Cashman presser

UPDATE: Brian Cashman: well, no one asked me a specific question about A-Rod’s hip

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UPDATE:  Cashman started the presser by saying that the first the Yankees knew that Rodriguez was having problems was when Joe Girardi pinch hit Raul Ibanez for him in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Orioles.  After the decision was made, Rodriguez told Girardi that his hip was keeping him from “firing” but that did not talk about it being in pain. That night A-Rod was given an MRI and no damage was found.  How much pain he was in was not known until much later.

Cashman is implying that Rodriguez may have been hiding the injury. When pressed about the timing of Rodriguez telling Girardi about his hip, Cashman said “as you recall, he said before the playoffs that he felt better than he has in years.”  It doesn’t sound like he’s singling A-Rod out, though, because he’s noting that players typically hide their injuries.  His example: Michael Pineda last spring.

Also: Classic Cashman: asked about why this is just coming up now, he said “no one asked me a specific question about his hip.”  Rather, he said, he was asked if A-Rod would be used as a DH, or if he was going to start or what. Because, yes, I’m sure Cashman would have loved to have volunteered that information if only someone had given him a chance.

Asked about replacements, Cashman was vague (of course) but he said that the Yankees are not committed to either a part-time player or a full-time player. He said they’d “run everything up the flag pole” to see what works. Which seems pretty sensible.

Cashman says that

2:10 PM: Brian Cashman is going to be here in the media room in Nashville in about 20 minutes for a press conference to, presumably anyway, talk about how A-Rod got all dead and stuff.  I’ll provide the highlights here when it all goes down.

The biggest question I have — which I mentioned this morning — is how, if Rodriguez was as injured as they now say he is back in the playoffs, no one affiliated with the Yankees said anything.  Instead, Rodriguez was allowed to dangle like a pinata all October, with everyone taking a whack.

MLB implements another player-unfriendly rule, this time targeting draftees

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media before Game Three of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the MLB draft has a new program in which the top-50 pitching prospects are asked to undergo a voluntary pre-draft MRI on their throwing arm. At first glance, it seems reasonable because, hey, pitchers are injury-prone and players sometimes hide injuries. It would feel bad if my favorite team drafted a lemon!

The reality is that this is just another player-unfriendly rule that shifts financial risk away from the owners and onto the players. The players, in this case, are often not wealthy and are about to begin life in the minor leagues where they earn less than $8,000 per year. Signing bonuses help alleviate some of the immediate financial discomfort of minor league life.

The pre-draft MRI is “voluntary” with quotes around it. Choosing not to undergo the MRI will only give prospective teams more reason to be skeptical of one’s durability. It’s a lot like those voluntary workouts in football that aren’t so voluntary due to superior and peer pressure. You don’t show up, you’re lazy, entitled, a bad teammate, etc. In this case, a pitching prospect refuses to undergo the MRI, it’s because he’s hiding an injury.

Ian Anderson was the first pitcher taken off the board in the 2016 draft, going to the Braves at No. 3. He got a $4 million signing bonus. Let’s say this new MRI program had already been instituted and Anderson refused, or something came up that caused the Braves to change their minds. Anderson’s draft stock falls, let’s say to 21 where the Blue Jays took T.J. Zeuch with a $2.175 million signing bonus. Falling 18 spots in this case costs Anderson about $2 million, perhaps more because he loses a lot of negotiating leverage. Maybe he falls further, even to the second round.

In a column for FanGraphs nearly two years ago, Nathaniel Grow showed that, as a percentage of total league revenues, player salaries have been declining since the early 2000’s. In 2002, player salaries made up 56 percent of league revenues. In 2014, it was only 38 percent.

In isolation, the MRI program isn’t a big deal. The injured player loses stock, but another player moves up to take his place and earns a bit more money. As part of the bigger picture, however, this is part of an ongoing trend in which owners abdicate financial risk and push it all onto the players. The new collective bargaining agreement, for example, capped international signings at $5-6 million per team per year. That removes any incentive for overseas stars like Shohei Otani from coming over to play Major League Baseball. If he wanted to anyway, he would make much less money than he otherwise would on an open market. The amateur draft itself is almost entirely risk-avoidant for owners and it’s terrible for the players because they, too, would earn much more on an open market. And let’s not forget how owners have fought tooth-and-nail to keep minor league salaries suppressed.

Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick once paid $2.8 million for the Honus Wagner T-206 baseball card. Let’s not act like these owners can’t afford to shoulder the risk on young pitchers.

EDIT (4:40 PM EST): As I’ve seen others mention it, it’s worth bringing up the Astros/Brady Aiken issue. The Astros took him first in the 2014 draft, but they took issue with his elbow health. The two sides had agreed to a $6.5 million signing bonus, but the Astros wanted to reduce it to $5 million as a result. Aiken didn’t end up signing with the Astros. He underwent Tommy John surgery and was later selected by the Indians 17th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft. He got a $2,513,280 signing bonus.

Your 2016 Winter Meetings Wrapup

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Gaylord National Resort
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OXON HILL, MD — The 2016 Winter Meetings are over.  As usual, there was still no shortage of excitement this year. More trades than we’ve seen in the past even if there are still a lot of free agents on the market. Whatever the case, it should make the rest of December a bit less sleepy than it normally is.

Let’s look back at what went down here at National Harbor this week:

Well, that certainly was a lot! I hope our coverage was useful for you as baseball buzzed through its most frantic week of the offseason. And I hope you continue coming back here to keep abreast of everything happening in Major League Baseball.

Now, get me to an airport and back home.