New CBA to result in less talent for baseball, more money for mediocrities

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The MLBPA had held out for so long in not selling out those entering the league. That all changed in recent weeks.

Tuesday’s newly announced CBA doesn’t technically cap draft spending, but it will severely punish any team that exceeds MLB’s proposed slot caps. Teams that go 10 percent over slot will be taxed by 100 percent that amount and lose future first- and second-round picks. Teams that go 15 percent over slot will face the same tax and lose two future first-round picks.

The CBA also eliminated major league deals for draft picks, which might well have allowed teams a workaround for giving prospects extra bonuses.

MLB owners now have pretty much the draft they’ve already wanted. Reportedly, there are even provisions to go to a worldwide draft by 2014, cutting further into the already reduced bonuses Latin American prospects are now facing.

For baseball as a whole, this is a gloomy day. Yes, labor peace is nice. So is having the best talent possible playing in MLB. Part of what made baseball so tempting for two-sport athletes all this time is that they can cash in right after high school. Now that the bonuses are going to be smaller, the next Carl Crawford or Matt Holliday may well opt for football. Also, it’d be no surprise if we start seeing the occasional high-profile Latin American prospect and major league draftee choose to begin his pro career in Japan.

And where will that extra money go? To Juan Rivera, of course. It’s players like Mark Ellis, Rod Barajas and Javier Lopez that will take advantage. That middle class of free agents, whose portion of the pie had gotten smaller as the last decade went along, is starting to see a big rebound now. Those teams that blanch at the idea of spending $20 million per year on a superstar never see the problem with spending $4 million-$5 million per year on a player who might be 10 percent better than a guy making the minimum.

Which is great for the MLBPA, as it’s presently constituted. The players looked out for No. 1 and will definitely benefit in the short term. The game itself, though, is a little less healthier than it was a month ago.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.