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Owners, players ratify new Collective Bargaining Agreement

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The Associated Press is reporting that baseball owners have ratified the new Collective Bargaining Agreement by a 29-1 vote, conducted over telephone.

No official announcement of the vote has been made and no public confirmation of the breakdown of the vote should be expected, but the AP’s source says that Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was the lone dissenting vote during the telephone meeting Tuesday. Sternberg declined comment when contacted by the AP. Later, he offered this statement to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

“I am thankful for the hard work, leadership, and spirit of compromise that were essential to this agreement coming together. Twice a decade, the bargaining process provides an opportunity to address the extraordinary and widening competitive gap that exists on-field between higher and lower revenue clubs. I feel that opportunity was missed here.”

The man presumably wanted greater revenue sharing, penalties for large-spending organizations and help for his club.

The deal was agreed to on November 30 and, as all CBAs do, made significant changes to the business of the game and, in some cases, the manner and context in which it will be played for the next five years.

It raises luxury tax thresholds, penalizing teams which spend above a certain set amount on aggregate team payroll, while simultaneously increasing the tax rate, which will, over time, serve as a greater form of downward pressure on payrolls. It imposes a hard cap on signing bonuses for international amateur players. It eliminates the provision that gave World Series home-field advantage to the All-Star winner and bans rookie hazing in which players are dressed up as women or female characters. It likewise bans smokeless tobacco use for players who do not already have major league service.

UPDATE: The CBA has now been ratified, unanimously, by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.