UPDATE: Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Braves are expected to lose as many as 12 players as a result of the sanctions, plus they’ll suffer significant restrictions on international signings for the next four years, plus they will lose a draft pick in next year’s draft.
2:46PM: Major League Baseball is expected to announce its sanctions against the Atlanta Braves for their international signing violations as early as this afternoon. Earlier today a handful of reports came out suggesting what at least part of those penalties will entail. Think multiple prospects signed in the last year or two.
Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that shortstop Kevin Maitan, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, second baseman Yunior Severino and righthander Juan Contreras — the Braves top four international signees of 2016 — will all become restricted free agents, but it is not clear what the restrictions will be. Maitan, it should be noted, was the number one ranked international prospect in all of baseball last year. Severino was the eighth-ranked, Gutierrez the 15th-ranked and Conrearas the 41st-ranked.
In addition to losing prospects, there will likewise be financial penalties and, most likely, future signing restrictions. The severity of these penalties suggest that, whatever the specifics of the violations MLB has found to have been committed by the Braves, they are unprecedented in scope and severity.
Athletics president Dave Kaval is ready to take full advantage of the interleague series between the Giants and A’s this season. While the two teams customarily play a few preseason “Battle of the Bay” games each year, they’re also scheduled to meet each other six times during the regular season; once for a three-game set in San Francisco, then for a three-game set in Oakland. On Saturday, Kaval announced that any Giants fans looking to park at the Coliseum this year will be charged $50 instead of the standard, general admission $30 — an additional “rivalry fee” that can be easily waived by shouting, “Go A’s!” at the gate.
This isn’t the first time that a major-league team has tried to keep rival fans at bay, though Kaval doesn’t seem all that intent on actually driving fans away from the ballpark. Back in 2012, the Nationals staged a “Take Back the Park” campaign after people began complaining that Phillies fans were overtaking Nationals Park during rivalry games. They limited a single-series presale of Nats-Phillies tickets to buyers within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in hopes of filling the stands with a few more friendly faces. Washington COO Andy Feffer told the press that while he would treat all guests with “respect and courtesy,” he wanted Phillies fans to feel irked enough to pay attention to the Nationals. In the end, things went… well, a little south for all involved.
Whether the Giants are planning any retaliatory measures has yet to be seen, but it’s not as if this is going to be an enforceable rule. The real travesty here, if you’re an A’s fan or just pretending to be one, is that the parking fees have increased from $20 to $30 this season. Unless you’re a season ticket holder with a prepaid $10 parking permit, it’s far better to brave the crowds and take advantage of local public transportation. There are bound to be far fewer irate Giants fans on BART than at the gates — even if the gag only lasts a few days out of the year.