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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.

 

Blake Snell becomes client of Boras Corporation

Blake Snell
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Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic report that Rays starter Blake Snell has switched agencies, going from Apex Baseball to Boras Corporation. Snell is currently signed to a five-year, $50 million contract and will be under contract through 2023.

Snell found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he said on his Twitch stream that he wouldn’t risk his life to play baseball during a pandemic while receiving significantly reduced pay. Some described Snell as tone deaf for saying, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, okay?”

Boras represents many of baseball’s highest-paid players, including Gerrit Cole and Bryce Harper. Snell is not likely to win over any of the people he recently irritated by appearing to go after more money by hiring the highest-profile agent. What often goes unsaid is that players have a very limited window in which to use their elite athletic skills to make money.

Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio over 180 2/3 innings. He did not have nearly the same success last year, going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA and a 147/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings.