“It’s Collusion! All Major League Baseball teams are colluding against this class of free agents!” Take a second and read that again. One more time.
Sounds absolutely crazy, doesn’t it? There are people out there who actually believe this. Yep, it must be collusion, because who wouldn’t want to give a 31 year old outfielder, whose legs probably only have about 2 good years left, a 7 year $200 million contract? How about a 31 (soon to be 32) year old pitcher, who as of three years ago really found his stuff, but will never be able to top his 2015 season, a 5 year $175 million deal? This is the way some people think. And it all starts with the agents.
I understand they have a job to do. They are trying to get the best contract they can get for their clients. If I was a top prospect or top player in the game I would want the best agent. I would want the agent who is going to fight for that last penny. The agent who will wait out a team no matter how long it takes. Those are the types of agents who more times than not get the deal. They know how to play the game. This year though is the exception.
They misread the market for their top clients. It’s plain and simple. They thought that the market that was there 3-5 years ago, when the players who were on the wrong side of thirty were getting the multi-year $200 million dollar contracts, were still there. Those days are long gone and the agents didn’t see it coming. So instead of actually coming out and saying that they misread the market, they have decided to divert the narrative and blame the teams.
Agent Joshua Kusnick put out on Twitter on February 2nd, his “2 cents.”
He said, “It felt like and external force has held things up.” He is saying that something is stopping the big contracts from being offered, but he doesn’t know what? He says, “On a daily basis I am being asked to believe that all thirty teams decided to evaluate talent and then value talent in the exact same way.” The answer is YES! I mean come on. We are in a new era of baseball. An Analytic Era. Teams are taking more stock in drafts and their farm systems and less on the free agency. Not to say that free agency is not a huge part of the game anymore, but gone are the days where they try to fill half their team with free agents.
It’s not like teams aren’t offering contracts. The offers just aren’t where the agents thought they would be. Alex Cobb turned down a 4 year $48 million deal from the Cubs, a team that was reported he was interested in playing for. He is seeking at least $70 million, and there is no way he gets it.
Basically, this boils down to the agents misreading the market. They will never come out and admit that is the case, because it will make them look weak in front of their clients and possible future clients. But I will assure you that at this time next year, when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are getting ready to go to spring training and they have their brand new $300 million deal with them, no one will be screaming collusion.
Photo Credit: USA Today