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Rob Manfred: The free agent market is totally fine

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SAN DIEGO — Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the media here at the Winter Meetings a few minutes ago. One of the questions he was asked was whether the state of the free agent market at the moment, with multiple big dollar deals handed out, including giant contracts to Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole, means that the system is working well.

Manfred began by saying something similar to what I tweeted this morning: there is some variation in the market between years depending on who is available and who is shopping. Until this week a couple of very good pitchers were available and some teams with money to spend wanted them, thus you get the big deals.

As I wrote the other day, I think those big deals are great, but that it’s also too early to judge the state of the market based only on those deals. After all, we had two $300 million+ deals handed out last year, and yet the overall market was still down, with average salaries actually decreasing between 2018 and 2019. Someone could turn off the spigot right now and if they did we’d be saying, by spring, that things are still bad in the labor market.

Manfred, though, is content to say that all is well.

“We have the freest free agency in professional sports,” Manfred told us a few moments ago. “It has produced the largest amount of guaranteed dollars for players in any professional sport.” Manfred says that there’s been a “really robust market” in free agency, and said there was no need for “fundamental changes in the system.”

Bookmark this and let’s check back in February.

 

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.