Reggie Jackson apologizes for “inappropriate and unfair” comments about Alex Rodriguez, Hall of Famers

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Reggie Jackson made headlines recently for saying in a Sports Illustrated interview that Alex Rodriguez’s numbers should be questioned because of performance-enhancing drugs and Kirby Puckett, Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Don Sutton, and Phil Niekro shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.

That predictably caused a mini-uproar and he reportedly apologized personally to several of those offended parties, but today he issued an official statement–through the Yankees–apologizing in public to the whole group:

In trying to convey my feelings about a few issues that I am passionate about, I made the mistake of naming some specific players. This was inappropriate and unfair to those players, some of which are very close friends of mine. I think there are ways to speak from the heart without hurting people, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t take greater care in expressing my views.

I have been proactively reaching out to make personal apologies to those within the Hall of Fame community that I offended, and to the Yankees organization for any disruption that I caused in the clubhouse. I continue to have a strong relationship with the club, and look forward to continuing in my role with the team. As always, I remain dedicated to the great game of baseball.

There’s been some hair-splitting about whether the Yankees telling Jackson to stay away from the team on their recent road trip qualified as a “ban” or just a request to let things cool off, but either way it’s pretty easy to connect the dots and assume that Jackson’s apology comes as a stipulation for his getting back into the team’s good graces.

It’s also worth noting that his apology doesn’t actually involve taking back anything he said about Rodriguez or the various Hall of Famers–two of whom are deceased–but rather focuses on the mistake being naming names and going public with his thoughts. Since the statement came through the Yankees presumably they’re satisfied with the wording and overall tone, and Jackson will resume his duties as “special advisor.”

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.