Last night the Oakland Athletics released Billy Butler. It wasn’t a shock as Butler has underperformed in both of his years with the A’s and was recently involved in a clubhouse altercation with teammate Danny Valencia. If you think, however, that the Butler release was the A’s tacit way of holding Butler responsible for the altercation, think again, because the A’s are going to release Valencia too.
That comes via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who says that Valencia is not likely to last the final three weeks of the season. Given that Valencia has played well this year — he’s hitting .289/.346/.458, with a lot of that production coming as a lefty-masher — it’s hard not to see the impending move as the A’s turning the page on what has been a tumultuous clubhouse this season. Coco Crisp, who bristled over his lack of playing time and his belief that the A’s were trying to keep his 2017 option from vesting, was traded two weeks ago.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.