MLB Roundtable: Should MLB have a free agent contract term during the off-season?

NS Atlanta Braves is a World Series champion and baseball is currently in the midst of its first stoppage since the 1994-95 strike. MLB and the MLBPA were unable to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement by Wednesday’s deadline, so the furnace was paused. With any luck, the outage will last days, not weeks.

Throughout the season, the CBS Sports MLB scribes will bring you a weekly roundtable that breaks down almost everything. Breaking news, a historical question, thoughts on the future of baseball, all that. In our last roundtable we debated Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. This week, we’ll be discussing the change to free agency.

Should MLB have a free agent contract term in the off-season?

RJ Anderson: Are not. I don’t think the way to recreate this past week is through gimmicks; that is by having teams operate in good faith and with the goal of winning games. On top of that, I don’t see the signing deadline as the solution to anything. We want more teams to participate in the free agency; Inserting an artificial deadline in the middle of winter gives them an excuse to back off from that point forward. (Besides, how will this even work? At some point you’ll have to allow unregistered players to look for work, thus cutting down on the whole premise.)

Matt Snyder: There is no doubt that these days are great theater and – if it weren’t for the impending owner-driven crash – great for baseball in terms of getting eyeballs in the sport while on break. It’s especially big on that front in the context of all the other sports during a pivotal time of the year on the field.

It happened naturally, of course, and there’s no way to reproduce that by forcing some sort of arbitrary deadline.

From the outside, it looks great. “What if we get this every year?!?!”

What about the players in the dangling DFA? What about the “lesser” freelance agents who can be key players and also human? There are still big name freelancers (Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Marcus Stroman, etc.) and while it’s easy to say, “he should have signed”, what if they were legitimately underrated? When can they start signing again? January 1? February 1? March 1st?

This will put a lot of power in the hands of the team at the expense of the players. It is likely that someone like Correa will have a tough time in the negotiations and may just need a day or two to sign off, but then a deadline sets in and takes away any negotiating power.

It’s an idea that I believe sounds great at first, again, since it’s been fun for the past three days or so, but as you dig deeper, it’s just another way for owners to game control. If a player really has unreasonable demands, he will not be signed.

Speaking of which, there have been soft deadlines, such as when players need to report to camp to get ready for Opening Day.

Mike Axisa: No, but it’s a perfect fit for Manfredian if the focus is on instant gratification rather than long-term downside. MLB is very adept at unintended consequences and this is ripe for them. The problem is: what happens to players who don’t sign up ahead of time? They have to be allowed to sign at some point and make a living. If they’re allowed to sign for spring training, there’s really no deadline and if they can’t sign until next season, MLB . Teams will force them into under-market contracts. I don’t believe teams won’t use contract deadlines to further reduce player wages (Athletic polled baseball players on the idea, and everyone who runs the team loves it., that’s right), which is the core of the current layoff. I think the signing deadline will make an already large problem worse. The past few days have been fun but I don’t think you can recreate that spontaneously. Want to improve free agency? Encourage winning rather than losing.

Dayn Perry: I love the pacing of what just happened at the end of November, but I just think there are too many unintended consequences in the game. Overall, I don’t think the owners can be trusted to operate in good faith under such a system and would go to great lengths to “run out of time” to get certain freelancers to go crazy. hope for an agreement. I don’t think that’s possible in a sport that produces 150-200 free agents per winter. MLB Roundtable: Should MLB have a free agent contract term during the off-season?


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