Is a One Man Stalling MLB Free Agency?

MLB's Offseason Sees Unprecedented Quiet Amid Contract Talks.

by Nouman Rasool
SHARE
Is a One Man Stalling MLB Free Agency?
© Harry How/Getty Images

As the MLB offseason reaches its zenith in December, typically marked by a whirlwind of trades and signings during and post the winter meetings, this season presents an unusual calm. By now, teams usually have a clear picture of their 40-man rosters, but the current market tells a different story.

Apart from pitcher Aaron Nola's re-signing with the Phillies in November, the landscape has been relatively quiet. The Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines with their acquisition of two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani and pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, both securing substantial contracts.

These moves were expected to set the market tempo, especially Ohtani’s signing, providing clarity for teams on their financial strategies. Yet, the anticipated domino effect hasn't materialized. Top free agents like pitchers Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, and versatile player Cody Bellinger remain unsigned, their futures uncertain.

The common thread linking these athletes? Their representation by Scott Boras, the super-agent renowned for his unwavering negotiation strategies aimed at maximizing client earnings. A National League executive, speaking to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com, highlighted Boras's penchant for drawing out negotiations, often stretching into the late offseason, banking on one team's eventual capitulation.

Boras likely views Yoshinobu Yamamoto's 12-year, $325 million deal as a benchmark, especially in negotiations for Snell and Montgomery. Though a contract of Yamamoto's magnitude is improbable for Snell and Montgomery, both aged 31, Boras is expected to push for a substantial average annual value, possibly around $27 million for each pitcher.

Despite Blake Snell's high walk rate and limitations in innings for San Diego, he stands as the reigning NL Cy Young winner and a formidable force in baseball. Montgomery, fresh from a stellar season culminating in a World Series triumph with the Rangers, is equally in high demand.

Cody Bellinger, following an impressive season with the Cubs marked by 26 homers, 97 RBIs, and a .307 batting average, is arguably the most sought-after position player next to Ohtani. His power hitting, coupled with his defensive prowess in both the outfield and at first base, makes him a prime target for teams bolstering their offense.

As the offseason progresses, and teams grow more eager for talent, Boras's strategy might prove fruitful, securing better deals for his clients. While fans eagerly await blockbuster signings, this year's MLB free agency appears to be a slow-burning affair, heavily influenced by Boras's tactics in securing above-market deals for his high-profile clients.

This approach, while frustrating for fans and teams alike, underscores the strategic intricacies behind baseball's free agency and the pivotal role of agents in shaping the game's landscape.

SHARE