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Volume 25 No. 27
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Quiet MLB Offseason To Heat Up Soon With Big Name Free Agents, Trade Targets Available

MLB's holiday vacation is "just about over and now the real hot stove season is about to begin," according to Nick Cafardo of the BOSTON GLOBE. Some of the "biggest names in free agency and on the trade front are still in play" as '18 gets under way (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/31). In Boston, Peter Abraham wrote with Spring Training less than seven weeks away, that so many "worthwhile players remain available is not unprecedented." But it is "certainly unusual." Only six of the top 20 free agents listed by MLBTradeRumors.com "have signed." Teams "better understand that long-term contracts for free agents are perilous." They are also "eager to get under the competitive balance tax threshold" to reset the penalties. There is also now "greater incentive to sign your own players to extensions and take better control of when your payroll will fluctuate." Abraham: "So settle in." At some point players will "instruct their agents to make deals as spring training draws closer." But at the same time, teams will "find a price point where they're comfortable" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/31). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes the "hot stove market, with 136 free agents still unemployed, barely has the flicker of a pilot light." Only nine position players "have signed major-league contracts this winter." It is "actually a miserable time to be a marquee free agent," seeing that the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox "refuse to partake in the free-agent party." They have "spent a grand total of $25 million this winter," which does not include the Yankees' trade for RF Giancarlo Stanton. However, logic indicated that we "should have a wild frenzy these next six weeks" before Spring Training begins (USATODAY.com, 1/2).

POPULARITY BOOST? MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said of baseball and developments with sports gambling, "We are reexamining our stance on gambling. It's a conversation that's ongoing with the owners." The GLOBE's Cafardo wrote the feeling is that legalized betting on baseball "could draw more fans to the sport" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/31).