The 2018 MLB free agency period will be the most exciting of all time with too many players to list. A lot of money is at stake and there’s a ton riding on this historic year for baseball.
The “mlb free agency date” is the date that MLB will announce their free agent signings. The date is usually in late November or early December.
Two things come true this week: Future Hall of Fame pitcher Zack Greinke will start the season with the Kansas City Royals, where he started his career. Freddie Freeman, the future Hall of Famer and soon-to-be Los Angeles Dodger, will not be playing for the Atlanta Braves for the first time in his 12-year career.
This is also true: both Kansas City and Atlanta have a solid chance of outperforming last season. Yes, the Braves won the World Series, but they were also under.500 for most of the season and ended with only 88 victories in the regular season. For the last four years, the Royals have been rebuilding and are now ready to compete.
In the end, the Braves and Royals may be better as a result of, or in spite of, the changes they made this week. There are no assurances in either direction. In the near term, there is nothing to distinguish Greinke from Mike Minor, whom he officially replaced on the Kansas City roster, or Freeman from Matt Olson, whom Atlanta acquired to take over as the franchise’s face.
Most of the stories on this site and others have been analyzing the effect of moves like these as baseball’s post-lockout trades have poured in like a flood this week. It’s been entertaining, stressful, and a bit disorienting. I saw the Blue Jays go from a tight second place finish in the AL East behind the Yankees to a favorite to win both the division and the pennant with just one change to my predicting spreadsheet this morning.
This isn’t, however, a breakdown of the maneuvers. It’s a lamentation, at least from one of them.
Greinke’s signing by the Royals is fantastic. The baseball reasons are self-evident: he’s a fantastic pitcher who is beyond his peak but still viable. He can be a valuable mentor to a talented but inexperienced bunch of Kansas City starting pitchers as one of the game’s brightest pitchers. But the full-circle concept makes it much more appealing to me. I like how it ends a circle that began when Greinke was dealt by the Royals more than a decade ago. It appeals to me because it recognizes an intangible bond between players and teams, which I’ll refer to as player-team identity.
It’s the same reason I can’t think of anything I despise more than the fact that Freeman’s time in Atlanta has come to an end. It irritates me as much as any move in baseball in recent memory. Despite how much I despise it, I don’t believe it is wholly unreasonable.
Let’s go back to 2002, when Greinke was selected in the first round of the MLB draft by the Royals. He was the sixth overall choice that year, behind Clint Everts (who was drafted by the Expos but never played in the majors) and Prince Fielder (who had a great career but has been retired since 2016). It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you.
It’s time to take a sip if you’re playing a drinking game depending on how frequently I say that I grew up a Royals fan: I grew up a Royals fan. And I can tell you how hopeless being a Royals fan felt at the moment. The Royals finished fourth in the AL Central the year Greinke was selected, making them one of the bottom two teams in the division for the sixth time in seven years. Since 1985, they hadn’t reached the playoffs.
Fans staked the franchise’s future on Greinke becoming a star as a result of that almost nihilistic degree of hopelessness. Looking back, it seems so naïve. Greinke developed into a pitcher who was as bit as outstanding as anybody could have anticipated, and he did it while still wearing a Royals jersey. However, since the organization was in such disarray and Greinke could only accomplish so much in his first seven years, the club remained one of the bottom two in the Central.
In the end, Greinke was instrumental in the Royals’ World Series victory. He was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in December 2010 for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi. Cain and Escobar, as well as Wade Davis and James Shields, who came to Kansas City in a trade for Odorizzi, were starters and essential components when the Royals won back-to-back pennants in 2014 and 2015.
If you did a survey, you’d probably discover that around 0 percent of Royals fans are unhappy with the Greinke deal. Yes, he was one of baseball’s top pitchers at the time, and he’s still going strong after 12 years. But the Royals were attempting to end a quarter-century of futility, and that was the most important thing.
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Greinke has the greatest career of any Royals pitcher, with 219 wins, 2,809 total strikeouts, and 68.0 bWAR. But it’s difficult to tell whether he would have put up similar statistics if he had remained, and it’s also implausible to believe he could have made $34 million or more in a season in Kansas City, as he did in recent years.
Still, it’s difficult not to fantasize about what would have happened if Greinke had stayed with the Royals all along. If the Royals had been successful when Greinke was younger, he may have been the kind of player who became inextricably linked to the team’s identity, for better or ill. Greinke would be to pitching what George Brett is to hitting for the Royals.
George Brett, oh, George Brett. Don’t pretend you didn’t see this coming.
I had a picture of George Brett on my bedroom wall when I was a developing Royals fan in the rural Midwest in 1977. As a kid playing small league, I was a Brett fan. Brett was a fan of mine throughout my adolescent, high school, and college years. I was 24 years old in 1993, the last season of Brett’s legendary career, and I was watching Brett kiss home plate on the night of his final game, wondering where the time had gone.
