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January 2018
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‘MLB’ Articles

MLB commissioner issues statement on Atlanta Braves’ violations

Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. issued the following statement recently:

“My office has completed a thorough investigation into violations of Major League Rules by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves cooperated throughout the investigation, which was conducted by MLB’s Department of Investigations. The senior Baseball Operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves. I am confident that Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Alex Anthopoulos and their staffs have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the Club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been.

“The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club’s signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a ‘foreign professional’ under MLB rules. Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

“As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period. These players were Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Kevin Maitan, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Peña, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga. In addition, the Braves entered into additional ‘package’ agreements in 2016 and 2017 in which they signed Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre for reduced amounts, and provided additional money to those players’ agents by signing other players affiliated with their agents to contracts with inflated bonuses. In order to remedy these violations, I am releasing these players from their contracts with the Braves and declaring them free agents eligible to sign with any other Club. The procedures governing the players’ release and the signing process will be communicated to MLB Clubs under separate cover.

“The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason’s agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.

“While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves’ international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

“The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club’s attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

“With respect to individual discipline, former Braves General Manager John Coppolella will be placed on the permanently ineligible list, effective immediately. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley will be suspended for a period of one year, effective immediately, and may not perform services for any MLB Club during his suspension. I intend to discipline other Braves’ International Baseball Operations employees who participated in the misconduct after the completion of our internal procedures. My staff will speak to the Players Association and officials in the Dominican Republic regarding appropriate consequences for the representatives of the players who intentionally participated in schemes to circumvent our rules, none of whom are certified by the Players Association.”




Cleveland Indians announce 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Cleveland, OH-The Cleveland Indians have announced their schedule for 2018 Cactus League play in Arizona, a schedule that opens against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on Feb. 23.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., on February 14, and the full squad reports on February 18.
New this year: The Indians will play the Cubs in Las Vegas on March 17-18 as part of the 2018 Las Vegas Big League Weekend. The Tribe ends its exhibition season with two games vs. the Diamondbacks on March 26-27 before heading to Seattle for the season opener on March 29.
Single-game tickets for Tribe Spring Training games go on sale on Friday, Dec. 1, at 10 AM MST - only at
Season Tickets: Goodyear Season Tickets offer significant savings over Single-Game prices, along with premium seat locations, merchandise and concession discount vouchers, Season Ticket Holder Appreciation party access and more. Season Tickets can be purchased at and are on sale now.
Mini Plans: Fans have the opportunity to pick any three (3) or more games of their choice from both the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds home schedules. Mini Plans will go on sale November 27 at 10AM MST.
Groups: Outings offer discounted tickets, personalized service, scoreboard welcome and more.Group tickets are on sale now.
Flex Books: Ten (10) ticket vouchers, specially priced, in the Infield Box or Outfield Box that can be used for any Indians game or games at Goodyear Ballpark during the 2018 season. (Subject to availability.)
Cleveland Indians Spring Training tickets will be available at, Goodyear Ballpark’s Ticket Office (opens January 13), by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or 1-866-48-TRIBE.
Indians fans should call 1-855-298-5444 for more details and to book a Spring Training trip today.
2018 at Goodyear Ballpark includes many promotions and special events, including fireworks on March 23, a Trevor Bauer #MiniTeamCLE2017 bobblehead, player autographs, Catch on the Field, Kids Days Sundays and more.
The full promotional/special event calendar is available at
Three behind-the-scenes Fan Experience packages are available for fans this Spring in Goodyear, including:
On-field workout: A 90-minute, post-game on-field workout session hosted on Fields 1 and 2 at the Player Development Complex. Fans will have the opportunity to take cuts in the indoor batting cages, field ground balls in the infield, shag fly balls in the outfield and compete in an individual batting challenge competition.
·         Dates: March 3, 15
·         Cost: $130/person
Player/broadcaster meet and greet: A 60-minute, postgame meet-and-greet and Q&A session with 2-3 Indians players and a member of the Indians broadcast team. This fan favorite event will be hosted at the recently renovated Right Field Pavilion at Goodyear Ballpark, and will include light snacks and refreshments during the event. A cash bar will also be available.
·         Dates: March 11, 22
·         Cost: $105/person
Batting Practice Fan Zone: Fans will have a chance to watch pregame batting practice up close and personal on the field, directly behind the batting cage on Field 1 at the Player Development Complex.
·         Date: March 2, 23
·         Cost: $80/person
To book your Fan Experience Package visit or call the Goodyear Ballpark ticket office at 623-882-3130. The packages go on sale Friday, Dec. 1.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



MLB announces 2018 Spring Training Schedule

MLB Cactus League teams


The 2018 Spring Training exhibition schedule will begin on Wednesday, February 21st as the Arizona Diamondbacks host Arizona State University at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona, Major League Baseball announced today. Official Grapefruit League and Cactus League games will begin on Friday, February 23rd, while the first full slate of games involving all 30 Major League Clubs will take place on Saturday, February 24th.

Among games being played outside of traditional Spring Training sites, split squads of the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs will play two games in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, March 17th and Sunday, March 18th; and select exhibition games at Major League and Minor League ballparks will be played from Saturday, March 24th through Tuesday, March 27th.

