The State of the Trade Deadline: Yesterday was pretty sleepy. Will general managers wake up today?

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Justin Masterson was traded yesterday. And beyond that it was nothin’ but rumors. Jon Lester and John Lackey are still Red Sox. The Phillies have unloaded no one despite needing to unload just about everyone. Teams like the Brewers and Mariners, who are in tough races and have a need, have been silent. Teams like the Dodgers, who could probably disrupt everyone’s plans if they wanted to, are still quiet too.

That’s somewhat baffling, but here’s where we stand, less than eight hours until the trade deadline:

Jon Lester: There were rumors yesterday afternoon that the Orioles were closing in on a deal for Lester, but nothing happened. The Dodgers are apparently out. The Cardinals were allegedly in before picking up Masterson, but who knows if they still are now. My personal favorite here — the Pirates — has the sort of minor league talent the Sox likely want in return. But you have to figure Pittsburgh is not serious about a long-term extension for Lester, thereby making them balk at unloading the prospect truck. This one could go to the wire.

David Price: He had a bad game yesterday, losing to the Brewers, but I think he can be forgiven for that. The Rays conundrum here is that they’ve been winning lately and it’s really hard to sell off your best player when the fans think you’re contending. But do the Rays themselves think they’re contending? For as hot as they’ve been, there are still many clubs ahead of them in the standings, both in the AL East and the wild card. Mathematically, they still have a less-than-10 percent chance of making the playoffs. Can they forego a big prospect haul for that less-than-10 percent chance? I don’t think I could. If they don’t trade him today, they can’t expect to get nearly as good a deal in August. He won’t clear waivers, in all likelihood, thereby limiting the number of teams to whom the Rays can shop him. It’s gut-check time for the Rays’ front office.

[MORE: 30 seconds to know about the Trade Deadline]

Marlon Byrd: There aren’t a lot of decent bats on the market, making Byrd look like the best one by default. At least the most powerful one, as has 20 homers and a .477 slugging percentage at the break. The Mariners were long thought to be a favorite for Byrd, but they dropped out of the bidding yesterday afternoon. That could just be the Mariners being weird. Or it could be the Phillies being in denial. They have to unload players and Byrd is likely the most marketable one they have. Is Ruben Amaro holding out for too much? Will other teams with offensive needs — say, the Yankees or Royals — sweep in and get a late bargain today?

[MORE: Mariners out on Byrd]

John Lackey: It was reported yesterday that there was a “very good chance” Lackey would be traded by today’s deadline. The Marlins were said to be talking to Boston about him yesterday, but that doesn’t’ seem to be serious. Given that Lackey has a $500,000 team option for next season and given that he’s still a more-than-solid starter, just about every team should be interested in his services. To be honest, though, I have no idea why the Red Sox would want to deal him, so you have to figure they’ll be asking a lot for their bargain basement starter.

[MORE: Lackey to Marlins? Probably not]

Alex Rios: The other prominent bat on the market. He was hit by a pitch and left yesterday’s game, so that may scare people, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Rios’ speed and better defensive value may make him a better option than Byrd. He’s also someone who can walk after this season, under contract for what’s left of his $12.5 million this year and a club option for $13.5 million in 2015. The Mariners may have shifted focus to him.

Joaquin Benoit: Relievers are always a hot commodity at the deadline, and Benoit should be the hottest. For one thing, he’s been great this year. For another he has shown that he can and will close or set up, depending on your needs. Finally, the Padres have a “yard sale” sign set up outside of Petco Park so you have to figure they’re talking to people. They were rumored yesterday to be talking to the Dodgers, but it’s unclear how serious that is. Really, everyone needs bullpen help down the stretch, so anyone could snag him.

The Phillies: Byrd, Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Papelbon, Lee and even Howard and Hamels have been in rumors. Still the Phillies have made no moves. This despite needing to turn the page on this era and think about the future. If nothing happens in Philly, things could get ugly.

As always, keep it on HBT all day, as we will be updating constantly, keeping you up on everything that happens between now and the 4PM Eastern deadline.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.