MLBits: Manfred on Minor League Pay, Nats Extend GM, Ball in Montreal, Plate Discipline, Diversity, More

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MLBits: Manfred on Minor League Pay, Nats Extend GM, Ball in Montreal, Plate Discipline, Diversity, More

MLB News and Rumors

I just realized that with a dinner plans around game time tonight, a poorly-timed friend’s birthday party on Saturday, and apartment-hunting on Sunday, I’m going to miss large swaths of the Cubs/Brewers series this weekend. BLERGH.

I’m making up for it by going to all three games of the Cubs/Pirates series next week, including Opening Night with Brett and Luis (come find us in the right field bleachers!), but still, it’s a bummer. I just want to watch baseball. Can’t I just watch baseball?

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Commissioner Rob Manfred recently spoke in Arlington, Texas for Opening Day, and answered some questions about the league’s $1.32 million spending spree on lobbyists to ensure the “Save America’s Pastime Act” (a.k.a. the “Let us Not Pay Minor Leagues Anything Close to What They Need to Live Comfortably Act”) went into the last Congressional spending bill. Levi Weaver has the questions and answers at The Athletic, and you’ll want to read it in its entirety.
  • Among the most frustrating answers was Manfred’s assertion that the bill was actually *GOOD* for the players, because some of the guys in the lowest levels received a raise they wouldn’t have otherwise. Well that’s good. I didn’t know that. Hey, Levi, what are the details on that raise? “The ‘raise’ the Commissioner refers to is this: players in the Arizona Summer league and short-season A-ball only will receive a raise of roughly $150 per year, jumping from ~$2,750 to $2,900 in annual pay.” Awesome. Great. Now they’re fine.
  • Weaver continues to show that everyone below Triple-A will now earn less than the federally-recognized poverty line of $12,140 per year, and even some of those Triple-A players could fall under that mark. Manfred explains that the “overtime” issue is a big one for them – But what if So-and-So goes to take extra batting practice for a couple hours! We can’t afford to pay him minimum wage overtime every time they want to do that! – but I can’t even take him seriously. It’s all spin. Major League Baseball is generating tremendous revenues, and they’re spending millions to ensure that Minor Leaguers aren’t subject to federal wage laws. It’s all very dumb and wrong. Read Weaver’s piece at The Athletic for more.
  • On a much lighter note, the Mayor of Montreal, Valerie Plante, will reportedly meet with potential investors who hope to bring MLB back to Montreal! The Commissioner has long shared his desire to expand the league to 32 teams (perhaps restructuring divisions and playoff balances along the way), and I’m excited for when that happens. Of course, the main roadblocks – settling the stadium situations for Oakland and Tampa Bay – remain in the way. They’ll get resolved soon, though, and movement on expansion can begin right after that. I assume the Vlad Guerrero Jr. homer in Montreal is what sealed the deal.
  • Yesterday, we were all caught off guard by the Rockies/Charlie Blackmon extension, but not necessarily surprised. Before this past offseason, Blackmon would’ve almost certainly tested free agency given how close he was to being free, but given the way the offseason played out, his age, and how good his 2017 campaign was, I don’t blame him for striking while the iron was hot. Similarly, the deal made sense for the Rockies given the impending exit of Nolan Arenado in a couple years and they’re recent bullpen spending spree. At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan discusses the changing landscape of baseball (specifically, the preference for younger players), compares Blackmon’s deal to a few other older outfielders, and looks ahead to the future of free agency.
  • Rizzo has agreed to an extension! Mike Rizzo. With the Nationals. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has officially agreed to an extension one year before becoming a “free agent.” Come on, it was a little funny. His new deal will keep him with the team through 2020 and Chelsea Janes has the details at The Washington Post:

  • Theo Epstein’s extension, by contrast, was reported to be for five years and roughly $10M/season, though he’s arguably the most sought-after executive in baseball (probably right up there with Andrew Friedman and …?). Rizzo did well.
  • Elsewhere in Nats land, Adam Eaton, who is coming back from a major knee injury, left today’s game early after (apparently) an awkward slide:

  • At The Athletic, Jayson Stark recaps some of the best moments from the first week of the 2018 season (Bartolo-mania, Ohtani’s breakout, strange feats, etc.) but he forgot me jumping into the lake, so you should probably skip the whole article (I’m kidding, it’s an excellent and really fun read).
  • At FanGraphs, Craig Edwards take a closer look at Bryce Harper’s crazy plate discipline this season, in light of his two-strikeout game yesterday (his first K’s of the season). Although the entire read is worthwhile, I found the chart near the top particularly compelling. Edwards took every MLBers O-swing rate (percentage of swings on pitches out of the zone) and Z-swing rate (percentage of swings on pitches in the zone) to find who had the biggest difference between them (i.e. the best eye). It’s no surprise to see Joey Votto at the top – and Harper wasn’t far behind – but I did love to see Jason Heyward with the 10th best difference of any hitter in baseball. Combined with the hard-hit leading data we saw earlier, maybe there is something to Heyward’s expected rebound. For what it’s worth, the only other Cub in the top 15 was Kris Bryant.
  • It appears as though it was the Dodgers (2-5) not the Astros (6-1) who showed up to 2018 hungover after a World Series Appearance. Mark Townsend counts four reasons why they’re struggling (Kenley Jansen (damnit, I drafted him), Justin Turner’s absence, a general lack of power, and Clayton Kershaw (sorta)).
  • Improving the general diversity in Major League Baseball is a priority for the league. And why not? More fans (regardless of heritage/skin tone/background/etc) is inarguably a good thing. To achieve the right balance, though, takes more than marketing the right players at the big league level. According to Shakeia Taylor, it all starts in Little League.
  • Remember how Brian Dozier whined about Chance Sisco’s 9th inning bunt, despite the lack of a no-hitter and the presence of an extreme defensive shift? And remember how he double-down on those comments the next day? Yeah, well …

  • That is too perfect.
  • Love this fan’s heart:

  • Our old friend Fernando Rodney must’ve had some Thai food before last night’s game against the Pirates:


Author: Michael Cerami

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