February 14, 2019
You've surely read takes everywhere characterizing this free agent market as anywhere from "boring" to "detrimental to baseball," and they're probably right.
Reports say that more than 100 free agents remain, with pitchers and catchers currently officially reporting for spring training as we speak. Players are starting to speak up.
100 or so free agents left unsigned. System is broken. They blame “rebuilding” but that’s BS. You’re telling me you couldn’t sign Bryce or Manny for 10 years and go from there? Seems like a good place to start a rebuild to me. 26-36 is a great performance window too.— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) February 11, 2019
The Phillies' own pat Neshek, a veteran leader in the Philly bullpen, had similar thoughts to share — and he did on NBCSports Philadelphia.
"It's sad to see. It stinks," Neshek told John Clark. "They want to go cheaper, the front offices. I think we signed a bad CBA, personally."
"When the revenues are going up and the portion that's being paid to the players is consistently declining, there's going to be an issue. It's going to get pretty ugly. The smart front offices, a lot of those guys might not have jobs anymore because we're not going to have baseball. It's a respect issue."
It's hard to argue with their analysis, especially since Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain free agents, unsigned in mid February. The trickle down effect has many waiting for them to set a market price, or pick a team so other jobless ballplayers can get the contracts they've been waiting on themselves.
Of the top 50 free agents heading into the 2018-19 offseason, 80 percent of them have found teams. Just 10 of the top 50 remain unsigned. Proportionally, 20 percent of the best free agents in baseball being unemployed (especially as spring training has already started) is a very large number. Last season, the Phillies did not ink a deal with Jake Arrieta until March 11 — which means there could be nearly another month of this.
But things have gotten actually done, as can be seen below, despite the flawed CBA and Harper and Machado's logjam. There are just some pretty big names left with no uniform to wear.
Here's who is left from ESPN's pre-offseason list:
|Free Agent||Position/Top 50 rank|
|Manny Machado||SS / 1|
|Bryce Harper||RF / 2|
|Dallas Keuchel||SP / 5|
|Jose Iglesias||SS / 20|
|Gio Gonzalez||SP / 22|
|Mike Moustakas||3B / 25|
|Marwin Gonzalez||LF / 35|
|Clay Buchholz||SP / 39|
|Craig Kimbrel||CP / 40|
|Ryan Madson||RP / 47|
There is no telling how much longer it will take for the remaining 10 top free agents, plus dozens more to find new teams. One only can hope the greater issue will be resolved in some way when the new labor deal gets negotiated in 2021.
Until then, here's our daily live stream/open thread, so you can follow along with every piece of free agent news as it develops:
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