Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to restrict their use of the media in free agent negotiations, in September. But now that free agent season has arrived, neither side has lived up to its word.
Earlier this week Yankees’ owner Hal Steinbrenner told the media that his club “runs a business” so negotiations with free agent Derek Jeter “could get messy.” Jeter’s agent responded by saying his client’s value to the Yankees “can’t be overstated.”
Later, a Yankees’ source told the New York Daily News that the team wasn’t interested in the two best offensive players – Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford – on the market. Without the free-spending Yankees lurking, interested teams won’t be so quick to offer huge contracts to players they covet.
Finally, MLB.com printed super-agent Scott Boras’s selling point on his client, Jayson Werth. Boras called Werth “the most coveted offensive player in the free agent market” and insisted Werth was superior to Crawford, the other contender for that title. Evidently, he’s seeking a contract somewhere in the neighbourhood of 7-years, $120M for Werth.
The September agreement intended to prevent teams from publicly stating they aren’t interested in certain players, an MLB spokesperson told us. Fewer suitors drives down the price of free agent contracts, and players don’t want owners colluding to that end.
Meanwhile, owners don’t want agents floating rumours of phantom teams interested in their clients. That practice, made famous by Scott Boras, artificially drives up the price of free agents.
But neither agents nor owners are abandoning those bargaining tools. The spin machines are already in motion, and they’ll spin faster as the offseason wears on.
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