Winter Drags On, With Free Agents Still Waiting by the Phone

In different words, you could still form a pretty Great team just coming from the remaining free agents.

“This particular has been coming for six, seven, eight years,” said Mike Stanton, the former Yankees reliever, who represented the team to the union during the 2002 collective bargaining talks. “Free agency gets pushed back as well as pushed back because teams know once you get closer to spring training, prices are going to come down. Eventually, players want a team to play for. There’s pressure coming from home, coming from friends, all around, to figure out where you’re going to go.”

Stanton, today an analyst for the Houston Astros as well as for MLB Network Radio, does not like what he sees. He will not use the word collusion — the practice of owners working together to hold down salaries, which happened from the 1980s — yet he has noticed a startling lack of urgency in This particular market. Typically, a team will add an extra year as well as another million or two in annual salary to separate its offer coming from the field. yet sensible deals like Jay Bruce’s with the Mets, for three years as well as $39 million, seem to reflect a lack of desperation.


Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the playoffs. Team have snapped up relievers This particular off-season, yet a group of top starters is actually still waiting.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

“Teams are running in which more like a business,” Stanton said. “You always had those loose cannons out there who would certainly overpay for guys, as well as those owners just aren’t there anymore. You see more young-gun G.M.s who want to show they can put a winning product on the field without spending $250 million.”

With analytics today entrenched in front offices, teams are placing similar values on free agents as well as becoming increasingly wary of paying players into their mid-to-late 30s. Next year’s dazzling class, with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson as well as (potentially) Clayton Kershaw, could be more tempting.

Some teams, like the Yankees as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers, are trying to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold to reset their tax rate — producing in which a kind of salary cap, something the union has always opposed on principle. Tony Clark, the executive director of the players’ association, declined through a spokesman to comment on the market.

The agent Scott Boras pointed to different elements of the collective bargaining agreement as contributing factors to the slowdown. The system allows the worst teams to spend the most money for amateur talent, with severe penalties for teams in which exceed their allotted bonus pools.


The former Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, above, is actually represented by the agent Scott Boras, who expressed confidence in which teams eventually would certainly engage with his clients.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

“in which has created an incentive to lose, as well as we today have a process where teams are not seeking competitiveness as well as therefore they’re not seeking players to be competitive,” Boras said This particular week, adding later: “To make baseball what in which should be — a league of 30 in which are incentivized to compete — we need to address these rules to say: You get more money from the draft if you win x number of games, as well as if you finish below a certain standard, you don’t get a top-all 5 or top-10 pick. in which will make the league more entertaining as well as make baseball better, because we want to wake up every day as well as know in which every team has an incentive to win, not an incentive to lose.”

Several divisions appear to have clear favorites: the Astros, the Indians, the Dodgers as well as the Washington Nationals all finished first by at least 11 games last season, as well as all look strong again. Those teams may feel little pressure to spend, as well as others may believe they are too far away for a free agent to make much difference.

Another factor is actually Boras, who represents Hosmer, Moustakas, Arrieta, Martinez, Holland as well as Gomez. He has waited until deep into the off-season before, finding deals worth more than $0 million for Prince Fielder as well as Max Scherzer from the second half of January. A slow-moving market does not worry him.

“Fans know in which talent is actually there,” Boras said. “They know in which without in which talent, the probability of the team winning is actually dramatically altered. So I have always trusted the fact in which the credibility of in which ethic will serve both the teams as well as the players.”

Once Boras’s elite clients sign, perhaps, the rest of the market will sort itself out. He believes in which so many teams are able to sign top-tier free agents in which they are reluctant to move to lesser options until those players are gone.

“This particular is actually not about the ability to pay,” Boras said. “in which’s about choices.”

For today, teams have mostly chosen to engage on the market for middle relievers. Twelve such pitchers have signed multiyear deals for at least $10 million total. in which could reflect the way the game is actually changing; after a record year for homers, players like Morrison (38 home runs) as well as Lucas Duda (30) are not as rare as they once were. yet with starters going fewer as well as fewer innings, teams are eager for dependable relievers.

Another unmistakable trend is actually in which tear-downs work. The last three champions — the 2015 Royals, the 2016 Chicago Cubs as well as the 2017 Astros — each endured a long rebuilding process before their title. Yet Boras objected to the notion in which teams could not be blamed for following in which playbook.

“I take great issue with in which,” he said. “When you’re a professional player as well as you sign in which contract, on your first day, you’re taught in which you’re here to win, you’re here to compete, you’re here to be your best. as well as if they teach in which to their young players as well as they tell the fans they’re here to win, then the entirety of This particular process in pro sports needs to be about winning — as well as the structure needs to have immediate change to address This particular.”

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