Baseball owners are looking for a “strong CEO” and “visionary leader” for the next commissioner

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The committee to choose a successor to MLB commissioner Bud Selig has officially been formed. It is being chaired by Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and will have six owners on it. They will not consult an outside search firm. DeWitt’s comments moments ago about what they intend to do:

That last bit speaks to both Selig’s style — he was all about consensus — but also causes me some confusion here.

Selig has clearly set up Rob Manfred to be his successor. He named him COO last year. He headed up the Biogenesis investigation. He made the media rounds with Selig to take credit for blasting A-Rod into the stone age. He has tons of experience with labor negotiations and has long been Selig’s right-hand man.

But no one has ever described him as “visionary” and if Selig always gets his 30-0 vote, why not just rubber stamp Manfred rather than conduct a search like this?

It’s possible that this is all formality and that the purpose of the committee is, in fact, to ratify Selig’s wishes, only in a slightly more formalized manner so as to show the world that the owners still run things. But maybe — just maybe — it shows that the owners aren’t all that thrilled with Rob Manfred and want to see if there’s someone a bit sexier out there before settling on old Rob.

That approach has rarely worked in the past — it’s what stuck MLB with William Eckert and Peter Ueberroth. But it appears that the owners are at least open to that possibility.

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.