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MLB Owners Pushing The Union Towards A Strike

Back in 1987, well after Spring Training had begun, a defeated and dejected Andre Dawson went to the Chicago Cubs and gave them a blank contract where they could fill-in his compensation. Dawson was forced to do that because no Major League team, not even the Montreal Expos where he had spent 11 years, had shown an interest in signing him.

At that time, Dawson was 31 years old, and he was coming off a season where he hit .284/.338/.478 with 32 doubles, 20 homers, and 78 RBI. In his then 11 year career, he already had won the Rookie of the Year, six Gold Gloves, and he was a three time All-Star. To think no one wanted his services is beyond ludicrous.

As we would later discover, this was the result of collusion among owners, which continued to sow the mistrust between owners the MLBPA.

Since that time, things have dramatically improved to the point where the last two Collective Bargaining Agreements were ratified without so much as a hint of a work stoppage. Owners, players, and even fans have been able to enjoy the financial success of the sport, and they have seen the sport grow.

However, now, there are the seeds of mistrust being sown again.

This is something which has been building for a while now. It seems each offseason there is increasingly less activity during the Winter Meetings. Seemingly, teams are all individually yet collectively trying to wait out the market. Teams will tell you they are smarter than they have been in the past, and maybe they are, but there is something suspicious about what is transpiring.

Pitchers and catchers have less than one week before they have to report to Spring Training. Typically, this is the time of year where teams are finding their last pieces of the puzzle. They are signing cheaper veterans, and they are looking to hand out minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training to help sure up their bench and depth.

That’s not the case this year. Rather, there are real difference makers still available in free agency in a way that we have never seen before in the history of free agency:

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are both 26 years old, and according to WAR, they are top 15 players in the sport since their Major League debut.

Craig Kimbrel is the active saves leader, and he is coming off his third consecutive All-Star season where he saved 42 games, which was the third most in the Majors last year.

Dallas Keuchel is a former Cy Young winner who has been a top 15 pitcher in terms of WAR, wins, and innings pitched since 2015. He is also a four time Gold Glove winner.

Gio Gonzalez is one year removed from a top six Cy Young finish, and he was 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts for the Brewers as they fought for the Central Division title down the stretch.

Additionally, Mike Moustakas has the third most homers among third basemen over the past two seasons, and Adam Jones is a five time All Starhe has been an above average league hitter in nine of the past 10 seasons including his being just one of 37 outfielders with a wRC+ over 100 over the past two seasons.

While you can make a case for or against each one of these players, the fact these players remain on the free agent market in addition to other valuable commodities is ponderous. There is also the issue with Curtis Granderson and Jerry Blevins needing to accept minor league deals despite having been valuable Major League players for the past few seasons.

As bad as these instances are, there is Jacob deGrom.

Just last summer, his agent said, “We have discussed Jacob’s future with the Mets at length. Jacob has expressed interest in exploring a long-term partnership that would keep him in a Mets uniform for years to come. If the Mets don’t share same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now. The inertia of current situation could complicate Jacob’s relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision.”

This was as soft a trade demand as you can get. Really, this was a demand for a contract extension. The hope was with a new General Manager in place with a new plan, the Mets could pursue that extension. The only problem is the Mets would hire deGrom’s agent as their new General Manager, and Brodie Van Wagenen has not seemed intent on giving his former client the contract extension he asserted deGrom deserved.

That’s the current state of affairs between the players and owners. The owners are keeping player salaries down, and they are hiring player agents and having those agents not making good on their own demands. Even if you think what the owners are doing is justifiable, it is clear the players are not getting the same deals they once were on the free agent market.

This is why you see players like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt looking for contract extensions with their current teams so as to not be in the same position as this year’s group of free agents. It is why you will eventually see the union striking before the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

4 thoughts on “MLB Owners Pushing The Union Towards A Strike”

  1. Metsvibes says:

    The issue here is performance and money. If you are a owner you want yours money worth of performance during the duration of the contract. why must a owner give a 10 year contract if he only wants the player for 5 years because he will not get top performance during the later years. The only player worth a long contract because he is a 5 tool player is Mike Trout (consistente, hustles, great guy and brings positive image for the club).

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Giving Harper or Machado a 10 year deal is like giving a 30 year old a five year deal.

  2. oldbackstop says:

    Gawd, where to start to unpack this dog’s breakfast….

    Dawson was a mess in 1987. His knees were so bad he had to move from center to right field his perennial Gold Gloves had turned into a negative dWAR which he would carry the rest of his career. His 30 stolen base speed had deteriorated to two years of 13 steals followed by 18 steald and 12 caught steals in 1986.

    He publicly blamed the Montreal artificial turf for his knees and said he would only play on a team that played on natural grass. Not sure if he was taking off road games on astroturf.

    My impression back then was he was washed up. His five tool game had deteriorated with the creaky knees. A gold glove 30-30 centerfielder was valuable….a creaky rightfielder with knee issues not so much.

    I think that given social media, there is a TON of pressure on teams to add free agents, but there is a ton of analytics out now scoffing at the value of these deals. A 5 year deal for a 30 year old is NOT the same as a 10 year deal with a 25 year old. Chronological ages do not always jibe with decline. If both those guys show up looking very average compared to their last seasins, like Heyward has, you are dealing with ten years of an overpaid employee, not five.

    re: Brody….sure he is managing the Mets, paid to work in their best interests. He was the agent for deGrom, same charge. They are largely incompatitible.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. With respect to Dawson, it was legally proven there was collusion. It’s not a tin-foil hat theory; it happened.

      2. You really don’t understand the implications of how someone advocating for an extension and then not giving it when has the power does not have far reaching implications at a time when there is increased strife between the owners and union?

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