Watch as the Rays act like they didn’t totally rip the Royals off in the Myers-Shields trade

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Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, listen to Rays GM Andrew Friedman act like he didn’t just totally rip off Dayton Moore and the Royals:

“Personally I think this is the most difficult trade we’ve made to date. Both guys were drafted and developed here, they’ve been key players in this organization’s turnaround and they’re both really high-quality people. It’s a painful loss for our club, but I’m confident in our resilience and the talent that will be returning to the field next season.”

We’ll try to carry on …somehow.

Rays pitcher David Price played it more dramatic on Twitter right after the trade was announced:

 

Now, I do not think that Price is playing some “let’s make it sound fair” P.R. game like Friedman is. As Shields’ and Davis’ teammate, he is likely sad to see them go, and veteran players are always genuinely partial to their veteran teammates.

That said, Price knew that Shields was on the block for a long time and likely made his peace with that a while ago. And of course, he will be signing the praises of his new teammates a week into spring training, if not sooner. Meanwhile, he is well-aware that this frees up money for the Rays to either (a) actually give him a long term deal; or (b) more likely, serve as a slightly more plausible competitor in the market to those teams who truly are willing to give him a long term deal.

More broadly, you will be hard pressed to find actual baseball people who don’t think the Rays fleeced the Royals — snap polling certainly indicates that — and Friedman and Price likely share that sentiment privately even if manners and class dictate that they don’t say so publicly.

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.