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Volume 25 No. 8
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MLBPA Says Moustakas' Deal An Example Of Flawed Free Agency

Moustakas will earn less than he made in '17, even if he maxes out on $2.2M in performance bonuses
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Royals 3B Mike Moustakas signed a one-year, $6.5M contract to return to the team, some $80M "less than projected," and the MLBPA is using him as an example to show the "integral flaws of free agency" under the new CBA, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Moustakas' agent Scott Boras said, "The system failed Mike Moustakas. If you're going to withhold players for three years at the minimum salary, offer them an artificial value in arbitration for three more years, and there is no reward at the end of that, then you realize the quid pro quo no longer exists" (USA TODAY, 3/12). Boras: "We always want demand for the best. This is about players, players who are excellent, players who are All-Stars, and [Moustakas] has delivered in all." THE ATHLETIC's Rustin Dodd wrote MLB's free agent system had "led to" Moustakas "saying yes to a deal that will pay him less than he made" in '17, even if he maxes out on $2.2M in performance bonuses. But Dodd wrote Boras "misjudged the market," and Moustakas "lost nearly" $10M in the process. Yet Boras "questioned the 'integrity of the current system, mentioning 'intervening factors' that had mucked up his client's market" (THEATHLETIC.com, 3/11). ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote it "became apparent" on Friday that Boras "lost to the market, in a rout." In the past, Boras "tarried and anticipated that the market for talented clients would eventually develop." But this year, that "did not happen." The players who "lingered on the free-agent market," like Moustakas and Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez, who on Thursday agreed to a one-year, $8M deal with the club, have "mostly been crushed after leaving money on the table" (ESPN.com, 3/11). 

PLAYER EVALUATION: MLB Network’s Carlos Pena said, “This is just a culmination of the paradigm shift, and it's been extremely difficult for many players to understand that the market has changed and that teams are evaluating players differently now. They're okay with just passing on some of the stars that we expected were going to get huge contracts this year, so it's very difficult to swallow" (“MLB Tonight,” MLBN, 3/9).

START OF SOMETHING NEW? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond wrote Cardinals SS Paul DeJong this offseason "made a decision with potentially far-reaching implications for the entire baseball industry." He asked his agent to "approach the Cardinals about a long-term contract extension now forgoing the usual years-long path that leads to free agency." Young players "trading away the opportunity to maximize their earnings for increased job security happens occasionally." Front-office execs "like these sorts of arrangements because they give teams cost certainty for an extended period and access to a player’s prime at a reasonable price." Players who agree to them say they "ensure generational wealth early in their careers and only delay their chance at free agency by a year or two." As contract talks progressed, the MLBPA "consulted with DeJong to ensure that he knew the pros and cons." A source said delaying free agency "could be a decision that costs a player tens of millions of dollars." The source added that the MLBPA has "concern 'on a lot of different levels' about contracts like DeJong's, especially if evidence surfaces that the sluggish free-agent market might inspire more players to sign them." The source said, "The unfortunate part of many of those contracts is that the players don’t fully understand what they’re getting in exchange for what they’re giving up" (WSJ.com, 3/9).