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Scott Boras unhappy with Blue Jays’ handling of Aaron Sanchez’s contract renewal

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Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez is not yet eligible for arbitration, so his team has almost all of the power over his contract status until then. Typically, the two sides negotiate a salary but it’s rarely much more than the major league minimum salary (currently $535,000). There are exceptions, such as when the Cubs recently renewed Kris Bryant‘s contract at a record $1.05 million. But teams simply have all of the leverage so there are only a few cases in which they feel incentivized to budge.

The Jays and Sanchez, represented by Scott Boras, could not come to an agreement on his 2017 salary, so the club renewed him for the major league minimum at $535,000, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports. Understandably, Boras isn’t happy about it. He called it the “harshest treatment any team could provide a player.”

The full quote from Boras:

They offered him a very small raise above the minimum, which is not commensurate to his performance peers. Some teams have very low payment standards but they say if you renew we understand, but you still keep the money we’re giving you. Toronto is so rigid, they not only have a very antiquated or substandard policy compared to the other teams for extraordinary performance, but if you don’t accept what that low standard is, they then have the poison pill of saying, you get paid the minimum. It’s the harshest treatment in baseball that any club could provide for a player. That’s why few teams have such a policy.

Jays GM Ross Atkins said of the situation, “I don’t see it as punitive, we don’t see it as punitive because it’s your choice to not accept the higher number.”

Sanchez, 24, went 15-2 last season with an American League-best 3.00 ERA along with a 161/63 K/BB ratio in 192 innings. He also pitched a quality game in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Indians, helping the Jays stave off a sweep.

If Sanchez were to hit the free agent market today, he would get a large multi-year contract. He will certainly get a noticeable raise when he becomes arbitration-eligible after the season. The Jays are taking advantage of Sanchez’s current lack of leverage. What his situation — and Bryant’s, and others’ — shows is how outmoded and unfair the system is when it comes to properly compensating talented young players. Remember, this is after many of those young players toil in the minor leagues for several years and receive less than minimum wage. The power imbalance between pre-arb players and their teams is something that the players’ union might want to address in the next round of negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.