Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Times are definitely changing. Not long ago players looked forward to the day they became a free agent, especially if you were an "elite" player. Elite players look forward to those elite contracts with the extra years and extra dollars. Or should I say looked forward to? The last two winters have shown us that free agency isn't the same anymore.

Do players even embrace the idea of free agency anymore? Seriously, the last two winters have been miserable. Here we are one week into spring training and there are still 45 major league players without a job. But the 45 unsigned players isn't the only glaring problem in baseball. What about the 77 players that signed one-year deals? They will once again have to go through the undesirable free agency process in hopes to find a job. The number of one-year deals is concerning.

Several teams have all but given up on signing free agents. There are 10 teams out there who have not signed a free agent for at least a $6 million this winter. So far, Patrick Corbin and Manny Machado are the only real winners in free agency, and Machado just signed! A "generational" talent didn't get signed until after spring training started. Are we really supposed to believe Rob Manfred when he says baseball free agency isn't broken and it doesn't need to be fixed? Come on!

I think Manfred's blatant denial of the issue has only made it worse. Now we have guys out there like J.D. Martinez who have recently been through this frustrating process calling free agency "embarrassing," read that HERE. Martinez has been in both Machado and Bryce Harper's shoes, but he signed for MUCH less money that Machado did. He got a five-year $110 million deal that was much less than what he was predicted to get heading into free agency. His contract does include opt out options after years two, three and four but based on current trends there's no incentive for him to do that. There are ZERO guarantees he would get more money. Free agency definitely go according to his plan, so maybe players are taking notice.

Why would a player want t be a free agent now? I wouldn't. So are contract extensions the way to go? It certainly looks like it.

The Yankees are jumping on the extension bandwagon. On Monday the Yankees announced an extension with Aaron Hicks for seven years, $70 million. The deal keeps Hicks signed through 2025 with a team option for 2026. Now he won't have to worry about what will happen to him at the end of the season when his contract expired.

The same can be said for Luis Severino. He signed a four-year $40 million extension two weeks ago. That sounds like a much better deal than his alternative scenario. He was just minutes away from an arbitration hearing where he was likely to get just north of $5 million for a one year deal. The Yankees dangled a carrot in front of him that was eight times that amount and that's all it took. If he performs to his potential he'll be worth more than that $40 million.

So what's next for the Yankees? Rumor has it the Yankees are working on extensions now with Dellin Betances and Didi Gregorius, read more HERE. If that's the case, the Yankees will be making smart moves to keep their young core in tact and these guys will have a guaranteed contract and a chance to win a championship without the stress of free agency.

When baseball has guys like Harper, a veteran starter like Dallas Keuchel and an elite closer like Craig Kimbrel are still without jobs there is a problem that needs to be fixed. I don't know if Manfred is blind or just delusional....but this is broken. No one wants to be a free agent anymore. It's too risky. It frustrates the fans which in fact is bad for baseball.

--Jeana Bellezza-Ochoa
BYB Managing Editor
Twitter: @nyprincessj

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