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For real though, why haven’t Manny Machado and Bryce Harper been signed? - A Hunt and Peck

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This is getting weird.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

COLLUSION!

That is the word on the street. It was a big topic last year - Marc Normandin wrote all about it just over a year ago - and with top free agents still unsigned - notably Bryce Harper and Manny Machado - it has come up again.

There were a lot of other theories swirling around at that time, though, to explain away the lack of free agent signings. Maybe teams are just “smarter” and less willing to take on large contracts for aging players. Teams are also trying to stay under the Luxury Tax and don’t want to give out big contracts. That is why the market for what we will call A- players has seemingly dried up. The A+ players, though, the Bryce Harpers and the Manny Machados of the league, they should be fine.

Except it is almost February and they are still unsigned.

It is weird. In the past, we have seen these players sign much earlier. Jason Heyward signed with the Cubs in 2015 - just over three years ago - on December15. Albert Pujols signed with the Angels in 2011 on December 8. What is going on?

The players have definitely taken notice. This is what Matt Carpenter had to say, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

“The last offseason — the kind of thought you left (with) was OK, well, teams are evaluating age,” third baseman Matt Carpenter said. “But when you look at the two guys that are unsigned now — I mean, they’re 26 years old. So that can’t be the reason. So I don’t know. It’s a situation that is obviously an issue.”

New Cardinal Paul Goldschmidt is worried as well. Per Goold again:

Goldschmidt expressed concern about what a static market means for the game. He described how baseball is in danger of slipping in quality because “to put out the best product, you need the best players.”

A change may be near; what type of change, though, remains a mystery.

As fans though, it is pretttttttttty boring.

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