I don’t always share “the biggest” MLB stories in Around the League, because I figure you can get that from a site that’s actually dedicated to full MLB coverage. If it’s a really, really big story, sure, I’ll write it up, but probably in its own post. Instead, I think I try to note some of the interesting, random, quirky, funny, or thoughtful things going on around the game. I’m not sure why I’m typing this up here right now. I guess I was just wondering why I choose the things I choose for this space.
- Jeff Passan writes about the increasing prevalence and team-friendliness of club options tacked on to the end of arb and pre-arb extensions. Taken together with the contract, itself – which is often very small because of team control and pre-arb/arb expectations, as well as the lure of the first big score – these options are preventing some of the best players from reaching free agency in their prime, with a chance to score huge dollars. We’re seeing more and more writing about this topic from the large, national mainstream media, and I tend to think it’s only a matter of time before the pendulum swings in the other direction, and we have more and more elite young players refusing to sign these kinds of extensions. (Or, at the very least, the price of poker is going to go up. Naturally this would occur in the years leading up to the Cubs possibly having several pre-arb extension candidates.)
- Tom Tango responds that, in theory, the players aren’t giving up those option years for nothing – the value of them should be baked into the salary the player is receiving in the preceding years. Tango is right in the sense that it’s not like players are out there saying, “Ok, I’ll take that 5-year, $25 million extension. What’s that? You want to append a $5 million club option on there for my age 27 season? Sure, go ahead. It’s just an option!” If a team wanted an option like that, they’d have to pay far, far more in salary for the first five years. That said, I think point that comes out of Passan’s piece when read together with Tango’s response is that, perhaps, players and their agents aren’t properly valuing option years. By that I mean, not just the “price” that those options should be set at, but the salary bump that should occur in the early years of the deal to compensate for the option.
- How about the other kind of extension? The kind that comes just a year or two before free agency? The kind that is regularly going to big-time pitchers, who are getting huge years and huge dollars? Good idea? A FanGraphs piece confirms what you probably already suspect: historically, giving a late-20s starting pitcher a 5/6/7/8-year extension is not likely to be a good idea. As we look ahead to free agency, and to the Cubs’ need for front-line starting pitching, it’ll be worth remembering if the Cubs absolutely refuse to go beyond five years for anyone.
- Dan Le Batard with an interesting take on Yasiel Puig’s transition to the States, and the behavior we’re quick to admonish. I’m not sure I agree with everything in there, but I do agree with the overarching principle: we can’t quite know what this is like for Puig.
- More potential elbow trouble: the Reds have “backed” Mat Latos’s rehab by a couple days (at least, I’d think) because of elbow inflammation, and Rays youngster Matt Moore has been placed on the DL with an elbow injury that Jeff Passan hears involves the UCL. He’s headed to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, which always makes you fear that Tommy John surgery is in the future.
- Is instant replay killing the fun of arguments and ejections? Well, although there hasn’t been one yet this year, there still project to be plenty thanks to balls-and-strikes. (UPDATE: Apologies. I wrote portions of this yesterday, because I’ve been tending to The Little Boy, and needed to work in advance when he gave me windows of opportunity. Obviously Ricky Renteria got the first heave-ho last night, and, indeed, it was on balls-and-strikes.)
- Mike Napoli is the pot calling Elvis Andrus’s beard terrible.
- RBI Baseball is officially back, but it still has that unfortunate title.
- How in the sweet hell did Martin Maldonado, the Brewers’ backup catcher, pull this off:
- It’s easy to know when you’ve seen an amazing wall robbery or diving stop, but it’s a little harder with a catcher throwing out a runner like that. I’m pretty sure that’s an utterly unbelievable play, though. The runner was going, the ball was in the dirt, the ball took the catcher behind the batter, and he somehow managed to pick it cleanly, load and release, and nail the runner completely dead to rights with a perfect (blind) throw.