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Volume 25 No. 24
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How Will Cubs' Signing Of Yu Darvish Affect MLB Free Agency?

Several other teams that were pursuing Darvish could quickly pivot to other top pitchers on the market
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Cubs' signing of P Yu Darvish is "expected to be the one industry insiders have been waiting for to break a winterlong free-agency freeze that has seen only the relief-pitcher market move at a traditional pace," according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The move also "delivered a powerful counterpunch to big moves made by the Cardinals and Brewers earlier in the offseason" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/11). In DC, Dave Sheinin wrote the signing "eases, at least for now, the sense of foreboding hanging over" MLB with camps set to open this week. Several other teams "had been in pursuit of Darvish" and those teams "could quickly pivot to the other top starters on the market." The signing "represents the longest and biggest deal signed by any players this winter." But one big signing "does not prove anything, and the industry will still be watching to see how the rest of this late-forming market unfolds." There is now "at least some hope that the Darvish signing will be the spark this market needed and that labor tensions will ease, if only slightly" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/11). THE ATHLETIC's Ken Rosenthal wrote the Darvish signing "figures to spur some activity, if only because the losers on Yu -- in theory -- will now be forced into action." Rosenthal: "I'll believe it when I see it" (THEATHLETIC.com, 2/10). 

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE: YAHOO SPORTS' Mark Townsend wrote with Darvish off the market, free agency will "center almost exclusively" around agent Scott Boras, who reps unsigned players like RF J.D. Martinez, P Jake Arrieta, 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas, P Greg Holland and "several other big name free agents who are still on the board." For all intents and purposes, Boras "now controls the market, meaning he’s about to enter a standoff with the owners that could shape the future of MLB" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/10). In S.F., John Shea notes many Giants' players over the weekend at FanFest "expressed concern ... that the game is being hurt by a slow free-agent market and teams’ unwillingness to compete, which has created labor strife." Giants SS Brandon Crawford said, "It’s definitely troubling as a player to see that many good big-league players still unsigned. Those are guys who can make huge impacts on teams." Giants 1B Brandon Belt added fewer suitors can "take away from the competition, and competition is good for everybody." While Giants Exec VP/Baseball Operations Brian Sabean "wouldn’t compare current friction" to '94-95, he "couldn’t explain the stalled free-agent market." Sabean: "I don’t know if it’s a one-year correction. I don’t know that anybody in the game is smart enough to know what it means" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/12).

NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR ANYONE: In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote a Spring Training camp for free agents is a "noble undertaking." But in the end, players "won't win in this stalemate." Maybe it is a "market correction." Either way, MLB and the union "went from a spirit of cooperation to attacking each other now at every turn." Having this many good players without jobs "isn’t a good look for baseball" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/11). In Cincinnati, John Fay wrote the current spat "doesn't bode well for lasting labor peace." But players "waiting for million-dollar contacts aren’t going to evoke a lot of sympathy from John Q. Fan" (CINCINNATI.com, 2/10).