David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Baseball season may seem right around the corner with MLB pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training this week, but there are a number of free agents—including notable names such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado—who have yet to sign with teams.
On Monday, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander spoke out, decrying a “broken” system as a reason squads have not signed the 26-year-old All-Stars, among others:
Justin Verlander @JustinVerlander
100 or so free agents left unsigned. System is broken. They blame “rebuilding” but that’s BS. You’re telling me you couldn’t sign Bryce or Manny for 10 years and go from there? Seems like a good place to start a rebuild to me. 26-36 is a great performance window too.
He wasn’t the only one to weigh in, as reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich responded to a tweet by David P. Samson of CBS Sports:
Christian Yelich @ChristianYelich
Consistent with your anti player rhetoric but adjusting to this “new reality” isn’t exactly the solution either https://t.co/OT8Z9HpGgH
Yelich’s response and “anti player rhetoric” reference stood out because Samson was the Miami Marlins president when Yelich played for the team.
As for Verlander, he responded to multiple tweets about the topic, questioning where the money goes when it doesn’t go to players and pointing out teams with low payrolls that tank don’t lower ticket prices for fans.
His responses underscored that the money teams make isn’t necessarily re-invested into the products on the field and that plenty goes back to owners. He also highlighted that ticket prices aren’t tied to player salaries, as some may believe.
Maury Brown of Forbes provided some head-turning numbers when describing MLB’s $10.3 billion in gross revenues in 2018 as “another record year.”
Only 54.2 percent of those revenues went to player compensation, approximately a 4 percent drop from 2017. It was the biggest salary-to-revenues drop since 2012, when the figure fell over 6 percent. What’s more, that percentage hasn’t increased from year to year since 2015, when it rose 4.2 percent.
Teams simply aren’t spending the same percentage of their revenues on free agents as in the past.
The fact Harper and Machado are still unsigned is particularly striking because they are in the primes of their careers and not players who would be paid based on past accomplishments.
They have a National League MVP, a Silver Slugger, a Rookie of the Year, two Gold Gloves and 10 All-Star nods on their resumes and are the types of players any team could use in its lineup.