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Tommy Pham on All-Star voting: ‘It’s always unfair. It’s never going to be fair.’

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Over at The Athletic, Josh Tolentino has a story up that makes a good point: the Rays currently have only one guy — Austin Meadows — in starting position in All-Star voting despite having multiple guys who are deserving on merit. He goes through the Rays’ roster to see who is deserving.

Before he does that, though, he gets a quote from Tommy Pham that’ll probably get picked up by a lot of people and cast in a certain way but which, really, makes a good point in a less obvious way.

Here’s what Pham said about the Rays’ so-far poor showing in All-Star voting:

“We won’t get credit, man. It’s always unfair. Big market vs. small market. It’s never going to be fair. With Avisaíl [Garcia] and me, when I saw the ballot of the guys ahead of us – (Red Sox) Jackie Bradley Jr. and (Yankees) Brett Gardner – and they’re hitting around .200 or lower. That tells you it right there.”

I presume some in the Boston and New York media will pick up on the comments to Bradley and Gardner and try to make hay out of it, because that’s just how these things go. Pham goes on to talk about how the Rays are never featured on ESPN and how big market vs. small market rules such considerations and I suppose people will cast that as whining in some way as well.

But there’s something else Pham said that is more notable to me:

“It’s never going to be fair. It has to change because when you go into arbitration, that’s a big thing that’s talked about with accomplishments. Baseball has to be better to fix it.”

Do All-Star credentials have a big impact on arbitration. I dunno. I think it’s more of a side factor — something thrown out in passing — as opposed to the meat of an arbitration presentation, but it’s not nothing. If it has even a slight effect, though, it’s garbage because we have an All-Star voting system that is, frankly, ridiculous in its randomness and geared far more toward maximizing web traffic and sponsorship engagement than it is in actually picking players for the All-Star Game. To the extent an All-Star selection — especially a selection as a starter — impacts arbitration awards Pham is right to be mad about it because those arbitration awards, in turn, have a big impact on later salary negotiations. It’s bad enough that voting leaders get cash bonuses now, but if MLB’s farce of an All-Star voting system costs players money down the road, it’s way worse.

As for the larger stuff about the Rays not getting exposure: well, yeah. That’s a tale as old as baseball, unfortunately. But even if it’s an old complaint, and one about which not much can be done, it doesn’t negate what Pham is saying about the arbitration angle.

Nationals to pay minor leaguers $300 — not $400 — per week through June

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The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli reports that the Nationals will pay their minor leaguers $300 per week through the end of June. MLB agreed to pay all minor leaguers $400 per week through today, May 31. Many teams have extended that by at least a month. Some, like the Marlins, Padres, and Mariners, have committed to paying their minor leaguers beyond that.

Ghiroli also notes that the Nationals cut more than 30 minor leaguers, as there will almost certainly not be a minor league season this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is interesting that the Nationals are only offering $300 per week as opposed to the standard $400 weekly. If we assume that the Nationals’ organization has 275 minor leaguers, they will save $110,000 in August by offering $100 less. The Nationals are coming off of winning a championship. While the Nationals haven’t experienced as much of a boon as other champions due to the unfortunate timing, their owner still has a net worth north of $4 billion. The Nats’ franchise value is approximately $2 billion, per Forbes. No, it’s not all liquid, but $110,000 is change that gets lost between the couch cushions for this and many other franchises.

Players are taking note of which teams take care of their players and other personnel, and which are not. The teams that continued to pay minor leaguers, kept staff paid and on board, and helped in other ways will have a better time going forward of attracting and retaining talent both in terms of players and front office personnel (including scouts). While teams should pay their players out of a sense of morality, there is a competitive advantage to doing so as well.