Major League Baseball free agency has been at a standstill all offseason, and Scott Boras has some things to say about it. Boras was asked about the slow market — in which many of his clients are still looking for jobs — and, as usual, he did not hold back.
Boras spoke to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic about his disappointment with the way teams are acting this offseason. He specifically took aim at the clubs that are not planning to field a competitive team in 2018.
“We kicked people out of the game when they tried to not win,” Boras continued, referring to the Black Sox scandal, in which baseball banned eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox after they were accused of intentionally losing the World Series. “We have to get rid of the non-competitive cancer. We can’t go to our fan bases and sell the promise of losing to win later. That is destructive to our sport because it has removed one-third of the competition.”
Those are some pretty strong words, but do they hold weight? Are 10 teams really not trying to be competitive in 2018, or is Boras being hyperbolic?
He’s not far off. In Jeff Passan’s article in which he chronicled the issues behind the slow offseason, he found 10 clubs that weren’t really trying to compete this year.
Whether on account of a rebuild or the desire to profit, at least eight teams have no intention of being serious players in the current free-agent market: the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays. The Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres could join them.
Some of those clubs are perpetual non-spenders, some are in the middle of a rebuild or just starting a rebuild and some are just not doing anything. And that Padres prediction still holds weight, despite what the team’s social media accounts may have said Thursday morning.
You could argue a few of those teams are currently utilizing legitimate strategies. Both the Braves and White Sox have tanked recently, but did so in order to build excellent farm systems. Things do look promising for both clubs moving forward. They’ve taken the Houston Astros-Chicago Cubs path to contention.
But it’s fair to ask why that strategy has to be the norm now? Why should teams ask their fans to endure years and years of losing for the hopes that their prospects pan out? And what happens if enough of those prospects bust and those plans fail? Do they do it all again and tell fans to wait five more years?
In some cases, burning it all to the ground is a fair strategy. But with changes to how much money teams can spend on the international market and in the draft, the only place a club can use the money it saves now is free agency. The above teams have no incentive to do that right now.
We should point out that of course Boras is going to rail against teams not spending. It’s his job to get players paid.
But his point, while harsh, isn’t totally wrong. Fans shouldn’t accept that one-third of teams are already conceding 2018, especially when they aren’t re-investing that money to improve their clubs elsewhere.
Kicking out the owners of these clubs is an extreme suggestion, but asking for change isn’t unreasonable considering the state of things.
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