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The Luis Robert signing is part of the end of an era

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Sunday’s Say Hey, Baseball features a big international signing for the White Sox, a sweet play by Nolan Arenado, and the question of whether the Brewers have just been lucky.

MLB: Winter Meetings Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The Chicago White Sox are reportedly wrapping up a deal with top Cuban outfielder Luis Robert worth more than $25 million. The team will pay the standard 100 percent on overage taxes for international signings here, meaning that the total cost will be somewhere around $45 million, and there's reason to believe that it will be worth it. Robert is a five-tool player, 19 years old, and widely considered to be the equivalent of a first-round draft pick or a top-tier organizational prospect.

If these contract negotiations were happening just a few weeks later, however, they wouldn't be possible. Robert is likely to be the last major international signing under the rules of baseball's old collective bargaining agreement, which will expire this summer. As Jeff Passan wrote at Yahoo Sports this week, Robert symbolizes the end of the Cuban Revolution in MLB — not because there will be any less Cuban talent, but because the days of big-money international signings will have to come to an end under the new collective bargaining agreement.

The new international signing rules give teams hard spending caps for their bonus pools, rather than the current soft ones which allow clubs to blow them by and then pay extra in taxes to make up for it. (Baseball America has a good recap here.) Those caps are far lower than anything we typically see for major international contracts — somewhere in the range of $4 million to $5 million annually for most clubs, with the potential to trade for up to $10 million. Even at the hypothetical maximum, that's less than half the contract for a player like Robert and less than one-third of the record-setting number the Boston Red Sox gave Yoan Moncada a few years ago.

The new rules also increase the age for a player to be exempt from the bonus pool, from 23 to 26. In all, the new system will make it harder for clubs to acquire international players at an age when the bulk of their careers is still in front of them and harder still to pay them fairly — making Robert and his sizeable contract the end of an era.

  • No one expected the Milwaukee Brewers to be atop the NL Central right now, as they are. Some statistical models suggest that this is just because they've had good luck — but there's some more evidence to indicate that they're actually better than their record shows.
  • One glorious defensive play is an ordinary day for Nolan Arenado. Two? That's a little more special. The third baseman showed off his skills yesterday first while stretching to make a tough grab and then by diving to snare a liner and flip it to second.
  • Mike Clevinger took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Jose Altuve ended his shot with a single. The Cleveland Indians went on to win, 3-0.

  • The Texas Rangers win streak finally came to an end. After rolling for 10 straight, they fell to the Detroit Tigers 9-3 last night in a rough outing from A.J. Griffin, who gave up all nine runs in three innings and change.

  • As part of those nine runs, the Tigers did something last night that they hadn’t done in a few years —back-to-back-to-back home runs. Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera, and J.D. Martinez did the honors.

  • Dallas Keuchel, the first starter in baseball to record seven wins, is on the 10-day disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck. But Houston Astros fans needn’t worry, as it sounds like he should miss just one start.

  • The Chicago Cubs were rained out yesterday, but Willson Contreras squeezed in time for an adorable game of catch with a fan.

  • In the wake of Freddie Freeman’s injury, the Atlanta Braves have traded with the St. Louis Cardinals to acquire Matt Adams.

  • Hall of Fame former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda has been hospitalized. The team has not released further details beyond the fact that he is resting comfortably.