Jeff Passan

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Jeff Passan is an award-winning columnist who has covered baseball since 2004. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in journalism. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October.

  • Sources: With MLB rule change, Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada is now a free agent

    Star prospect Yoan Moncada is a free agent after Major League Baseball overhauled its rules regarding Cuban players, paving the way for a bidding war to sign the 19-year-old infielder, sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports.

    Yoan Moncada (MLB.com)Yoan Moncada (MLB.com)Players who present sworn affidavits to Major League Baseball stating they are residents of another country, have no intention of returning to Cuba and are not Cuban government officials can sign with major league teams immediately, sources said. MLB distributed a memo to teams Tuesday afternoon outlining the changes.

    Previously, the league required a specific unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Recent changes in the government’s policy regarding Cuba prompted OFAC to no longer issue specific licenses in cases where the person fulfilled the criteria for a general unblocking license – such as permanent residency in a third country.

    Moncada left Cuba for Guatemala, where he obtained multiple documents showing his permanent

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  • MLB acknowledges progress in process for Yoan Moncada to reach free agency

    Major League Baseball reminded teams Saturday to hold off on signing Cuban players, indicating it could receive “guidance by early next week” from the Office of Foreign Assets Control that should make star prospect Yoan Moncada and others free agents, according to a memo obtained by Yahoo Sports.

    Yoan Moncada (MLB.com)Yoan Moncada (MLB.com)Recent changes in United States policy regarding Cuba include OFAC’s plan to no longer give specific unblocking licenses to Cuban nationals who qualify for a general unblocking license by establishing permanent residency in a third country. MLB policy requires a specific license, leaving Moncada and two other second basemen, Andy Ibanez and Hector Olivera, in similar limbo.

    OFAC on Friday sent a letter to Moncada’s representatives indicating it would not grant specific licenses to those who qualify for general licenses – which Moncada should on account of the permanent residency he claims in Guatemala. That puts the onus on MLB to verify his residency and documents, and until the league does,

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  • Sources: Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada’s free agency imminent

    Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada no longer needs a specific unblocking license to play baseball in the United States, paving the way for Major League Baseball teams to pursue him with a contract most expect to shatter bonus records, government and major league sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Recent changes by the Obama administration allow native Cubans who can prove permanent residence in a third country to receive a general unblocking license and avoid the sometimes-arduous application process for an Office of Foreign Asset Controls specific license, which was previously needed to do business in the U.S. Moncada, who left Cuba for Guatemala in August, has a permanent residency document, a Guatemalan National Identity Card and a statement from a Guatemala-based bank as proof of residency, sources familiar with his case told Yahoo Sports.

    Yoan Moncada, 19, is a switch-hitting infielder who has teams ready to spend. (MLB.com)Yoan Moncada, 19, is a switch-hitting infielder who has teams ready to spend. (MLB.com)Any person who meets the requirements for a general unblocking license no longer will be issued a specific unblocking license, a Treasury Department

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  • Sources: Brewers in trade talks to acquire Jonathan Papelbon

    The Philadelphia Phillies have engaged in serious discussions to send closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Milwaukee Brewers, sources familiar with the negotiations told Yahoo Sports.

    Papelbon's contract, which calls for a $13 million salary this season with a $13 million option for 2016 that vests if he finishes 48 games this year, includes a no-trade clause that can block deals to 17 teams. It is unclear if Milwaukee is on the list.

    The Phillies' desire to trade Papelbon is no secret as they start a massive rebuild that already has seen more than $40 million shaved off their estimated opening-day payroll. While the 34-year-old is coming off a typically excellent season, with a 2.04 ERA and 39 saves, his flagging velocity and perceived negative attitude – Papelbon was suspended for seven games last September after grabbing his crotch following a blown save in Philadelphia – led to them looking for a trading partner.

    Milwaukee could be it. After sending Yovani Gallardo, who makes $13

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  • How Bud Selig survived huge mistakes to forge a legacy worth remembering

    Bud Selig was the accidental commissioner, the antiquated man charged with navigating modern times, the car salesman handed an institution and told to fix it. Dunderheaded and genius, profane and professorial, simple and complicated, Selig will retire from Major League Baseball’s top post Saturday after more than 22 years as the ultimate sort of political animal: the survivor.

    He survived the strike, the steroid wars and the All-Star Game tie, the legacy-sullying Cerberus that took place on his watch, and history will see as his doing. And yet his commissionership was so rich with progress – the expanded postseason and MLB.com and revenue sharing and new stadiums and instant replay and unprecedented riches and, best of all, two-plus decades of uninterrupted labor peace – that to define Selig by his mistakes, whoppers though they may have been, serves as a black-and-white rendering of a man who did his finest work in the gray.

