gutierrez getty

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.

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.