The Reds aren’t exactly thrilled with their 2012 schedule

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At least not the opening of it.

The Reds had traditionally played the first game of the season in honor of their status as the oldest major league team.  That tradition has broken down in recent years, with prime time games taking over as the real opener and even some other teams having their first pitch go off before the Reds’ on the first day with a slate of afternoon starts.  But 2012 totally subordinates the Reds and makes life difficult for the events that usually surround the game.

The Reds don’t start until Friday, a full two days after the Marlins’ opener. More significantly, that’s Good Friday. Which, while not an ideal start for any team (there has been controversy about this before) is particularly tough for the Reds because Opening Day for them is usually accompanied by a big parade, the opening of a downtown market and other festivities. One who cares a lot about Good Friday can probably make room for a baseball game, but a whole day of whoopin’ it up is a bit much, it is feared.

The Reds are said to be petitioning Major League Baseball for a change here.  Given that they start the season against the Marlins, however, and that since the Marlins open on Wednesday night against the Cardinals they can’t play a game on Thursday due to weird rules about one-game series, I can’t really see what baseball can do about it.

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.