Where Does The Transparency Stop?

I'm just going to go ahead and call this baseball's winter of discontent. Maybe because I just like the phrase, maybe because I want to appear more poetic/well read than I actually am. Much like Bart Simpson, I hope that simply using those words gets the rest of the kids in the class to applaud.

From what I can gather, most of the angst of the lack of activity is simply springing out of boredom. We can't sit here and actually dream about Yu Darvish in the rotation, so we get a lot of "It's Time For The Cubs To Do Something Because I Have Nothing Else To Write About!" articles. We want something to talk about, something to dissect, something to get excited about. From what I can tell, not having that is causing everyone to lash out.

Because honestly, I'm not sure what the difference to us peons really is. It's not like we're in spring training at the moment. It's not like those players that haven't signed yet aren't doing their offseason training anyway. This isn't football, where they're missing out on time to learn a playbook. You can throw/swing anywhere if you need to. And if you're a prime free agent waiting on a deal, it's not like you're missing out on a ton of coaching that's going to alter your career. You already got it.

Sure, there's intriguing and perhaps dispiriting labor battles being waged here, and the ground for future ones being prepped. It isn't fair that players who have waited for free agency for years and worked as hard as possible to maximize it and become the best in the world. It isn't fair that they're not getting the deals they were promised by agents and others. Then again, Darvish and Arrieta and Cobb could sign right now for money that will set generations of their families up. That sympathy just doesn't run that deep. Scott Boras will never be a sympathetic character. It's not just you're on one side or the other.

All of that aside, a big reason for the lack of activity has been the idea that the big market teams are trying to stay under the luxury tax. And that's for a couple reasons. One is that teams simply don't want to pay the highly punitive penalties for going over the threshold, and some of them might have to in the years to come anyway (we'll circle back to this in a sec). The second is that they all want to keep the powder dry for the class of '18 which includes Harper, Machado, possibly Kershaw, Donaldson, even Charlie Blackmon. Ok, fine.

Some of that I get, and some of it locally I'm not sure I do. The Dodgers have been over the threshold for four straight years already, but cleared out enough dead weight to get out from under it this time. They've kind of proven they don't mind if it comes to it. The Yankees just picked up Stanton who gets paid in actual trucks of money every month. The Red Sox don't have that many needs, honestly, and are staring down the barrel of paying a lot of kids soon.

So my eye turns locally. The Cubs are also one that's being considered to be trying to stay under the tax because they don't want to pay the penalties. While they also may be trying to keep their powder dry for Harper or Machado next winter, they also know that it's not far away from paying Bryant a ton and maybe Russell or Baez or even Hendricks and Contreras down the line. If Schwarber isn't traded and continues to put up 35 homers a year? You get it. It's not immediate, but it probably should be planned for. The Cubs might not be able to avoid that tax quite soon. They may not be able to avoid the repeat offender penalties, too. If it's going to happen anyway... you know how that finishes.

And yet we just accept that and no one seems to ask if that really should be the case. As far as I can tell there's been no directive from Tom Ricketts that they have to stay under this figure or that figure. It's just what we're told. Did anyone ask him?

The Cubs have the most expensive ticket in baseball. The most rudimentary estimates would have them taking home somewhere between $160-180 million in gate receipts alone. Throw in all the other events now at Wrigley, and merchandise, and all the other things, and you start to wonder, don't you? What about the luxury tax has the Cubs so fearful? If the Cubs had to shell out $230 million a year as the Dodgers have, would it cripple them? That's without the TV deal the Dodgers have to be fair, but isn't that coming for the Cubs?

It's just strange for a team that's been so transparent in everything else they've done. They told you they were going to tear it down to the studs. They told you to be patient. They told you when they were going to dip into free agency. They've told you when they screwed up. They told you this winter that they would likely trade a player you've come to love (which they haven't yet). And now they're telling us they have to stay under the tax, though not really why. They just have to because.

I don't need the Cubs to spend money to spend money. I saw what that's done to teams in the past, both good and bad. And yet this team seems a starter short. Darvish is sitting there, even if you think his decline is coming. What's clear is the Cubs are interested. Do we really believe that a few million over six or seven years really makes a difference to the Cubs and the money they're already printing over there? It's curious.

