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Astros, George Springer agree to a two-year, $24 million deal

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Astros and George Springer have agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal.

The pact buys out this year and next year’s arbitration years for Springer. He’ll have one more year of arbitration eligibility in 2020 before becoming a free agent after that season. Springer was a Super Two, so he was slated to go through arbitration four times. Last year was his first go-around. He ended up settling for $3.9 million before his hearing, so the $12 million average annual salary he’ll make this year and next is a nice raise. For the record, he had requested $10.5 million for this season and the Astros had countered at $8.5 million. Have to figure that, in addition to simply wanting to lock up Springer for the next two seasons, Houston didn’t like its chances in this year’s hearing.

Springer, 28, hit .283/.367/.522 with 34 homers and 85 RBI in 2017. He was also the World Series MVP, putting up a 1.471 OPS with five homers among his 11 hits in the Fall Classic.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.

The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.

As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.