February 16, 2018


The New York Daily News published an article from Yankees spring training which puts into focus the current frozen free agent market from the viewpoint of a veteran player near the end of his career.

CC Sabathia told the Daily News he knows exactly how he'd feel if he was in Jake Arrieta's position as being an unsigned free agent after spring training has started for teams.

"I'd be panicking," Sabathia said. "I don't know him at all, but just to see guys in spring training getting ready and things like that and you have a family and you're trying to figure stuff out factors into how you pitch and play."

Sabathia said the off-season moved slow for him to get a deal. "Everything was kind of moving slow for me, too," said Sabathia, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal to remain with the Yankees. "I just thought that was kind of the pace of the off-season, but I've never seen what we've been going through this year. It's crazy. I was just happy I was able to get (my deal) done."

The paper cites many factors have been cited as possible reasons for the offseason hot-stove freeze, which has caused a rift between the league and the players' union, but Sabathia gave an interesting perspective on the issue.

"It's a combination of all of them," Sabathia said. "When I was a free agent you got paid off of what you did. Now guys are going to get paid for what they can do throughout that contract. It's just a different landscape in baseball, the way teams are changing. GMs are getting younger and smarter and they want to get more value out of their players."

Asked about the possibility of a strike, Sabathia replied: "I don't know about that. Maybe we shorten the years that you go to free agency. Make it four years instead of six, so guys that have a chance to be in their 20s going into free agency instead of 30."

Sabathia is a veteran pitcher who was once a premier starter, fell to hard times, and mounted a comeback to continue to play in the majors. But he sees the writing on the wall that many agents and players apparently do not see. The structure of team management has changed from the old school baseball scouting system to a hybrid of new, young, tech smart and stat driven analysis. And clubs have decided that going younger (and cheaper) does not hurt their product or prospects for a post-season. You don't need a veteran all-star stocked roster in order to get to the playoffs. So the economics of the game is rapidly changing; the players union got caught in the winds of change with no avenue of recourse until the next collective bargaining meeting.