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The Apple Bank

by M.G. Siegler


Rob Manfred Says Baseball Doesn’t Have a Free Agency Crisis

Tyler Kepner:

Boras represents outfielder Bryce Harper. Lozano represents infielder Manny Machado. Both players are 26 years old, with 10 All-Star selections between them. They were still unsigned on Sunday, with dozens of others, nine of whom have a WAR above 1: Jose Bautista, Clay Buchholz, Carlos Gonzalez, Gio Gonzalez, Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Jose Iglesias and Denard Span.
Teams have stopped spending like they used to, and only one free agent has signed for more than $68 million this winter — starter Patrick Corbin, who got a six-year, $140 million deal from the Washington Nationals. Gone are the days that a player in his 30s could get a 10-year, $240 million contract, like the one Robinson Cano got from the Seattle Mariners before the 2014 season.

Machado has since been signed -- to a 10-year, $300M deal by "small market" San Diego -- Harper undoubtedly will have a home soon as well, likely in Philadelphia, which is where all the chatter points. But the point remains: it's wild that it took this long for these players, at these ages, to be signed. Something has clearly and fundamentally shifted in the game.

I think we're starting to see the great downsizing of baseball. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- it could very well be a good thing! -- but it's just not America's game anymore, it is firmly America's pastime. Sure, the TV money will still be there and may even keep going up, but the stadiums will continue to empty and the overall audience will continue to dwindle. A little sad, but again, necessary.

Meanwhile, Manfred seems problematic, to say the least. His comments effectively throwing all sub-1 WAR players under the bus are insane for a commissioner of the sport. His ideas for how to improve (read: speed up) the game aren't much better. I like this idea by Jason Gay a lot more.


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