The Braves recently released their list of non-roster invitees for Spring Training, and while it wasn't surprising to see some of the Braves' recent free agent signees on this list, it was a bit of a pleasant shock to see some of the Braves' top prospects on this list. Guys like Dansby Swanson, Ozhaino Albies, Sean Newcomb, and Lucas Sims among others were some of the bigger-name prospects on the list, and hopefully they'll be able to pick up invaluable experience at Spring Training this season as their long path to the major league squad continues on. If you want further info on the prospects who will be headed to big league camp this Spring, David Lee has a good write-up on the prospects to keep an eye on.
Another round of Baseball Hall of Fame elections have come and gone, and congratulations are due to Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza for making it into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. Meanwhile, guys like Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are forced to wait at least another season while lightning rods like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are continuing to pay the piper as they continue to receive less support. On the other hand, players like Fred McGriff seem to suffer from the loaded ballot, and as a result, even though McGriff may have Hall of Fame credentials, he may be doomed to the Hall of Very Good, and it's mostly due to the current Hall of Fame voting system.
Its hard to say what's exactly wrong with the Hall of Fame voting system. Many folks say they should expand the limit of 10 so that all candidates deemed worthy by the writer can get a vote, while others say that that would dilute the prestige of actually getting in (although whether it has already been diluted is an open question at this point). Who gets a vote and who doesn't is a subject of constant debate as well as the use of votes to make statements or as a favor to a friend are common practices. Somehow Jim Edmonds, a career 60 WAR player with almost 400 career home runs, fell off the ballot his first year on it with only 2.5% (thats 11 votes) while David Eckstein, Mike Sweeney, and Jason Kendall all amazingly received multiple votes. What are the voters doing and saying with their votes and, even if we figure that out somehow, what should be done?
Last year, the Cobb County government announced that the pedestrian bridge that would help ease traffic in the area surrounding SunTrust Park would not be built in time for the grand opening of the stadium in spring 2017. Although that may still be the case, the hopes of the bridge being built in time received a boost when the Cumberland Community Improvement District agreed to give $5 MM to help fund the bridge. There's no word on how much the bridge actually costs, but hopefully this will help get the bridge built sooner, because anything that will help ease traffic in that particular area is sorely needed.
The first major event of Turner Field's final season as the home of the Atlanta Braves will kick off on January 30th, which is the date of the Braves FanFest event. It'll start at 10 am and end at 4 pm, and you'll be able to get autographs and photos with various Braves alumni -- from players to coaches and even broadcasters. There will also be roundtable discussions and activities for the kids. These things are always fun to attend, so if you're in the area and you're free on that day, then you should definitely try to make it out to the ballpark.
The San Francisco Giants have added an outfielder to what will inevitably be another even-year championship team, and that outfielder is Denard Span. The .301/.365/.431 (with 5 HRs and 120 wRC+) 1.4 fWAR hitter from last season signed a 3-year, $31 MM deal with the Giants. If that sounds like a bargain, that's because it is.
The money is reasonable. Three years, $31 million, plus incentives. That's a fair price for a center fielder worth an average of three wins over his eight-year career. When you put it like that, it's a bargain. Then you realize his agent is Scott Boras, and you start to get twitchy and skeptical about this bargain because Boras and bargains are mortal, vicious enemies.
So, yes, there is a reason why he was on clearance, and that's because he had a troublesome hip injury last year. With a normal, healthy season, Span would have been the best center fielder on the market, and he would have picked up Alex Gordon money, if not more. The Giants are obviously getting a discount, but they're taking a risk.
The Dodgers recently published the details of new signing Kenta Maeda's contract, and it's an interesting one to say the least. At its base, it's an eight-year, $25 MM contract. However, there are up to $81 MM in incentives. Yes, you read that right: EIGHTY-ONE MILLION DOLLARS IN INCENTIVES. This is probably one of the most incentive-laden contracts in all of baseball right now, and it's an extremely team-friendly deal for the Dodgers. If Maeda succeeds, then he'll be worth the incentives. If not, then they only gave up $25 MM at the least.
"It's certainly an unusual structure, and a lot of it stems from the physical process that he underwent on his own even before we even engaged in negotiations," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on MLB Network. "From that point forward, we tried to figure out a way to share in the risk, share in the reward, and it led us to this."
Maeda can earn up to $81.2 million in performance bonuses, $10.15 million each year based on games started and innings pitched, and being on the opening day roster, per the Associated Press:
- Maeda will receive $150,000 each year for making the opening day active 25-man roster.
- He will receive $1 million for each of 15 and 20 starts, and $1.5 million for each of 25, 30 and 32 starts.
- Maeda each year will earn $250,000 for each of 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings pitched, and $750,000 for 200 innings.
- In addition, Maeda receives a $1 million bonus each time he is traded.