Last night Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported (subscription only) that, as a result of rules violations in the international free agent market, the Atlanta Braves are facing a “substantial” fine, will be hit restrictions in the international market that will be “severe” and that they will, in all likelihood, lose prospects already in their system which were signed as a result of rules violations.
Major League Baseball has still not finished its investigation, but it is expected to announce the sanctions before Thanksgiving.
Rosenthal’s report says that, among the rules broken, the Braves improperly entered into oral agreements with amateur players before they were old enough to sign. These agreements may have included cash payments and housing, both of which violate baseball’s rules. Among the players the Braves may lose are shortstop Kevin Maitan, who was a top signee out of Venezuela last year who will turn 18 in February.
The sanctions will come soon enough. I am far more curious to hear about the transgressions and their nature. I suspect that when we do, will learn a lot about the international signing process that we didn’t know before and which, while reflecting most poorly on the Braves and their employees who broke rules, will not reflect all that well on Major League Baseball either.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.
One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.
“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.
Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.
Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.
Anyway, enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.