Phillies learn Mike Adams and Jeremy Horst are out for the year

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Losing at least two critical members of your bullpen for the final two and a half months of the season has to be disheartening to the Phillies, who consider themselves contenders in the NL East at 48-48, 6.5 games out of first place. The news on Mike Adams and Jeremy Horst comes via the Inquirer’s Matt Gelb:

Mike Adams did not respond to the conservative treatment for numerous tears in his shoulder. He will likely undergo surgery that could sideline him for the beginning of 2014. Adams is owed $7 million next season.

Lefthander Jeremy Horst’s season is likely over. Soreness in his elbow recurred during a rehab stint at triple-A Lehigh Valley. He visited noted orthopedist James Andrews for a second opinion and was injected with a platelet-rich plasma shot. He will not throw for at least six weeks.

Gelb also mentions that right-hander Michael Stutes is still experiencing soreness in his biceps and will be shut down for at least another two weeks.

The Phillies have the worst bullpen ERA in the National League at 4.39. After getting rid of veterans like Chad Durbin and Raul Valdes earlier in the season, the Phillies have been relying on a lot of young, unproven pitchers like Phillippe Aumont and it hasn’t worked out. Their awful ERA has been caused in large part by a league-worst 10.2 percent walk rate and a 19.8 percent strikeout rate, which ranks as the fifth-lowest among all 30 bullpens. Additionally, they have allowed hits on balls put in play at the highest rate in the league at .315.

GM Ruben Amaro said last week he is shopping for a center fielder and at least one reliever, but it doesn’t seem like just one reliever will do the trick.

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.