And I’ve met numerous others who have the same story: fans who played third base in minor ball because George Brett played third base, fans who stayed with the Royals despite the fact that it would have been so simple to leave them because of Brett. Many Royals supporters were no doubt ecstatic to learn on Wednesday that Greinke would be returning after a lengthy absence, going home — at least to them, precisely where he belongs.
That opportunity does not come to every athlete. Of course, there aren’t many George Bretts out there, just as there aren’t many Cal Ripkens, Derek Jetters, Robin Younts, or Mike Trouts. Count yourself fortunate if you’ve ever supported a player like that.
The Braves have one of these players. Freddie Freeman was his name. The Braves selected him in the seventh round of the 2007 draft. Chipper Jones, a Hall of Famer, was one of his teammates and mentors, providing a direct connection to the historic Braves teams of the 1990s and 2000s.
Freeman was a member of two postseason teams until the Braves chose to dismantle their franchise in 2014, selling away the majority of their valuable veterans — but not him. Instead, the Braves signed Freeman to an eight-year deal that was set to expire at the end of last season. Why did they insist on keeping Freeman?
Because they wanted someone who could be a constant for the fan base, a reminder that the organization was going through a rough patch but was working hard to get back on track, someone who could provide continuity as the team moved to a new stadium, and someone who would be an ideal mentor for younger Braves players as the system began to produce them.
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In other words, the Braves understood the importance of having a player who not only contributed on the field, but also provided a sense of identity to the team. They were prepared to pay a high price for that player.
Freeman gave them all of that and more, and in the process, he established himself as a baseball legend in Georgia. Last season, everything fell into place, culminating in the championship, parade, and ring ceremony. Freeman, on the other hand, will not be present for the ring ceremony.
It irritates me. I despise it, despise it, despise it. Even though, in my personal surplus value model, the Braves came out on top in the course of events, I despise it. Olson is a fantastic player who is younger than Freeman and a native of the Atlanta region. He may be the most popular thing in Georgia since Coca-Cola, for all I know.
Perhaps he already is: After an unscientific search of social media and message forums, I discovered that many Braves fans were enthusiastic with the new look. So much of the feedback I received had an actuarial bent to it, as if Braves fans were the ones signing the checks: Freeman is not deserving of a sixth term. Olson is a younger player who is more likely to add value to a long-term contract. Take the Tigers and Miguel Cabrera, for example. &c., &c., &c., &c., &c.,
It’s difficult for me to tell how typical these remarks are — there are plenty of Atlantans who aren’t happy to see Freeman go — but there were enough of them to make me sad. Is it the only way we’ve come to look at the game? As if we were all paid as CPAs to keep track of millionaires’ spending?
I can’t help but think that this is going to be a bad conclusion for baseball. To be sure, clubs must place an appropriate value on their athletes. Baseball teams have a lot of resources, but they aren’t endless, and money spent on a luxury tax system is money that can’t be spent on other things for certain teams.
Everything is good. But what if organizations made the following basic calculation: Some players have an almost unquantifiable worth to specific teams, and that value has a genuine, visible influence on that franchise’s long-term allure?
Sometimes a player emerges who defies logic, who, in a perfect world, would wear the same jersey his whole career and become one of baseball’s rarest commodities: a one-team Hall of Famer and a cornerstone around which everything else is built. If you’re a fan of a team and a player like that comes along, it goes into your bones, just as Brett did in mine, and you’ll never stop being a fan of that player or team.
What is it “worth” to you? That is a question I am unable to answer. I have no idea what that link signifies in terms of economic worth, and I’m not sure I want to find out. But, at least among people who own clubs, I believe this is something that should matter a lot more in baseball than it does.
Both sides of this coin are on show, with Freeman looking for a new house on the same day Greinke returns to his old one. Maybe the Royals should have paid a lot of money to keep Greinke around simply so he could be the team’s all-time greatest pitcher. Not only would such a choice have made little sense 12 years ago, but it may have lost the team its second-best run of success in franchise history, including a World Series victory.
While Olson may produce more productivity and surplus value over the course of a six-, seven-, or eight-year contract than Freeman, it seems to be less of a factor with the Braves. They’re already excellent. They’ve signed some of their best young players to team-friendly contracts, and they’re one of the few clubs that can show how lucrative they are. Those gains were made possible in part by the existence of Freeman. The fact that Freeman is no longer a Brave has a corporate aspect to it. This isn’t a good result for the sport.
Freeman, like Greinke, may return to the Braves in the future to conclude his career. When and if that occurs, it’ll make for a good narrative. But it’s a narrative that, in my opinion, should never have had to be told.
The “mlb free agency twitter” is a trending topic that has been in the news recently. The article will discuss what MLB free agency means and how it affects baseball teams.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is still a free agent in MLB?
A: Mark Canha.
What time is MLB free agency?
A: The MLB free agency begins at 2 pm on Monday, December 3rd.
When did MLB free agency start?
A: MLB free agency started on November 6th, 2014.
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