Bigger names still on market
Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel won’t be around when the bat and ball bags are opened at spring training throughout Florida and Arizona this week.
They are among the dozens of free agents still looking for jobs, joined by Mike Moustakas, Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez.
For the second straight winter, camps are opening with many rosters in exceptional flux.
“The market will sort itself out,” St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said at last week’s owners’ meetings. “There is a long time between the end of the season and spring training, and there’s maybe not so much a sense of urgency on whichever side it happens to be.”
Among the 164 players who exercised free agency rights at the end of last year’s World Series, 84 had announced agreements on the eve of spring training. That is up from 65-of-166 at roughly the same point last season but down from 105-of158 two years ago.
A drawn-out negotiating process means clubs have lost time in marketing new acquisitions, which seems especially significant to a sport coming off three years of attendance declines.
“We want players signed, particularly star players. I wish they were signed and ready to go,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday. “We got another week before they have to report.”
ROB MANFRED WANTS STARS SIGNED