Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com hears from “one plugged-in agent” that Aroldis Chapman is seeking a $100 million contract.
For what it’s worth, the record for a reliever free agent contract was Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies in 2011. I appreciate that we just came off of a playoff season when big time relievers made a big difference, but as Chapman’s and Andrew Miller‘s obvious exhaustion in Game 7 of the World Series showed, you can only ride a closer so hard. You’re never going to tick one back up to Goose Gossage-level relief ace usage. Certainly not one that throws 102 m.p.h. anyway. Chapman is elite, but quantity matters when it comes to giving money to free agents, not just quality.
It’s also worth noting that Chapman is not the only game in town. Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon are two other top-flight closers available as well. And that’s before you get to the fact that the Cubs’ front office has made comments suggesting that they may not be too hung up on bringing back Chapman anyway, taking one deep-pocketed bidder out of the mix.
It’s understandable that Chapman thinks highly enough of himself to be worthy of a paradigm-breaking contract. But $100 million certainly doesn’t seem realistic.
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are in the midst of negotiating the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. It will, in all likelihood, be in place by early December with little public acrimony between now and the completion of a deal. That has been the pattern for the past decade or so.
The last real showdown came in 2002, when the union and league just barely avoided a work stoppage. Before then, however, there was always high drama. Multiple work stoppages, including a season-ending one in 1994 and a season-altering one in 1981. Others were shorter, but the blood between the players and the owners had long been bad. Before that there was always peace, but it was a forced peace, imposed unilaterally by the owners who were all-powerful and accepted by the players who were virtually unorganized.
In the past three days, Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have been chronicling the history of the CBA over at The Hardball Times. It’s a three part series:
Part 2; and
It’s must-read stuff which explains the relationship between the players and owners both yesterday and today. It begins with utter domination of the players by owners and progresses through the famous and epic battles between The Lords of The Realm and MLBPA chief Marvin Miller and his successor, Don Fehr, which resulted in free agency. It ends with where we are now: an odd place, really, where the union and the league act more like friendly business partners than adversaries. Which, to many, seems like a nice place. While, to others, it seems like the union has acted less like an advocate and more like an agent.
It seems like a good time to be reading history as it is. Why not start with some baseball history?
The White Sox have been in this weird mid-world of “win now” and “not good enough” for, well, basically ever. Year-in, year-out they seem to add a high profile bat or arm or two that, at the time of the signing or trade, is portrayed as the final piece of a puzzle. Each year, however, the Sox seem mired in the same general mediocrity. It has to be frustrating to Sox fans.
That frustration may not be around much longer. It will be replaced by a different brand of frustration. The frustration of seeing a team’s biggest stars being dealt. Possibly several of them in the same offseason.
That’s certainly the implication White Sox GM Rick Hahn gave at the general managers meetings. Via CSNChicago.com, we learn that the time of “half measures” and “stopgaps” is over:
“We’ve always been focused on putting ourselves in the best position to win,” Hahn said. “At the same time, I think we’re veering away from the standpoint of looking for stopgaps. A lot of what we did in the last few years had been trying to enhance the short-term potential of the club to put ourselves in a position to win immediately. I feel the approach at this point is focusing on longer-term benefits. It doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily be in a good position in 2017. It means that our targets and whatever we’re hoping to accomplish have a little more longer-term fits in nature.”
That’s a polite, leverag-preserving way of saying “everything must go.” With “everything” likely including Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton, and Melky Cabrera. Maybe even more. All of those players would have value on a thin free agent market and all of them could fetch prospects which could help replenish a farm system which, last spring, was ranked in the bottom ten in baseball.
Get ready for a turbulent offseason, White Sox fans. Your team is likely to look way different come spring training.