MLB Musings: 18 Days and Counting – “Noncompetitive Cancer”

In the first of our series of MLB Musings a few weeks ago, we touched on the fact that the 2017 (now 2018) MLB hot stove season was, well, not hot at all.

MLB super agent Scott Boras, who has five high-value free agents – Eric Hosmer, JD Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland and Jake Arrieta unsigned, has weighed in on the stagnate free agent market and his words were pointed.

While some around baseball have suggested that what’s happening basically amounts to collusion among the MLB clubs to put their foot down about exorbitant free agent demands, Boras opines that the issue could actually be one of ethics. Boras stated in an interview with The Atlantic:

“I care for my clients. I am spending every waking hour trying to bring attention to owners so they act with integrity. Certainly I want them to sign my clients. But I’m trying to get them to act with integrity. Winning is the cement of baseball integrity.

“We have to get rid of the noncompetitive cancer. We can’t go to our fan bases and sell the promise of losing to win later. That is destructive to our sport because it has removed one-third of the competition.”

While I agree with Boras to an extent, his comment seems a bit misguided. Due to a lack of salary cap and a large disparity in size of home markets, MLB has a long standing history of trying to balance the haves and the have-nots. During the 2017 campaign, the NL champion Dodgers spent roughly 4x the amount spent by the NL Wild Card Milwaukee Brewers, but that’s nothing new.

To Boras’ point, is there an issue within the league of ownership groups who simply have no interest in winning as long as their financial bottom line is healthy? We believe so, and it’s best exhibited by the Pittsburgh Pirates as we discussed in our last musings article.  But what does that have to do with Boras and his clients? These smaller market/revenue teams aren’t going to be the ones to sign his clients anyway. He has a long standing history of demanding the moon for his clients and teams without deep pockets and high dollar TV deals aren’t going to be the ones who pick up the phone when he calls.

But for now, the stalemate between MLB and the biggest fish on the free agent market seems intact. We’re just 18 days out from pitchers and catchers reporting now and the aforementioned names are just the tip of the iceberg of the quality players who are currently without a clubhouse to call home. Who will blink first? The system is deeply flawed as Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated recently wrote, and it could be time for sweeping changes to the way business is done in Major League Baseball.

 

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