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Report: Owners back off demand for international draft

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Ken Rosenthal reports a development from the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations: the owners, he says, have backed off their demand for an international draft as a requirement for a new CBA. Rosenthal says that they did so out of a “desire to move talks forward.”

As we’ve discussed on several occasions, the idea of an international draft is a bad one. At least if you give a fig about the rights of amateur players and don’t believe that it’s more important for billionaire club owners to save a little money than it is for 16-year-olds from poor countries to earn what they are worth on a free and open market. The Players Union — whose membership does not include international amateur free agents — was assumed to be relatively indifferent to the idea or, at most, was thought to be prepared to use the international draft as a bargaining chip to obtain something greater for itself. Their opposition to the idea, however, proved to be surprisingly strong. Indeed, several high profile major leaguers showed up at bargaining sessions yesterday to personally voice their disapproval of the idea.

Rosenthal says that despite the concession by the owners, the CBA talks have not exactly barreled forward. He notes, however, that the final item which remains is agreement on luxury tax levels and that such matters are usually the final ones agreed to in CBA talks.

The current CBA expires on Thursday. While some have suggested that the owners could lock the players out if an agreement is not reached before its expiration, that scenario seems highly unlikely. After all, the owners’ resolve to do such a thing was reported to be weaker than it was to impose an international draft and we see how quickly that demand was dropped. That aside, the expiration of the CBA has rarely, in and of itself, signaled a work stoppage. Indeed, enitre seasons have been played without a CBA in place and have been so under far more acrimonious relations between players and owners than which currently exists.

The Cubs send Kyle Schwarber to the minors

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Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.

Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.

Now this:

The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.

The A’s designate Stephen Vogt for assignment

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A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.

Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.

Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.