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  • I honestly think the argument teams not wanting to spend is a bit of a strawman. I think the Cubs are willing to spend, but it doesn't make baseball sense to give a 31-year old pitcher a six or seven year (or even a five year) contract. They salary structure is screwed up. Arrieta should have made $25m+ in 2015, 2016, 2017, and $17m (or whatever) going forward.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Cubs gave Lester who was 31 a 6 year contract

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Lester will be 36 when his ctt expires. Arrieta will be 32 before the season starts. That means a 4 yr ctt would expire when he is 35. Why is he worth a five/six/ yr deal especially for the money he wants?

  • In reply to stix:

    ctt?

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    ctt = contract?

  • In reply to David Johnson:

    Oh, that makes sense.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I believe that a big difference here is that at the time the contract was signed by Lester, even if years 5 and 6 were blowouts the management would have felt they could "lose" this money as it was just before the home-grown players arbitration monies rose to the point of pushing the luxury tax ceiling.
    A contract of 5-6 years now with money written off in years 5/6 would affect the ability to remain competitive - just as we look at Heyward's contract as being a millstone weighing the team down unless he learns to put bat on ball a little more regularly.
    Lester's signing was also a commitment of intent at the time to show that the Cubs felt they were on the cusp of contending and would have shown the players on the team at the time that management and owners were backing their talent and potential.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    It doesn't have to be the Cubs giving long term contracts to pitchers.
    My response was it doesn't make baseball sense to give contracts to pitchers.
    You seem to agree as you gave your rationalization for the Cubs signing Lester.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Lester was also considered a lower risk for a long contract because of his clean arm action and lack of injury history. That was part of Quintana’s appeal as well.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I agree that it made sense with Lester because the Cubs were in a different place in the cycle... in general the thought of any contract longer than 4 years at this stage of the cycle is pretty scary.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    Lester was a different case for a few reasons. As you point out it was a different point in the Cubs window, also being a lefty their value often carries on longer than right handed pitchers and he will likely be an effective pitcher, even if not in the same prominent role, at the end of the term. The most important difference though was how teams were viewing contracts in 2015. The dollars on his deal were evened out by the six years. At $8 mil/WAR Lester only has to post 19 WAR for the deal to break even. To date he's posted 12.1 WAR meaning he only has to post 6.9 WAR over the next 3 years. That doesn't seem like it's going to be an issue plus you don't win the 2016 title without him. The way teams are thinking today though they would be more likely to offer a 4 year deal with a higher AAV rather than tack the two years on the end to lower it.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I'm thinking you're close to the mark here Cubswin09. Management is looking at contract numbers for some of the big and longer-term contracts that have been done in the last 5-10 years and what the payoffs have been, especially for players at or near their current prime.

    Prince Fielder - once a pretty awesome offensive player - now retired and now much does TX still owe him? It was ~$100 MM when he officially called it quits end of the 2016 season.

    The Angels owe Pujols another $100 MM+ through 2021. Our own Heyward (while he still has some value) isn't likely to be worth anywhere near the remaining chunk of $$s that the Cubs will owe him by a long-shot. Jordan Zimmerman is owed another $60-70 MM for the next 3 seasons and he hasn't been healthy since the Tigers got him.

    Nobody wants to make the next long-term mistake.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Not a big mistake with Fielder since insurance will pay the balance of the contract.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I still believe in JHey. I think he still has a lot of upside over what he's brought the Cubs so far.

  • In reply to discubobulated:

    I still don't view getting Heyward as a complete 'mistake' discubobulated, just note a great return relative to the money committed to him. If he could get back to what he was doing most years in Atlanta offensively (I view the 1 extremely good year there as not gonna happen again) then he's still a decent investment for the remainder of the contract.

    Heyward pulling in a 0.270/0.340/0.400 line for 2018 and giving his usual stellar defense in RF/CF for a 3-ish WAR return would be more than acceptable IMO. And that really wouldn't been too much higher offensively than he pulled last season.

