MLBits: MLB Rule Changes, Harper Tampering with Trout, Spin Rate Efficiency, Top 2020 Free Agents, More

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MLBits: MLB Rule Changes, Harper Tampering with Trout, Spin Rate Efficiency, Top 2020 Free Agents, More

Chicago Cubs

I was late catching up to the news that MLB owners and players had come to an agreement on a couple of key rule changes, including increasing the active roster size from 25 to 26 starting in 2020. Check out the full details here.

But while I’m happy they’ve come together and have found common ground on a host of items, I think they’re still missing a bit. For example, they increased the minimum IL stay to 15 days for pitchers (who cares), will start extra innings of the All-Star Game with a runner on second base (puke), and players are giving MLB the right to shorten between-inning breaks – they haven’t committed to shortening between inning breaks, mind you, they’ll just have that right.

  • Left on the cutting room floor, then, is the three-batter minimums for relievers, which would’ve improved pace-of-play and the general pace and volume of offense/action, and the pitch clock, which … would’ve done the same. The former can still technically be unilaterally implemented by the commissioner and without input from the players in 2020, but he’s not going to do that. He’s threatened to use that power before, but pretty clearly wants the players on board first. The decision on a pitch clock, however, has been punted until 2021 – at least. It’s so obviously coming (it’s already in the Minors and Spring Training), but they keep putting it off at the big league level.
  • Of course, in 2-3 years, outspoken veterans like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, etc. – i.e. the guys most likely to be against this sort of wholesale change – might be wrapping up their careers anyway. Maybe that’s MLB’s point.
  • Speaking of new rules: MLB has made some policy changes to Mexican League signings and it’s good news for teams and players, who had been temporarily blocked from coming to MLB. You can read about it here, but in short: Mexican League players used to be the stooges of a loophole that benefited their old team in Mexico (who would take upwards of 75% of every signing bonus) and their new team in MLB (who’s bonus pool was only depleted by the remaining 25% the player actually got). The new rules, however, will give the player rights to their full signing bonus (all of which will count against MLB bonus pools), while the Mexican League team will receive an additional 35% release fee that will *not* count against the pool. Voila!
  • Our main man Bryan’s got some thoughts on it:

  • Bryan’s right. While the Cubs were in IFA purgatory for previous spending sins, they took advantage of that Mexican League loophole quite a bit, so at least the relationships are in place. Though no loophole anymore:

  • Bryce Harper recently said “If you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout to come to Philly in 2020, you’re crazy.” Which, well, potential rule-breaking aside … I’m just so jealous man. This is part of what you get when you get Harper. A hype man. An outspoken dude who draws attention – some positive, some not as much – to your favorite team. And I like attention. It’s fun. As for Trout, consider this: Trout is from Philadelphia, is a big Eagles fan, and has basically never been on a winning team, which the Phillies will likely now be over the next half-decade. Oh, and they still have plenty of money. They’re a real threat to have both Harper and Trout in a couple years. Watch out.
  • Now, with all of that said … the Angels did contact MLB about Harper’s comments, which could constitute tampering. It doesn’t feel as natural when the “tampering” is coming from a player’s mouth, not a manager/front office type, but it’s tampering all the same. Hell, we more or less know the Angels are trying to extend Trout as we speak – how do you think they feel?
  • Deadspin circled back to that brilliant piece of reporting from The Athletic regarding the details of Harper’s massive contract in Philadelphia, focusing in on one point: The Phillies preference for Harper over Machado for fan-related reasons. Basically, the Phillies front office actually considered Machado the better all-around player, but (in addition to Harper’s potential for uniquely HUGE offensive seasons) they knew their fans wanted Harper more (right or wrong). And when you’re going to make a $300M investment … it’s not a bad idea to make sure it’ll return some dough.
  • The Athletic has a story about Sonny Gray getting back on track with the Reds thanks to some of the modern world’s best tracking technology. I’ll let Gray explain it, himself: “I have a high spin rate four-seam, but a low spin efficiency four-seam because of my slot, and because I cut it a little bit,” Gray said about what he learned, apparently with a smile. “I never even knew that was a thing. I just learned that this offseason. What the f*** is that?”
  • [Brett: And this is an incredible story for two reasons: (1) the story of the way Gray worked with the Yankees (or didn’t) and how he could be a whole lot better in 2019 with the Reds; and (2) the concept of four-seam efficiency – i.e., not all high-spin four-seamers are created equally. Very worth a read. You will learn something.]
  • Indeed, that does seem to be a new bit of information to us outsiders, who may have otherwise not been privy to the difference between the EFFECTIVENESS of spin rates coming out of different slots. Noted.
  • Looks like Matt Wieters will win Cardinals back-up job:

  • Yankees starter Luis Severino, who just signed a 4-year/$40M extension, has been dealing with some right shoulder inflammation, which will keep him off the field for at least two weeks, putting the start of the season in doubt. Indeed, he was meant to be the Opening Day starter, but that’s highly unlikely to happen now. But considering the apparent short-term nature of the injury, I wouldn’t expect the Yankees to jump into the Dallas Keuchel sweepstakes. They’ll probably just handle it in-house, if I had to guess.
  • Heh – this is fun. Go, save baseball, my friend:

  • And this is just … something:

  • MLB Trade Rumors has released their early 2019-2020 MLB Free Agent power rankings, and the list is led by Xander Bogaerts, who’s expected to land a contract north of $200M with another great season. Depending on what happens with Javy Baez, Addison Russell, and, to a lesser extent, Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner, Bogaerts could be someone of interest to the Cubs. In any case, he’s followed by pitchers Chris Sale and Gerrit Cole, plus corner infielders Anthony Rendon and Paul Goldschmidt. Three Cubs, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Quintana, and Yu Darvish, would’ve been considered for the top-ten, but all three are expected to have their options exercised/opt-outs refused.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami