CARLSBAD, California – Accustomed to the slow pace of the free agent market in recent winters, GMs are taking the threat of a work stoppage in stride, showing no intention of speeding up the timing in this recess.
In other sports there is a frenzy of movement in the early days of free agency. But in baseball, top free agents carry their decisions closer and closer to the start of the preseason.
A work stoppage seems likely as of December 1, when the collective bargaining agreement expires. It would be the first strike in 26 years.
“We are thinking about business and we remain optimistic that what we have seen essentially in the last three decades will continue,” said Rick Hahn, general manager of the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, on the opening day of work during the first face-to-face meeting in two. years of Major League Baseball General Managers.
Practically the same words were repeated in each of the operations managers of other teams, which seemed to be the official speech agreed upon for their appearance in front of the press.
Without an agreement, teams will not be certain of the level that the luxury tax will reach by the 2022 season. The current system ends with the expiration of the labor agreement.
“I think you can get stuck trying to plan for each of the possibilities,” said James Click, manager of the Houston Astros, when discussing the options. months. We are optimistic about it. Hopefully, everything will work out as usual. And we will try to plan for it as best we can. But we are dealing with the global economy that we have for now and trying to plan for future potential. “
Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem, responsible for the bargaining, was present at the managers’ meeting along with Bruce Meyer, the bargaining director and legal representative of the players union, who was at the neighboring hotel in Carlsbad for the sessions with the gambling agents. the players.
Both parties had scheduled a meeting as part of the negotiations that have been carried out for months. People on both sides said that players and owners are a long way from settling their main economic differences.
The percentage of free agents with deals closed through the third week of January ranged from about 25% in 2018 to 33% in 2019. It grew to approximately 55% in 2020, and dropped to 17% in the past off-season.