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MLB free agents are considering hosting their own spring training camp

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at where the slow free agent market might be bringing MLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers - NLDS Game One Photo by Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks/Getty Images

Don’t be fooled by Lorenzo Cain signing with the Brewers: The free agent market is still at a standstill. Cain got his money and he got five years, but he’s just one player. J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer, and Yu Darvish are not necessarily close to signing, and as Jeff Passan reports, the general feeling among the remaining free agents is that fair deals might not exist at all before spring training begins.

Passan goes on to say that the free agents are talking among themselves about potentially hosting their own spring training camp, so that they can get their work in and not fall behind schedule preparing for the 2018 season, even as the offers from teams push them in that direction. Everything has “slowed to a crawl” in negotiations, due to concerns the players have about how the teams are trying to reshape the free agent market:

Players continue to swap stories of their free agent experiences, which circulate among their peers in phone calls and on text chains that capture their dissatisfaction.

Some cry collusion, though no clear evidence to support that has manifested itself yet. Others fear clubs’ tactics are going to wipe out baseball’s so-called middle class. And others still hold themselves and the union culpable for not recognizing the owners’ willingness to weaponize the luxury-tax threshold and use it as a soft salary cap.

These are the very issues I’ve spent the last couple of weeks writing about, and that last bit, about culpability and a failure to see what the owners were going for in negotiations, is key: Recognizing the issue is the first step toward the MLBPA fixing it. Teams have pushed too far, and the players are not in a conciliatory mood anymore.

And why should they be? Their previous attitude is what helped put them into this mess. Passan notes the union clearly did not understand this was a possibility given their post-negotiation memo on the new collective bargaining agreement celebrated the luxury tax penalties -- the very thing that is part of their current undoing on free agency.

The 2017-2018 offseason is just the start of something bigger, something we haven’t seen in Major League Baseball for decades. The years of labor peace and just letting ownership and teams have their way could be coming to an end, and MLB might be in for an actual labor battle, maybe even sooner than later.

  • The Brewers traded for Christian Yelich on Thursday night, which is good for them, but also reminds Grant Brisbee that the Marlins intentionally sabotaged one of the best outfields in the game this winter.
  • As mentioned before, Lorenzo Cain is also on the Brewers now. Eric Thames probably isn’t going to see any time in the outfield in 2018 given Ryan Braun, Yelich, and Cain are around, but at least he’s got first base to fall back on.