Will Stephen Drew's free agency struggles lead to MLB labor strife?

Posted on December 31, 2013 

With Stephen Drew still floating out there on the free agent market, I wonder if the next labor fight in Major League Baseball is going to be over the draft pick compensation teams get for players who decline a contract tender offer.

Like former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse the year before, Drew is having a hard time finding a new contract because teams seem reluctant to give away a high draft pick in order to sign a guy who is a veteran talent.

The Redbirds shocked a lot of folks by reaching over Drew, considered by most to be the best shortstop on the free agent, to sign Jhonny Peralta, a player who did not get an tender offer.

Drew turned down what would have been a guaranteed $14.1 million contract because he thought he could get a nine-figure deal on the open market, according to several reports. Now it looks as if he might be fortunate to get a one-year deal for the price of the tender.

The New York Mets have been sniffing around. But they're a rebuilding team with financial issues that can probably ill afford to give up a draft pick. The Red Sox are luke warm to bringing back Drew because they could play younger infielder Xander Boegarts.

It was speculated when the Cardinals lost Lohse, coming off a 16-3 season with a 2.83 ERA, that he could command up to $60 million over four years when he hit free agency. But he ended up getting a little bit more than half of that amount over three seasons because of the draft pick tie.

From a fan's perspective, I'm sure the answer is simple: Take the tender offer and get a huge payday only to hit free agency the following season. But why would a player -- especially one who missed significant time earlier in his career due to a broken leg -- want to accept a one-year deal when he could otherwise command a guaranteed, multi-year contract?

The wild card in the case of Lohse and Drew could be that their agent is Scott Boras, a guy who has gained a reputation as a hard bargainer. Maybe teams just don't want to cave in to a guy that has been a thorn in their side in the past. But, usually, talent triumphs any rational thought when it comes to free agent baseball players. So I doubt it.

Maybe the sides can come to a compromise and make a deal that says players can only be tendered once and then they have to be allowed to hit the open market so they can't be compelled to work on a series of one-year deals. But I think the players have demonstrated in the past that they're not a patient or reasonable lot. So I'm sure they're prime target is going to be getting rid of the one thing that has reeled back in some of the free spending.


Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service