It looks like Major League Baseball has its “High Flying Bird.”
Playing the role of the fictitious #1 draft pick Erick Scott is former number eight pick Carter Stewart. Playing the role of sports agent Ray Burke is sports agent Scott Boras. Scott and Burke uncover a loophole and try to upend the power structure in basketball. Stewart and Boras want to carve a new path for young MLB talent.
As reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Stewart agreed to a six-year, $7 million contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League.
The Atlanta Braves picked the 19-year-old at number 8 overall in the 2018 draft, but failed to reach a deal. Atlanta’s front office personnel believed that Stewart had injuries and offered him a $2 million signing bonus. The bonus fell well below the $4.98 million in slot money available to give to a draft pick at that level. Rather than sign with Atlanta, Stewart went to Eastern Florida State College (a junior college) for a year.
The $7 million Stewart’s slated to make in Japan for a team that’s won four out of the last five Japan Series, is more than he’d make in his first six years in MLB. That’s including the signing bonus. Considering baseball’s standing in Japan, endorsement deals galore await Stewart.
That’s one way to find leverage in a draft where players don’t really have any.
Japanese baseball, particularly Nippon Professional Baseball, doesn’t distinguish between foreign amateurs and foreign professionals. To play in MLB, he’d either have to re-enter the draft or become a Japanese resident and be posted.
At the end of his contract, barring injury, Stewart could come back to the majors as a 25-year-old with professional baseball experience. He’d be in his prime and set up for a major contract with anyone who wants him.
Of course, this depends on his performance in the Far East.
MLB’s looked to centralize its operations for a while. Whether its the floating of an international draft or the constant push to lower player salaries, it operates knowing there’s no competition so to speak. NPB could give MLB a run for its money… well, hopefully it can. However, the better scenario would be giving baseball players in North America hope of another league not being seen as a step down from MLB.
NPB currently limits teams to four foreign players per roster. Stewart’s move could possibly open up more foreign talent to the league and loosen restrictions. It could force MLB to compete for talent with NPB in Latin America.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of this gamble, Stewart’s set himself up for life. If this works, Stewart and Boras have possibly changed the game. It could also be an exception to the rule. But the goal is to give players an alternate route to success. And who, outside of franchise front offices, would be against that?
Color Mr. Getaway intrigued.
- This is what you get when you tell a 36-year-old to “hustle” because he didn’t meet your idea of Pete Rose reincarnated.
- Josh Bell hit it into the Allegheny River. Again. He’s currently .329/.399/.700 with 15 home runs and 32 runs scored. Rumble, young man. Rumble.
- Mr. Getaway’s looking forward to next month’s London Series. He hopes Yankees and Red Sox fans at just as obnoxious across the pond as they are here.
- I need to hear a bit more about that Chicago White Sox 2016 campaign. That season seems like a Met-like disaster.
- Seriously, can somebody sign Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel? It’s getting ridiculous.
- Giancarlo Stanton hit another setback in his rehab assignment with tightness in his left calf. Aaron Judge still isn’t back yet. Yet, the Yankees are in first place. So it goes.
- Thank you, Howard Bryant, for speaking about the Black experience in baseball.
- Old school game of the week: Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS. Mr. Getaway’s thought a lot about Gary Carter lately. One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Carter was also a bit of a ham. In a sport that quells individuality, he managed to receive a lot of attention just for being him. As a member of the 1986 Mets, that’s tough to accomplish.
Here’s the game where he knocks in Wally Backman with a game-winning RBI single in extra innings to win it. Also, those Mets jerseys and Astros jerseys are still some of the best on the planet. Both teams need to bring them back.
Writer. Reporter. New Yorker.