The destructive tension that exists between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball has been fueled in recent winters by the slogging nature of the bidding on free agents, with journeymen and even stars waiting longer than they felt they should have for suitable offers to take shape. For example, two winters ago, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t sign until February.
Management’s perspective is that the slowdown manifests when aggressive agent demands clash with market realities. On the other hand, some players and agents believe that more teams should spend more of the industry’s revenue, particularly the handful that appear to be tanking. Either way, it’s inarguable that the distrust and suspicion have seriously damaged the relationship between players and owners.
The forecast for this winter’s market is brutal conditions for free agents, and if so, this will only exacerbate the ugly MLB-union dynamic just months before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement.