Pay your players.
Payment. Yours. Players. Tell me, MLB franchises: Pay. Yours. Players.
Feel it. Live it. Inhale it. Drink it, man.
Those three words could probably be repeated 30 to 40 times in the rest of the column to prove a point and send a message – after all, after a pretty dead two years of MLB free pizzazz, it has to be said. But so far during this free agency season, there is hope that this offseason will not be a total move, which is a good sign for fans and players alike.
Mike Moustakas took his money from the Cincinnati Reds for years. Will Smith’s textured Bravis on a fairly lucrative contract and sounds like Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg signing sooner rather than later. So please, MLB teams, keep spending money. Keep wanting to win.
The elephant in the dugout is the CBA that expires at the end of 2021, so teams have two years to do it right and prove they want to do just that: spend money and make money. Looks like in 2019 baseball, teams are more interested in the bottom line than the left column. Mets pitcher relief Justin Wilson said so much last year during the introductory conference call.
“I share with Justin Verlander on some aspects that there are many leagues that prefer to make money,” Wilson said. “Which, if you’re a player, is not really fun, because we play this game to win.
“I don’t go into the season with any other goal than a world record. So, having two-thirds of the league not really involved in it, not trying to win a league, it keeps a free agency.”
It was not long before Neil Walker strongly criticized the free agent process the year he landed with the Yankees, signing in mid-March. Walker was far from ancient or rinsed – he was 32 at the time and came off a good run with the Mets and Brewers in 2017 where he deserved more than two wins, per Fangraphs.
The trend continued when Gio Gonzalez, who was brewing lights for 2018, had to wait until March 2019 to sign. Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel signed the MLB plan because the teams wanted to avoid giving up the compensation plan.
Yes, the big buyers like Patrick Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado got their money and probably Gerrit Cole, Rendon and Strasburg will get theirs. But that’s not so much for the big ticket kids, but for those repaired veterans who had to wait a little longer to pay.
It sure looks like it’s starting to get better: With the exception of Moustakas and Smith, Travis d’Arnaud and Grandmaster Yasmani signed, perhaps a little earlier than many expected. Shocking but true: Signing up early in the offseason is what is best for business.
Leave the media and fan benefit for a second. Think of the players, some of whom had to suffer from terrible subordinates to finally wait four or five years for the chance to stay free because the owners want to play a cute “payroll” game with their players – could lead to work disorders in the coming years.
There is a lot more to this than just the way the free agent deals: The minor league championship fiasco, slot manipulation and other rules are at the forefront of change for MLBPA and the league.
But for now, the teams seem to be getting smarter by reopening their wallets, and this is a welcome gift for fans ahead of the holiday season.
Keep filling that stock, folks.