Dan's Dugout: Greed + Collusion = Slow Market • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan’s Dugout: Greed + Collusion = Slow Market

on

For baseball fans, this winter has been colder than the daily temperature.

Except for the rich clubs on both coasts, silence has stifled the once-robust winter market.

The obvious culprits are greed by the players plus possible collusion by the clubs.

Nobody wants to issue nine-digit contracts or ink athletes to long-term arrangements.

At the same time, Scott Boras and his merry band of agents are generating reams of propaganda about players in their stables.

It’s a standoff that has soured the holiday season for all — and especially the fans.

Only a handful of players have signed and not many more have moved via trades.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has a lot of explaining to do

Thanks to penny-pinching Marlins boss Derek Jeter, three stars have sailed out of Miami in swaps strictly structured as payroll-trimming: Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, Marcel Ozuna to the Cardinals, and Dee Gordon to the Mariners.

Outside of those moves, however, the biggest off-season news worth reporting came from Anaheim, where title-hungry owner Arte Moreno managed to land infielders Zack Cozart (from the Reds) and Ian Kinsler (from the Tigers) in trades and pitcher-outfielder Ohtani in a shrewd free agent signing that predated the winter meetings.

Another West Coast club took a solid infielder from a struggling club when the San Francisco Giants landed long-time Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria for a handful of prospects.

The bottom line is that more than 100 players — some of them with All-Star resumes — remain on the open market. In fact, with clubs concentrating on rebuilding bullpens, no top-flight starting pitcher has signed.

Things are so slow that the Kansas City Royals, worried about losing eight players whose contracts expired, have not even lost one. Even Peter Moylan, the submarining Aussie, is still available.

Eric Hosmer, their erstwhile first baseman, allegedly has two seven-year offers on the table. Could he be holding out for more years and more millions? Or does he wait to hear from a likely contender, which the Royals and Padres are not?

What is Eric Hosmer waiting for?

Because he’s two years older than Hosmer, 30-year-old slugger J.D. Martinez won’t get as many years. But he’d be a fool to pass on the five-year package proposed by the Boston Red Sox, whose Green Monster would make the most inviting target of the outfielder’s career.

The history of free agency is filled with instances of players who passed on decent offers and wound up with none. And there are teams that overpaid in both dollars and years, only to wind up with a fading star who couldn’t be traded (Albert Pujols, are you listening?).

Baseball pundits had predicted a flurry of moves once the Ohtani and Stanton situations were settled.

It hasn’t happened, with labor and management locked in a struggle more often seen on opposite sides of the Congressional aisle.

Things haven’t been this slow since the halcyon days of the late ’80s, when clubs were found guilty of colluding after refusing to sign free agents. Hall of Famer Andre Dawson actually signed a blank contract with the Chicago Cubs, who gave him less money ($500,000) for his 1987 MVP season than the minimum salary today.

With spring training just six weeks away and teams anxious to sell tickets and trinkets, somebody has to blink. And soon.

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

Recommended for you