The state of baseball, particularly free agency, has been discussed several times this offseason. Weird things are happening and the reason behind them is complicated. It drives many folks to think and problem-solve and that generates discussion. This is a good thing. The more voices involved and the more perspectives given add levels of nuance to the situation and help push towards a better resolution.
Last week Adam Wainwright was asked about free agency and the Cardinals veteran voiced his concern of a potential mid-season strike to “The Morning After”, a St. Louis based radio show on 590 The Fan hosted by Tim McKernan, Jimmy “The Cat” Hayes from Fox Sports Midwest, and Doug Vaughn from KMOX:
Adam Wainwright said today on @TMASTL that he expects there to be a strike “100%.”— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) February 15, 2019
The context of the conversation comes from a discussion on how Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still without teams.
You can see Wainwright’s reasoning in the video below. pic.twitter.com/GXsmx4cXk1
Later on in the week, Waino elaborated on what he said on Twitter:
Just a couple thoughts on the response I’ve been getting about my interview and a future strike:— Adam Wainwright (@UncleCharlie50) February 16, 2019
1). I’m very grateful for all that has been provided to me through this game. I love being a @Cardinals player... and I love that I get to live out my dream everyday.
Waino is still a little new to Twitter and didn’t thread his tweets, but Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle compiled screenshots for easy reading:
In the Interview Waino discusses Sabermetrics and how that has changed the landscape of free agency, which is somewhat true and somewhat a misguided thought, I believe. Sabermetrics are great for finding undervalued players, but a good player is still a good player. Advanced stats will still tell us Bryce Harper is a darn good hitter and they will tell us that even if his batting average happens to be a little lower than usual. Sabermetrics are not why players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have not been signed. Yes, advanced stats and recent history have made giving out long-term contracts to older players (which Harper and Machado, who are a year older than me, are not, for the record) less and less appealing, but the problem is deeper and Wainwright is so close to nailing it in his Twitter thread.
9). So, all this to say... we as players have to stick together. If you make it through the years of exploitation that is the minor leagues, you just want the chance to make it all worth it. I had that chance. I’d like the next generation to get the same chance.— Adam Wainwright (@UncleCharlie50) February 16, 2019
The current system is full of exploitation! From minor leaguers to the young major leaguers, there are thousands of players that are not being paid the money their labor is generating. the idea is that those lost earnings will be recouped in free agency, but Spring Training has begun and there are 100s of unsigned free agents. Former Viva El Birdos site manager and current Fangraphs writer Craig Edwards laid it down pretty simply in a Twitter thread of his own:
The more money that goes to players, the thinner the profit margins for teams and the greater the incentive teams have to win/draw more fans. To get back to the level we were used to, the players will have to fight again. Who they fight for will determine their future. (5/9)— Craig Edwards (@craigjedwards) February 17, 2019
To negotiate a fair deal like the union used to be able to do, current players will have to make sacrifices to ensure a strike isn't broken by owners. Or, they can continue the recent, status quo strategy which has shifted power to the owners beyond what we've gotten used to(8/9)— Craig Edwards (@craigjedwards) February 17, 2019
This system of being underpaid during a players youth does not work anymore. Minor League players are not compensated for their work, young players are underpaid during their peak seasons before they are able to earn a big payday that never actually comes. This system provides financial incentive for owners to not field a competitive team. Teams tank and rebuild on the backbones of young, cost-controlled talent and make billions of dollars doing it. The system is broken and the only people that can fix it are the veteran players. Unfortunately, it is too late for most of them to help themselves, but they can help future players.
If they don’t, it will just keep happening.
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