  • I haven't read anywhere that the Cubs have told anyone they have to stay under the tax. Did someone say this?
    Getting Darvish on a 4 year deal versus a 5 or 6 year deal is an enormous difference.

  • MLB Player Salary Rankings 2018
    http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/rankings/

  • 6 or 7 years for any player over 30 is not good. Might be best
    to trade Russell and Happ or Almora with their top AAA 3rd
    baseball prospect for the best under 30 pitcher they can get.
    Must be under control for at least 3 years

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Not gonna happen. Cubs are not gonna trade our talented "YOUNG CORE" players for anybody. Jeez! Stop already

  • 6 or 7 years for any player over 30 is not good. Might be best
    to trade Russell and Happ or Almora with their top AAA 3rd
    baseball prospect for the best under 30 pitcher they can get.
    Must be under control for at least 3 years

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    How are you gonna feel after Russell hits 35 hrs, 112 rbi, and a .325 batting average this year? Still gonna trade him?

  • In reply to Holycow84:

    You are hilarious. You tell him to stop and then you post this? I haven’t laughed so hard in a while.

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    MLB trade rumors reported that Darwin Barney signed a minor league contract with the Rangers. It seems like he was with the Cubs so many years ago, but he's only 32. Good for him.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I still like Barney for what he is. He actually had a couple of decent UT/IF seasons for Toronto. Indeed - good for Barney.

  • It is true that the Dodgers and I believe others have been over the cap for some time, and it did not seem to be a problem for them. But at that time, it was largely only money that was at issue. But last year's MLB labor agreement raised the penalties for continuing over the cap SUBSTANTIALLY. Somewhat by increasing the monetary penalties, but much more importantly, by adding the very high cost of forfeited high draft choices.

    The Dodgers and the Yankees have substantially higher revenues, due mostly to TV and Radio money, that allow them to far outspend their opposition and still make substantial profits as long as they remained competitive. But the new Labor Agreement makes it much more difficult to consistently bring in the ongoing new talent needed to remain near the top. Not only does buying unlimited free agents cost money, but also reduces high draft choices (the only ones that are likely to succeed). And new penalties in signing of International free agents are also severe.

    As a result, even the very highest revenue teams (and the Cubs are about to join their ranks) can no longer sustain success over long stretches of time by spending money alone.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I think u hit it on the head there. And add in the International spending penalies.
    Also, one thing I think is being under-reported is the huge jump comparatively, from 2018 to 2019 in the luxury tax threshold:

    Here are the luxury tax thresholds set by the current CBA:

    * 2017: $195 million
    * 2018: $197 million
    * 2019: $206 million
    * 2020: $209 million
    * 2021: $210 million

    By staying under this year, teams, next year, have a quarter of a year of Harper, Kershaw or Machado paid for before any penalty. And enough, before it really starts to hurt, to cover that year. Coincidentally (not); a lot of 2-3 year contacts this year....

    Then the penalties really start to hurt, not financially, but as you pointed out.

  • If you just look at this year, the Cubs have money to spend. But if you look to the near future, the Cubs have a lot of young talent ( Bryant, Rizzo, Russell, Baez, Schwarber, Conteres, Almora, and Hendricks). So in the next the 3 years if big big salary raises become a reality, do you hold a fire sale?

  • In reply to hawk1943:

    I think your question is answered in the way the Cubs AREN'T committing to long contracts now. By keeping the big picture in mind, the Cubs can avoid having a fire sale in the future (or, at least, have a smaller one...)

  • In reply to hawk1943:

    No fire sale but no signing Harper or Machado

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    We gotta sign our kids. We shouldn't be thinking of those guys.
    Iv'e seen teams mess up big time signing players to huge contracts. Puhols, Cano, and so many others.
    If the Cubs sign Harper it will ruin the team. There won't be any money to pay for Schwarber, Baez, Russell, Contreras, BRYANT? Harper is not gonna be worth all that.

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    I admittedly have not followed off season details closely, so please correct me if I'm misguided here. It seems to me though that the Cubs have made offers, one way or another, to Cobb, Arrieta, and Yu. I've no idea what money was involved, but it does seem like the length of contract was an issue. If so, I've no problem at all with Jed/Theo holding the line there at all. I'd rather make due with plan B in the short term than deal with an Alphonso Soriano over the long run.

