Bud’s blue ribbon Oakland A’s committee had a “secret meeting” with Oakland officials

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I guess it’s not fair to say that the committee Bud Selig put on the Oakland A’s-to-San Jose case three years ago is doing nothing. Because they’re apparently having cloak and dagger meetings with Oakland officials in an effort to come up with some alternative to Lew Wolff’s designs on the south bay:

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s blue-ribbon committee snuck into town Wednesday for a top secret meeting with East Bay officials and boosters at a downtown Oakland law office to discuss a new plan for an A’s waterfront ballpark …

… For months, [Oakland mayor Jean] Quan and company have been publicly touting the idea of building the new ballpark next to the Oakland Coliseum as part of a huge sports, housing and retail complex. But this meeting focused on a waterfront ballpark – most likely at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

I’ll defer to APBA Guy or other bay area people who follow this more closely, but I had always been of the impression that the various Oakland plans that have been tossed around over the years are more pie-in-the-sky things. Mostly because (a) the Oakland economy is awful; (b) there is zero appetite for public dollars to be spent on ballparks in the bay area; and (c) A’s owner Lew Wolff has no desire to explore the possibilities at all.

But hey, at least Bud’s committee actually did something. And now they can turn in expense reports and everything like they’re a real working entity and stuff.

UPDATE: Rhamesis Muncada (a.k.a. Marine Layer) at his website, newballpark.org, has a take that sounds about right:

“The cynic in me looks at this trip with a simple explanation. Summer owners’ meetings are scheduled for next week, and while there will be more pressing matters on the agenda (Padres sale, national TV deals, Nats-O’s-MASN deal) it’s expected that there will be some sort of update on the A’s-Giants ongoing saga. What better way to look like you’re doing something than to have a couple of meetings right before the owners’ sessions? It seems unlikely that Selig will be able to render a decision or bring up a vote based on whatever new information was gathered based on the trip since it’s so fresh, so it’s just one more opportunity to kick the can down the road…”

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.