Major League Baseball players are sick of the glacial free-agent periods. Though the current collective-bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until the end of next season, the MLB Players Association has already begun talks with owners, executive director of the MLBPA Tony Clark revealed Tuesday.
One of the main things the players want is a return to “meaningful free agency.”
Players union boss Tony Clark says never has mid-term bargaining taken place in 53 years but that conversations with owners have started. Combo free agency, marketing the game. Players want return of "meaningful free agency."— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) July 9, 2019
MLB free agency has been painfully slow over the past few winters. Elite free agents like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and J.D. Martinez have sat on the market until February. Not only that, but their markets were severely restricted. Only two or three teams were interested in those players.
While Harper, Machado and Martinez eventually got paid, many others haven’t. Veterans like Derek Dietrich and Adam Jones had to settle for one-year deals. Dietrich couldn’t even get a major-league deal.
Fixing the issue won’t be easy. There’s not a simple fix that will make MLB free agency like the NBA, where Kawhi Leonard caught flack for sitting on the market for a couple days.
That’s part of the reason the CBA talks are happening now. The players’ frustrations have been building for a while, and the next round of negotiating could be contentious.
Engaging with the owners now gives both sides more time to figure out a compromise that benefits everyone. Ideally, it also prevents a strike, which would be the worst possible outcome for everyone involved.
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