Some items from around the NL East…
- The Phillies have promised their full-time employees that “there will be no furloughs or layoffs due to the coronavirus crisis through the end of our fiscal year (October 31, 2020),” managing partner John Middleton wrote in a letter to staff. (NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury reported on the letter’s contents.) Most teams in baseball have already committed to retaining their employees at least through the end of May, with the Padres, Rockies, and Tigers also taking steps to keep jobs intact beyond May 31. As per Middleton’s letter, Phillies full-time employees could potentially still face “possible salary reductions,” in the fact of the organization’s revenue loss, staffers “can be assured of your job and health insurance for the next five-plus months.”
- Barry Bonds in a Braves uniform? Atlanta’s failed attempt to land the superstar prior to the 1992 season has long been the subject of regret for Braves fans, though as The Athletic’s David O’Brien notes, some of the long-held beliefs about the trade may be inaccurate. For instance, former Braves GM John Schuerholz wrote in his book “Built To Win” that then-Pirates manager Jim Leyland strongly protested the idea of trading Bonds, which led Pittsburgh to back out of the deal. However, Leyland tells O’Brien that he “would have never had the authority to nix a trade. That would have never happened.” Needless to say, the concept of Bonds being added to the 1992 Braves (a team that lost the World Series to the Blue Jays in six games) is a fascinating one, not to mention the wider-ranging impact on baseball history if Bonds had re-signed with Atlanta rather than join the Giants in free agency during the 1992-93 offseason.
- It has been over two and a half years since the shocking international signing scandal that resulted in then-Braves GM John Coppolella being permanently banned from baseball, and John Hart leaving his post as club president. As for the 13 international prospects who became free agents after the Braves lost their rights, Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution catches up with how the players are developing in their new organizations. None have yet reached the big leagues, and only four of the 13 are ranked as top-30 prospects (as per MLB Pipeline) within their new farm systems. This isn’t to say that Atlanta emerged unscathed from the scandal, of course, as the club has since been hugely limited in the international market, and they also missed out a 14th prospect in shortstop Robert Puason, who went on to sign with the A’s and is “by far the highest regarded player of this group,” Burns writes. The Braves were prohibited from signing Puason after the league’s investigation into their international signing improprieties revealed that the club had arranged to sign Puason before he was eligible. MLB Pipeline rates the 17-year-old Puason as the fourth-best prospect in Oakland’s farm system.