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Rays to renew Blake Snell at only $573,700

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays are going to renew Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell for $573,700 for the 2019 season. That means Snell will make only $15,500 more than he made last season. The minimum salary for 2018 is $555,000, up $10,000 from last year.

Such moves are not uncommon for pre-arbitration players like Snell. Players with less than three years of service time have no leverage whatsoever and the clubs can play them whatever they want as long as it’s not below the minimum salary.

That said, it’s also not unheard of for clubs to give pre-arb players higher salaries for exceptional performance. For example, the Cubs paid Kris Bryant $1.05 million following his MVP-winning 2016 season despite the fact he was not yet arbitration-eligible. Snell, of course, won the American League Cy Young Award in 2018, winning a major league-best 21 games with only five losses and posted an AL-best 1.89 ERA with 221 strikeouts and 64 walks in 180.2 innings.

The salary structure, as provided by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, gives total free agency to players with more than six years of service time, some moderate amounts of leverage to players with 3-6 years of service time thanks to arbitration, and no leverage at all to guys, like Snell, in their first three seasons. Yet, because teams have emphasized youth so much in recent years, it is lowest-paid players who provide the most value to teams through their production, upsetting the expectations created by the salary structure. It’s thus a broken system that the players must attempt to rectify through negotiation going forward.

But just because the Rays can be this stingy with their ace doesn’t mean that it’s right for them to do so. Nor does it mean that they should. It’s, quite frankly, a cheap and low-rent move. They should do better by their players, especially their superstars.

The Players’ Weekend uniforms are terrible

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The Yankees and the Dodgers have a storied World Series history, having met in the Fall Classic 11 times. Part of what made those falls so classic was the livery worn by each club.

The Yankees’ uniforms have gone unchanged since 1936. The Dodgers, though changing cities in 1958, have had the same basic, classic look with only minor derivations for almost as long. You can’t even say the names of these teams without picturing pinstripes, those red Dodgers numbers, both teams’ clean road grays, the Yankees navy and the Dodgers’ Dodger blue.

They looked like a couple of expansion teams last night however, at least sartorially speaking.

As you probably know it’s Players’ Weekend this weekend, and teams all over the league wore either all black or all white with player-chosen nicknames on the back. We’ve had the nicknames for a couple of years now and that’s fine, but the black and white combo is new. It doesn’t look great, frankly. I riffed on that on Twitter yesterday a good bit. But beyond my mere distaste for the ensembles, they present a pretty problematic palette, too.

For one thing the guys in black blend in with the umpires. Quick, look at these infields and tell me who’s playing and who’s officiating:

The white batting helmets look especially bad:

But some guys — like Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers, realized that pine tar makes the white helmets look super special:

There was also a general issue with the white-on-white uniforms in that it’s rather hard to read the names and the numbers on the backs of the jerseys. This was especially true during the Cubs-Nationals game in the afternoon sunlight. You’ll note this as a much bigger problem on Sunday. It’s all rather ironic, of course, that the players have been given the right to put fun, quirky nicknames on the backs of their jerseys but no one can really see them.

The SNY booth was reading many people’s minds last night, noting how much Mad Magazine “Spy vs. Spy” energy this is throwing off:

I’ll also note that if you’re flipping between games or looking at highlights on social media it’s super hard to even tell which team is which — and even what game’s highlights you’re seeing — just by looking which, you know, is sort of the point of having uniforms in the first place.

I’m glad the players have a weekend in which they’re allowed to wear what they want. I just wish they’d wear something better.