The first dustup at Camp Free Agent occurs

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The free agent camp that the MLBPA has established in Bradenton, Florida has only been open a couple of days and only has about 30 or so players in it so far. Despite just getting going, it already has its first controversy on its hands.

Ken Rosenthal passed along a comment from an anonymous club executive this afternoon, who claimed that a club’s special assistant to the General Manager showed up to the free agent camp but was was asked to leave and was subsequently escorted out. Rosenthal passed along his source’s comment: “I cannot believe the players wouldn’t want scouts at their workout to see who’s in shape.”

Rosenthal then passed long the MLBPA’s comment on the matter:

Gonna side, strongly, with the union on this one.

The free agent camp is not, as the representative notes, a tryout camp. If a club wants to see a free agent work out, it is more than welcome to set up a tryout. A tryout in which a player is focused and prepared, with sufficient notice that club officials will be watching. You know, how it always works with free agents who offer open showcases when looking for work. If they want to “see who’s in shape,” sign the guy to a contract pending physical and take his damn physical.

The free agent camp is not that. It is a workout, not a tryout, facility. If a club inquires about a free agent today, it should be no different than the manner in which a club inquires about a free agent in December: call his agent. Unless scouts are showing up at players’ houses, home gyms and offseason workouts as it is — note: they’re not — they shouldn’t be doing it here.

This all seems calculated to me. I suspect that clubs know how it’s supposed to work and that someone sent a front office employee in anyway with the intention of getting escorted out, thereby creating a news story about it. I suspect they did so in order to cast the camp as a circus, turn public opinion against players and, perhaps, provide additional excuses for why clubs are not signing free agents.

Crazy? Maybe. But it’s no crazier than there being 90 free agents on February 14.

 

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.