In the War Room with Warfel: The Free Agency Scandal

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

Pitchers and catchers across the MLB reported to their spring training sites this week – exciting news for any baseball fan.

The St. Louis Cardinals their report date was on Tuesday – the same for the Chicago Cubs and any remaining Chicago White Sox fans.

Baseball’s off-season has seemed to be longer than years past, especially when it comes to the free agency market.

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After the World Series ended in October, fans were dreaming of seeing players like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Craig Kimbrel wearing their teams colors.

Yet, here we are literally days away from players reporting and yet none of the mentioned players have signed a contract with a team.

At the beginning of the offseason, it seemed like Harper and Machado were linked with any team willing to listen varying from the Phillies to the White Sox.

Fans who frustrated at their team’s owners for not opening their wallets to pay these players, to what was rumored to be in the ten-year $350 million range – relax.

Let me say to those fans, the last big name player to hit the market and get a long term deal like the ones rumored, especially for Harper and Machado, look to Albert Pujols.

Prior to the 2012 season, the Angels gave Pujols a ten year 240 million dollar contract, while he was 32 at the time. Harper and Machado are both 25 and 26 respectively this year.

While the Pujols deal will make him 42 and most likely retired from baseball, the argument could be made that giving both Harper and Machado ten year deals would be during the prime of their careers.

Fans may be furious about owners refusing to offer long term contracts to these free agents, but to those fans I would say don’t expect it to end soon.

An interview with Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt and St.Louis Post Dispatch’s Derrick Goold in early January revealed some key insight into the stagnant free agency market.

In the interview Dewitt mentioned owners are getting “smarter.”

“When you really analyze it, dollars and cents, as well as projecting from an analytical standpoint some of these ten year plus deals into a players late 30s don’t pencil out,” Dewitt said.

Any casual fan of baseball might erupt into a fit of rage at the notion of that comment, but ask any Angels fan how they feel not being able to build around Mike Trout due to the Pujols contract and your mind might change.

Now that football is over with, Americans can turn to it’s favorite national pastime – baseball.

In just a little over a month, Major League Baseball will begin again along with the smells of hot dogs, the smack of the ball against a leather glove and the pop of the wooden bat when your favorite player connects with the ball just right.

Regardless, of where the free agents land, it’s good to know baseball is back.

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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