The climate between MLB players and teams has been pretty testy lately. Teams are waiting for players to get desperate and sign contracts at lower prices, and the players are waiting for teams to get desperate and offer them contracts that are worthy of their talents.
Thus far, neither side has blinked. And now one high-powered MLB agent is suggesting a spring training boycott isn’t out of the question.
The first pitchers and catchers report in 10 days and most of this winter’s top free agents are still jobless for the 2018 season — we’re talking Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, J.D. Martinez, plus 50-70 other players who could or should have a job somewhere.
On Friday, agent Brodie Van Wagenen, the head of the baseball division at the talent and sports agency CAA, tweeted a statement that gave insight into what the players are thinking. Van Wagenen has negotiated monster deals for the likes of Yoenis Cespedes and Robinson Cano, and also represents productive current free agents such as Todd Frazier.
Van Wagenen’s statement is a bold attempt to swing the power back toward the players, as he says they’re upset, mentions a “rising tide” of unrest and threatens a spring training boycott. He stops just short of calling out collusion by name on the part of the owners, but makes it clear he believes there’s an “institutional influence” behind baseball’s frozen offseason.
Here’s his statement in its entirety (click it to enlarge):
— Brodie Van Wagenen (@bvanwagenen) February 2, 2018
A big point here — and it’s something that Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan touched on his most recent column about big-league payrolls — is that free agency remains at a standstill while the sport is enjoying major profits and an economic boom. Van Wagenen makes it clear that the players are a big reason for this and is trying to remind owners that the players have plenty of power.
This statement from an MLB agent (who admittedly has a financial stake in players signing contracts) doesn’t mean that a spring training boycott is for sure going to happen, but that it was mentioned at all is significant. Free agents are obviously unhappy with how this offseason has played out, but Van Wagenen says that even players under contract are alarmed.
If all players, both free agents and players under contract, band together to fight for change and action, things could get interesting very quickly.
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