Josh Beckett beats out Paul Maholm for fifth spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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The Dodgers signed lefty Paul Maholm to a one-year, $1.5 million deal in February, but they have no room for him in the starting rotation. Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times reports that the Dodgers have awarded that spot to right-hander Josh Beckett.

Neither Maholm nor Beckett pitched much during the spring and neither had remarkable results as well. Beckett had thoracic outlet surgery and suffered a relatively minor thumb injury during the spring, but there was doubt as to his ability to be ready to come off of the disabled list at his first point of eligibility on April 4. Manager Don Mattingly thinks Beckett will be ready:

“We feel like Josh will be ready to pitch,” Mattingly said. “He’s held up pretty good. He threw five innings the other night.

“We would prefer for him to be built up a little further, but if he absolutely had to pitch, we think he’s going to be a guy that by the time he’s eligible, could help us.”

The Dodgers will use Maholm out of the bullpen, it seems. According to J.P. Hoornstra, the Dodgers have listed him as a bullpen option on the lineup sheet in the clubhouse. However, if Clayton Kershaw has to miss more time with his back issue — ESPN’s Buster Olney says that Kershaw’s injury is the same as Jurickson Profar’s, and Profar will miss 10-12 weeks — then Maholm could return to the rotation.

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.