Jason Kubel is karrying the Diamondbacks

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Jason Kubel launched his 24th and 25th homers Thursday as part of Arizona’s 6-3 win over Pittsburgh. Despite some recent struggles, he’s the team leader in homers (by nine) and in RBI (by 11). He’s also hitting .281, which would be the second-highest mark of his career.

I wasn’t nearly as down on the Diamondbacks’ Kubel signing last winter as many in the twitterverse, but I did call it a “luxury signing” due to Gerardo Parra’s presence on the roster. The mistake many made was in looking at it as though the Diamondbacks were choosing Kubel over Parra. What they should have realized is that there would be plenty of room for both.

Of course, Kubel may well have already gone from being underrated last winter to overrated now. While Target Field was an awful place for him to hit as a member of the Twins, Chase Field is making him look quite a bit better than he truly is; 17 of his 25 homers have come at home.

The Diamondbacks, though, won’t have to worry about someone else overpaying him this winter based on those numbers; Kubel will be in the middle of a two-year deal worth a modest $16 million. With Parra also capable of starting, the Diamondbacks will have flexibility in the outfield if they decide to trade Justin Upton or Chris Young this winter.

Ideally, they’d keep the foursome together. However, whereas Upton, Young and Parra cost a combined $14.25 million this year, the salaries figure to climb to about $20.5 million next season and the Diamondbacks may want to spend some of that money elsewhere.

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.