JD Martinez & The 2018 Free Agent Class Have Only Themselves & Their Agents To Blame

By Ted Gay – @TedG63

Unless something dramatically changes it appears the Red Sox will be unable to sign their top free agent target, Scott Boras.

Make no mistake, baseball teams do not negotiate with or sign baseball players.  They sign agents who then allow their clients to play for the team. The agents aren’t interested in what is best for the player, which situation he will be most comfortable in, or which team will use him to get the best production.  It is about the Benjamins.

JD Martinez reportedly has a five year $125 million offer from the Red Sox, not bad for a player who has released outright four years ago, has only hit more than 30 home runs or knocked in over 100 runs twice in his career, and will be 37 when the contract expires.  25 million a year is grossly overpaying someone of Martinez’s accomplishments, but given the insane world of baseball salaries, is par for the course.  Only a fool would not accept that offer or Scott Boras.

For Boras J.D. Martinez is not important.  What is critical is that Martinez becomes one of the highest paid hitters so next year, when Martinez produces 26 home runs and 85 RBI and Bryce Harper slams 40 home runs and drives in 135 Boras can state “if JD Martinez is worth 150 million over six years than Harper is worth 400 million over eight.”  The best outcome for Boras is that Martinez gets the maximum amount of money then fails miserably.  Players who sign with Boras believe he is going to get them the best possible contract while to Boras it is about inflating the market.

The accepted belief in baseball is that signing a top line free agent to a long-term contract will bring you a championship.  In the last ten years only two teams, the 2016 Cubs, and the 2009 Yankees have won a title after giving a free agent more than a five-year contract.  Of course, if you are a major league GM, and you know something has a success rate of 20%, you have no choice but to do it.  If you are willing to make choices that will be unsuccessful 80 percent of the time you might as well smoke, drink and tap whatever wanders by.

Players and agents are accusing owners of collusion.  Because actual collusion occurred 30 years ago, many people either didn’t experience or don’t remember it.  After Commissioner Peter Ueberroth criticized the owners for overpaying free agents in 1984, Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Jack Morris, Paul Molitor and scores of other players did not receive a single free agent offer over the next three years.  By 1987 owners had created an information bank to share their player negotiations with one another.   When the players association took legal action against the owners, federal arbiters ordered the owners to pay $100 million to the players.  Andre Dawson not receiving a single offer is a far cry from J.D. Martinez getting $125 million over five years.  Even the President of the United States has repeatedly said there has been no collusion, and if we can’t trust our President who can we trust?

The free agents should not be blaming the owners because with trucks full of baseball supplies rolling south they still don’t know where they will be playing.  The fault lies in themselves, and their agents, who are spending more time looking ahead to next year’s more attractive players and the fortunes they will reap in the winter of 2018 than getting players signed for the spring of 2018.


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