Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 6, Dodgers 2: Jose Fernandez vs. Yasiel Puig in a potential Rookie of the Year matchup. Advantage: Fernandez, who allowed one earned run (two total) in six innings of work with eight strikeouts. He’s 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA and 156 Ks. The Dodgers dropped their second straight. Which hasn’t happened very often lately.

Mets 6, Twins 1: Dillion Gee with no earned runs and nine strikeouts over seven and a third, thanks in part to some amazing defense from Juan Lagares in center.

Phillies 5, Rockies 4: Homers from John Mayberry and Carlos Ruiz. Jonathan Papelbon got his first save since before the All-Star break, which is kinda nuts when you think about it.

Reds 5, Diamondbacks 3: The Reds win their seventh of nine. That pushes Arizona six back in the race for the final wild card slot, currently occupied by these same Reds.

Rays 4, Orioles 3: Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce homered and David Price, while certainly not sharp, toughed out a win. Tampa Bay stays one back of Boston.

Rangers 16, Astros 5: You don’t lose many games when you put up an 11-run third inning. Indeed, that was the biggest single inning of runs any team has put up in the majors this year. It started with a bunt single, the first couple of runners were put into scoring position with a no-out sac bunt and only one batter had an extra base hit.

Cubs 11, Nationals 1Nate Schierholtz was non-tendered last season and spent a good deal of the winter looking for work. He hit two homers last night, drove in six and is hitting. .277/.330/.524 on the year with 18 homers. Funny how that works.

Indians 5, Angels 2: Lonnie Chisenhall hit a two-run homer, Nick Swisher homered and Zach McAllister pitched into the seventh on the first day of the rest of the season without Albert Pujols. Anaheim has lost 11 of 15 and if you could just put up a white flag and end your season early, I figure they would.

Cardinals 8, Brewers 5: Kolten Wong got his first two major league hits after ten hitless at bats to start his major league career, so that’s nice.  He stole a couple of bases too. The Cards have won 9 of 11.

Athletics 2, Mariners 1: Brandon Moss with a walkoff solo shot. Jarrod Parker with a complete game in which he scattered eight hits, struck out eight and allowed one run. A crisp 2:19 for this one.

Red Sox 7, Giants 0: When Tim Lincecum has been good this year he’s been very, very good but when he’s been bad he’s been horrid. The Sox rung him up for five runs on nine hits in five innings. Jon Lester, meanwhile, shut out the Giants for eight and a third.

Pirates 3, Padres 1: The best pitching award of the night goes to Francisco Liriano, who had thirteen strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Not sure what one wins for the best pitching award of the night. Maybe some steak knives.

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)
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.