Frustration is boiling over around Major League Baseball due to this winter’s slow moving free agent market. And don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s only coming from players without deals.
Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who just inked a five-year, $80 million last winter, is just as irked as anyone by the lack of market-moving deals, and he’s not against doing something rash to turn things around.
In fact, Jansen was pretty frank while speaking to the media at the Dodgers’ Fan Fest event on Saturday, even raising the possibility that the players best move would be to strike.
“That is something we might have to address, so you don’t have a lot of Miami Marlins doing this,” Jansen said. “Maybe it’s an adjustment for us, as the players’ union. Maybe we have to go on strike, to be honest with you. That’s how I feel about it.”
The last players strike came in August of 1994 and ultimately led to the cancellation of that season’s World Series. The players wouldn’t return until the following April, when they began a 144-game season.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times says Jansen backed off his words slightly when pressed, but the mere suggestion tells us where a lot of players heads are at right now.
Jansen specifically mentioned the Marlins, which is interesting considering they were viewed as a real threat to sign him away from the Dodgers last winter. Obviously they’re in a far different place now than they were then with Derek Jeter’s ownership focused almost entirely on cutting payroll and turning a profit. The implication from Jansen is that the Marlins are tanking and in their own way contributing to a deflating market.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, the players union shares those concerns. They’re reportedly considering filing grievances against the Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates for circumventing rules in the collective-bargain agreement that require them to put money received in revenue sharing back into the team.
MLB, on the other hand, sees no issue with how either team is handing its business. That pretty much speaks to the larger disconnect that exists and will eventually need to be ironed out.
Unfortunately for the players, the current collective bargaining agreement won’t expire until after the 2021 season. That means they’re pretty much stuck, at least for now.
It’s anybody’s guess where things will go next winter, when a historic free-agent class presumably led by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hits the market, or where it will go beyond that. But with this winter setting an ominous tone and another four years for the players to stew if things don’t get better for them, Jansen probably won’t be alone in using the s-word no one wants to hear.
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