Shaun Marcum to throw bullpen session on Sunday or Monday

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Shaun Marcum was shut down on Monday after feeling lingering soreness in his right shoulder, but he’s close to getting back on a mound after long-tossing for a third straight day.

According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke said this afternoon that Marcum is expected to throw a bullpen session tomorrow or Monday.

Marcum dealt with a similar shoulder issue last spring, but managed to start the season on time and posted an excellent 2.21 ERA and 34/11 K/BB ratio over six April starts. Roenicke admits that Marcum will be cutting it close again this spring, but he hasn’t ruled him out for the start of the season.

“I talked to him this morning, and he thought, timing-wise, he is actually ahead of where he was last year,” Roenicke said. “Last year, it was close. We didn’t know if he was going to be ready at the beginning [of the season] or not. I think he’ll probably be in the same boat this year.”

The current plan calls for Marcum to start the fourth game of the season on April 9 against the Cubs. If he doesn’t get fully stretched out in time, right-hander Marco Estrada would likely take his place for the first turn through the starting rotation.

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.