Jeff Francoeur explains why he gave Charlie Samuels $50,000

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As reported this morning, former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was arrested today, accused of gambling with mobbed-up bookies, stealing Mets’ equipment and memorabilia and committing fraud.  You know, typical New York stuff.

You may recall that last fall when this all hit the news Jeff Francoeur’s name popped up by virtue of him writing $50,000 in checks to Samuels. No one ever suggested that Francoeur did anything wrong — and really, how could they? Look at that face! — but it did raise eyebrows.

Francoeur is in New York today facing the Yankees, and explained it to Roger Rubin of the Daily News.

For starters, $15,000 of that was the end-of-year bonus given by Francoeur to Samuels, and intended to be distributed to the various cooks, massage therapists, clubhouse attendants and the like.  Which, while that seems like a lot, is a standard kind of thing. At least in form. I really don’t know if that’s a lot of money for end of year tips, but I bet it’s within the normal range for veterans.

As for the other $35,000, well, we’ll let Francoeur explain it:

“I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car … I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car.

That explains it all. Maybe someday they’ll get banks in New York City. But until that day, clubhouse managers who make $80K a year and who happen to have $35K in cash laying around are really the only option available for guys who want to by their parents a car.

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.