Prominent baseball agent suggests spring training boycott
NEW YORK (AP) — A prominent baseball agent says players are angered over the slow free-agent market and suggests they consider boycotting spring training.
Brodie Van Wagenen, co-head of CAA Baseball, floated the idea in a statement released today, less than two weeks before spring training workouts are to start in Florida and Arizona.
"The players are upset. No, they are outraged. Players in the midst of long-term contracts are as frustrated as those still seeking employment," he said. "I would suggest that testing the will of 1,200 alpha males at the pinnacle of their profession is not a good strategy for 30 men who are bound by a much smaller fraternity."
J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland and Lance Lynn remain among the dozens of unsigned free agents.
"There is a rising tide among players for radical change. A fight is brewing," he said. "A boycott of spring training may be a starting point, if behavior doesn't change. Players don't receive their paychecks until the second week of April. Fine them? OK, for how much? Sue them? OK, they'll see you in court two years from now."
CAA represents more than 150 baseball players, including Robinson Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Jones, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Van Wagenen's free agents this offseason include Todd Frazier.
Spring training workouts begin Feb. 14, but participation is voluntary until the mandatory reporting date Feb. 24 – the day after major league spring training games are to start.
Large-market teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, are cutting payrolls to get under the $197 million threshold for luxury tax payrolls.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said free-agent markets change based on available players, involved agents and general managers, and alterations in the collective bargaining agreement.