On rare occasions, I essay on sports, and the business-world that has developed. So today, it's onto the topic of free-agents and baseball.
In the mid-1970s....baseball was forced into accepting the idea of free agency. It meant you signed a guy for a period of time, and when the contract ended....the guy could leave. It also meant that you could find several players, to build up a winning team....at a particular cost.
Over the past twenty years in baseball...there's this odd trend that started to get noticed. Players (and their agents) were pursuing deals where it was a multiple-year situation. Not just three years, but onto five, or six, or even seven years. What developed was this problem that after three years....the product level of the player sometimes became marginal....the guy developed an attitude problem...and the team was trying to give the guy away (thus having to pay another team to take him off your hands). So you were paying a guy a hefty check, for marginal production, and then paying a second time to get another team to take the loser off your team.
Anger and frustration occurred on various teams. Part of the problem goes back to the agents, and the manipulation they used to convince teams to use longer contracts.
So in the past six months....teams across both leagues did this odd thing. No one says it's a league policy, or that it's a secret philosophy from baseball....but they all started to shy away from free agents.
If you had a listing as the 2017 season ended of all free agents (players with no contract)....fewer than 25-percent have been signed at this point. For some players, getting into early March, with no contract is now a frightening thing. The agents are furious, if you follow public commentary.
The business now likely to occur? By the end of March, I expect about half of the free agents to be signed....but mostly for a one-year or two-year type deal. Pay escalations? No....these are guys who will make the same amount as they did last year.
The remainder? I think they are finished. These are mostly marginal players over the age of thirty, or three-star-type players approaching their mid-thirties. I think a number of minor-league players are going to be given a chance to move up and assume roles in the major leagues for 2018.
It's a bold new world. The real losers here? Well....the agents. All of them are going to take pay-cuts for the future.