With Albert Pujols and now Prince Fielder following Adrian Gonzalez to the American League, the NL has bled some remarkable talent at first base the last two winters. That’s one sure Hall of Famer and two more legitimate possibilities switching leagues while still in their primes. Left is Joey Votto and, well…
Reds: Joey Votto – .990 (2012 projected OPS)
Mets: Ike Davis – .864
Cardinals: Lance Berkman: .860
Phillies: Ryan Howard – .850/Ty Wigginton – .739
Braves: Freddie Freeman – .823
Rockies: Todd Helton – .815
D-backs: Paul Goldschmidt – .814
Marlins: Gaby Sanchez – .809
Astros: Carlos Lee: .787
Dodgers: James Loney: .776
Nationals: Adam LaRoche: .776
Brewers: Mat Gamel: .761
Cubs: Bryan LaHair: .756
Giants: Aubrey Huff: .739/Brandon Belt: .782
Padres: Yonder Alonso: .725
Pirates: Garrett Jones: .710/Casey McGehee: .728
In his MVP season of 2010, Votto only made the NL All-Star team by winning the final vote for the 32nd spot. I’m going to take a stab and say he’s not going to have much to worry about this year.
Davis and Freeman are potential All-Stars and new Cubs acquisition Anthony Rizzo might also have that kind of potential, but the list above simply isn’t very inspiring. Howard is likely to miss two months or more with his torn Achilles’ tendon, leaving Wigginton as the Phillies’ primary first baseman. I don’t understand why the Pirates decided to spend $15 million on Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes and Erik Bedard, only to get gunshy on reupping Derrek Lee. He’d be a big upgrade for them and a somewhat lesser one for the Brewers.
Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.
You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.
The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.
So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.
Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”
Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.
Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.
The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.
Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.