Simmering Stove: MLB Offseason Seeing Shorter Free Agent Contracts, Slow Movement
While dozens of MLB free agents have agreed to contracts this offseason, with the exception of Braves CF B.J. Upton and Giants CF Angel Pagan, "not a one has received more than a three-year deal," according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Teams are "adopting the philosophy that it's fine to overpay their players, but in return for the extra loot you'll have less years of security." This philosophy explains why Red Sox CF Shane Victorino is "being grossly overpaid" at $39M over three years. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said, "There's been a preference to try and keep the deals shorter. In order to do that, we may have to use a little bit of our yearly flexibility to get it accomplished." Nightengale writes this approach is the "new unwritten Economics 101 philosophy." Several high-profile MLB agents said that teams have become "scared committing to long-term contracts and have adopted a new way of approaching free agency." But the agents said that it is "too early to call it the wave of the future." Free agent P Zack Greinke "might get a seven-year deal that's the richest ever for a pitcher," while free agent P Anibal Sanchez "already has a slew of five-year offers" (USA TODAY, 12/6).
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT: In Detroit, Lynn Henning writes, "We're three days into baseball's Winter Meetings -- and you're free to wonder when a gathering supposedly designed to trade and sign players might actually begin. It's been slow" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/6). Mets Special Assistant to the GM J.P. Ricciardi said, “The media always wants the big, sexy deals and I think right now there hasn’t been that many of them." He added, "There’s a lot of stuff going on, probably stuff that’s under the radar. Everybody’s just trying to make their club better. Some guys do it with a bigger splash. I think there’s a few big splashes coming though” (“Mets Hot Stove Report,” SportsNet N.Y., 12/5).
CHANGING MEDIA LANDSCAPE: MLB Network’s Richard Justice noted MLB is "not immune to technology," which has changed the way the league is covered by the press. Justice said, "You have dozens of reporters running around here and lots of people with tidbits of information, and it’s published instantly, whereas before you had to wait for the morning newspaper. ... You don’t have to talk to people now, and that has infected the Wwinter Meetings. It’s changed the way teams do business” ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 12/5).