By Todd Johnson
Pitchers and catcher report in 11 days. I repeat, pitchers and catchers report in days.
That does not seem like that should be happening. It actually seems like there is still so much to do to get ready for spring training. Shouldn’t the Cubs add some lefty relievers? Shouldn’t they add a left-handed bat off the bench? Shouldn’t they add a backup catcher? It seems like there should be a trade or two. Tell me the biggest move the Cubs made this offseason isn’t Daniel Descalso.
However, looking back at last year’s big winter transaction, the Cubs signed Yu Darvish on February 10.
It seems a bit strange for MLB teams to finally coalesce a roster in the waning days of the offseason but that is what is happening. The trend, whether you call it economic strategy or collusion, has changed how MLB business in the offseason is done. Like it or not, things are not going to change until the CBA is opened up again or a grievance is filed.
As a result, fans are left to wonder who their team is going to be come spring.
And this is where Cub fans sit – some are angry about it, some are frustrated, some are worn out, and some just don’t care. Some have an undying belief that Theo will get it done and others want Theo fired. There is quite the gamut of thought on the matter.
In talking with my fellow Cub fans at work and in the local establishments I spend my money and time, they tend to take the side of the owners as if it is their money. They view signing a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado to a big, expensive contract a giant waste of money. They see too many things that could go wrong that could hamstring a franchise over the life of the deal. And to be honest, they are right. But that doesn’t mean I agree with them on signing or not signing Harper.
I just find it fascinating and stupefying that neither Harper nor Machado has signed any kind of contract between $25-$35 million a year, even for a short period of time. As an owner or a GM, why would you not want to get two generational players in the prime of their careers? Do owners value financial flexibility over winning that much? Are the players just being too greedy and holding out for every last dollar they get for their families that will last for a 100 years? Who’s to blame? Or, are both sides to blame?
What is clear to me is that the market has shifted. Like it or not, as fans, there is not much you or I can do about it. The two sides are going to be digging in and digging deeper between now and 2021.
Last year, it was said many times that owners were saving their money for this year’s free agent class. And now this year, the same is being said for next year when Nolan Arenado would be available along with dozens of other 30-somethings. It’s not that great of a class after Arenado. This year’s class with Harper, Machado, and Keuchel far surpasses 2020. And yet, here we sit….and wait.
MLB and the MLBPA need to get this resolved soon. Then again, they might not. What is going to happen is that frustration and anger are going to build up on both sides and the game could have its first work stoppage since the 1990s when this CBA ends in 2021.
And who is going to get caught in the middle? The fans.
And yet, all it will take to end this logjam is for one owner or GM to pull his finger out of the dike this winter.
Here’s my prediction for what will go down. Bryce will sign. Then Manny. Then the floodgates will open. There will be free agents signing everywhere and trades aplenty. It will be glorious! When that will happen, I have no clue.
To be quite frank, Bryce’s money is what teams are probably worried about. Once that fiduciary responsibility has been assigned to a particular team, then all the other teams can begin allocating their funds for 2019 and beyond. Let’s hope that is what is happening behind the scenes.
I just hate that this is taking so long. It’s not as if players and owners are sitting around thinking about how to piss off the fans, but that’s what their actions and inactions are doing.
Either way, things need to change.