Welp, the surge of COVID-19 cases in Florida and Arizona — the former rattling the spring training camps for the Blue Jays and Phillies — has delayed the negotiations between MLB and the Major League Basball Players Association. The union was supposed to vote today on the current proposal from the league, which was a 60-game season with expanded playoffs and a promise not to file a grievance. Instead, they’re going to take a couple days to better understand the extent of the outbreak and its implications for any kind of 2020 season. Considering MLB closed its spring training facilities for the time being, time is suddenly a little bit of a luxury.
(Update: Bob Nightengale says the players are voting on the proposal after all.)
Watching the back-and-forth over the past several weeks, MLB’s strongest part of its approach to the negotiations was a shorter season, because the likelihood of even completing even a 50-game season with rosters intact strikes me as rather low. Rob Manfred and the owners he represents can’t claim noble interests, because all the arguments hinged on unfavorable economics instead of public health, but their aims aligned better on that front than the MLBPA’s championing for the longest possible schedule.
We’ll see what happens. My hope is that these flare-ups allow everybody (media included) to refocus on the chief issue preventing this season from taking shape, because based on the spikes in so many areas with leaders that downplayed the threat, I don’t see how this gets any simpler anytime soon.
But instead of wallowing in the lack of action, let’s take a look at where the White Sox stand in terms of draft signings.
- First round: Garrett Crochet — Not yet signed (slot value: $4.547M)
- Second round: Jared Kelley — Not yet signed ($1.582M)
Neither player has signed yet, although Scott Merkin said that Crochet was supposed to come to Chicago for his physical this week.
As for Kelley, his bonus will likely be shaped by how much money remains from the White Sox’s bonus pool. For the time being, read James Fegan’s story about Kelley as he’s seen by his support system in Texas.
So why did he fall in the draft? His coaches are miffed after Kelley struck out 34 batters in 12 scoreless, comically dominant innings as a high school senior, whereas prep arms drafted in front of him like Mick Abel and Nick Bitsko had their senior season canceled entirely. They feel questions about his conditioning could have been answered by a full season, for which McClendon had intentionally mapped a slow build-up process with the goal of having him at maximum capacity by the playoffs.
- Third round: Adisyn Coffey — $50,000 ($733,100)
Coffey doesn’t have a scintillating profile — a two-way player who hasn’t yet defined himself in either aspect — but he did have a commitment to Louisville, which gave him some leverage.
- Fourth round: Kade Mechals — $10,000 ($517,400)
Mechals had no such leverage as a senior who underwent Tommy John surgery, so he got the standard rate for a senior selected on the second day.
- Fifth round: Bailey Horn — Not yet signed ($386,600)
After allocating slot value for Crochet, the White Sox have $3,157,300 remaining in their draft pool for Kelley and Horn, although with the 5 percent overage, they can run up their pool to a maximum of $3,545,540 before it starts costing them future draft picks. If Kelley wanted first-round money, $3 million fits between the 22nd and 23rd picks overall.
PERTINENT: White Sox stick with pitchers over final three rounds of 2020 MLB Draft
As for non-drafted free agents, the White Sox couldn’t be stopped from making a couple of 36th round draft picks. They signed Ty Madrigal, the brother of Nick Madrigal, who is a left-handed pitcher out of St. Mary’s courteous enough to describe his own arsenal to us.
2080 Baseball’s list also shows Brandon Bossard, the son of Sodfather Roger Bossard, whose bio with St. John’s says he “hopes to one day continue the family tradition after hopefully playing in the majors himself.”
Take nepotism out of the proceedings, and the White Sox landed Brandon Jenkins, a right-handed pitcher out of Seattle University, and Duke Ellis, who is leaving the University of Texas after the pandemic interrupted a promising start to his senior season.
The White Sox have company, as about a third of the teams are slow out of the gate with signings. But in terms of their own division, the Kansas City Royals seem to be setting the bar for non-drafted free agent success. BA’s tracker shows seven signings, which other teams have matched, but no other club has five players from Baseball America’s top 500 list like KC does.
Emma Baccellieri at Sports Illustrated looked to into the Royals’ success and came away with a very simple takeaway: The Royals treated their lower-level prospects better than other teams. While most teams jettisoned an above-average number of players from their farm system — the White Sox targeted Great Falls with theirs — the Royals didn’t give ground to the pandemic. As a result, with all teams capped at offering $20,000 and a limited menu of perks, the Royals gave themselves another selling point.
It apparently has some pull.
The Royals were one of the teams that stood out. In May, the club announced they would not cut any players while the season was halted and committed to paying all of their minor leaguers through the end of the season. The decision came with a statement of support from general manager Dayton Moore: “Understand this,” he told reporters. “The minor league players, the players you’ll never know about, the players that never get out of rookie ball or High A, those players have as much impact on the growth of our game [as] 10-year or 15-year veteran players.” […]
“You want to go to a club that’s going to take care of not only their very top valued players, but also their lower ones,” says catcher Kale Emshoff, No. 174 on the BA 500, who signed with the Royals on Sunday. “You want to know that when you’re in the organization you’re going to be taken care of… That plays a huge role in the decision-making process.”
(Photo of Garrett Crochet by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire)
This might be a dumb question, but since the owners have made an offer of 60 games, is it not a simple argument to make in a possible grievance that the owners did not in fact attempt to play the most games possible assuming manfred eventually lays out a 50 game season? Or is the idea that they’ll continue to slow play things so they can say that by the time Manfred makes an edict of 50 games, too much time had elapsed to play those additional ten games?
Yeah, it looks like Manfred is slow-tracking, which is probably why the players are voting today after all.
Might be time to suggest reorganizing MLB into 500 games of strikeout all streaming online. Each game would only need a pitcher, batter, wall, and 1-2 cameras. Figure out metrics for pitcher and batter performance relate to other games and have a big, big tournament online.
I see three benefits:
1) It would involve bringing basic baseball performance in a way that only necessitates a couple players and no support staff gathering in the same place. Pairs of players could team up wherever they and their families are living, and MLB wouldn’t have to worry about gathering 50-200 people together in September and October against Dr. Fauci’s advice.
2) It would give more exposure to a form of the game that is affordable and accessible for all.
3) Somehow, Jason Benetti would find a way to announce every match.