It’s NFL Championship Sunday, and I am looking forward to it, and maybe especially because it feels like there are different storylines at play than we’re used to every year. Three of the four teams are being quarterbacked by “non-elite” types, and the fourth has Tom Brady with a bum hand. If you wind up wanting to do the game thread thing for the games, we’ll have something up at our sister site The Ten-Yard Line.
Also: for those of you who can’t watch on a TV, a heads up that Yahoo is streaming the games for free on their app.
- I caught a good bit of heat yesterday for what I thought was a pretty innocuous, exploratory tweet:
Anyone else wonder if the top free agents are now all sitting on offers they deem under market, and none wants to be the first to break and accept for fear they’ll catch hell from the union?
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 20, 2018
- I think folks who are inclined to be aggressively pro-union in general thought I was taking a shot at the Players Association because of the “fear they’ll catch hell” line. That never even entered my mind. I guess I could have used a different turn of phrase, but all I meant was: players, both individually and through the forced collective, are pushed to think about the players that come after them. If some accept deals they (or the union) consider under market right now, that can have a negative impact on player deals in a month, a year, or three years (“Well, this guy isn’t half the pitcher Jake Arrieta was, and he only got 4/$100M, so … “). So they have an additional reason to keep holding out, beyond just trying to get the best price for themselves. I don’t think it’s at all controversial – or pro-player or pro-ownership – to wonder what impact this kind of thinking is having on the stalemate in the free agent market. Players should try to get the best deal they can, and teams should try to evaluate player value as best they can. That’s it.
- We’ve reached that point – the point where I can’t help but wonder about *additional* reasons for what’s happening, beyond what we already know (luxury tax cap penalties, huge free agent class next year, questionable free agent class this year, tons of teams rebuilding, biggest spenders off the market, etc.). I’m sure you’re tired of going back and forth in the comments on this stuff, and I get it. I’ve grown tired of mulling all the implications, and I just want to see that first big name sign now that we’ve reached this late day in the offseason.
- For his part, Scott Boras talks to Jon Heyman about the market here in a very good read. The super agent, who represents many of the top, unsigned free agents this year – and who still has 18 of 19 unsigned free agents – doesn’t think it’s a matter of collusion, but does think there are some excuses out there for organizations not offering the kinds of deals (in length) they’ve offered in a recent past, and he thinks teams are more willing now to go after lesser deals early, and save their top player signings until later in the offseason. An optimistic take, perhaps. There’s a whole lot more in that piece by Heyman, so you should give it a read, especially if you want Boras’s perspective.
- Something random I’ve been thinking about: remember when Freddie Freeman got a HUGE extension from the Braves four years ago? He was just 24 at the time, and was still three years away from free agency. Yet he got eight years and $135 million, a deal that essentially valued the five free agent years bought out at $21 million annually – it was absolutely enormous for a deal that far away from free agency. Some of us wondered if it was going to signal a greater team willingness to pay “free agent” level prices to lock up younger players through their 20s, instead of spending that money on actual free agents. Sure, you’ve already got the guy for three years, but maybe you’d rather bet free agent money on him than a much older player – even if you have to make that bet three years in advance. That theory hasn’t really played out in the coming years – Freeman’s deal kinda still stands out as a recent anomaly – but maybe we’re seeing the flip side of it now. Teams are simply unwilling to pay “traditional” prices for free agents, feeling like the value isn’t there relative to what they can try to do with in-house players in their 20s. Of course, if that’s right … shouldn’t we therefore see a new wave of extensions coming?
- In any case, a little bit of the latest on the Yu Darvish market from last night, in case you missed it. That’s what we’ve got right now.
- Keep on checking:
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) January 20, 2018
- Hey, we loved this moment, too, Kyle:
Young #Cubs fan Frankie had a question for Kyle Schwarber and he got a personalized response! Tune in to In The Loop at 10 p.m. tonight for our sit-down interview with Schwarber.
— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) January 21, 2018
- This thoroughly cracked me up:
@Kenny_Lofton7 were there any games were you had to catch a fly ball in Manny Ramirez’s direction because he wasn’t paying attention?
— Joe Barnes (@TheJosephBarnes) January 20, 2018
A few times …he help me get Gold Gloves Lol https://t.co/1D6yHdpdC4
— Kenny Lofton (@Kenny_Lofton7) January 20, 2018
- Cubs fans will always remember Lofton fondly for the role he played in his single half-season with the Cubs, helping lead them to the NLCS in 2003. Setting that aside, the guy deserves to be remembered fondly for an incredible career, which deserved serious Hall of Fame consideration – not a one-and-done thanks to the overly crowded ballot.
- Still love this picture:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 21, 2018
- An extra clearance-y deal going on at Lids:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 20, 2018
- And if you’re already dreaming of spring and summer, Speedo gear is the Deal of the Day at Amazon.