The Major League Baseball off season has become such a major drag in recent seasons and this year has been the worst yet. Here we are on January 10 and some of the biggest names on the board are still out there. Of course, we are talking about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. But there are others as well. Part of the reason has already been discussed in this space before. With organizations now run by analytical types, teams are very hesitant to outlay big money that stretches out beyond a player's declining years. Knowing what's going on, and yet not, is enough to drive a fan crazy.
Fans of the New York Yankees are sorely vexed that Machado is still not signed. Very rarely has such a situation polarized a fan base. Half of those fans are fuming that the team has not yet signed Machado and question George Steinbrenner's son's manhood. The other half (:::raising hand:::) do not want the guy no matter how good he is and need to know one way or another how it is going to go.
There is no need to worry about Harper as he does not fit with the Yankees. Imagining his swing in Yankee Stadium is enticing, but where would he play? So unless there is some kind of major shock, the wait on Harper is not killing the fan base all that much. The same could be said about Yasmani Grandl who apparently shot himself in the foot by not taking a multi-year deal from the Mets. The only catcher the Yankees would ever consider instead of Gary Sanchez is J.T. Realmuto.
The power-reliever market has been somewhat lively and the Yankees already made a splash by re-signing Zach Britton and still may pull the trigger on Adam Ottavino. But it sure did hurt to see David Robertson sign with the Phillies. Robertson is such a known commodity and it really stunk to see him get away. Most fans would have traded Britton for Robertson in a heartbeat and the same with the unproven (long-term) Ottavino.
Craig Kimbrel has yet to find a landing spot. It seems he has well over-stepped what teams are willing to give him (whether it be years or dollars). The prediction here is that he signs with the Red Sox for two years with an option.
Meanwhile, the New York Mets just made a steal by signing Luis Avilan to a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite. Avilan has bee used mostly as a Loogy, but has shown he can get right-handed batters out as well. He has been very solid every year he's pitched in the Majors. Smart move.
There are other players out there who would have signed much earlier in the past. Dallas Keuchel is still out there as is A.J. Pollack. Adam Jones would have been signed by now in years past and the same can be said of Mike Moustakas or Nick Markakis. Being an older player in today's game is not a good thing anymore...just ask Josh Donaldson.
Of course, we were in a similar position last year when the Red Sox let the bottom fall out of the market to sign J.D. Martinez. He is a once in a generation example though as he totally revamped his teammates' mindset and was as much responsible for their season and championship than can be said about anyone in a very long while. There are no gems like him out there in the current land of the unsigned.
The real drama is whether Harper and Machado back down their demands or whether a team will blink in the headlights. There are no manhood questions for Hal Steinbrenner here. Despite those who think otherwise, just because the Yankees have the money to spend, it doesn't mean it should be stupid about it.
Meanwhile, we wait. And wait. And wait. That song hinted at in the title was okay for ketchup, but not for those fans heavily invested in the outcome of this free agent tug-of-war.