I can’t feign like I didn’t think this was possible. Michael and I got together a few weeks ago to discuss and then write-up the possibility that this offseason could be held up by the presence on the market of extremely unique free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, not unlike the unique Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton situations initially held up last year’s market.
In that way, maybe that’s just a little bit of what’s happening, and there’s absolutely nothing odd, or unexpected going on right now.
Just the same, I feel like I can’t wait any longer before saying something I’ve been feeling for a while now: things are slooooooow. Really slow. Like, the slowest on the rumor and transaction side of things I’ve ever seen in mid-November, and I’ve been doing this for a decade.
I didn’t really want to start to get into this vein because of how uncomfortable last offseason wound up getting. As teams scrimped and saved, using the new CBA as a reason not to commit – especially early – on long-term free agent deals, so many free agents were left scratching their heads as December approached, and then January, and then February. It was clear that the offseason was going to be fundamentally different than ones we’d see before, but at least there was a pretty good narrative flowing about how it would only be a one-year thing – the new CBA led to certain adjustments that would pass, some big spenders would be back on the market next year, a huge free agent class in the following year was probably causing teams to save up resources, and a lot of teams were rebuilding but coming out of it soon.
Well, all of that could still prove to be the case, and maybe the utter paucity of rumors is just a matter of front offices and agencies keeping a tight lid on talks.
Or it could be that some of the CBA-driven adjustments are being adopted in a more permanent way by teams. And maybe some of the big spenders aren’t actually coming back on the market in an aggressive way this year. Maybe the dramatic fall-off in this year’s class is hurting, too. And maybe the teams that should be coming out of rebuilds don’t want to spend aggressively to support that process.
It’s all on the table right now, as we sit here in mid-November – a time when the rumor mill is usually tripping over itself at a feverish pace in the run-up to the Winter Meetings in December – and nothing is happening. It’s so quiet. It won’t last forever, of course, but it sure has me nervous about the state of the relationship between the players and the teams, which was already at a low point.
Another winter of discontent? I sure hope this isn’t a sign.
(Also, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope I was pulling a little reverse joo-joo right now and all of a sudden a ton of stuff breaks in 3, 2, … )