The Detroit Tigers had one of the best rotations in baseball last season. Probably the best, if we’re being honest. Keeping such a juggernaut together takes money, however. Lots of money.
Justin Verlander makes a mint, Max Scherzer is due a mint, Anibal Sanchez just signed for 5/6 of a mint, Rick Porcello is a Super Two which puts him on the fast track to mintdom. Which leaves Doug Fister, who just happens to be an excellent pitcher.
Having excellent pitchers is great for baseball business but having all those expensive arms in the fold was bound to catch up at some point. Rather than moving Porcello, it is Fister the Tigers opted to swap, sending him to Washington to join the the new Best Rotation in Baseball.
The package in exchange for the ground ball machine/very good pitcher Doug Fister seems light, mostly because we don’t know as much as about Robbie Ray as we should. This is the second time Doug Fister’s been traded for an oddly underwhelming package.
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The idea of players being non-tendered can be a little difficult to understand for regular people who don’t spend their days & nights buried in the fine print of the collective bargaining agreement. “Non-tendering” a player grants him early free agency, forsaking the remaining years of club control while freeing the club from paying his way. Arbitration raise are baked into the system, so the rules dictate players earn raises
After three years of team control where they are entitled to little more than the league minimum, baseball players enter their arbitration years. Their salary slowly begins coming into line with their performance ever so slightly.
Players earn raises based on their service time and performance as laid out in the CBA. Agents and teams have a good understanding as to what a player will earn in arbitration. Sometimes that potential earning rises beyond what a team is willing to pay and, if they cannot work out a trade with another team eager to pay that same price, they can opt not to tender the player a contract, essentially renouncing their rights to the player.
Players can re-sign with their original team for lesser terms once they become a free agent. Even after they hit the free market, the existing service time rules dictate their terms moving forward (i.e. they are still eligible for arbitration but not free agents until the earn six years of service time.)
It can look a little strange from a distance but it goes a long way to “paying back” players after their first three seasons making minimum wage. Think about a player like Mike Trout – think of all the value he already delivered the Angels in the last two years. Darn right he will start making some of that money back.
MLB Trade Rumors publishes their list of players who might get non-tendered, based on the arbitration calculations reverse engineered by Matt Swartz. There is always an entertaining list of players. The non-tenders list always contains a few surprises, players who will go on to produce at their next stop when others counted them out.
There is one good rule of thumb to remember on baseball’s non-tender day: good players do not get non-tendered. It is really that simple. Even as arb costs rise, good players are almost always worth it, because even though they’re expensive, replacing them will only cost more time and money.
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It’s hardly a stretch to suggest that one of the reasons that the Baltimore Orioles have found such a large measure of unexpected success this season is because of the team’s bullpen. The most valuable member of the team’s relief corps is none other than closer Dirty Jim Johnson.
Earlier this afternoon, the Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox by the score of 5-3. Putting an exclamation point on the victory that increases the team’s chances of Wild Card glory was Johnson, who closed the game out and earned his 41st save of the season in the process.
Last night, the Houston Astros were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with their loss to the San Francisco Giants. On the season, the struggling Astros have forty victories. Apologies to everyone in existence, but this means that Dirty Jim Johnson has now saved more games than the Astros have actually won.
If the season ends with this contrast in tact, it won’t be the first time.