Aaron Gleeman

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates

Diamondbacks sign Henry Rodriguez and his 100-mph fastball


Arizona has signed hard-throwing right-hander Henry Rodriguez to a minor-league contract, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Rodriguez once looked like a future closer thanks to a triple-digit fastball and lots of strikeouts, but his inability to consistently throw strikes kept him from reaching that potential. He also recently had bone spurs removed from his elbow.

Rodriguez has 151 strikeouts in 150 career innings while averaging 98.0 mph on his fastball and holding opponents to a .220 batting average and .296 slugging percentage, but he’s walked 107 batters in those 150 frames and is now with his fifth team at age 28.

MLB’s new commissioner, Rob Manfred, takes over for Bud Selig with a lot on his plate

manfred getty

Bud Selig’s longtime right-hand man, Rob Manfred, will step into his large shoes as MLB commissioner Sunday, becoming the 10th person to fill that role.

Selig campaigned hard for Manfred to get the job and eventually got his way with a unanimous final vote from baseball’s 30 owners, but not before several rounds of voting due to Red Sox chief executive officer Tom Werner garnering initial support from at least one-third of ownership.

According to various reports many owners–chief among them Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox–worried that Manfred was too soft on the players’ union after serving as the owners’ chief labor negotiator during three collective bargaining agreements that avoided any work stoppages. Many owners wanted a commissioner more willing to take a hardline stance in the next CBA negotiations, following the 2016 season.

Manfred has largely worked behind the scenes, but he played a huge part in getting MLB to where it stands today, both good and bad. The sport if flush with cash after generating a record $9 billion in revenue for 2014 and internet and local television money has skyrocketed, but attendance and national television ratings have been underwhelming of late and performance-enhancing drugs remain a major talking point among fans and media.

In ridding the executive committee of owners who share Reinsdorf’s hardline stance on labor talks Manfred seemingly cleared the path for his way of thinking to gain further steam, but it’s worth noting that he’ll be negotiating with another first-time boss in new MLBPA president Tony Clark. Avoiding a work stoppage may not be so easy if Clark decides to dig his heels in right away.

And even if the next round of CBA negotiations goes smoothly, Selig left unsolved for Manfred the same ballpark-related problems he had with the A’s and Rays. Brushing that issue under the rug was often Selig’s approach, but fans in Oakland and Tampa Bay will no doubt be judging Manfred’s tenure on how things shake out for their favorite teams.

Speeding up the pace of the game and finding a way to make watching baseball at the ballpark and on television more appealing to young fans is another prominent issue facing Manfred. And in general, innovation will be crucial if MLB wants to continue raking it record revenues while also setting themselves up for a thriving future. Baseball isn’t dying and claims otherwise have gotten absurd, but MLB needs to find a way to reach a younger demographic on a more consistent, habit-forming basis.

Can he be forward-thinking and take full advantage of technology, both on and off the field, while avoiding a labor stoppage that would halt the current momentum? Can he help change the perception of steroids in baseball versus, say, football, where similar usage by big-name players is relatively minor news? Will he continue to tinker with the number of playoff teams and playoff format like Selig did or leave well enough alone for a while?

Manfred is about to be thrust front and center after years in Selig’s shadow and there’s already an awful lot of questions waiting for him. Welcome to the spotlight, commish.

Thanks to deferred payments, Max Scherzer will get $80,000 per day for the next 14 years

Max Scherzer Getty

Max Scherzer’s seven-year, $210 million contract with the Nationals includes a huge amount of deferred money, making the present-day value of the deal significantly less than $210 million.

But don’t worry: He’s still getting paid a ton of money over the life of the contract, which is spread over the next 14 years and includes a $50 million signing bonus that the 30-year-old ace receives immediately.

MLB’s officially determined that the present-day value of the contract is $191.4 million and in terms of luxury tax purposes the average annual value is sat at $28.69 million.

O’Connor Davies’ sports and entertainment senior group manager Robert Raiola crunched the numbers and calculates that Scherzer will make $81,967 per MLB in-season day for the next 14 years. And assuming Scherzer is a Florida resident paying standard federal, state, and payroll taxes Raiola figures he’ll pocket around $118.4 million of the $210 million contract.

Braves sign Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson, who played for the Braves from 2005-2009 after coming up through their farm system as a first-round draft pick, has returned to Atlanta on a minor-league contract with a spring training invite.

Johnson split last season between the Yankees, Red Sox, and Orioles, hitting a combined .215 with seven homers and a .659 OPS in 106 games.

He had some big years offensively early in his career, but now Johnson is 33 years old and hasn’t topped a .725 OPS since 2010. He does have some defensive versatility, so it’s possible he’ll be able to snag a spot on the Braves’ bench.

Report: MLB is moving the amateur draft from June to July

mlb draft logo

There’s no official announcement yet, but Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports that “NCAA coaches and MLB officials met Monday” and came away with a “general agreement” to move the draft from mid-June to July 1.

In doing so the signing deadline for draft picks would be July 15, which leaves just two weeks for decisions to be made and negotiations to take place.

The move to July 1 would be made at least in part to allow players participating in the College World Series to finish their seasons before the draft. It’s unclear how the delayed draft date would impact the start of rookie-ball seasons for minor leaguers.