Jeff Kent plays through pain on “Survivor” season premiere

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OK, so I watched former MVP and longtime MLB second baseman Jeff Kent on the season premiere of “Survivor” last night and now I’m going to share a few details with you so I don’t feel completely silly about those 90 minutes of my life.

• Kent injured his knee before the first commercial break, losing his balance jumping from a boat to a raft. Once he got onto the actual island he played it off as no big deal so everyone else wouldn’t think he was at less than full strength, but Kent later guessed that he had a torn MCL.

• While limping around he wasted no time trying to build alliances and started scheming to get another player voted off the island. He also talked about what a big fan of “Survivor” he is and how that motivated him to sign up.

• Kent is attempting to keep his identity a secret and as far as I could tell only one of the other contestants recognized Kent as a former baseball player. And the woman who did recognize him didn’t tell anyone, so his secret is safe for now. However, she did wonder out-loud to the cameras whether “someone with $30 million” deserves to win the $1 million prize, so that figures to be an issue. And it wasn’t even an accurate number: Kent earned more than $85 million during 17 seasons in the majors.

• Despite the knee injury Kent quickly emerged as a leader, doing most of the heavy lifting in building his tribe some shelter. He told everyone about his farm in Texas and bonded with several people who view him as a fellow Southerner. Kent does have a farm in Texas, but he was born and raised in California.

• He played a big role in the immunity challenge, doing a good job paddling a boat to allow his teammates more time to solve a puzzle that ultimately won the challenge. That means he’s safe for at least one more week and, I guess, means I’m committed to watching this show for at least one more episode.

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.