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  • Tim Burke

Here is Why A MLB Lockout is Coming

The baseball offseason “hot stove” has been as cold as ever. The last few winters free agents will not sign until February or March. This past year Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel sat out until late June. The strangest part is players are still signing massive contracts. Two of the top five largest free agent contracts baseball has ever seen were signed this year. What's up this market?  

The Second Wild Card

The second Wild Card has slowed baseball's free agent and trade market tremendously. Last place teams are not far off from making playoffs so they do not feel the need to sell or spend massive amounts of money. The Mets were an eighty six win team but finished 3.5 games back from making a playoff spot. Before the second wild card they would’ve been deadline sellers in a heartbeat. Teams are so reluctant to sell because they see themselves 2-3 years away of potentially making playoffs. Why rebuild? 

Free Agency Failures

Free agency does not really work out for teams anyway. The often forgotten about Miami big three, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle were big free agent additions that were supposed to make the Marlins contenders. They finished 69-93, last in the National League East. Prime example of how free agency does not solve a ball clubs problems. We saw it again with the Phillies in 2019. Bryce Harper was supposed to be the missing piece to lead the Phillies to win the National League pennant. They were supposed to be a force to be reckoned with but ultimately missed the playoffs. Free Agency does not solve problems. 

Past Performance vs. Future Projections

Teams are an internal feud to make decisions on whether to sign a free agent by their past performance or future projections. It is kind of odd. The better you are at your job when you are younger the more money you should make when you are older. Not in sports. The numbers say to stay away from paying massive contracts to players over 30 because they will soon decline. Tell that to Nelson Cruz, Justin Verlander and JD Martinez. They get better with age. It’s not about the projections it’s about the individual. There is zero way to measure that. The risk is not worth it to be MLB teams. Will the lack of need to spend big money on free agents create turmoil between MLBPA and the MLB? Here’s a quote from JD Martinez 

"We just gotta go to the drawing board," he said. "The players' association comes, sits down with the CBA, and we gotta figure out how we're going to counter it. The game has to change. We have to incentivize to win, not to lose.

Teams are so focused on rebuilding these days instead of going out and spending money on players. The market for star players like Martinez is smaller. The weirdest part? Everyone would want to have his bat in their lineup. JD Martinez had 45 home runs and over 100 RBI's the year before he hit the open market. Somehow, he did not sign until just before Spring training. He waited it out until he got the money he deserved. The market is smaller but the need for a player of his production is not. Everyone could use him.

Will the second wild card era and the idea of not playing players due to past performance create a market where a lockout happens? I hope not.

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