Why in the heck is Franklin Gutierrez on the restricted list?

25 Comments

The sad news about Franklin Gutierrez’s health comes with some baffling news as well: he’s been placed on the restricted list by the Mariners. By being on the restricted list, Gutierrez is not paid his $1 million contract for 2014. He does not accrue service time either which, presumably, means that if he comes back next year he’s still under Mariners control.

Question: why in the heck is he on the restricted list?

The Restricted list is defined by Rule 15 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball. This is it:

(a) RESTRICTED LIST. If, without permission from a player’s Major or Minor
League Club, a player fails, within 10 days of the opening of the player’s Club’s
championship season, to report to, or contract with, the player’s Club, the player may be
reported by the Club to the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee for
placement on the “Restricted List.” A player on the Restricted List shall not be eligible
to play for any Major or Minor League Club.

Before the start of the championship season but not before January 1, a Major or
Minor League Club also may report for placement on the Restricted List any player,
whether or not under contract for the current season, who has given the Club written or
telegraphic notification that the player will not report until 30 days or more after the
opening of the championship season. Requests to the Commissioner or the
Commissioner’s designee shall be accompanied by the notification which the Club
received from the player.

The Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee may place a Major or Minor
League Reserve List player on the Restricted List if the player’s Club certifies that
unusual circumstances exist.

Normally the restricted list is used as a disciplinary or quasi-disciplinary thing. Like, say, a player is arrested. Or is in drug rehab. Or has left the team for unauthorized purposes. It’s not used to avoid paying players who are sick or injured.

The interesting twist here is that Gutierrez, while apparently, sick, has not reported to camp. While this is only speculation, he apparently decided that he was so sick and so not able to play that reporting wasn’t necessary. I would assume that, based on this, the Mariners are taking the position that Gutierrez has not reported per Rule 15. If he had shown up and was shown to be sick, presumably the Mariners would have no choice but to put him on the disabled list. If he were on the 60-day DL, he wouldn’t count against the 40-man roster. And he would still be paid.  If he asked to be absent from camp and that permission was not granted by the Mariners, man, where do they get off?

No matter the case, I do wonder if the MLBPA and the league is going to allow this move to stand. Because, even if it’s technically true that Gutierrez has not reported, he is essentially being punished for being too ill to play baseball. And that’s not the point of the restricted list.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
7 Comments

March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.