Nationals sign Willy Taveras to minor-league deal

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When the A’s traded for and then almost immediately released Willy Taveras last week I wrote: “Expect him to land a bench gig at the minimum salary with a team that likes outfielders who run fast and make tons of outs.”
Apparently the Nationals fit that description, because this afternoon they signed Taveras to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training. Washington has now invited approximately 10,000 recognizably veteran names to camp, with Taveras being joined by guys like Eddie Guardado, Miguel Batista, Chris Duncan, Kevin Mench, Eric Bruntlett, Logan Kensing, Joel Peralta, Jamie Burke, and Jerry Owens.
Taveras’ primary competition should be Owens because they’re essentially the same player and keeping both good-glove, no-hit speedsters around doesn’t make sense, especially with the speedy and offensively capable Willie Harris already around as the team’s fourth outfielder. The bigger question is how many more random veterans the Nationals can sign before they run out of double-digit uniform numbers to hand out.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?