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.