Brandon Moss: MLB players 'have to take responsibility' for slow free-agent market

Earlier this week, veteran slugger Brandon Moss was traded from the Kansas City Royals back to the Oakland Athletics, where he played from 2012-14. The rebuilding Royals unloaded some salary and added two young pitchers in the process.

Moss is entering the second season of a two-year, $12 million contract he signed with Kansas City last year. Based on how things are going in the free market right now, he's one of the lucky ones. All free agents are having trouble getting jobs this winter. The stars and the role players. It's been a very slow offseason for free agents.

On Wednesday, Moss appeared on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" show and was pretty candid about the state of free agency. He blames the players and the MLB Players Association for creating this situation by giving the owners too much during the past few rounds of collective bargaining agreement talks (free agency talk begins around 6:20):

"[We] have the right to bargain and set our price, just like the owners have the right to meet that price," said Moss. "But what we've done is we have incentivized owners, we have incentivized teams to say, 'We don't want to meet that price. It costs us too much to meet that price. It costs us draft picks. It costs us international signing money.' ... And the only reason those things are there is because we bargained them in. If I'm an owner, my goal is to have the bottom line be in black. To put a winner on the field and the bottom line to be in black. The more opportunity you give me to do those things, the better off I'm going to be.

"I feel like, as players, we have to watch out for our own interest," Moss added. "If you run too good of a deal out there in a bargaining agreement, then of course the owners are going to jump on it. You have to be willing to dig your heels in a little bit [and] fight for the things the guys in the past have fought for. ... I just hate to see players like me taking advantage of a system that was set up for me, by other players, and not passing it along to the next generation of players. Everybody wants to look up and scream collusion. ... Sooner or later, you have to take responsibility for a system you created for yourself. It's our fault."

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
Brandon Moss says MLB players have no one to blame but themselves for the slow free-agent market. USATSI

Moss is correct, of course. There are too many reasons for teams to avoid spending these days. The luxury tax penalties are harsh, harsh enough that they effectively act as a salary cap. Amateur spending is capped. If you're not contending, the best course of action is to be really bad to rack up high draft picks and amateur bonus money. The MLBPA agreed to all of this! They conceded too much to owners and, obviously, have not received enough in return. The free agent market makes that clear.

These days productive young players are the most valuable commodity in baseball. The best way for the MLBPA to fix the league's broken economic system is to funnel more money to young players. Teams want them and they're building around them. So make sure they are fairly compensated. Can that be accomplished without a work stoppage when the current collective bargaining expires in 2021? It's hard to say, but expect the MLBPA to push back when the time comes.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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