This offseason has been pretty quiet so far in the free agent signing department. There have been multiple theories (and at this point allegations). Stat fans have pointed out that teams are finally getting smarter about how they spend their money. Others think the teams that would normally go after guys like J.D. Martinez or Yu Darvish, are saving their money for next year when Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, and possibly Clayton Kershaw are eligible. And then there are the theories being floated out there that owners are colluding to keep salaries down. Or perhaps that teams are trying to tank in order to get high draft picks and turn things around.
This is one of those situations where you really have no clue who to root for here. I mean, think about it. On the one hand, a player like J.D. Martinez wants something insane like 7 years $200 million and is turning down 5/100 (or whatever he was offered). I am sorry J.D., I just do not think you are worth that kind of money. Eric Hosmer has great offers on the table, but he wants more. I like Hosmer, but he is not Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera. And Yu? He is not Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer.
However, I then realize that I am on the side of agents like Scott Boras. You know, the guy who has made sure small-market teams would never be able to afford his clients. He does his job, he gets as much money for them as possible, but at some point, the league was going to take a stand against ridiculous contracts. I mean, Jordan Zimmerman? Five years, $110 million…what did that money buy the Tigers so far? Two seasons of below average pitcher (79 ERA+…yikes). And yes, I realize Zimmerman is not a Boras client, but Boras helped pave the way for these ridiculous contracts.
But then that brings me to another problem. If you are not going to pay those players that kind of money, who do you pay? I mean, you could just pay the young, unproven guys more, or at least find ways to sign them for longer periods of time (buying out those arbitration years). But at the end of the day, owners will just reap more rewards. I am not going to lose any sleep over some billionaire not making more money.
So again, whose side are we on in this battle? The fans are the ones who truly suffer here. If teams try to tank, the fans have to sit through a few years of terrible baseball. If teams go out and overspend on aging free agents, they then cannot compete down the road financially (i.e. Tigers). If contracts get to a ridiculously insane point (like Stanton’s or probably Harper’s future contract), then only a handful of teams will be able to afford a superstar (this is already the case). Players like Chipper Jones become a thing of the past (I think it is so cool that Freddie Freeman truly wants to remain a Brave forever) and that is bad for the fans too.
I do not have an answer. Just frustration.