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Why in the heck is Franklin Gutierrez on the restricted list?

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The sad news about Franklin Gutierrez’s health comes with some baffling news as well: he’s been placed on the restricted list by the Mariners. By being on the restricted list, Gutierrez is not paid his $1 million contract for 2014. He does not accrue service time either which, presumably, means that if he comes back next year he’s still under Mariners control.

Question: why in the heck is he on the restricted list?

The Restricted list is defined by Rule 15 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball. This is it:

(a) RESTRICTED LIST. If, without permission from a player’s Major or Minor
League Club, a player fails, within 10 days of the opening of the player’s Club’s
championship season, to report to, or contract with, the player’s Club, the player may be
reported by the Club to the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee for
placement on the “Restricted List.” A player on the Restricted List shall not be eligible
to play for any Major or Minor League Club.

Before the start of the championship season but not before January 1, a Major or
Minor League Club also may report for placement on the Restricted List any player,
whether or not under contract for the current season, who has given the Club written or
telegraphic notification that the player will not report until 30 days or more after the
opening of the championship season. Requests to the Commissioner or the
Commissioner’s designee shall be accompanied by the notification which the Club
received from the player.

The Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee may place a Major or Minor
League Reserve List player on the Restricted List if the player’s Club certifies that
unusual circumstances exist.

Normally the restricted list is used as a disciplinary or quasi-disciplinary thing. Like, say, a player is arrested. Or is in drug rehab. Or has left the team for unauthorized purposes. It’s not used to avoid paying players who are sick or injured.

The interesting twist here is that Gutierrez, while apparently, sick, has not reported to camp. While this is only speculation, he apparently decided that he was so sick and so not able to play that reporting wasn’t necessary. I would assume that, based on this, the Mariners are taking the position that Gutierrez has not reported per Rule 15. If he had shown up and was shown to be sick, presumably the Mariners would have no choice but to put him on the disabled list. If he were on the 60-day DL, he wouldn’t count against the 40-man roster. And he would still be paid.  If he asked to be absent from camp and that permission was not granted by the Mariners, man, where do they get off?

No matter the case, I do wonder if the MLBPA and the league is going to allow this move to stand. Because, even if it’s technically true that Gutierrez has not reported, he is essentially being punished for being too ill to play baseball. And that’s not the point of the restricted list.

The Marlins have made a “monster offer” for Kenley Jansen

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning of game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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OXON HILL, MD — The morning after Aroldis Chapman signed for a record $86 million, the Miami Marlins are reported to have made similarly lucrative offer to the other top free agent closer, Kenley Jansen.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo says that the Marlins have made “a monster offer” of five years and more than $80 million to Jansen. This despite the fact that the club is coming off of a 79-win season and, tragically, lost their top pitcher Jose Fernandez in a fatal boating accident, which will substantially harm their competitive prospects. While it seems like a stretch to say that the Yankees will compete for a playoff spot, thereby making such an historically large investment in a closer a bit suspect, the Marlins doing so is even more questionable.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are said to be interested in Jansen as well, though Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post says the Nats are “uncomfortable” with the financial commitment signing him would require.

Jansen most recently pitched for the Dodgers and there have been no reports that they’re totally out on him, but there has been nothing to suggest that they are pushing hard for him either.

Jansen, 29, finished this past season with 47 saves, a 1.83 ERA, and a 104/11 K/BB ratio in 68.2 innings. That’s not quite Aroldis Chapman good, but he seems poised to collect something close to Aroldis Chapman money.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.