Hello free agents, are you comfortable? Most would find it hard to profess such a claim during a period of unemployment, yet you remain a tough and stubborn group. By Monday afternoon in Florida and Arizona, every team will have all Spring Training invitees at camp, and those of you who choose to spend this weekend not signing a deal will be sitting at home watching an MLB Network special on how you have yet to sign a deal. I write not only to point out the sheer stupidity with which you are acting, but also to try my best and cram some logic into those jaded brains of yours. Now of course none of you may ever touch this article, but nevertheless I remain committed to the cause.
The first point is obvious: with Spring Training 3 days away, 103 of y’all are still out of a job (factoring in players who are minor leaguers/retired/playing overseas). Do you not see what’s happening here? The clubs are not signing you, and many are in danger of not getting signed at all. A common complaint has been about the money, which I take serious issue with. Anyone who has ever played sports (barring unathletic kids who were forced by their parents) did it for the love of the game, and dreamed of nothing more than to play professionally in that sport. We weren’t thinking about how much money we were going to make or how many years we would have on our contract, we were just enthralled by the possibility of it all. These players have made it to that stage, and they must be overcome with joy and gratefulness, right? Even if you are playing solely to “feed your family” with a measly couple million bucks, you should be encouraged to sign now more than ever. The average salary in the MLB has risen 32 percent since 2013, by far the largest growth period in as long as the website I was looking at showed me. One could say this is a golden age for baseballers, one that may never end….except it never started because we are seeing petty players picking precisely the price they wish to parley from baseball’s paltry executives. The very idea of refusing to play simply due to monetary concerns tarnishes the robust reputation of baseball itself.
Let’s take a look at some contracts. Obviously the biggest one this offseason was Darvish to the Cubs for six years/$126 million, an average of $21 million a year. From my viewpoint, this is to be the bar for all future negotiations this offseason; players who see themselves with star talent similar to Darvish will ask for at least $21 million, and those who see themselves as above or below him will adjust accordingly. Eric Hosmer, a player we can most certainly agree is not on par with a player of Darvish’s stature, rejected $21 million a year from the Padres and $20 million a year from the Royals. He cited more pay and a longer contract as his demands. What?! Seven years is not long enough for you? $21 million is too little? Did you go to the Latrell Sprewell School of Negotiating or something? For many of these players I ask “What are you looking for?”
One big reason I think clubs are holding back the floodgates? Caution. The follies of $20+ million a year contracts has been well-documented (Price, Ellsbury, Zimmermann, Hayward), and with a much better free agent class approaching next offseason, GMs may want to hold on to their funds. Many of these players are good, but few are great, and they must realize that when no team wants to set them up for the rest of their careers.
Overall? Players should quit their whining, sign a friggin contract (look at Cashner and Volquez) and suit up to provide us loyal fans with another amazing season of baseball. Now all we need to fix is those mound visits...