Cubs release Rex Brothers before $1.4 million deal becomes guaranteed

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Rex Brothers was released today by the Cubs, who signed the left-hander to a $1.42 million contract in December after acquiring him from the Rockies.

However, because the contract was an agreement to avoid arbitration it’s only partially guaranteed. By releasing Brothers now the Cubs owe him only 30 days of termination pay, which is around $300,000. In other words, they made the decision so early in spring training precisely because it saved them the most money in a situation unique to this specific type of contract.

Not so long ago Brothers looked like one of the best young relievers in the league, saving 19 games with  1.74 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 67 innings for the Rockies in 2013 as a 25-year-old. However, the former first-round draft pick struggled in 2014 and then spent most of last season in the minors before failing to impress the Cubs this spring.

At age 28 he should have plenty of interested suitors on a minor-league contract, but will have to get his career back on track before returning to the majors.

Minor League Baseball accuses MLB of making misleading statements

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Yesterday several members of Congress, calling themselves the “Save Minor League Baseball Task Force,” introduced a resolution saying that Major League Baseball should drop its plan to eliminate the minor league clubs and, rather, maintain the current minor league structure. In response, Major League Baseball issued a statement accusing Minor League Baseball of refusing to negotiate and imploring Congress to prod Minor League Baseball back to the bargaining table.

Only one problem with that: According to Minor League Baseball, it has been at the table. And, in a new statement today, claims that MLB is making knowingly false statements about all of that:

“Minor League Baseball was encouraged by the dialogue in a recent meeting between representatives of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball and a commitment by both sides to engage further on February 20. However, Major League Baseball’s claims that Minor League Baseball is not participating in these negotiations in a constructive and productive manner is false. Minor League Baseball has provided Major League Baseball with numerous substantive proposals that would improve the working conditions for Minor League Baseball players by working with MLB to ensure adequate facilities and reasonable travel. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball continues to misrepresent our positions with misleading information in public statements that are not conducive to good faith negotiations.”

I suppose Rob Manfred’s next statement is either going to double down or, alternatively, he’s going to say “wait, you were at the airport Marriott? We thought the meeting was at the downtown Marriott! Oh, so you were at the table. Our bad!”

Minor League Baseball is not merely offering dueling statements, however. A few minutes ago it released a letter it had sent to Rob Manfred six days ago, the entirely of which can be read here.

In the letter, the Minor League Baseball Negotiating Committee said it, “is singularly focused on working with MLB to reach an agreement that will best ensure that baseball remains the National Pastime in communities large and small throughout our
country,” and that to that end it seeks to “set forth with clarity in a letter to you the position of MiLB on the key issues that we must resolve in these negotiations.”

From there the letter goes through the various issues Major League Baseball has put on the table, including the status of the full season and short season leagues and implores MLB not to, as proposed, eliminate the Appalachian League. It blasts MLB’s concept of “The Dream League” — the bucket into which MLB proposed to throw all newly-unaffiliated clubs — as a “seriously flawed concept,” and strongly counters the talking point Major League Baseball has offered about how it allegedly “subsidizes” the minor leagues.

You should read the whole letter. And Rob Manfred should probably stop issuing statements that, it would appear, are easily countered.