New San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer got paid this winter. Thus far, that’s been the outlier among Major League Baseball free agents. A number of talented players still remain on the market, and that has Hosmer wondering whether the system is broken.
Hosmer may be signed, but he told Bob Nightengale of USA Today he still sees some issues with free agency.
“[Commissioner Rob] Manfred says the integrity of the game is first and foremost, that’s what we want to protect,’’ Hosmer says. “But the way the process went down this year, something is wrong with it.
“I don’t think all of the teams are trying to be competitive or doing everything they can to protect the integrity of the game. If that was the case, why are guys like Carlos Gonzalez and [former Royals teammate] Mike Moustakas still on the market? That raises a lot of red flags.”
Hosmer eventually got the eight years he was looking for, signing with the Padres for $144 million. He had been seeking eight years all offseason, and the Padres finally caved after months of negotiations.
Other free agents haven’t been so lucky. Hosmer mentions Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez are still looking for jobs. Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb are still sitting on the market as well.
Even if you want to take the stance that the players need to lower their demands, this level of talent being available just weeks before the start of the season is unprecedented. In the past, teams have recognized one player could make the difference between them making the playoffs or sitting at home for the postseason.
As Hosmer points out, it seems like many teams have given up on being competitive this year. Plenty of teams could use Arrieta, Cobb or Moustakas, but none have put up the money necessary to sign them. And when clubs are willing to sign lesser players merely because they come at a lower cost, that definitely invites criticism that some teams aren’t going for it as hard as they should.
Hosmer’s view has been out there for a few months. But his quotes are yet another sign that the players are fed up with how the owners are operating.
A labor war feels inevitable. And the timetable for that conflict accelerates every time a player speaks out.
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