New contract rule, coaching staff changes, no ties in All-Star Game, Simmons, Bauer and more Cubs chips

Kind of like the last hectic days of CBA negotiations, it’s been hard the last two days to get to much OTHER than the deal/rumor stuff in baseball, and it hasn’t even been as hot as it will be.

We still haven’t seen any trades. Not even the little ones. And the list of free agents is still a hundred long, with so many guys at the top that you know they’re obviously getting offers – many of them big! Correa, Bryant, Story, Castellanos, Schwarber, Conforto, Rizzo, Soler, Suzuki, Jansen, Greinke, Chafin, Tepera, Pederson, McCutchen, Kikuchi, Villar, Colome, Givens, Kelly, McHugh, Robles, Miller, etc. SO MUCH MUST HAPPEN AGAIN!

Anyway, that is, I wanted to touch on non-transactional topics in the Bullets this morning…

• One point I have yet to see addressed outside of Maury Brown’s ABC writing at Forbes – there is now quite a significant difference in contracts in terms of arbitration: “Wage Arbitration eligible players who settle with their club a salary for the following season without going to an arbitration hearing will be eligible to receive a full end-of-season indemnity, even if they are released before the start of the regular season.

• A little-known fact about referee-level players BEFORE this change: you could release a guy at different stages of spring training and be hooked for only 30 or 45 days (depending on when) of his salary for the year. But after this change, these agreements will now be fully guaranteed for guys WHO SETTLEMENT their arbitration contract before heading to a real arbitration case. The implication is that if you actually go to arbitration, the settlement you get will NOT be fully guaranteed. It’s not hard to start anticipating significant payoffs: (1) a fairly substantial incentive for arbitrage-eligible players to settle in early, and (2) a strong incentive for teams to play harder with their salary offers and their willingness to go to arbitration with guys who were maybe just above that no-bid threshold.

• This year we didn’t have the normal exchange of refereeing figures in January, so it’s coming later this month. If no agreement is reached, the hearings will take place at the start of the season (so this new rule, by logic, cannot have an impact this season). The Cubs have arbitration cases to settle with Willson Contreras and Ian Happ.

• Another thing to confirm for the CBA: the roster size remains at 26, with a maximum of 13 pitchers. In September, that expands to 28 and 14. The league is still determining whether to temporarily expand the rosters in April to accommodate the lockdown and shortened spring training.

• Coaching staff change for Cubs: Mike Napoli becomes first baseman coach and Craig Driver becomes catching and strategy coach (i.e. the gig Mike Borzello left after a decade). Napoli had been the QA coach, so in theory the Cubs have another coaching spot available if they want to make a pre-season hire. I guess they have already done all the legwork on this and made a decision during the lockdown, it just hasn’t been announced yet. Unless, I guess, they have their eye on a player who hasn’t officially retired yet.

• The All-Star Game won’t end in ties, but not because of that fake World Series home advantage they tried:

• It’s great, especially since it goes both ways:

• It remains unclear what will become of Trevor Bauer given the allegations last year, the prosecutor’s subsequent decision not to pursue the charges and MLB rules that allow penalties even in the absence of legal consequences. It’s not even clear that the Dodgers will find Bauer again, regardless of the decision or his contract. For now, the league and MLBPA are just trying to buy more time:

• It doesn’t quite tell the full story of his performance during this period – there were some command issues which saw him being rattled at the start of 2021 – but it serves as a reminder of how things are unpleasant (with a diverse mix):

• Jason Adam also recovered from that horrific ankle injury in just a few months and looked great at the end of the year. I hope the Cubs can bring him back in a minor league contract.

• Facts and jokes about the new signing:

• A less amusing Simmons note:

• Circuit memories of Sammy Sosa:

• Oh yes. The Cardinals have a new manager. It’s amazing what pops out of your head during a 99-day lockdown:

• You’ll need sound to enjoy it, but as Chuck says, you’ll also want to make sure there are no children:

• Ben Joyce:

• The Obvious Shirts are still 30% off everything in the store throughout this weekend, so if you haven’t read it yet, jump on it.

• Well, I’ll just say it and take the hate I’ll get…I’m glad Buck was there to call the Cubs’ World Series win. He did it perfectly. And now he’s gone from FOX:

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