<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper and the Nats may have a grievance hearing this month

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We first heard about this over a year ago, but Ken Rosenthal reminds us today that the Nationals and Bryce Harper s are heading toward a grievance hearing this month.

The deal: Harper and the Nationals reached an oral agreement on his current deal less than a minute before the Aug. 16, 2010 midnight deadline to sign draft picks. In the final minutes — when not everything was in writing — the Nationals believed that Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, agreed that the contract would not contain a clause that would allow Harper to opt out of the deal and opt-in to the salary arbitration system once he was eligible. Boras, on the other hand, believes the opt-out clause was included.

When the final written contract came from the Nats, it didn’t have the provision and Harper refused to sign it.  Major League Baseball and the Players Association proposed a compromise: a provision stating that if Harper qualified for salary arbitration before he reached the end of the contract, a grievance hearing would determine whether he could opt of his contract.  The hope being, I presume, that the issue would be moot and the contract would end before Harper was arbitration eligible (like, say, if he spent more time in the minors than ended up spending). But that didn’t happen and Harper now stands to be arbitration eligible if he could opt-out.

A hearing this month, Rosenthal notes, would be penny wise and pound foolish for the Nationals. Yes, if they won they’d have to only pay him $1 million or so under his deal and if they lose he could get $3-4 million in arbitration, perhaps. But it would also tick off Harper a bit, one assumes, and that’s no way to treat the guy you consider to be the future of the franchise.

Or, maybe, the Nats think that Harper is going to head out the door via free agency in four years anyway, and that no amount of kind treatment would change that.

Nelson Cruz has agreed to a deal with the Mariners: four years, $57 million

Nelson Cruz Getty
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UPDATE: The deal is confirmed: four-years, $57 million for Cruz.

10:33 AM: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes passes this along:

Rojas has passed this thing along from El Caribe in the past and, while it’s not his report, Rojas is pretty reliable when it comes to this stuff. Guess we’ll see shortly.

If it is accurate, though: the annual money is not terrible — it’s less than $15 million per, which is lower than a qualifying offer — but I still maintain that four years to Cruz is gonna look bad by the time it is all said and done.

That said: the M’s are in win-now mode, as they should be. If they get two good years from him they probably won’t care. Nor should they.

The Yankees are in “serious pursuit” of Andrew Miller

andrew miller getty
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Not to be confused with “hot pursuit,” which is a totally different thing. This is serious pursuit:

Miller, it has been reported, has already fielded “multiple three-year offers,” so the Yankees’ “seriousness” may be about them going four. And, as Olney notes in subsequent tweets, if they did that, they could easily give up any pretense of bringing back Phil Hughes, collect his compensation draft pick and still have a lights-out bullpen with Miller and Dellin Betances.

Miller, 29, had a 2.02 ERA with a 103/17 K/BB ratio over 62 1/3 innings this past season between the Red Sox and Orioles.

Voters really can make the Hall of Fame about nothing but baseball if they want to

Bob Ryan
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Last night Bill linked Bob Ryan’s column about his Hall of Fame vote. I supplied a bit of a gotcha element to it in a tweet when, after Ryan said that he’d gladly vote for known PED users like Barry Bonds for the Hall of Fame if the Hall would give voters direction to do so and if they displayed a sign at the museum providing a disclaimer for the PED-era, I noted that there has long been such a sign. I would love to see the existence of that sign force Ryan to vote for Barry Bonds, but I don’t presume it will.

But the sign thing is just some snarking wise on my part. The real issue I have with Ryan is his insistence that someone needs to tell writers that it’s OK to ignore the PED stuff. Because, to hear him tell it, he’d really like to ignore it and vote for these guys.

He says that, back in the day, a Hall of Fame vote “was about baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball, period.” And he says that “The Hall should instruct voters to do so strictly on the numbers and accomplishments. Voters should factor out the possible intrusion of PEDs.”

Why should he wait for the Hall of Fame to instruct him to do this? Why doesn’t he just vote in such a fashion himself, like many others already do?

