I’m pretty sure Derek Jeter woulda been a Hall of Famer even without the intangibles

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Howard Bryant’s latest ESPN column considers Derek Jeter. It starts thusly:

THE MAGIC OF baseball will always live in the storytelling

Pretty lucky for Bryant, given that he’s a storyteller! Anyway:

— the grandeur of Ruth, the Midwestern identification with Musial, the unbreakable Robinson and the complex defiance and moral ambiguity of Bonds. It’s what gives life to the statistics. Unfortunately, in the age of Moneyball and fantasy leagues, the numbers have been detached from, and become more important than, the players. All but one.

Know what? I still think the players are the most important thing in baseball. We could all stop playing fantasy baseball and reading sabermetric articles and, heck, even keeping statistics, and I bet there would still be major league baseball games with millions of people attending. Indeed, I’m almost positive this is true.

But even with that aside, I’m just not buying any of what Bryant is selling. Which is, in short that “Jeter’s intangibles and leadership are what make him a Hall of Famer,” to quote the little caption under the graphic on top.

Yes, there are great stories about Derek Jeter. But there are great stories about Joe Charboneau too. Yes, Jeter apparently has some great intangibles. But he also happens to have some AMAZING FREAKING TANGIBLES.

If no one ever wrote a single word about Jeter that didn’t appear in a game story, he’d be a Hall of Famer. That’s because he’s one of the best shortstops who ever lived and has multiple World Series rings. Those things are tangible.

I’ve never understood the desire for so many to engage in Derek Jeter mythmaking. The reality is so awesome already.  Why don’t we make myths about Nick Punto? That guy could use some help!

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.