Major League Baseball fires arbitrator Shyam Das

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Shayam Das, the neutral third arbitrator who handles PED and other appeals, and who served at the pleasure of both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA, has been fired:

A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that baseball management has fired Shyam Das, the arbitrator who overturned Ryan Braun’s drug suspension in February.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the decision had not been announced.

He has held the job since 1999. He was always able to be fired with written notice by either the league or the union.  The story is still developing, but it would not be a surprise to hear that he was fired by the league due to the Braun decision, which baseball officials lambasted at the time it was released.  Of course, as the linked article notes, he also serves as an arbitrator for the NFL — he’ll hear the New Orleans Saints bounty appeal this week — so maybe they think his plate is too full or want some fresh blood.

Whatever precipitated the league’s decision, however, this is a tricky business.  Baseball arbitrators, because they can be removed by either side, have no incentive to consciously or consistently favor one side or another.  At the same time, the league or the union have little incentive to remove an arbitrator for strategic reasons because the other side has the ability to do the same thing. This is part of why Das has been in place for 13 years. Everyone was basically happy with what is always a delicate balance.

But now things change.  So a qustion: does MLB think that Das had gone too far to the player’s side of things?  Do they think they’ll get more favorable decisions now that he’s gone?  Do they expect that the union will fire back or make life difficult for the league in hiring a new one or keeping him or her in place once hired?  Or is this just a case of change for change’s sake?

I would expect a statement from the league by the end of business today. That’s how they tend to roll with these things.

The Phillies are considering making a play for Jake Arrieta

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Jon Heyman reports that the Phillies are considering free agent starter Jake Arrieta.

That may seem kind of weird on the surface given that the Phillies, as Heyman notes, are considered to be at least a year from contention. Thing is, though, we really never know for sure when a team will definitely be in contention, do we? We’ve seen a handful of teams’ rebuilding efforts bear competitive fruit ahead of schedule in recent years, including the current World Series champion Houston Astros. They made the dang playoffs a year after losing 92 games, when everyone thought their true competitive window was several years away. Arrieta’s Cubs were much the same way, improving by 24 wins in 2015 to make the playoffs, in large part because of . . . acquiring Jake Arrieta.

Whether Arrieta, who is coming off of a 14-10, 3.53 ERA season, would be interested in the Phillies is unknown, but if I’m a Phillies fan, I’m happy that my club is being aggressive and is at least considering it.