Spring training started already with pitchers and catchers reporting, and more than 100 baseball players are still out testing the free agent market.
This has become a chess match with ivy-league general managers and agents trying to determine a player’s price in the market. In a desperate maneuver to win the public relations game, agents such as Scott Boras and Brock Van Wagenen are crying foul about owners colluding to leave their clients out in the market.
It’s hilarious to hear them cry and expect the working public to feel awful for them and their clients. They have been talking about spring training lockout to get the owners attention. If they want to dare, they should call their bluff now.
This has nothing to do with collusion. It’s hard to believe the owners are smart enough to know how to do business deals. This is about the new wave of general managers outworking baseball agents at their own game. After agents for years would manipulate previous general managers and owners about their client by showing a presentation of what they do in their careers, today’s general managers are convincing owners not to throw money away for what players did in the past because their performance would decline as they get older. That means there’s no more thirty-year-old players getting deals that extend to their late 30s and early 40s anymore.
To this which we say, “HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
It’s about time teams wise up in how to allocate their money with baseball players. It’s about time there is financial sanity after years of mediocre players being overpaid. This is smart business by the new wave of young, analytical general managers.
The days of giving an everyday hitter like Miguel Cabrera an eight-year, $248 million contract extension from the Detroit TIgers that kicked in when he turned 32 in 2016, is over. The days of giving a starting pitcher like David Price to a seven-year, $215 million deal that the Red Sox gave is over. Long-term contracts are a thing of a past. Players are only going to get a three-year deal at best, and young players in their twenties will get a long-term extension to eliminate arbitration years.
When big-market teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers have figured this out, you know we have reached a paradigm shift when it comes to guys who are free agents. It’s not worth paying a guy that would go past seven years in his late thirties.
Now there’s going to be a team that will be stupid enough to still give a crazy contract to a player who may have two good years left at best. The Cubs did that on Saturday when they signed Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal. Sure he did not get the deal he wanted, but giving a pitcher at the wrong side of 30 to that type of contract does not make sense businesswise. But for the most part, those days are over, and the players and agents better get used to it.
Players such as Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and CC Sabathia received the hint, and they decided to take a deal for less than they think they are worth because they did not want to drag this on than they should.
Today’s wave of general managers have focused on finding guys who can play for less money. They are always quick to draft a player’s replacement right away and have him ready to go once that player enters free agency. With today’s statistical analysis, general managers are finding ways to figure out which player has more value at the position they play in.
Plus, teams are not willing to give up draft picks to sign free agents. They know draft picks have value in a sport where it has become a young man’s game.
It’s an effective way to run a baseball team. It makes baseball sense and business sense.
Agents can cry about owners wanting to drive salary down, but that does not make sense. Owners are not smart enough to do that. They wouldn’t have a clue. They only look good because general managers are making them look good. Deep down, the Boras of the world recognize that, so they resort to whining to the press.
This is not just desperation anymore. This seems like a cry for help.
The fans couldn’t care less. If nothing else, they love this since they trust management to do the right thing and they love seeing the players union get theirs.
Give credit to J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, Jake Arietta and several others for fighting the good fight. But this looks like a game they can’t win.
It’s rare owners get the best out of players when it comes to salaries.
But in this one, they are, and they can thank their baseball whizzes for that.