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Report: MLB proposed deadline for multi-year free agent contracts

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The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reports that Major League Baseball made a proposal to the MLB Players Association, suggesting a deadline for multi-year contracts for free agents. The deadline would have been set for the end of the Winter Meetings, which this year will take place December 8-12 in San Diego. Unsurprisingly, the union rejected the proposal.

At face value, MLB’s goal with the proposal would be to speed up the rate at which the bigger free agents sign contracts. Bruce Meyer, hired as the union’s chief negotiator last year, said, “After due consideration, we rejected their proposal as not being in the best interests of players. We asked if MLB was interested in discussing other, more direct and tangible ways of incentivizing early signings and they weren’t at this time.”

MLB suggested the deadline could create a bidding frenzy for free agents. The union didn’t see it that way, instead correctly surmising that teams would wait out the deadline and then make, as Drellich put it, take-it-or-leave-it offers.

Agent Scott Boras, who represents Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon, said, “They want to make the offseason more predictive as to when players sign, and the answer to do that is to provide incentive, not limitation, on the free-agent right.”

At any rate, if the Nationals’ success isn’t motivating teams to sign free agents, nothing will. The Nationals made two of the splashier free agent signings in recent years, inking Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million deal in January 2015 and Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million contract last December. We’re often told Major League Baseball is a copycat league, especially as teams bought into the Moneyball and general analytics movements, but don’t expect them to bite the Nats’ blueprint. If the trend holds, we’re in for another slow offseason. The current collective bargaining agreement will expire on December 1, 2021.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).