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MLBits: Blanton Signs, MLBPA State of the Union, Rosenthal Stretching Out for Cards, More

MLB News and Rumors

There’s plenty of stuff to discuss from around the league …

  • Today, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Washington Nationals have signed Joe Blanton to a one-year, $4 million deal (with an additional $1 million in performance bonuses). And later on, we learned that $3 million of that $4 million guaranteed is to be deferred – which appears to be the Nats’ M.O. in recent years.
  • At CBS Sports, Mike Axisa looks over the acquisition and the Nationals’ evolving bullpen picture. Although the Nats don’t have a surefire “closer,” after losing Mark Melancon to free agency (SF Giants), they have collected a nice group of relievers for the ends of games. According to Axisa, however, Shawn Kelley is the favorite to get the final three outs. Blanton, 36, had a 2.48 ERA over 80.0 IP for the Dodgers last season, and also gave up two very notable NLCS homers.
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  • MLB Players Association chief Tony Clark was in Detroit yesterday to give something of a “state of the union” and to field questions from players. At MichiganLive.com, Evan Woodbery collected some of the highlights from those talks, which you can find in full here. Among the topics addressed, you’ll find that Clark doesn’t want players to speculate too wildly on the effects of the new CBA just yet (including the possibility that it has already depressed salaries), because things tend to workout differently than expected. And, on the commissioner’s “unilateral power to change rules,” Clark wants to ensure players that it’s nothing new. If the commish meets the requirements, he does have (and has for quite some time) the power to change things unilaterally. But negotiating these things with the players has always been the preferred route.
  • I will say that I didn’t find his comments on whether or not the arbitration system properly values relievers to be entirely promising for the players. In short, he basically believes that the value we place on stats evolves so often, that you can’t use one case (presumably like Dellin Betances) to “blow up the entire system.” Yeah, sure, but I think it’s been quite some time since the collective “we” have stopped measuring value in terms of saves. It’s just silly (and weird) that the head of the players union isn’t beating this drum more loudly than I am. There’s plenty more there, so be sure to check it out.
  • At FanRag, Jon Heyman runs through each team in MLB to dole out final offseason grades and rank the various teams by their offseason (not their 2017 outlook). The Cubs – thanks to the additions of Wade Davis, Koji Uehara, Jon Jay, and Brett Anderson – found themselves with a “B.” While Heyman admits that they were hardly in need of an overhaul and that he likes their moves, his final rankings places them just 14th overall. Which, I know it doesn’t matter, but what else could they realistically have done? Not doing too much should also count as a move and I think their offseason was probably a bit better than middle of the pack. Again, not a big issue by any means, because these aren’t 2017 power rankings, but just seems a bit off. The White Sox, unsurprisingly and rightfully, received an A, while finishing second overall behind the Cleveland Indians.

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  • Upfront, I am not a huge fan of Tim Tebow the baseball player, because I simply don’t think he has what it takes to make it to the big leagues. But, I have nothing against him as a person, and I certainly will not hold it against him for trying. If I did, I’d have to dislike about 98% of all players that’ve ever picked up a bat. And furthermore, while I don’t doubt both Tebow and the Mets are benefitting from their partnership, I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that Tebow isn’t legitimately trying to become a Major League player (or that the Mets wouldn’t love that, too).
  • Which is all to say, I’m not sure I thought this New York Post piece on Tebow’s recent comments about enjoying the game while he’s playing it (as opposed to focusing solely on making the big leagues) was entirely fair. I wasn’t there to hear Tebow’s tone, of course, and I have followed this story only from afar, but sometimes, disillusioned or not, these sorts of ultra competitive athletes simply believe in themselves. Frankly, I’m not sure we’d know who he was if he didn’t. Some athletes may be misguided in their efforts, but I don’t think their intentions always need to be questioned. Check out the article, let me know how you felt.
  • At FanGraphs, Eno Sarris openly questions whether MLB is getting close to the “high-water mark” for shifting, and it makes for an enjoyable read. Although he thinks we’re not quite there yet, there is some convincing evidence (both individual player and league-wide) why we’re approaching that threshold.

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  • Also at FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik discusses the “very real psychological condition known as the yips,” and wonders if it’s a solvable problem. As you can imagine, Jon Lester, and his well-documented issues throwing to bases, make an appearance. What I found interesting, even if slightly expected, was that players that experiences problems like Lester’s (he’s not alone!) often are able to successfully do their thing in non-game situations. Although I feel much more educated on the topic now, I will warn you, you’ll still leave wondering how an athlete of Lester’s talent struggles with something so seemingly simple.
  • (But I want to be crystal clear right away, just because something is hard to understand personally, doesn’t mean it isn’t very, very real. Just an after thought.)
  • Presumably with the loss of Alex Reyes for the season, former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal may get a real chance to stretch back out into a starter. The Cardinals started discussing it last year, but now it looks like it could be a reality. Yesterday, he tossed two innings and rattled off 34 pitches (seven straight were reportedly at 97 MPH or more, which … yikes), but it hasn’t yet been reported what the next outing will look like. You’ll recall, Rosenthal was starting in the Minor Leagues as recently as 2012 (Triple-A), but moved into the pen upon his promotion (the Cardinals tend to do this with a lot of top pitching prospects, before moving them into the rotation). With Rosenthal, however, his results were just so dominant, that the Cardinals decided not to mess with anything. Well, now that his results aren’t quite as dominant and there’s an apparent opening in the rotation, they may very well be seeing what he’s got.

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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.

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