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Volume 25 No. 6
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MLB's Turbulent Offseason Could Have Lasting Impact On Free Agency

Few pundits expect this year's slow offseason to hurt impending star free agents like Bryce Harper
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

This MLB offseason is one in which baseball "assaulted the monolith" upon which the MLBPA was built -- "free agency," according to Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS. Even if teams "did not collude" in suppressing the contracts handed out, the "severity of the damage is apparent." If free agency is "not altogether destroyed, it is at the very least imperiled and handicapped." Players are "shook" and agents are "on tilt." If the union has a plan, its "rank-and-file doesn’t know it." Royals 3B Mike Moustakas signed a one-year, $6.5M contract to return to the team after initially turning down a $17.4M qualifying offer, and one prospective free agent next offseason said, "I don’t want to get Moosed." Passan noted the depth of the "market shift this winter remains somewhat unclear." Few pundits "expect it to hurt" impending free agents like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but what about Rockies CF Charlie Blackmon or Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson? For every "universally lauded deal," there are a "dozen that either underwhelmed or didn’t meet outside expectations." Mets RF Jay Bruce signed a three-year deal for $39M guaranteed. For that outlay, the team "could have filled" holes by signing Moustakas, OF Carlos Gonzalez, P Lance Lynn, 1B Logan Morrison and C Jonathan Lucroy (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/12). In St. Louis, Derrick Goold notes as all teams have "embraced more analytical approaches to evaluating players and the Hedge Fund Age officially on us, decisions are 'data-driven.'" Goold: "That means players are being judged for the VALUE of their production not just the AMOUNT of their production. ... If all teams now see players through these same statistical prisms then they don't need to talk about collusion, the computers are putting them there. The data drives them to it" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/13).

NOT GETTING IT DONE: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale names MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark as having the "worst winter," after he was "widely ridiculed by players and agents for the flaws in the collective bargaining agreement." They are "infuriated that Clark and the union's executive team didn’t see what was coming with the luxury tax threshold turning into a salary cap, and teams surrendering before the season even starts." The union has three years to "retrench before their next trip to the negotiating table, but the fallout from the past two collective bargaining agreements will cast a pall on their membership until then" (USA TODAY, 3/13).