Since the fall of the Steroid Era, Major League Baseball has spent most of its time losing ground in public relations, to the point that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Baseball can’t get out of its own way because baseball can’t get out of its own way.
Last year, the negotiations between the league and the union were fairly contentious, but it’s not like anybody could have expected them to be easy. A modern baseball season had never been conducted under these circumstances, and unlike the NHL and NBA, which could run out their postseasons in bubbles, MLB had to actually plan out a regular season involving all 30 teams. MLB has far more extensive real estate needs. The MLBPA is a stronger union than its equivalent in the other leagues. It should have been messy and convoluted. The NFL and college sports are showing what worse looks like.
Sure enough, Sports Illustrated revisited the idea of Major League Baseball’s mostly successful season for lessons that could be applied to the NHL and NBA, which actually have regular seasons to conduct this time around. Stephanie Apstein praised baseball for its willingness to adapt on the fly — tightening up its testing turnarounds, shutting down teams and rescheduling games, shortening doubleheaders to seven innings, changing mandates as the league learned what habits caused issues.
But there’s a major factor that gave baseball an edge over every other sport giving it a shot: It’s a low-contact outdoor sport with plenty of social distancing built in, played during the best weather of the year. Justin Turner’s positive test during Game 6 of the World Series proved the league’s stance of “no November games” correct, while the union was correct that the season could have been started earlier to get in more games. The two parties tangled, and in the end, they created a manageable system that they managed to manage.
Anyway, we’re probably going to see this same news cycle repeat next year, as Jayson Stark summed up the battlegrounds between the league and union in starting the 2021 season. Again, there will be conflict. Again, it will be treated as a major shame instead of something largely unavoidable, even though the NBA could be glowing and pulsating as an example that less friction isn’t always better.
* * * * * * * * *
The White Sox were expected to land one high-profile Cuban outfielder in their next round of international signings on Jan. 15. It’s just that most people expected Oscar Luis Colás, when instead it’s going to be Yoelqui Céspedes.
That said, it sounds like Colás can’t be entirely ruled out, even if he was declared eligible for signing during the next international period on Tuesday. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel joined Baseball America’s Ben Badler in supporting the idea that Colás could still wait until January 2022, and identifies the White Sox as potential suitors still.
* * * * * * * * *
Whenever the 2021 season is allowed to start, Eno Sarris rounded up the most likely rebound cases from 2020 for an article at The Athletic. Adam Eaton is on there, which is both good news (he’s supposed to bounce back) and bad news (he’s coming off a terrible season from which to bounce back).
In fact, he might end up in one of the largest slingshots, with only J.D. Martinez projected to recover more lost ground. Martinez went from an extrapolated -2.5 WAR over 600 plate appearances in 2020, to 1.9 WAR over the same amount of PAs in 2021. Eaton is a bit lower on each end — -1.7 and 1.6 — for a second-highest difference of 3.3 WAR.
But that isn’t automatically great news for either player, either. For one, 1.6 WAR is still a below-average season. Also, Eaton and Martinez are 32 and 33, which is around the age that projected rebounds become markedly less reliable.
Meanwhile, one spot below Eaton is Joc Pederson, who is expected to improve by 3.2 WAR year over year. He’s going from -0.4 WAR to a projection of 2.7 WAR. He’ll turn 29 in April.
(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)
Sign Joc. Let’s win this thing!
I must confess I don’t understand waiting an entire year to sign, all for the sake of what $2M? $3M? He has some money in the bank from playing in Japan, so this isn’t his first payday after Cuba. The sooner he signs, the sooner he climbs to the majors, the sooner he scores some big paydays, the sooner he hits free agency where age can matter a lot.
Yeah, maybe he isn’t that good. Maybe he gets hurt. Maybe the earth is destroyed by the comet Kahoutek. I think I’d be betting on myself if I were in his shoes.
I have no clue his financial situation but if teams have little to no money left out of their international pool funds why would he take a few cents on the dollar to go play a year of minor league ball (risking himself injury or poor production) instead of waiting a year to take a guaranteed say 3 mil ? A small delay of less then a year to guarantee your self a few mil seems a very plausible option.
You must be richer than me! I’d gladly trade a couple hundred grand today for $3 million (and my choice of where to live) a year from now.
I would as well, but I don’t know if Colás can make ends meet between now and January 2022. His contract in Japan was not lucrative, and he probably had to give a large chunk of it to the Cuban government. It’s possible $200,000 on January 15, 2021 might be important enough to him to pass up $3 million on January 15, 2022.
I hope he can make a decision he is comfortable making given how the system of player procurement works against his interests.
I, too, hope he can make a decision based on his desires and long-term interests rather than the the expediency of current financial need.
It’s one less year of Big Money in his prime.. he should start the clock as soon as possible to get to free agency.
You’re overlooking a fairly high probability that he never sticks in the majors and this is the best payday of his life.
According to the article it would be a delay of a full year.
In my situation I’d take $3M in a year over $300,000 today. The key difference is that for Colas the wait delays and perhaps even diminishes his future earnings. I can’t imagine any scenario in my own life where that would be true.
I’m assuming he could sign in this period with a team he wants to play for. If that team or teams is/are tapped out, perhaps that’s a different story.
Didn’t Ohtani leave a lot of money on the table to get his MLB career started? It’s not an unheard of choice.
I believe Ohtani could have waited 2 years to be a free agent where he could of made a lot more money, but chose to enter early. It seems like his choice cost him, and may continue to cost him money in the future.
Seems like timing and fit trumped money for him.
Question on the timing… so let’s say he makes it to the majors at the same time regardless of whether he signs this Jan or next. First, is it a crazy premise that he makes the majors at the same time in either situation? Second, how much money does he lose by waiting til next Jan if his first MLB day is the same?
It’s not a crazy premise, but I think it’s likely that waiting to sign would delay his ascension to the majors. If it makes no difference in his debut date, then not waiting would probably cost him $2-3M. I’m speculating, of course.
I assume he doesn’t have to sit on his rear end and just play MLB2K all year, right? He can’t sign with an MLB team, but I presume he could play for an unaffiliated team (he’s welcome to play for the Chicago Dogs!) ? Not for a whole lot of money, but the point would be to get a year of competitive baseball in, to work on his fielding/swing/etc. in competitive games. Then he might just take a year off of the minors stint he needs – meaning it wouldn’t cost him much at all.
Of course, there’s some risk of injury, but that risk exists even just working out at home; and barring a Jared Mitchell level disaster, he’s probably not going to end up signing for less in 2021 than he’d sign for at this point in 2020, regardless.
If we were only getting one, Cespedes is the better choice. Colas is a 1st/DH and we already have 8 of those. Speaking of….whatever happen to the Swimmer(Abbott)they gave a million a couple of years ago?
Lost a season just like everybody else. He probably suffers more than most, because he could’ve used one more year at Great Falls, and that’s no longer there.
Wasn’t there a rookie ball limit that would have pushed him up a level?
Potentially. There are roster limits on players of a certain age/experience level, so it’d’ve depended on whether they wanted to make him one of those players. It’s moot now.