  • In reply to James McIntyre:

    Like you, James, I believe that the only thing holding up the remaining free agent signings is length of contract.

    (At least for the pitchers. Rumors indicate that Hosmer has an offer for a 7-year deal, but maybe then the AAV is not to his liking. Or he thinks the traffic in SD is not worth it.)

    When these players do eventually sign, and I cannot see how they will not eventually sign, although we fans are sick and tired of the waiting, there will be not be too much sympathy from this corner of Scandinavia if the AAV is actually similar to that projected but the contract length is shorter than the players feel they "deserve". All it will indicate is that front offices have wised up and are not willing to pay up front for what are expected to be unproductive years. If the players feel that they will still be worth 20-30 M$ when they are 36, well then maybe they will just have to sign one-to-two year contracts at that age. It will be then that the players assume the risks associated with aging, not the clubs.

    I do understand, though, that FA players have waited years to become FAs, with the expectation that they will be able to recuperate "lost" wages (due to better performance than represented by their contract when they were in their 20s), after reaching FA. Thus, it is interesting to consider how the MLBPA will push back on that which has transpired this off-season, if shorter FA contracts for over 30 players is indeed the start of a new strategy by front offices. Will they push for fewer "control" years, so that players can become FAs at younger ages? Will that be necessary since there will be more and more players entering FA in their late 20s (instead of early 30s), ala Harper and Machedo? I do not know if I like where the baseball labor issues are heading, and I certainly would not like to see a work stoppage while the Cubs championship window was open.

    Finally, I will simply reiterate that I cannot see why Heyward would opt out after next season if shorter FA contracts for older players are going to be the new norm, even if he has a monster 2018 season and re-establishes his value.

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    If the Cubs are under the salary cap does the money saved carry over to the next year or is it just year to year?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    No, it is a year to year thing.

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    I’ve thought for quite some time that young players are penaliized financially, while older players are handsomely rewarded. Clubs have overcompensated free agents with high yearly salaries in declining years. Give players free agency after 2 years of 25 man roster seniority; and free agent contracts limited to 4 years.

  • In reply to Richard Williams:

    I'm not sure. A player's third year on the MLB roster is often when the team's investment in that player begins to pay off. Granting them free agency would drastically shorten the window of opportunity for the team. Is the arbitration process not working for getting younger players the value they deserve?

  • AS soon as 1 of the 3 sign the rest will follow

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think the key when will Darvish sign. He will set the market and then the rest will follow suit. But no one wants to jump and take a low offer and bear the brunt of the union.

  • The bottom line is that this year was a "perfect storm" of events that has led to the bottleneck.
    - Fully a third of the league not competing for the playoffs
    - Plenty of 1A players but no absolute top tier guys
    - Scott Boras representing Hosmer, Moustakas, Arrieta and JD Martinez
    - Agents in general miscalculating the market
    - Teams abandoning the "extra years to balance out dollars" approach
    - Three of the top four biggest market teams staying under the luxury tax threshold
    - New luxury tax rules under the CBA with higher penalties and draft and international ramifications

    If that weren't enough now you have players do not want to be the ones to set a low market and are getting pressure from agents and the MLBPA not to do so. Still, we're a week out for pitchers & catchers reporting and something has to give soon and the fact that Todd Frazier, a low second tier guy, signed a team favorable deal yesterday might signal the start of something. I don't think that this year is going to affect next year with guys like Machado, Harper, Keuchel and Kershaw at the top of the heap, but it probably mean we're not talking absurd amounts like half a billion dollars for Harper, more in the $350 mil range is likely. Still you don't see this many random events happen all at once so it's unlikely we'll see this again although make no mistake it is a correction. how much of one remains to be seen.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Even 350M for Harper sounds high to me. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • In reply to John57:

    Stanton got $325 mil and we saw from his trade market that it actually wasn't a bad contract at all. The only reason Miami had to send end any money back was that they benefited from the lower paying first three years, and the prospect was basically nothing. Harper is a better player than Stanton, and frankly Machado might be too. You can give those kind of deals to 26 years olds

