The Art of the (One-Year) Deal

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We interrupt your day to bring you the following breaking news:

Lance Lynn is the latest in a slew of one-year contracts we have seen teams offer–and players agree to, given the alternative of unemployment limbo–as Jonathan Lucroy and Mike Moustakas (along with Logan Morrison, who is mentioned in this poll) had to settle for $6.5MM deals despite being capable major leaguers, even if they’re not exactly superstars.  Usually, in the old days of before-2017, such players would get lucrative multi-year deals worth over $10MM per season, but this appears to be the new normal.

The Twins, who have already signed Morrison and traded for Jake Odorizzi, are certainly one team that at least seems to be trying to be competitive a year after they made it into the Wild Card game against the Yankees.  The usual spenders in the Yankees and Dodgers can’t really spend much more given their proximity to the luxury tax threshold, and the Cubs themselves are trying to preserve their breathing space under the threshold after building a pretty good squad of their own.  Another Wild Card contender, the Colorado Rockies, have also reportedly worked to bring back Carlos Gonzalez on yet another one-year deal.

On the other hand, teams like the Royals (who brought back Moustakas) and A’s (who signed Lucroy) are probably looking to sign a cheap, useful veteran so they can flip them for prospects or other useful pieces come July.  This is similar to what the Cubs used to do before they decided to be good again, so there’s nothing wrong with that approach.

What is alarming is the fact that these players, who are all capable and useful and could help so many teams, were still available late into spring training.  This is a clear indicator that the players’ union thoroughly screwed themselves in the previous collective bargaining agreement negotiations.  You can read more about that here and here, but there were indications when the negotiations were finalized in December of 2016 that there might be the same ramifications that we are seeing now.

We are seeing many players, including new Cubs union representative Kris Bryant, sowing the seeds for the next big fight so they can get what they deserve.  I am solidly on the side of the players, because forcing owners to spend their billions (with a B!) on improving the on-field product makes baseball more exciting and enjoyable for us fans.  You might argue that ticket prices are aligned with how much players make, but we’re the idiots who dole out our disposable income to see them, and if you think about it, the guy who throws the millions at said players have much, MUCH more money than those players are paid.  That money might as well be used to make as much of MLB competitive as possible.

I suppose the next thing to look for is whether the remaining free agents, including Jake Arrieta, will get one of these one-year pillow contracts on the cheap, or if a team will rig a front-loaded contract with tons of opt-outs.  Despite what people might think, players like Arrieta can definitely still help a team, and do deserve to be paid for their services.  The question becomes how much they’ll actually get paid.


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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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