TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 12:  Shohei Ohtani #16 of Japan is seen during the warm-up ahead of the international friendly match between Japan and Netherlands at the Tokyo Dome on November 12, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
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International players shouldn’t be subject to a draft, and neither should American-born players

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As reported earlier, several recognizable faces in baseball will speak on behalf of international players to prevent an international draft from being instituted as part of the next collective bargaining agreement. The owners want an international draft as part of a concession from the players’ union in order to abolish the qualifying offer system.

The owners like the idea of an international draft because it means getting elite talent for pennies on the dollar. In the past, international stars like Masahiro Tanaka (seven years, $155 million) have earned contracts rivaling those of top free agents. Putting them into a draft system would allow them to be paid much, much less, comparable to those who are selected in the first round of the amateur draft.

The unfairness in an international draft, then, is obvious. So why do we not have a similar issue with the amateur draft? We should. If the likes of Kyle Schwarber (4th overall, 2014), Kris Bryant (2nd overall, 2013), and Carlos Correa (1st overall, 2012) were allowed to hit the open market as soon as they were eligible, they would command contracts similar to those signed by players like Tanaka. Amateur players are currently shafted almost as much as international players would be if the owners get their way.

Abolishing the amateur draft isn’t on the table during this round of negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement, but it should be in the future. Skeptics say that it’s incredibly risky for owners to have to pay so much money for unproven talent, but that’s the side on which the risk should fall. It should not fall on teenagers and players in their early 20’s, who are forced to live on less than $10,000 a year until they get the call to the major leagues.

At FanGraphs last year, Nathaniel Grow pointed out that, in 2002, player salaries accounted for more than 56 percent of league revenues. Today, the percentage is 38. The owners have done a very good job of using recent CBAs — like instituting the qualifying offer system — to tamp down the amount of money spent on talent. Teams have also become much smarter and more efficient with their spending. As a result, free agency is no longer the best place to find elite talent. Teams now are investing in statistics and scouting (both home and abroad) and abusing service time rules in order to milk out as much labor as possible before their players become eligible for arbitration and free agency.

We need to see a correction that brings the player salaries percentage closer to 50. It’s unlikely to be done in one fell swoop, but preventing the adoption of an international draft while still abolishing the QO system would be a great start. Then, tackle the amateur draft with the next CBA.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.