Phillies may bring Grady Sizemore back for the 2015 season

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The Phillies have a reputation around baseball for being the team that collects old and injury-prone players. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies may be interested in bringing outfielder Grady Sizemore back for the 2015 season, which certainly won’t help dispel that reputation.

GM Ruben Amaro was asked if the oft-injured veteran could be part of a rebuilding effort:

“Yeah, very possible,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently. “He’s played well enough to certainly be in consideration for 2015 and beyond. But again that’s one of those questions we’ll continue to assess. What we do with our outfield will be one of those questions, and he could very well be a part of it.”

Sizemore started the season with the Red Sox but struggled after getting off to a hot start in April. When the team released him on June 18, he had a .216/.288/.324 slash line with two home runs, 15 RBI, and five stolen bases. The Phillies picked him up through free agency on June 24. Since then, Sizemore has hit well, slashing .305/.347/.432.

However, the Phillies don’t figure to be contenders for at least two seasons and the goal is to get younger and healthier. Sizemore, obviously, doesn’t fit either criteria. The Phillies already have a crowded outfield as is with Marlon Byrd in right field, Ben Revere in center, and the struggling Domonic Brown in left. It’s tough to see how Sizemore fits in with the team through the rest of this season, let alone in 2015.

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.