Bryant, Longoria alarmed over slow free agent market

With several of this winter’s top free agents, including Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, still unsigned less than a month before spring training begins, other baseball stars are sounding off over the slow-moving process and apparent lack of legitimate suitors.
A pair of prominent players publicly spoke out against the apparent league-wide reluctance for many teams in today’s analytical age to pursue high-priced free agents.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant expressed concern over the fact that Machado and Harper — both 26-year-olds with a combined 10 All-Star appearances and 61.2 WAR — are still apparently waiting for offers they cannot refuse, despite still four years away from turning 30.
“It’s really weird,” Bryant said Friday at the Cubs’ annual winter fan event. “Two of the best players in the game, and they have very little interest in them, from just what I hear. It’s not good. It’s something that will have to change.
“I know a lot of the other players are pretty upset about it.”
Another outspoken critic of baseball’s recent reticence to hand out blockbuster contracts was San Francisco Giants third baseman Evan Longoria, who warned Friday in an Instagram post that the rank and file may need to fight back soon against the modern strategy of wait-and-see.

“We are less (than) a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest (stars) remain unsigned,” Longoria wrote. “Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should ‘value’ for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of.
“Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.”
Only a handful of teams, most notably the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, appear eager to spend big bucks for an A-list addition such as Machado or Harper. Even big-market teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs appear out of the picture (for now) for the dynamic free agent duo.
The holdup on Machado and Harper is causing a gridlock with the next wave of available players, such as starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder A.J. Pollock — to name just a few.
“You work for that moment in your career,” Bryant said. “You feel like every team should want you. For them to not have that, it could be disheartening for them. … It’s not about the greed. They’ve put in the work to warrant contracts that are worthy of it.”
Bryant questioned whether “not enough teams (are) trying to be competitive” despite record revenues across the sport.
“There’s a lot of teams out there that have the money to spend, but they’re not doing it,” Bryant said. “It’s very confusing to me. If I was an owner, president or GM, I’d love to have Bryce Harper or Manny Machado on my team.”
The big question: Will something change before the issue becomes a rallying cry for the players union before the next collective bargaining agreement is up in 2021?
Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta — a free agent a year ago who eventually accepted a three-year contract after reports of hoping for much more — recently posted a cryptic warning on Twitter to baseball’s younger generation.

“All of you 1-3 yr players out there better be paying attention to what’s going on in our game. You’re next,” Arrieta wrote.
–Field Level Media

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