“De-Chiefing” is becoming a thing among Indians fans

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I think I was one of the first to re-tweet a picture of Indians fan Dennis Browns’ Indians jersey from which he removed the Wahoo patch. That got people talking about — and sharing — their experiences with “De-Chiefing,” or removing Chief Wahoo from their Indians merchandise. Today Paul Lukas has a story about Brown and others who have done this. Their motivations and the backlash they’ve received.

A lot of that goes exactly how you think it might go, but Lukas does make an excellent but overlooked point regarding all of this, and that’s that the organization’s silence on the matter has created space for the acrimony:

Indians officials have compounded matters by engaging in a slow but unmistakable campaign of de-emphasizing Wahoo, while refusing to acknowledge that that’s what they’re doing, resulting in a leadership vacuum that pro- and anti-Wahoo forces are both anxious to fill.

I started pointing out this de-emphasis on Wahoo a couple of years ago, and I’ll acknowledge that, as a policy, it’s probably the path of least resistance for the Indians to take.  If they were to suddenly eliminate Wahoo from their caps and jerseys — or if they were to publicly state that they are getting rid of him eventually — it would create a pretty big firestorm. Political commentators would get in on it and it would be a giant mess that no baseball team wants any part of.

But Lukas is right: the Indians’ silence on this does create something of an adversarial relationship between those who would prefer Wahoo gone and those who would prefer he stay.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

Braves
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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.