MLB, Atlantic League announce three-year partnership to test experimental rules and equipment

Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball and the independent Atlantic League announced on Tuesday that the two sides have reached a three-year agreement that will allow MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during the Atlantic League’s Championship Season. The announcement also notes that MLB will install radar tracking technology in eight ballparks and provide statistical services to Atlantic League clubs.

As the term “independent” indicates, the Atlantic League operates separately from Major League Baseball. That MLB will have influence on the league’s rules and equipment choices as well as access to data is a pretty big deal. It was only recently that MLB even acknowledged that independent leagues existed.

The Atlantic League is essentially a baseball laboratory for MLB, not unlike the Arizona Fall League. It’s not known yet exactly what kind of rules MLB plans to test and at what frequency, but it will be interesting to watch. One wonders if this will make life more difficult for the players, who are paid less than minor leaguers.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.