Right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler both inking late deals leaves shortstop Ian Desmond as the last unsigned free agent among the 16 players to turn down one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offers from their old teams at the start of the offseason.
Desmond returning to Washington has been ruled out by the Nationals and he hasn’t been linked to many teams, with the most recent being a few reports about the Rockies having interest a couple weeks ago. Jose Reyes‘ possible domestic violence suspension could leave Colorado in need of a shortstop, but it’s unclear if the Rockies want to cough up a draft pick to sign Desmond is a rebuilding year.
Earlier this week Desmond’s old Nationals teammates expressed shock that he remains unsigned, but it’s become very clear that the qualifying offer and draft pick compensation setup negative impacts the market for many non-star free agents. And in Desmond’s case he’s also seen his production decline dramatically, with his OPS going from .845 to .784 to .743 to .674 since making the All-Star team in 2012. Back then he rejected a $100 million extension offer from the Nationals, too.
Unfortunately for the 30-year-old shortstop “do you want to sign Ian Desmond to a sizable multi-year contract?” and “do you want to give up a draft pick to sign Ian Desmond to a sizable multi-year contract?” are proving to be very different questions.
MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.
Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.
After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.
Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.
Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.