  • In reply to TC154:

    Like the 184 mil to 26 year old Heyward? I just see the GMs being less likely to offer big long term contracts out with this new CBA even to 26 year olds.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't think you can rank Staton's contract yet. He has a history of getting injured. He has had 600 plate appearances in only 3 of his 8 years. He has 10 more years plus an option on his contract.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    That's true you can't, but his injuries do appear to me more flukey than substantive and projects out to be one of the best players in the game. If he plays like projections the amount the Yankees took on looks like a bargain. The only reason I brought up Stanton though was because unless Harper wets the bed or is injured this year his deal will be larger than Stanton's. Two years ago we all though he'd get half a billion dollars and Machado wold get close to $400 mil and that's not happening, so $350 for Harper and say $275 for Machado seems about right.

  • In reply to John57:

    Pundits are guessing $400M+

  • In reply to Oneear:

    What are GMs going to offer? I think that is a better indicator. We will have to wait and see. As I said before 350 million to me sounds high. What are the qualifications to be a pundit? Maybe I am one too.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    That was before this offseason took place

  • Kids less interested in baseball and watching Youtube instead of MLB games = less future expected revenue = Declining contract values.

  • In reply to Lildude:

    That's not true at all though. I agree with you that they need to market more to youth but the revenues are climbing at a record pace from $8 billion in 2011 to almost $13 billion in 2017. The issue isn't if the money is there, the issue is how it's being divvied out.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I'm not saying revenue hasnt been increasing, as you point out, it has increased substantially in the past several years. I'm suggesting that based on stats such as median age of baseball viewers (53 per Espn), declining Little League participation, and the rise of e-sports and alternate viewing options, baseball viewership / attendance may be in for a period of decline at some future point. If owners think this may be a threat relatively soon, that may explain their reluctance to sign players to huge long-term contracts

  • Maybe they should impose a team oriented arbitration in the later years where large salaries can be brought back down with poor performance.

    I also like the idea someone once suggested here to frontload the heck out of the contract and give them an opt out after years 4 & 5. So Jake would make $32M for AAV years 1,2,3 and years 4 & 5 he only makes $10M. That way if he is still producing in the later years he can renegotiate for more money and if not his team isn’t saddled with a crippling amount of money.

  • In reply to good4you:

    Bad idea. You are paying $32 million for $25 million production. And then you give an opt out when the value drops? No baseball exec would do that deal. Players would line up to sign and laugh to the bank.

  • I think it matters if they plan on being over that threshold next year, for maybe a certain free agent, then extending some of the younger positional players the next few years after. Doesnt the tax double practically every year your over it? So if they plan on being over it the next few years, it its wise to not start that clock until late as possible

  • Because they have to extend their young position players is one of the main reasons I don't see the Cubs going after Harper.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I agree. We have quite a few of our own that will need the salary cap room that Harper would take up. I would prefer 2 or 3 of our own players signed up to just one of Harper.

  • In reply to John57:

    Amen! I want to sign most of them.
    We have GREAT YOUNG PLAYERS PEOPLE!

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Even if they don't go after Harper, they want to be able to look like they are. Cubs might not have Harper in their plans, but they sure as hell don't want whoever gets him to get him cheap. Theo will make sure Bryce gets his $400M

  • In reply to Oneear:

    IMO Theo will not expend any energy making sure Bryce gets 400M. He has other more important things to work on.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    As much as we keep hearing about Harper, if they go after a big FA I think Machado is a better fit. If Russell has a good year at the plate he'd be a guy that would fetch pitching next offseason, especially with three years of control and Machado is an upgrade at SS anyway you look at it. Bryant and Russell are both Boras guys and up in the same year, signing both if they are both productive is unrealistic so you use the asset in Russell to get pitching.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Your statement of "Machado is an upgrade at SS anyway you look at it" should also consider his cost will be a massive increase too. Russell will still have 3 years of cost control. I will agree that signing Machado is a better use of resources than Harper but both will cost more than in house solutions. Theo has to see where you get the most bang for the minimum bucks.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't see the need for the Cubs to sign either Harper or Machado. Cubs are loaded with young position players they will need to extend. I think the Cubs still acquire a starter in the next couple weeks so they will be set with starters and no need to trade next year.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    How do we know they’ll extend when it’s their turn? Pass on signing an available future Hall of Famer & difference maker...? Harper is exactly what this team could use along side Bryant, Rizzo & Contreras.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Let some other team take Harper. We definitely don't need him at the price he thinks he is worth.

