Ron Santo has been elected to the Hall of Fame

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The Veterans’ Committee just announced that the late Ron Santo has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

Santo was eligible as part of the new “Golden Era” ballot, which considered candidates from the 1947-1972 era. Others eligible included Minnie Minoso, Buzzie Bavasi, Jim Kaat, Allie Reynolds, Ken Boyer, Luis Tiant, Charlie Finley, Gil Hodges and Tony Oliva, but Santo was the only one to get the required number of votes.

12 votes were needed to secure election. Santo received 15 out of 16 votes. Kaat fell just short with 10 votes while Minoso and Hodges each received nine.

Santo’s election is considered long overdue by most. One of the best third baseman of his era, he had a .277/.362/.464 batting line over 15 seasons in the majors (14 seasons with the Cubs, one with the White Sox) to go along with 342 lifetime home runs and 1331 RBI. Santo’s highest vote total for the Hall of Fame was 43.1 percent in 1998, which was his last year on the ballot. It’s nice to see the Veterans Committee right a major wrong, as he was one of the best players at his position not in the Hall of Fame, but it’s truly a shame that he didn’t live to see the day.

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.