State of Baseball: Free Agency

John Supowitz | July 22nd, 2019

One of the issues baseball players have begun to discuss openly over the last couple of offseasons has been free agency. Several players have expressed the frustration with the lack of compensation some players have received over the previous couple of off-seasons.

In 2018, the MLB ‘Hot Stove” was luke warm as many top free agents had yet to sign with a club the week leading up to spring training and some not until after spring training began.


Many thought the lack of spending was due to some of the young, big free agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado would be on the market in 2019. These two, the two free agents that everyone was looking forward to, didn’t sign a contract until spring training began. They would collectively sign for 22 years and $630 million, but beside them, there weren’t many other significant signings.

Some players spent part of the season without a team; closer Craig Kimbrel, who helped the Red Sox win a World Series and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel did not sign with a team until mid-June.

Players have expressed their frustration for their brothers.

These lackluster years could be the backlash of previous long term, big money contracts. One example being Miguel Caberea with his eight-year extension from the Tigers. Six years remaining for the first baseman who will turn 36, only played 38 games last year due to injury. Second, you have Alex Rodriguez’s signing a ten year deal with the Yankees at the age of 32. Two years remained on the contract before the Yankees released him.

Another could be the luxury tax. In 2018, for the first time since the current luxury tax system has been in place (2003), teams combined to owe less than $15 million in penalties. The Red Sox and Nationals were the only teams to go over the $197 million luxury tax threshold, owing a combined $14.34 million.

The current collective bargaining agreement ends after the 2021 season. With players frustrated, could this possibly lead to a work stoppage?

Questions and comments?

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