  • In reply to John57:

    You are worth what teams are willing to pay. Harper has never said a number he is worth.

    If you can get him, you do it. The nearly $50 million the Cubs will get this off season from MLB can be looked at a number of ways. Here are three: 1) the money can buy you a free year and a half if Bryce Harper in the lineup or 2) that money could be used to pay the luxury tax or 3) money can be used to extend some of the young hitters.

    Not sure why some have angst over adding a player as good or better than any guy we have when the cost is money? A guy who probably ends his career as a HOF player.

  • In reply to TC154:

    How do you figure Machado is an upgrade at shortstop? Offensively yes but defensively no thanks. Russell has the potential to be a similiar type of hitter.

    I would continue to worry about starters and closers.

    I think the 8 men on the field will be really good. More than likely schwarber, heyward, happ, almora, Russell will all be improved this year. If you add zobrist, rizzo, bryant, Contreras and Baez to the afore mentioned group, hitters are the least of our worries.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I disagree with your take of Russell as a hitter. He will never be a Machado. And Machado is a damn good fielder. As the defensive metrics normalize over 3 years, Russell is no longer “elite” but very good.

    If Russell hits like you believe, he could fetch the pitcher needed. The Cubs are likely to trade one or two from this young group to fill in for needs to keep the window open. If there isn’t a FA pitcher out there and the development of SP takes longer than a year or two, then a trade is imminent.

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    Can anyone explain to me why any team would want to shell out 300+ million to Machado or Harper. Exactly what have they accomplished for their teams? Baltimore with Machado has exactly how many titles? Washington has had Harper for six years, added Strasburg and then Scherzer and has yet to get out of the first round of the playoffs. It took the Dodgers with Kershaw ten years to finally get to the World Series, where they lost. No one player is ever worth that kind of money.

  • In reply to Frank Mazur:

    You are only worth what someone is willing to pay you. Are you going to turn down a competitor of your current company who offers you 3X your current salary? I doubt it regardless that you aren't worth that to your current employer or in the eyes of someone else.

    Do you understand the value of 1 WAR? If you can get a 6-8 WAR player that is "worth" $42 to $56 Million a year. If you can pay $30 Million and get $56 Million of value, then that is a great deal. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are both worth $28-$32 annually at a starting point. As is Kris Bryant, FWIW.

  • In reply to Frank Mazur:

    Manny Machado is a balanced player, offense and defense, who has averaged 5 WAR over the last 5 seasons and the only reason that number isn't higher is because of one injury and a bad half season in 2017 and he'll be entering his age 27 season when he becomes a FA. Are you really going to blame him for Baltimore having sub par pitching? As far as Harper he is a true middle of the order bat with a 141 wRC+ over his career and he'll be entering his age 26 season in 2019. I'm not sure if the salary correction will effect these guys, but they're certainly worth, objectively, $30 mil AAV and probably more that in their prime years right after they sign these deals. Whether their teams have won or not has absolutely nothing to do with their individual values.

  • The more I sit around waiting for something to happen with free agents, the more I begin to wonder if this might somehow work out to Theo's long-term advantage. Imagine the protracted stand-off continues and players currently under contract start to wonder if this an anomaly or a growing trend. Might that inspire them to consider signing extensions with their current teams in the interest of long-term security? Would any of Bryant, Hendricks, Russell, Contreras, Baez leave money on the table (ala Rizzo)? What do you guys think?

  • In reply to WrigleyRay:

    Some agents have been known for pushing players to reject extension offers in favor of free agency. The risk of not being signed may push players to look at extensions more favorably, but it remains to be seen if the feeding frenzy starts back up with next year's FA crop. I think it's too soon to tell.

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