Royals demote projected second baseman Johnny Giavotella

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24-year-old Johnny Giavotella was expected to be the Royals’ second baseman and No. 2 hitter this season. After 44 at-bats this spring in which he hit .250/.267/.318, he’s on his way back to Triple-A.

The Royals demoted the New Orleans product on Sunday, opting instead to go with Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt as their second basemen. It figures to be a platoon, as Getz is a left-handed hitter and Betancourt hacks from the right side.

It’ll be Getz’s third go at being Kansas City’s second baseman after he hit .237/.302/.277 in 2010 and .255/.313/.287 last year, losing the job both seasons. He was supposed to be the odd-man out this spring, with Betancourt serving as the Royals’ utilityman.

Giavotella, meanwhile, will try to earn another opportunity in Triple-A, though he has little to prove after hitting .338/.390/.481 there last season. He’s easily the Royals’ best offensive option at second base, though since he does have a below average glove, his future as a long-term regular is very much in doubt.

With Gio out of the mix, the Royals are probably looking at the following lineup:

LF Alex Gordon
2B Getz/CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Billy Butler
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Mike Moustakas
CF Cain/2B Betancourt
C Humberto Quintero/Brayan Pena
SS Alcides Escobar

Getz will probably hit second against righties, with either Cain or Escobar moving up against lefties.

Worse, the Royals seem set to go with Jason Bourgeois and Mitch Maier as their two bench players along with the backup infielder and catcher. They’re going to have three starters occasionally worth pinch-hitting for and no good options to take the at-bats. Dropping Maier and going with a real hitter seems like an obvious choice. Even if they couldn’t sign Vladimir Guerrero or Hideki Matsui on the cheap, they’d have a perfectly legitimate internal option for that role in Clint Robinson. They’re not going that route, though.

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.