brewers 1: One of those days where both of the starters — Brandon Beachy and Chris Narveson — deserved to win, but the difference makers in this one were the pens. Takashi Saito served up gopher balls to Martin Prado and Dan Uggla while Peter Moylan, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel shut down the Brew Crew in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Kimbrel was particularly impressive, striking out the side to close it out with sick, knee-high mid-to-upper 90s heat.  If he has banished the control problems he had in the minors, forget about it National League. And, what the hell, let’s try it: MoyVenKim. Er, well, maybe not. Sounds like something you don’t want to order at the non-specific Asian restaurant in the strip mall next to the check cashing place that puts out the “under new management” sign every eight months. Or, if you change the inflection a bit, it could be a Yiddish word my Aunt Ruth used to say all the time to refer to minorities in a derogatory fashion while in polite company. (“I’m telling you dahlink, that moyvenkim down at the oriental place really messed up my order of Moy-Ven-Kim yesterday. Just inedible. And such small portions!”)

Orioles 5, Tigers 1: Break up the O’s! Baltimore wins again, moving to 4-0 on the season, which is their best start in 14 years. Once again young pitching comes through, with Jake Arrieta giving up one run over six innings. On offense the big shot came on a Brian Roberts three-run bomb off Rick Porcello who at one time, I assure you, was thought of as the Next Big Thing even if he hasn’t looked it for a while.

Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 1:  Damp, chilly and windy conditions led to a ghost town in Wrigley. Indeed, there may have been more seagulls swarming the field than there were fans in the stands. No matter, though, as Alfonso Soriano had a homer and an RBI single and Randy Wells, while a bit wild at times, was able to shut the Diamondbacks down after a leadoff homer. A leadoff homer to Willie Bloomquist, I should note, which would automatically count as seven runs against the pitcher who surrendered it if I were in charge of baseball, but sadly, I am not.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: Charlie Morton was arguably baseball’s worst starter last season. Last night: one run on three hits in six innings. He also walked five, but who’s counting? Oh, Major League Baseball, its member clubs, several statistics organizations and every fan who was keeping score during the game? Well, fine, but he got away with it. All of the Buccos’ runs came in the sixth via a Neil Walker double and an Andrew McCutcheon homer.

Rangers 6, Mariners 4: The Rangers remain perfect. Nelson Cruz has homered in all four games this season. If he keeps that up, man, it will be like a record or something.

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.