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Carter Stewart and commissioner Rob Manfred at last year's draft. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

19-year-old pitcher Carter Stewart has agreed to a six-year, $7+ million contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League, a groundbreaking deal that could change baseball.

Why it matters: The MLB's financial model limits the bargaining power of amateurs, pays minor leaguers sub-poverty-level wages and keeps players locked into below-market contracts through their peak years. The only reason players put up with this is because there's no alternative. Stewart may have just created one.

The backdrop: Stewart was drafted No. 8 overall in the 2018 draft by the Atlanta Braves. Unable to reach a deal, he went to junior college and was expected to be a second-rounder in next month's draft.

By the numbers: Which route would you take?

  • MLB draft: He'd sign for ~$2 million then be paid next to nothing in the minors. Ideally, he'd make the majors by 2022, where he'd earn the minimum for three years (currently ~$600,000). That's less than $4 million over six years and he wouldn't hit free agency until 2027.
  • Japan: Guarantees himself $7 million, while also becoming an international free agent three years earlier in 2024 when he's just 25 years old.

The big picture: Even if this doesn't start a trend of players going overseas (not everyone is willing to spend their early 20s in Japan), it's a bad enough look for MLB that it could force the league to reassess its current system.

  • The most prestigious baseball league in the world just lost one of America's best young prospects to Japan because he can make more money there. Those optics aren't great.

The bottom line: "Stewart, in the end, is a proxy for something bigger — a haymaker at a system capable of careening out of control until brought back into balance," ESPN's Jeff Passan writes:

  • "Perhaps [he] is that counterweight. Maybe it's someone after him. Could be that nothing changes and this is but a blip. Whatever the case, it's a noble effort, an admirable risk and a fascinating story."

Go deeper: 2019 MLB mock draft

Go deeper

Civil rights groups sue Oklahoma over law banning critical race theory

The Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City. Photo: Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A group of civil rights organizations is suing Oklahoma over a law that restricts discussion of race and gender in public schools.

Why it matters: The law is one of several Republican-led attempts to ban critical race theory (CRT), a concept that links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressman criminally charged with lying to feds

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) has been indicted on charges he falsified records and lied to federal investigators probing an illegal foreign donation scheme, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Driving the news: DOJ says a Fortenberry associate, who later cooperated with investigators, informed him he'd likely received illegal donations from an intermediary for a foreign national, but that Fortenberry denied any knowledge of such a scheme when contacted by the FBI.

"Assassin's Creed," but for schools

"Viking Age: Discovery Tour." Image via Ubisoft

For the third time since 2018, Ubisoft is releasing a nonviolent version of its latest “Assassin’s Creed” game as part of a unique effort to turn one of the medium’s most popular series into an educational tool.

Driving the news:Viking Age: Discovery Tour” transforms last year’s “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” from a bloody 150-hour game about Viking conquest in 9th century England into a peaceful four-hour game about merchants and monks.