Spring training is less than two weeks away and still over 100 players remain unsigned,. Fairly or unfairly, it seems like a concerted effort on the part of the 30 major-league teams to avoid spending on free agents.
On Friday, prominent player agent Brodie Van Wagenen released a statement saying players are "outraged" at the state of the free-agent market, and implored owners to sign free agents to ensure the highest quality of baseball possible. Here is Van Wagenen's statement:
There is some pretty strong language in there. Van Wagenen hints at collusion ("It feels coordinated") and indicates a work stoppage could be in order ("A boycott of spring training may be a starting point"). And, of course, the statement is self-serving to some degree. If players don't get paid, agents like Van Wagenen don't get paid.
The larger point is absolutely correct. This many unsigned free agents means the quality of play will suffer around baseball. If players like Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez remain unsigned, their roster spots will be filled by much lesser players -- call-ups on the fringe of MLB rosters, basically.
Van Wagenen is the co-head of the baseball division at CAA Sports, one of the most powerful agencies in the game. CAA Sports represents dozens of players and Van Wagenen personally represents free agent Todd Frazier, among others.