Wait, we’re judging the Dodgers-Red Sox trade now? Really?

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Dancing on the Dodgers’ grave, from the San Francisco Business Times:

The Dodgers’ Big Trade has been a bust — and that is good news for the Giants and baseball in general.  The Big Trade that the Dodgers pulled off Aug. 26 loaded that team with hot shot players Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford and $260 million in additional salary.

It was designed to propel the Dodgers to win the National League West and, ultimately, the World Series. “We want to win now,” said Dodger co-owner Magic Johnson. But since that Saturday in August the Dodgers have played worse, winning 10 of 26 games for a .384 winning percentage. That compares to the club’s pre-trade .543 winning percentage.

The lesson, according to the writer, is that sometimes money just doesn’t buy wins.

Which, sure, I’ll grant that. Just ask the Marlins as they cry and the Athletics as they laugh.  But is it not way too early to say anything super intelligent in that regard about the Dodgers-Red Sox trade?

Part of that trade is Carl Crawford, who has not played a game this season. A fact which was known would be the case at the time of the trade. Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez is under contract through 2018 and Josh Beckett through 2014.

I’ll grant that this will be a bust of a trade if Gonzalez doesn’t rediscover his mojo, if Beckett turns into a tomato can and if Crawford comes back a shell of his former self.  But no matter what Magic Johnson says, this was not solely a “win in 2012” kind of deal. This was a deal for both the short and the long term.

As such, declaring it a bust for the Dodgers and drawing any larger conclusions from it about whether one can buy wins is way premature. And, from a writer for a San Francisco publication, a somewhat curious angle to take at the moment.

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.