    Bud Selig had some missteps, but he helped guide MLB to unprecedented wealth. (USAT)Bud Selig had some missteps, but he helped guide MLB to unprecedented wealth. (USAT)Forever the public will see Selig as the man whose face

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  • Sources: Rangers acquire Yovani Gallardo from Brewers

    The Texas Rangers acquired right-hander Yovani Gallardo and cash on Monday, sending three prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers in order to fortify a rotation whose ERA last season ranked 28th in baseball, major league sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Yovani Gallardo is 89-64 in his career with a 3.69 ERA. (Getty)Yovani Gallardo is 89-64 in his career with a 3.69 ERA. (Getty)Gallardo, 28, is the second starter the Rangers have acquired this offseason following a deal for left-hander Ross Detwiler. He’ll join Yu Darvish and Derek Holland in a rotation whose back end remains somewhat in flux, with a number of candidates vying for a spot until Martin Perez returns from Tommy John surgery.

    Milwaukee cleared Gallardo’s $13 million salary off its books, perhaps positioning itself for a run at free agent James Shields or a trade for a frontline starter, and acquired infielder Luis Sardinas, reliever Corey Knebel and 18-year-old prospect Marcos Diplan.

    Sardinas, 21, debuted with Texas last season and can play second base, shortstop or third base. Knebel, a former first-round pick, came to Texas last season in the Joakim Soria

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  • Sources: Max Scherzer’s 7-year, $210 million deal with Nats contains historic deferrals

    Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals agreed to a seven-year, $210 million contract with provisions that take advantage of District tax laws to save Scherzer money and keep the team’s present-day payments down via historic deferrals, sources familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.

    Scherzer, 30, received the second-largest guarantee ever for a pitcher, just $5 million behind the contract Clayton Kershaw signed a year ago, though the payment structure is entirely different. Scherzer will get $15 million a year for the next 14 years, sources said, deferring half the money until after the contract expires. It is by far the largest sum ever deferred in a deal, not quite matching Bobby Bonilla’s 25-year deferral from the Mets in length but more than tripling it in value.

    Max Scherzer, 30, received the second-largest guarantee ever for a pitcher. (Getty)Max Scherzer, 30, received the second-largest guarantee ever for a pitcher. (Getty)To make up for the loss with the deferrals – because of inflation and lost interest-earning opportunity, future money is worth less than present – Scherzer will receive $50 million in the form of a signing bonus spread

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  • Why Nationals should keep their loaded staff together, even after adding Max Scherzer

    The easiest thing in the world to do is spend another man's money, especially a billionaire like Ted Lerner's, and so, of course, those giddy to see Max Scherzer joining what already was the best starting rotation in baseball will holler in unison: Don't do it. Don't trade anyone. Keep this Ferrari together and let it purr for one glorious season in a Major League Baseball era rife with Hondas and Toyotas.

    Sometimes, the emotion of something so exciting – in this case, Scherzer fetching a seven-year deal from the Washington Nationals – actually dovetails with the logical position, too. Because even though the Nationals find themselves in a situation that warrants a potential trade, more reasons exist not to sell off any pieces of this team than incentives do to shuffle their deck even more.

    Most notably, and simply, is the idea of stacking an on-paper super team – of adding Scherzer, the American League Cy Young winner in 2013 who followed with an equally dominant season last year, to

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  • MLB on course to spend more than $4 billion in 2015

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to shatter baseball’s payroll record, with an estimated $262.6 million worth of salaries on the books, and Major League Baseball almost assuredly will cross the $4 billion threshold as an industry in payroll and benefits during the 2015 season, according to a Yahoo Sports analysis.

    When Max Scherzer eventually signs, he'll push MLB's spending even further. (USA TODAY Sports)When Max Scherzer eventually signs, he'll push MLB's spending even further. (USA TODAY Sports)Using reported salary figures from Baseball Prospectus, arbitration estimates from MLB Trade Rumors and the standard $500,000 for pre-arbitration players, opening day salaries for the 30 teams total nearly $3.6 billion. With the signings of remaining free agents – Max Scherzer, James Shields, Colby Rasmus and a handful of relievers, back-end starters and fourth-outfielder types – teams should guarantee at least another $125 million in 2015 salaries to players before the start of the season, pushing the total well past the $3.63 billion teams paid players last season.

    By adding an estimated $12 million per team in benefits and other supplementary income, the total money paid

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  • Who's in, who's out, who's next: Historic Hall class' huge effect on future ones

    OK, deep breath. This is a cleansing paragraph. Out with all the rage here. No, Randy Johnson was not a unanimous choice in his election Tuesday to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Ridiculous!) Neither was fellow future inductee Pedro Martinez. (Absurd!) Joining them this July will be John Smoltz, who got in on the first ballot, too. (Standards are too low these days!) And Craig Biggio is finally a Hall of Famer. (Shoulda been already!)

    The elections of Randy Johnson (from left), Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz helped clear ballot space for future candidates. (Getty)The elections of Randy Johnson (from left), Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz helped clear ballot space for future candidates. (Getty)Now that the nonsense that has pervaded the Hall of Fame voting is out of the way, let’s get practical – novel concept – and try to understand what the results of Tuesday’s announcement mean.

    Most notably: This is the largest class chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America since 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Ted Lyons, Dazzy Vance and Gabby Hartnett got the requisite 75 percent. DiMaggio, by the way, was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He failed to get elected in his initial year while Rabbit Maranville, he of the career .258/.318/.340 line,

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