The Cubs stink and need to get better. The new CBA makes it really hard to get better via the draft and international signings. So it’s free agency or bust for Chicago. And they’re going into the market with their wallets open, reports Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We will have some financial flexibility,” Hoyer said. “We’ve been diligent about making sure that we do have flexibility and we’re efficient going forward. We’re obviously going to be active in the free-agent market. I don’t think there’s any question about that.
Mooney notes that, after years of crappy contracts on the book, they only have $40 million guaranteed to players next year before you figure in arbitration cases, and that leaves a lot of room for Chicago to operate.
Between there being several teams with a lot of money having big needs and the fact that everyone is getting richer with TV deals, I think this winter is going to make us feel like we’re back in the early 2000s, free-agency wise. And I don’t mean with top-ticket signings, because the real blue chippers aren’t on the market as early or as often as they used to be. I’m talking about middle class free agents getting big deals. Think Pat Mears with the Pirates and stuff.
This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.
The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.
As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.