Let the bidding begin. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu has been declared a free agent by MLB and is now free to sign with any team.
Abreu defected from Cuba earlier this year and we learned last week that he had established residency in Haiti. The 26-year-old needed to be unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before MLB could declare him as a free agent.
Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Abreu is highly-regarded for his power potential. Because he’s older than 23 and played in Cuba’s top league for more than three years, he will not be subject to MLB’s international spending cap. Some have speculated that he could get a richer contract than Yasiel Puig’s seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers.
Ben Badler of Baseball America reported earlier this week that Abreu is scheduled to hold two open showcases for all teams next week in the Dominican Republic. As Sanchez notes, the Giants are among the teams who have expressed interest.
NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.
The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.
Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.
Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.
MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.
Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.
There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.
Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.
Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.
Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.