Blue Jays demote Kyle Drabek and his 5.70 ERA to Triple-A

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Kyle Drabek secured a spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation coming out of the spring training, one-hit the Twins for seven innings in his first start, and had a 3.30 ERA through five outings.

And then everything fell apart for the 23-year-old prospect acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade, as Drabek posted a 7.38 ERA with a .314 opponents’ batting average and more walks (35) than strikeouts (28) in 43 innings spread over his next nine starts.

He failed to make it out of the first inning against the Indians on June 1, allowed five runs to the Royals on June 7, and got knocked around by the Red Sox for three homers and a total of eight runs Sunday. And today the Blue Jays decided they’d seen enough, optioning Drabek back to Triple-A with a 5.70 ERA and 48/52 K/BB ratio in 73 innings.

There’s no doubt that Drabek has impressive raw stuff, as he averaged 93.4 miles per hour with his fastball and flashed a potentially dominant low-90s cutter, but with a league-leading 52 walks and 10 wild pitches in just 73 innings he’s clearly not yet polished enough to thrive against big-league hitters. He’ll likely be back in the second half, perhaps for good.

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.