Jake’s Take: The pay debate among MLB free agents is ridiculous


First baseman Eric Hosmer is among one of the unsigned free agent stars. He has been offered approximately seven years and $150 million. Courtesy of Keith Allison

Jake Brown, Sports Editor

Football season is over, which means next week is baseball season! However a lot of fans have been dreading this offseason, as plenty of top free agents have still not signed with anyone yet, such as first baseman Eric Hosmer, closer Greg Holland, outfielder JD Martinez, and starter Yu Darvish. That’s just scratching the surface. There are also plenty of trade rumors going around that have still not been completed such as the Marlins trading catcher JT Realmuto, who’s been tied to the Nationals for the longest time.

The problem with these free agents is that they have not accepted big time contracts from their respective suitors. The Royals and Padres have both offered Hosmer seven years and $140 million dollars and Holland was offered three years $52 million dollars which was what closer Wade Davis accepted after the Rockies stopped pursuing Holland.

There have been some key signings and trades already such as outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to the Brewers, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani to the Angels, and outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals. Those transactions have been overlooked though, as the top free agent stars are still available.

“For decades free agency has been a cornerstone of baseball’s economic system,” MLBPA director Tony Clark said. “Each time it has been attacked, Players, their representatives and the Association have united to defend it. That will never change.”

With this potential “boycott” or even strike, baseball has been threatened again to disappear in the 2018 season, just like the 1994-95 season. The free agent players have pretty much said that they deserve more money from the owners, but I have a hard time sympathizing with them.

Two of the first huge contracts were first basemen Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Pujols in the 2011-2012 offseason was the greatest player of his time. He deserved that money, but over time has not lived up to his first 10 seasons in the big leagues. Fielder is the same way. Fielder had to retire due to injury. Even though his first couple seasons through his $200 million contract were good, the final two seasons were subpar and injury filled.

These long term contracts where owners throw a lot of money at these players have backfired. The only big money long term contracts that have actually been beneficial are pitchers Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Although Kershaw has been injured, Kershaw has been great with a sub 2.00 ERA and a no hitter with an MVP and two Cy Youngs over that period. Scherzer signed his contract in 2015. He has been a back-to-back Cy Young award winner, has recorded a 20 strikeout game, two no hitters and has lead the league in strikeouts.

There have been a laundry list of bad contracts over the past five years, including pitcher Felix Hernandez, outfielder Josh Hamilton, pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, outfielder Jason Heyward, and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. All of them have had average to terrible seasons while making $15-$20 million a year with 5+ years on their contract.

So there’s a reason why owners are hesitant on signing players long term with expensive contracts. Is Eric Hosmer worth seven years and $15-$20 million? Pitcher Jake Arrieta? Yu Darvish? I don’t think so. They’re great players, but they’re not $150-$200 million players.