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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.

Reds acquire Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers

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The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.

This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.

Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.