The season is over and the hot stove is upon us. It used to be we had to wait a while until players filed for and then signed in free agency. It doesn’t work that way anymore.
Guys whose contracts have expired immediately become free agents after the season ends (i.e. last night) and signings can begin after a short, five-day team exclusivity period. That ends on Saturday at 12:01 AM, which means you should stay up late on Friday night to see the dominoes start falling.
As for those dominoes: there are 137 of them. You can read the full list at the MLBPA page. A ton of those are subject to team or player options that will be exercised between now and midnight Friday, but they are all players who, theoretically, could switch teams.
The biggies, obviously, include Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Michael Bourn and, of course, Ryan Theriot, who guarantees a World Series championship, apparently.
Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.
Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.
Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.
Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.
Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.