Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics

Daric Barton, Athletics avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics and first baseman Daric Barton have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. He could earn an additional $250,000 with incentives.

Barton, 27, earned the same $1.1 million this past season while batting just .204/.338/.292 with one home run and a .630 OPS in 136 plate appearances at the major league level. He really struggled with the bat before being demoted to the minors in early June and was used mostly as a defensive replacement when he returned as a September call-up. Shoulder problems have prevented him from replicating the success he had back in 2010.

As Slusser notes, Barton’s deal is not guaranteed, so the A’s could give him the boot during spring training and only be responsible for a portion of the contract. Brandon Moss and Chris Carter are still around as in-house options for first base, so Barton has his work cut out for him in order to secure a roster spot.

BLOCKBUSTER: Chris Sale traded to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, prospects

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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OXON HILL, MD — A huge trade just went down between the Red Sox and White Sox. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Red Sox have acquired White Sox starter Chris Sale in exchange for top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michel Kopech, along with two other prospects: Victor Diaz, a single-A pitcher and Luis Basabe, a middle infielder from the same level.

The Red Sox’ acquisition of Sale comes after days of buildup and speculation that the Nationals would acquire the ace lefty. Nope: he’s Boston bound.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

Which is why Boston is giving up a hefty load of prospects to get him. Moncada slumped after a callup to Boston late last season, but he was ranked the number one prospect by Baseball America in its midseason prospect evaluations. The infielder, who has played second and third base, is 21 and hit a combined .294/.407/.511 with 15 homers, 62 RBIs and 45 stolen bases over 106 games in high Class A and Double-A last year.

Kopech, 20, was the Sox’ first round pick in the 2014 draft, going 33rd overall. The righty topped out at high-A ball last season, posting a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts and striking out an astounding 82 batters in 52 innings. He has velocity out the yang — he reached 105 m.p.h. in a minor league game last season — but ran into some off-the-field trouble last year, fracturing his hand in a fight with a teammate last March. In 2015 he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a stimulant.

The White Sox trade of Sale is inspired by a number of factors. The largest, of course, being the club’s continued sputtering despite several seasons in a row of loading up on veterans for a playoff run that never materialized. With the club now committed to rebuilding, Sale was the most attractive player they could market given his talent, age and team-friendly contract. It’s also worth noting that Sale clashed with White Sox brass on a number of occasions last year, vocally opposing the team’s handling of the Adam and Drake LaRoche Affair and, later in the season, getting suspended after he took a blade to the club’s throwback uniforms before a game, shredding them because did not want to wear them. Because, he said, they itched. So, OK.

For the Red Sox part: they’re going for it once again, with Dave Dombrowski doing what he always seems to do: make blockbuster trades.

BBWAA votes to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning next year

Cooperstown
Associated Press
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In addition to naming the Spink Award winner this morning, the Baseball Writers Association of America voted today to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with next year’s vote for the 2018 induction class.

As of now, writers are encouraged to make their votes public and, if they do, they are placed on the BBWAA website. They are not required to, however, and a great many Hall of Fame voters do not. While ballot secrecy is laudable in politics, the Hall of Fame vote brings with it a fundamentally different set of concerns and sentiment has increasingly favored transparency, as opposed to secrecy when it comes to the Hall of Fame.

While some in opposition to this move may claim that public ballots will only lead to criticism, our view is that if you can’t handle some reasonable criticism over your Hall of Fame ballot, you probably need to get out of the business of making history, which is what voting for the Hall of Fame really is.