Baseball's awkward 2018 offseason
Bartolo Colón is signed to an MLB contract and Jake Arrieta is not. 44-year-old, 300 lbs., Bartolo Colón is signed and Cy Young award-winner Jake Arrieta is not.
Typically, spring training signals the time of year when baseball fans rejoice to see all of the shiny new players their teams signed over the offseason –– this year, not so much. Now, a full week into spring training, there still remains a large market of top-tier players waiting for a contract.
Growing up as a New York Mets fan, I am familiar with owners not spending money to sign top-tier free agents. Every year I get the pleasure to watch the New York Yankees break the bank to sign the talent necessary to win championships. This offseason was no different. The Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton, a 28-year-old outfielder with four all-star appearances and the winner of last year’s MVP award. The Mets, on the other hand, signed Adrián González, Jason Vargas and José Reyes: the stars of 2011.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love some of these players. I own and wear a Colón shirt with his face and nickname “Big Sexy.” I prominently display a limited edition bobblehead of him on my desk where both his head and stomach jiggle. But these players should not be getting contracts with teams.
Look at these two players and pick who you would sign based off their performance the past two seasons.
Player A is 32 years old, started 61 games, has a 32-18 record, 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and is an All-Star.
Player B is 33 years old, started 24 games, has a 9-10 record, 6.65 ERA and 3.85 WHIP.
Player B is signed to a MLB contract for this season. Player B is Tim Lincecum, who has been unable to have an ERA under five since 2011. Player A is Arrieta, a top pitcher the past four seasons.
Teams no longer want to be decent. It sucks for the players, it sucks for the fans and it sucks for the sport.
The MLB had to set up a spring training camp for unsigned players that has been aptly named “Camp Jobless.” The partakers are middle-class MLB players. They are serviceable, productive veterans in their early to mid-thirties who have been hurt most by this offseason.
Even all-star caliber players such as Arrieta, Carlos González, Lance Lynn, Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Lucroy are unsigned this offseason.
Unsigned players are taking contracts for less than they are worth. Former Met Lucas Duda signed a meager $3.5 million contract with the Kansas City Royals, the same team that beat the Mets in the 2015 World Series. As the only Mets fan with a Duda jersey, my heart has never been so broken.
As I sat there wearing that same mustard stained jersey, I got the alert that Tim Tebow is batting cleanup for the Mets. Tebow has brought in more fan interest and merchandise sales than any other player to never be on an MLB roster. He continues to get opportunities because he puts money into the owners’ pockets.
Baseball always has been and will continue to be about money.
It seems signing players based on stats will remain a non-option. With the MLB draft coming up in June, I am less excited for the prospects and more excited to see which executive tells their fans to sit back and trust the process.
Nathaniel Mendelson is a staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com.