MLB In Full Bloom 12/5/2013

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69 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

116– Number of days until Opening Day

Wednesday brought more free agent signings during what has been a crazy week before the Winter Meetings. However, the big news today is that Major League Baseball (MLB) and Nippon Professional Baseball appear very close to a new deal for the posting system. What is going to happen is that instead of old system in which teams submitted blind bids and the highest bid got the exclusive rights to negotiate with the player, now there will be a maximum bid of $20 million. If multiple teams bid $20 million than all those teams will get the opportunity to negotiate with the player. Basically, this has now become free agency. Only the team that gets the player will have to pay the $20 million posting fee and the luxury tax will apply only to the salary, not the posting fee. Overall, this is a good thing for MLB. It will limit what goes to the Japanese teams and it increases the number of teams that can negotiate with the player. The question is why would the Japanese agree to this new deal. MLB has played hard ball and the Japanese teams and they would rather get the $20 million rather than nothing. Since players in Japan have to wait nine years to become a free agent, they may just revolt and leave the country. Masahiro Tanaka is now in play for several teams and not just the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Miguel Cabrera (groin) will permanently move to first base next year. This was widely assumed following the Prince Fielder trade, but the team confirmed that Cabrera will take over at first, with Nick Castellanos moving into an everyday role at third.
  • Joe Nathan and the Detroit Tigers agreed on a two-year contract on Wednesday. Nathan has enjoyed a late-career surge since Tommy John surgery, posting a 2.09 ERA over the past two seasons while going 80-for-86 in save chances. He is a perfect fit for a team that is trying to win right now.
  • Kelly Johnson and the New York Yankees agreed on a one-year deal today. Johnson will serve as a utility player for the Yankees, and as a potential insurance policy at second base in case they are unable to re-sign Robinson Cano. Johnson hit .235 with 16 home runs last season for the Rays in 2013.
  • George Kottaras and the Chicago Cubs agreed to one-year contract earlier in the week. Kottaras will likely back up Wellington Castillo at catcher next year.
  • Wesley Wright and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a one-year contract on Wednesday. Wright will provide some depth in a Cubs bullpen that was one of the worst in the majors in 2013.
  • The annual debate regarding whether Aroldis Chapman will continue to be the Reds closer or  become a starter has surfaced again this offseason. But, this time it appears the Reds have decided to keep Chapman in the bullpen. Based on comments by Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty on Wednesday, it looks like they are considering using Chapman for multiple innings out of the pen. If they considered using him as a starter, why not use him for back-to-back innings. The problem I see with this scenario is that Chapman struggled with his control when he was used for more than one inning last year. It remains to be seen h0w this will play out, but there is no doubt he is best suited for the bullpen.