Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and previewing some of this week's expected news and notes.
In this week's Musings: Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agreed upon new collective bargaining agreement last week which included some interesting changes, the Braves finally acquire a pitcher under 40, and the Mets ink a key cog in their offense.
Collective Bargain Changes
5 - Years of labor peace guaranteed by the agreement. While most of the big proposed changes – such as an international draft, the use of a designated hitter in both leagues, and MiLB wages and benefits – were not addressed, the current agreement will be in effect through December 2021.
10 - The new minimum number of days required for a disabled list stint. While this will make rosters more flexible, it will also encourage teams to use up more player options and increase the Triple-A to MLB shuttle. (It’s also a good change for fantasy baseball players).
195 - luxury cap threshold, in millions of dollars. If teams spend more than this amount, they will be taxed 20 percent on the overage. This tax increases to 30 percent if the team is over in two consecutive years, and 50 percent for a third-straight season. Effectively, this is likely to work as a quasi-salary cap that will affect only the top-tier payroll teams but nonetheless keep player compensation down.
9 - The number of teams in 2016 that went over the new $4-6 million maximum for international signees. While the international draft was scratched (for the time being) the MLBPA agreed to limit the amount spent on international free agents. This will prevent players from around the world receiving the kind of market-rate bonuses we’ve seen in the past. And as there usually are with these types of situations, it also has the negative consequence of likely preventing some Japanese players from joining MLB in their prime, including Shohei Otani.
Other interesting tidbits include the Athletics no longer receiving revenue sharing (perhaps foreshadowing a stadium deal), the All Star game no longer counting for home field advantage (how did this go on for so long again?!), and a ban on smokeless tobacco for new players who are not grandfathered into the new rule.
Transactions & Deals
110 - the dollar value of the deal, in millions, signed by the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets get Cespedes for four years, meaning New York now has a glut of outfielders including Yo, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, and Juan Lagares.
1 - years on the deal inked between Jon Jay and the Chicago Cubs. With Dexter Fowler likely looking for a long term deal, and Albert Almora knocking on the door to takeover in centerfield in the nearer term, signing Jay as a stopgap made good sense for Chicago.
12 - million-dollar option exercised by the Cardinals to retain Jaime Garcia. Soon after, however, the Cards traded Garcia to the Braves in exchange for minor league infielder Luke Dykstra and right handed pitchers John Gant and Chris Ellis. Garcia will join Bartolo Colon and RA Dickey atop the Atlanta rotation, perhaps indicating a somewhat misguided plan to contend in 2017.
610 - Major league innings pitched by Rich Hill. Despite entering into his age-37 season, Hill came into his own in 2015 with the Red Sox. The Dodgers appear poised to sign Hill to a three-year deal; more at BtBS as this story develops.
0.7 - fWAR for the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen in 2016. Cutch had his worst season ever last year, suffering from poor defensive metrics and a wRC+ barely over league average (106). His 10.2 percent walk rate was the lowest of his MLB career, and he stole fewer bases than in any other season. While 2016 may look more like an outlier than a glimpse at the immediate future, he turned 30 years old two months ago and is owed $14 million in 2017. Consequently, the Pirates are likely resigned to trading him. At the moment, the Washington Nationals are rumored to be the favorite to land him.
34 - Players officially on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Some first-timers include sluggers Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez. This is the last chance for Tim Raines and Lee Smith, who fall off the ballot if they do not reach the requisite 75 percent threshold. Last year Raines sat at 69.8 percent while Smith mustered only 34.1 percent.
2 - Men elected to the Hall via the ‘Today’s Game’ era committee. Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig and former Atlanta Braves’ executive John Schuerholz made the cut.
37 - Age Matt Holliday will reach for Opening Day 2017. The veteran slugger agreed to a one-year $13 million deal with the Yankees. Holliday is likely to slide into the Yankees’ designated hitter slot now filling a vacancy left by Alex Rodriguez.
118 - Days to Opening Day!