This is not me being flip. Because, before he writes that stuff, he takes people who may call voters who would exclude Barry Bonds and the like to task. He talks about how it’s about integrity and integrity matters. In this he is decidedly NOT taking direction from the Hall of Fame, which specifically allows people like Barry Bonds to be up for consideration and already has many players who used PEDs in it. Indeed, the Hall could, but has chosen not to, order voters that any player known to have taken steroids or HGH is ineligible for consideration. The Hall of Fame hasn’t done that, however, and Ryan and others have decided — as is their right — to make their own judgment about what is important here and vote accordingly.

So if Ryan has not needed the Hall of Fame to tell him how to vote before now, why would he need such direction from the Hall in order to change his vote going forward? Or, more to the point, how on Earth could Ryan’s integrity hinge on some administrative diktat from someone like Jeff Idelson or whoever? If Ryan has decided that the PED judging has become a drag and that the Hall of Fame should just be about baseball, he can do that immediately. He can do that with the ballot he currently has sitting on his desk.

And if he did, it would be a far more powerful and useful thing than an administrator in Cooperstown changing the wording on the ballot. Bob Ryan is far more respected by sportswriters who vote for the Hall of Fame than Jeff Idelson is. What if someone in Bob Ryan’s position said this:

“Look, this is dumb. Baseball has a long sordid history and a few hundred baseball writers aren’t the history police. We’re baseball people, and we should just vote on the baseball and let the historians make the judgments with the benefit of study and time. We should just vote on the baseball side of it, and in 2014, I begin to do just that.”

If he did, others would likely follow his lead. And once they did, that would do more to fix a broken process than claiming that the Hall of Fame is keeping a person with as much knowledge, insight and strong opinions as Bob Ryan has from doing what he wants to do.

Great Moment in Fake Trade Rumors From Teen Reporters Who Aren’t Reporters

Olsen
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That’s in all caps because I assume it will be a running feature that requires a formal title.

In case you missed it — and God, I hope you did — someone who styles themselves a teenage “baseball insider” tweeted a fake “Matt Kemp traded to the Orioles for Bud Norris and Dylan Bundy” thing late last night. In the past this sort of thing would probably be totally ignored, but with the emergence of MLB Daily Dish’s then-in-high-school Chris Cotillo last year — who actually reports stuff — and that flukey scoop on the Billy Butler signing by those young kids not too long ago — the idea of a 14-year-old kid getting a big piece of transactional news is not beyond the scope of plausibility, even if this one was phony.

Thus, on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, actual people who would be required to write quickly about such rumors were, presumably, on the phone with their sources, trying to figure it out and then, later, when it turned out to be fake, grumbling about it all on Twitter. Some thoughts:

  • As we’ve noted many, many times around here, a huge percentage of the real transaction news comes from a handful of reporters whose business it is to get those things. We may question whether any one scoop along those lines is valuable, but the fact is that certain folks — Heyman, Olney, Rosenthal and others with pretty recognizable names to people who care about such things — specialize in this. And, if someone else breaks such news, you can be assured that in very short order, one of those guys will confirm it with their own source. So, with the full understanding that we all find trade and free agent rumors fun and really like to talk about them when they happen, perhaps we shan’t go crazy about any rumor unless it comes from one of those guys.
  • While putting out fake trade “news” is pretty weak sauce, 14-year-old boys are made up of about 79% weak sauce. Think about the stupid crap you did when you were 14 and thank God that there wasn’t an entire segment of the media who gave a crap, because boy you’d have been in deep. Which is to say, if you get burnt by a 14-year-old’s “news” to the point where you publicly and seriously take them to task for it, how in the hell would you have reacted back in the day when 14-year-olds would simply make prank calls? I sort of feel like, back then, a newspaper would not have issued an editorial about the perils of being asked if your refrigerator was running, so maybe now nothing more than an eye roll is in order now too.
  • Finally, as I always do at these times, allow me to remind everyone that news like trades and free agent signings are, by definition, commodity news that will get out eventually and thus the need for people to have it first — be it reporters who fight to get it first or readers to read about it ASAP — is not as great as we have all been led to believe. Breathe a bit and worry more about what that kind of news means, not where it came from first. Besides, eventually the media will be entirely bypassed by this stuff anyway, with teams and players reporting it directly, so let’s get used to that world.

Now, let us all calm down and focus on the important things in life. Like why a baseball player who hit damn near 800 home runs won’t make the Hall of Fame again this year.