Players go on the offensive in MLB's brewing labor war

Big League Stew
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8588/" data-ylk="slk:Justin Turner">Justin Turner</a> and other MLB players started tweeting Tuesday about the frozen free-agent market, as the league’s labor way took another turn. (AP)
Justin Turner and other MLB players started tweeting Tuesday about the frozen free-agent market, as the league’s labor way took another turn. (AP)

There’s a labor war brewing in Major League Baseball at the moment. A surprising amount of top free agents are still without jobs. The player’s union is mad that teams aren’t being more aggressive this offseason. The owners say that players and their agents should take the lucrative offers on the table.

And the whole thing culminated Tuesday in union head Tony Clark and MLB issuing dueling statements skirting blame for the state of things. One thing is clear, though, baseball’s economy is a mess.

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Now, with just a week until spring training — and with six of the top 10 free agents still without jobs — some MLB players have started to speak out about matters on Twitter. The biggest star to fire off a tweet was Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who said:

Turner’s tweet seems to sum up some of the talking points among the players union: Fans deserve the best players in the game on the field and teams shouldn’t tank. Chris Iannetta of the Rockies and Alex Wood, also of the Dodgers, tweeted similar things:

The players’ strategy here is trying to win over fans — which isn’t a bad strategy when you consider the players who are the fans pay to see and whose jerseys they wear. One exception, though: Lots of fans tend to side with the billionaires over the millionaires in matters like this. It’s why many of the fan responses to the above tweets included sentiments like these:

It’s more complex than that, of course. Baseball’s economic system is built in such a way that players sometimes make the least money when they’re most productive. Players make the minimum their first few years in the league, then head to salary arbitration, where they generally make a more market-friendly salary, then after six years in the big leagues, they hit free agency.

Free agency, in many cases, over-corrects for the years when a young player is contributing a lot and making the minimum. What we’re seeing this year in free agency is teams not wanting to give out longer-term contracts to those free agents who are now around 30 years old and expecting a payday.

The real answer might be that baseball’s salary structure is antiquated and needs an overhaul — but that’s not going to fix the free-agent freeze of 2018. We’ll see if some tweets will.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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