David Ross Talks About Recruiting Free Agents and the Importance of Importance

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David Ross Talks About Recruiting Free Agents and the Importance of Importance

Chicago Cubs

I like to hear what David Ross has to say about free agency, generally, for at least three reasons: (1) Most obviously, as the manager of the Cubs, I think Ross has some useful things to say about how free agency impacts a team; (2) the Cubs have explicitly leaned on Ross as part of their free agent decision-making process (both as a manager now, and as a member of the front office); and (3) Ross was a player going through free agency multiple times, himself, not that long ago.

It’s that last one that informs his recent comments to 670 The Score, where Ross talked about what impacts free agency for some players:

Making a decision as a free agent may seem simple from an outside perspective: either sign with the best team or sign for the most money. But it isn’t necessarily that easy. If a team shows a lot of early interest in a player and prioritizes him, sometimes that’s all it takes. Ross reflected on how during his playing career, he signed with the Red Sox ahead of the 2013 season after they sold him on how they needed his leadership after an ugly 2012 season.

“That was everything,” Ross said. “As a player you want to feel important. You want to matter. I was a backup and for them to show me – I mean dollars matter – but with the way they pursued me and the way they wanted to make something happen and the way they put their best foot forward right away. That was everything. It was an easy decision. There was nothing else even close because of how hard the Red Sox were pushing, like, ‘We want David Ross, he matters.’ And to come from a career .220 hitter and a backup catcher, that was everything for me.”

Now, I think it’s important to say up front that money still matters. As Ross noted. And for the guys at the very top of the market, it’s not like you can “talk” your way into getting a guy to take tens and tens of millions less from you than in some other offer.

But players, generally, do care about their professional lives. They do care about how they fit with a team and its needs. They do want to feel important. Maybe that’s especially true for role players, who didn’t set out to be “role” players, after living their entire lives as the best player on the field until they got to The Show.

I wonder how the Cubs are employing this kind of thing, philosophically, this offseason. We know that they will create hyper-specific, and well-considered proposals for how a player could improve with them. That’s certainly a part of helping a player feel important and wanted. But I suppose there’s also the idea that there are certain types of players, this offseason, that the Cubs really do NEED. I’m sure they are leaning on that part heavily, too, perhaps even with some recruiting by Ross.

Anyway, the long story short here is a reminder to those of us on the outside that, although money is always going to be the most important thing in a free agent pursuit, there are a lot of players who DO CARE about the soft factors. So as rumors pop up and the offseason proceeds, I guess I just want to keep that in mind in thinking about how a guy might fit or not. How important is he? How important could the Cubs sell him on being?

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.