Heyman and Olney fight about the Red Sox and it’s a good, good thing

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As we noted yesterday, Jon Heyman took the curious tack of accusing the Red Sox of being cheap or small market or something and suspecting that the team owners are spending money on their soccer interests or whatever.  It was fairly silly, and no shortage of bloggers have weighed in on just how silly it is.

But it’s not just the bloggers. Buster Olney took to Twitter this morning to tear that line of reasoning to shreds:

He later said in reply to another person that “The Red Sox have made mistakes in the past, but they can’t be accused of being cheap.”  Which is 100% correct.

I find this all rather interesting, simply because it’s so rare that you see two of the big name baseball columnists in direct disagreement like this.  But it’s not just interesting for gossipy purposes.

One of the things you see in the political blogosphere and mainstream media is a willingness for pundits and commentators to engage each other directly. It doesn’t need to be nasty, though sometimes it is.  What it does more broadly speaking, however, is it allows for ideas and arguments to be tested, honed and refined. It helps put lie to baloney rather quickly and, ultimately, the readers are all better served.

We don’t see that too often in sports writing, at least in a way that includes the big names like Olney and Heyman.  Rather, there’s this sort of fierce deference most of the time, with a commentator voicing what may be baloney and no one else of stature questioning it that much.  It’s almost seen as rude to do so. And if you do it, you’re considered something of a bomb-thrower.

I wish we had more of it in baseball writing.  A culture in which fierce debate can be had about these kinds of things without someone considering it a faux pas and without people blocking one another on Twitter* and what have you.  A culture of discourse in which it is business, not personal, and in which strong debate and opinion can be aired without everyone getting all upset about it.

Maybe that never happens because people tend not to view sports as being as important as politics. But I wish we could see more dust kicked up than we do. Ultimately knowledge and insight is advanced and disseminated in a much better fashion that way and the baloney is less able to flourish like it does.

 

NoteEvan Grant of the Dallas Morning News said today that Heyman blocked him Why would he do that?  Why would anyone secure in their arguments and place in the world do that to a colleague?

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.