The 2018 regular season will begin for all 30 Major League Clubs on Thursday, March 29th. Next season will mark the first under the new scheduling format agreed to as part of the 2017-2021 Basic Agreement between MLB and the Major League Players Association (MLBPA). As a result, the March 29th start date to the regular season will mark the earliest Opening Day in Major League history, excluding special season-openers at international venues. In addition, 2018 will mark the 12th season in history, and the first since 2011, to open on a Thursday, as well as the first since 1968 in which every team across the Majors opens on the same date.

The complete 2018 Spring Training schedule, subject to change, is below and is also available at




MLB commissioner suspends five minor leaguers for violations of drug policies


The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that five Minor League players have been suspended following their violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Houston Astros Minor League right-handed pitcher Carlos Pimentel has received a 56-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Program. The suspension of Pimentel, who is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Astros, will be effective at the start of the 2018 GCL season.

Free agent Minor League right-handed pitcher Angel Nesbitt has received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Heptaminol, a stimulant in violation of the Program. The suspension of Nesbitt will be effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.

Three Toronto Blue Jays Minor Leaguers – shortstop Hugo Cardona, infielder Yhon Perez and catcher Leonicio Ventura – have each received a 72-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Program. The suspensions of all three players, who are currently on the roster of the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Blue Jays, will be effective at the start of the 2018 DSL season.




World champion Astros receives 2017 Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence

Bud Selig 2014 photo By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https commons

Club recognized for its “Community Leaders Program,” which has benefited more than 30,000 children throughout the greater Houston area

Press Release

Major League Baseball  announced recently that the World Series Champion Houston Astros have received the 2017 Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence. The Club is being recognized for its “Houston Astros Community Leaders Program,” which since 2013 has positively affected more than 30,000 children throughout the Greater Houston area through baseball & softball programming, education-based initiatives and volunteer opportunities.

In 2013, the Astros established the Community Leaders Program as a dedicated initiative to making baseball and softball accessible to children of all ages. Since its inception, the program has improved conditions at 23 ballfields and provided tens of thousands of young people with free uniforms, equipment, tickets to Astros games and professional instruction. Through these initiatives, the Club has engaged over 30,000 children in Community Leaders-related programming. While promoting youth baseball and softball is a major area of focus, the Club has also committed to improving the quality of youth sports experiences. The program provides guidance for parents, coaches and league participants with a series of clinics on a variety of topics, including coaching, grounds keeping, nutrition, education and more.

The reach of “The Houston Astros Community Leaders Program” extends well beyond city-owned parks and fields, reaching schools throughout the Houston Independent School District (HISD). The District has been an integral partner and beneficiary of the Community Leaders Program, helping support its educational programming. In partnership with HISD, the Houston Public Library and the Astros Foundation, Phillips 66, sponsors the Astros Foundation Literacy Bus – an interactive, mobile library that provides age-appropriate books to children K-5. The bus travels to parks and neighborhoods in the Community Leaders network, providing books and reading opportunities at no cost. Since March 2017, the Literacy Bus has provided over 5,000 books to children in the Houston area.

Every holiday season, Community Leaders leagues partner with the Astros Foundation to select a family from their communities in need of support. Through the “Adopt-A-Family for Christmas Program,” families receive gifts based on their specific needs. Additionally, the Astros organize volunteer opportunities with their staff and players to help local organizations, such as the Houston Food Bank, make a difference in the lives of those who are most in need.

As part of their recognition, the Astros Foundation will receive a $10,000 grant from Major League Baseball Charities to continue their efforts through the Community Leaders Program.

“Major League Baseball congratulates the Astros on this recognition, capping a championship year that will never be forgotten by the fans of Houston,” said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “Under Jim Crane’s leadership, the Astros have developed a strong record of impacting its city, recently demonstrated with Houston’s ongoing time of need after Hurricane Harvey. The Astros’ Community Leaders Program is a great example of the difference that all of our Clubs are making in their communities.”

“We are honored to receive the prestigious Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence,” said Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane. “We are proud of the progress we’ve made with our Foundation’s Community Leaders Program. Thanks to the support of our many outstanding sponsors, we are making a significant impact in our city. While rebuilding fields, we are rebuilding communities. We’ve made good progress, but we have a lot of work left to do.”

In addition to their Community Leaders Program, the Astros have rallied support for the Houston community following the devastation from Hurricane Harvey. Astros Owner & Chairman Jim Crane, Astros Ownership and the Astros Foundation pledged $4 million to relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts. An additional $237,000 was raised via fan donations at the Astros crowdfunding page (, while the Astros donated a portion of the proceeds from the Club’s “Share2Care” 50/50 raffle, which was held every Astros home game, to the American Red Cross. The Astros organization has also supported several initiatives to help families in need, including partnering with Aramark to provide the Salvation Army with 50,000 hot meals for hurricane relief workers from Sept. 5-14. From Sept. 7 – 14, the Astros, alongside corporate partners, provided and served food to 500 North Texas National Guard members who were positioned at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The Astros Foundation purchased over 22,000 school supply kits and over 11,000 backpacks to assist students impacted by the hurricane. Astros Foundation volunteers joined Astros players’ wives and families to collect much-needed school supplies at all ballpark gates during the final weeks of the regular season to benefit children affected by Hurricane Harvey. The Astros continue to assess youth baseball and softball leagues who were affected by Hurricane Harvey and will be supporting through infrastructure and field refurbishment, equipment, apparel and other donations. In addition to supporting disaster relief and recovery efforts in their market, the Astros Foundation, with Crane Worldwide, FedEx and the Houston Mayor’s Office, helped to transport hundreds of thousands of pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.




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