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Angels have been “coincidentally” making personnel choices around players’ incentive bonuses

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An interesting news item slipped through our fingers last week, as Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times wrote about the curious way in which the Angels have handled pitchers Bud Norris and Jesse Chavez recently.

Norris gets a $500,000 bonus if he reaches 60 relief appearances. Norris was at 56 relief appearances. The Angels needed a spot starter on September 15, so they chose Norris rather than Chavez or Yusmeiro Petit, who had both started for the team previously. Norris pitched in relief four days later, then made another spot start this past Saturday. With six games left, Norris is three relief appearances shy of reaching his bonus. Given the rate at which he’s been used in September — only five times, twice as a starter — that seems pretty unlikely.

Chavez would earn a $250,000 bonus if he reaches 22 starts and another $250,000 at 24 starts. To date, the right-hander has made 21 starts, all coming prior to the month of August. As mentioned, the Angels chose Norris over him to start on both September 15 and 23.

Manager Mike Scioscia denied having any idea about Norris and Chavez’s contract incentives. “In my position as manager, I’m not privy to those contract things, and for good reason,” he said.

GM Billy Eppler said, “It’s just a coincidence,” and added that the decisions were made because Scioscia likes to have “maneuverable pieces” in the bullpen.

Norris declined to comment on the situation. Chavez said he wasn’t bothered by the choices the team made. I, however, am bothered by it on their behalf and think it’s a bit more than a “coincidence” that Eppler and Scioscia made personnel decisions that just so happened to benefit the team financially. Hopefully, the players’ union is also bothered by it and can get the ball rolling on ending contract incentives that teams can simply manage around.

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: