Is it me or has baseball free agency become incredibly boring?
Pitchers and catchers begin reporting Monday for spring training and as of this writing we still don’t even know where baseball’s two prized free agents will play. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are reportedly still trying to squeeze $300 million out of a team and neither one wants to be the player who signs first.
Where will they sign? At this point I don’t even care. Just get it over with already.
Maybe I’m used to how things are done in the other leagues. NFL free agency kicks off in March and on the first day you see a slew of signings, including some top names. Same thing with NBA free agency.
Perhaps it’s because those teams only have so much money to throw around due to the salary cap, so players can’t afford to wait around. Regardless, it’s much more intriguing when teams scramble to sign the best players. This waiting around until the eve of the season is rather lame.
The Minnesota Twins did land a pair of ESPN’s top-ranked free agents, though only to one-year contracts. Slugger Nelson Cruz turns 39 in July and even if his performance finally falls off a cliff due to age, I think his signing was more about finding a mentor and role model for Miguel Sano.
If it pays off in that regard it was a brilliant move.
The other top free agent signee is lefty pitcher Martin Perez, and I’m not so optimistic on that guy. At best he will probably end up being Minnesota’s fifth starter, and a subpar one at that. We’ll see.
The prevailing thought was the Twins needed to bolster their bullpen if they want to keep pace with Cleveland in the AL Central. But they haven’t done much work in that regard, signing only 33-year-old Blake Parker to a major league deal.
Craig Kimbrel is still out there as a top free agent but will probably end up with a contender.
That means Minnesota is counting on Addison Reed, Trevor Hildenberger and other returning relievers to not be so lousy again, a risky bet. I do really like new pitching coach Wes Johnson, though. I think he will be Rocco Baldelli’s best hire by far and will improve that bullpen.
Anyway, enjoy baseball while you can because if big changes aren’t agreed to in the next collective bargaining agreement a work stoppage is coming in 2021. This free agency gridlock we’re seeing is just one of many things currently ailing the sport, and Major League Baseball would do well to remind itself of how damaging the 1994 strike was.
Performance-enhancing drugs won’t save the game again next time.
Mike Hautamaki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.