The Rockies will return to a traditional five-man rotation next year

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We heard late last month that the Rockies were planning to stick with a four-man rotation next year, but it turns out they will have a more conventional approach. Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett told Troy Renck of the Denver Post last night that the team will return to a traditional five-man rotation next season.

While the Rockies were limiting their starters to around 75 pitches, they will now work in the 90-100 range while starting on four days’ rest. The team plans to keep three “piggyback relievers” as a leftover from the experiment.

The Rockies had a 6.28 ERA from their starters when they made the switch in mid-June. They’ll enter play today with a 5.88 ERA, so while they have improved, that’s not saying much. Heck, that might have happened anyway if they stuck with five starters. The experiment also put added stress on their relievers, who rank 26th in the majors with a 4.66 ERA.

After analyzing the data and getting input from general manager Dan O’Dowd and manager Jim Tracy, it was ultimately decided that the team’s four-man rotation approach wasn’t feasible over a full season.

“There are issues in a lot of areas that put us where five is a better way to go as a standard rule. One, in terms of the length of the season, can the guys recover when you have all those consecutive days (of games)? We were in situations where we had to bump a guy back or use another guy,” Geivett told The Denver Post.

“Recovery was one. Development was another, because their side work was really limited between games. We were really limited on how much they could do to work on their delivery; that was difficult as well.”

The Rockies have struggled to find a pitching approach that works in Coors Field, so they deserve credit for trying something different while missing key cogs like Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin. It would have been nice to see them continue it with a better collection of talent, but perhaps someone will be inspired to take this concept and run with it in the future.

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.