Sitting here on January 12th and seeing the list of free agents still on the board is really something unprecedented for the MLB offseason. With the way things have developed, it’s perhaps the most interesting offseason in recent memory with proven middle-of-the-lineup thumpers like Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton still vying for contracts just over a month out from teams reporting to Spring Training.
This market is going to result in the teams vying for the remaining free agents at a potentially lesser rate than experts would have guessed prior to the offseason starting. The waiting game taking place is an absolute nightmare for the representation of the players still on the market. As a result, the agencies involved have seemingly disseminated more “fake leaks” than we have ever seen before. Twitter has been mobilized as an avenue for agencies to distort the environment and to get fans riled up over moves their team may or may not have interest in making.
In the social media world, Twitter is an agency’s dream because there is capacity for a multifaceted approach of how these agents can misstate the free agent picture. The more conventional and accepted method is agents using national writers who have a checkmark next to their name leaking information, but the newer trend is giving some non-zero amount of credence to any random person claiming to be reporting anything. Just last offseason, the Red Sox made two huge free agent signings and both were first by teenagers. So if someone says anything with an air of certainty on Twitter, there tends to be a response to it even if it’s just noteworthy.
I know firsthand that this was rooted in a concerted effort of certain agencies to get the market going.
On December 29th, there was a tweet, that has since been deleted, that stated that a Yoenis Cespedes-Chicago White Sox marriage was imminent. A lot of White Sox fans came into the New Year in a tizzy as they waited on the news that their heart was pre-attached to. I know via firsthand source that this was rooted in a concerted effort of certain agencies to get the market going. Now two weeks later, Yoenis Cespedes is still a free agent. If you bought into this rumor you felt that manipulation firsthand.
With their backs against the wall, the agents went to Twitter to get the market moving. They deceived people with a story to break and in turn, got the fans going. The White Sox, a team who could use a bat in the outfield and have some room financially, were a natural pick as a deception. The deal made sense. The agents got the ruse they wanted but still, the plan did not work as the market is still developing. The market is still flush with great players. The agents and players of all ranks are still waiting on Davis, Cespedes and Upton to sign so teams can fill out the back end of their rosters.
Looking forward, the desperation in the sports agencies is obvious. It’s the teams that sit opposite them that will be happy as the offseason culminates. This is a game of musical chairs and the teams are controlling the music. The teams who figure to be playing for the services of the remaining free agents have been slow-playing their hands. With second-tier options Denard Span and Gerardo Parra coming off the market the game gets even more interesting. Span fills San Francisco’s last outfield spot and Parra’s signing should result in a trade of one of the Rockies outfielders to fill another vacancy elsewhere.
In essence, I wrote this because I want this report to calm the nerves of the impatient fans with unnecessarily dwindling hope as time passes. Speaking towards the White Sox specifically, they are playing the market exactly how they should. They were never “close” with Cespedes like the fake reports said so they haven’t failed at anything. Unless an immense discount is presented to them, they’ll be able to wait for the Chris Davis and Justin Upton sagas to culminate as they do their background on the other options. If you’re getting impatient, just imagine how the agents feel as they lose sleep over their commission check shrinking as the demand diminishes daily. At this point, I’d ignore all rumors unless they’re implying something is immediately pertinent. Manipulation is at an all time high. This is a chess match between teams and agents, and in the case of the current outfield market the agents are losing.
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